Monday, April 16, 2018

Race Review: Brazen Racing Save Mt. Diablo 10k

Happy Monday! Those words aren't usually used that close to each other, especially since I'm beyond tired today. BUT - it's not just any Monday, it's BOSTON MARATHON MONDAY!!!! Woohoo!!! I have looked forward to watching this race every year for the past 3, and each year I feel like a kid on Christmas. Desi Linden won the women's title. She's an inspiration for myself and anyone who has ever wanted to just give up. Congratulations Desi!

This weekend was also a race weekend for me, among other things. It was the Save Mount Diablo run (near Walnut Creek, California), put on by Brazen Racing. Brazen Racing is one of my favorite race groups, and they host trail races all over the northern California area, so on Saturday, April 14th, Justyna, Yuan, Cathy and I chose the 10k option and set out to run our first mountain trail race. Cathy's husband Ryan came as well and cheered everyone on, which was awesome.

The day before the race, Yuan and I traveled from San Francisco to Danville to pick up my race packet. Danville is such a cute town, and we spent some time window shopping downtown after getting our packets from the running store, and also checking out several local bike shops. It's such a beautiful drive to Danville, and I highly recommend checking out the smaller towns in northern California if you have time.

My version of window shopping - checking out the bicycle shops

We also had time back in SF before dinner and during dog walking for an impromptu photoshoot at the playground. Taking and editing photos is something I love to do. You are unlimited with what you can do with them, and it's a fun creative outlet.

The day of the race we pulled into the designated parking lot at around 8:30 AM, which was located at a local high school. The high school was located about a half mile down the road from the start of the race. We all got into one of the race shuttles and rode to the park entrance. We dropped our stuff off at bag check, picked up a few last minute race bibs for Justyna and Yuan, pinned our bibs on and started the race. This race is chip timed, so if you need a few extra minutes to sort out any issues, you can start later and not be under any stress. The day was beyond beautiful, and may have topped out at around 70 degrees.

Our "before" shot

The trail was beautiful. It started out on the flat side, with hard packed dirt and some rocks, but soon grew steeper the farther out we went. At the steepest side the trail allowed only for single file use, but by this time everyone around us was hiking it. Those who needed a breather were always courteous, and stepped to the side of the trail to allow for passing. Everyone was also so encouraging, with nice words to say to each other during the race. The trail eventually evened out and went slightly downhill (which felt like heaven after that crazy climb up!)

After the first step ascent, the trail became gentle rolling hills (or what felt like gentle rolling hills after that climb, haha!) and small streams to cross. If you are going to this race I recommend bringing an extra pair of socks and shoes for the ride back. 

We got to the halfway mark of 3 miles, which was clearly marked with a sign staked to the ground. Depending on your distance, the trail is marked with colored ribbons and stationed with turn officials every few miles. We never once had an issue with not being able to find the ribbons, and everything was very clearly marked as long as you paid attention. The 10k had two water/snack stations, complete with sports drinks, water, jelly beans, GU gels, oreos, candies, oranges (my pick, those were SO good), and nuts. Not to mention the volunteers were the nicest people ever. Thank you guys so much for all that you did!

As we continued on our run, Justyna was able to pick her way across every body of water like a ninja, because she was the only one with dry shoes at the end. I enjoyed going through the water. It cooled my feet down and for the next half mile after every stream I felt like I was nice and cool.

There were no mosquitos out, but plenty of butterflies, birds and flowers. One section of the trail had beautiful yellow wildflowers as far as you could see. They were on both sides of us, with the trail eventually leading to an overlook of the runners below us and a small waterfall into another stream. 

This was one of the best 10Ks I have ever run, as well as the most challenging and most beautiful. I almost didn't want it to come to an end. As we each ran across the finish line and met back up, we stood in the food line for some snacks. They had so much variety too, including BBQ for the 50K runners (you can pay an extra $10 if you are doing a shorter race, but we stuck with the other food table). I got a plate full of pineapple, watermelon, a few jelly bellys and some kind of yummy vegan ball, as well as a mint ice cream chocolate covered sandwich. They also had bagels, cream cheese, jelly, bananas, popcorn... the list goes on! We sat on the grass and ate our food as music played and runners and families hung out and enjoyed the day.

All in all, this race was put on well, there was great communication all the way through, and the area was gorgeous. I highly recommend this race, and would do it again in a second. More hill training is definitely needed for anything longer than the 10K though, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, with exception to about a half mile of steep trail. 

Such a cool medal

Aaaand that's a wrap!

I am beyond tired as I write, mostly due to a delayed flight and some temporarily lost luggage at 3 AM, so I'm going to write about a few other San Fran adventures in a later blog. It's time for a looong nap!:D

What has been your favorite race so far? 

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