Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Brazen's (Almost) New Years Eve Half Marathon 2014 race review

Brazen always does 2 New Years events every year. One on New Years day and one just a few days earlier. This year I ran the (Almost) New Years Eve event on December 27th over the holiday break. I have ran this race before and this years event was a stark contrast to my last time running this event back in 2012 and in more ways than one.

 For starters the weather could not have been better. It was cold in the morning. Colder than I thought it would be but not as cold as 2012. I stepped outside at 6:30 in the morning in a pair of tights and a long sleeve shirt and knew within a second that I was way under dressed. I returned to the warmth of my house and emerged with a Nike Combat base layer shirt that is made for cold weather running and I put on an Asics 1/2 zip with thumb holes in the wrists so that my hands were mostly covered. This was much more appropriate for the 32º temperature outside. It warmed up within the first few miles and I eventually tied the 1/2 zip around my waist. For most of the race it was perfect running weather. This was not the case in 2012 when it was again cold but also misty/ rainy. I wore a rain jacket in 2012 and stayed fairly dry (except for the sweat sauna inside my jacket) but remained frozen to the core for the entire race. Keep that in mind when you sign up for this one!

Image courtesy of
The other stark contrast to this years running of the event versus my 2012 experience was my approach to the race as a whole. In 2012 I ran the race competitively and although it was a mud slogging, teeth chattering day I still managed to run it in 2:04:37. That was a 4th place in my age group.
 This year I had absolutely no desire to push it. I really wanted to go slow and steady. I don't mean hike the entire course. I wanted to run and finish in a decent enough time that will leave me feeling like I got a great workout all while enjoying myself. I also want to be able to enjoy the rest of my holiday break without having to limp around too exhausted to do whatever the family is doing.  I ran 15 races in 11 months this year and 14 of those were maximal effort. For the year end finale I decided to take it easy and enjoy myself. Look around at the views along the trail and give the aid station tables a serious look through for tasty treats. This was not a race for me, it was a catered training run with lots of good energy around me.

 For those who are unfamiliar, this is one of three events that Brazen puts on at Lake Chabot every year. Brazen starts the year and ends the year at Chabot and also runs it in the middle of the year at their Bad Bass event. Chabot is one of the easier races that Brazen hosts throughout the year but it is by no means a cake walk. Two of their three events that take place here run the course in a counterclockwise direction around the lake. It is the New Years Day event that runs clockwise around the lake. The course is basically flat or slightly rolling on the parking lot side of the lake so no matter which direction you start running you will be on a paved path. When you wrap around the side of the lake and leave the paved path you climb to the top of the hills on the North side of the lake. Climbing up and over these hills can get really taxing if you blow out all of your energy on a fast start on the paved path so be conservative in the beginning.

  The more common counterclockwise direction is slightly more difficult in my opinion because of the first 2 climbs. On paper the first hill looks harmless but in reality it is worth walking just so you can save some energy for later. The second and most difficult climb of the day is at the 4 mile mark on Live Oak Trail and is usually referred to as H&#l*% F^Ñ  S@○t for obvious reasons. I overheard some morning joggers commenting on how crazy it was for the course to go up and over that hill in the race. They went on to say "remember that one time we ran Live Oak? Yeah, never again!" was the reply. Once you pass those first two hills the views become spectacular and the hills become a lot smaller and much more manageable. A couple of them are fairly steep and they may slow you to a walk but they don't last much more than minute. The middle miles in this race are very runnable. Some of the downhills are steep but if your quads can take the loading I say just let go and fly down them if you can. The lake comes into view around mile 10 and the pavement starts back up shortly thereafter. It feels like you are close to the finish so you anticipate it around every corner and over every little hill. The reality is that you still have about 2 miles until the finish. I found myself asking where in the hell the finish line was the first time I ran it. Remembering that on my second time running it; I felt a little better about it but I still took note of how long it takes to reach the finish once you get back on to the pavement.

I finished in 2:37:22. I ran the vast majority of the race and only lingered a little bit at the aid stations. I got a great workout in, really enjoyed myself and sat around the finish line area and snacked on foods I would normally be weary of. I sat in contemplation for a nano-second wondering if I had lost my competitive drive and quickly threw that notion out the window. I have plenty of time to be competitive and serious minded about my running so taking a break and just enjoying myself is a nice change up for me. To that end my next race is the Coyote Hills 5k with my wife and my son in his stroller. We are cruising around that course just because we love the race atmosphere and its a great way for all of us to do something together. Maybe in March when I run Badger Cove I will turn up the heat but for now I am enjoying this new found freedom to just run for fun.