Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coyote Hills Brazen Racing Half Marathon: a fast 50K for me!

As I wrote at the bottom of my long post last week, Greg was running his first half-marathon race this Saturday in Fremont, on the other side of the Bay. As I'll be traveling to New York city and Austin next week and tapering before Rocky Racoon 100-mile (scoop, I'm going to run this US National Championship indeed!), I looked at what it would take to run to that park from Cupertino. While Google Maps didn't come up with the greenest route, I tweaked it a bit to go through Mountain View's Shoreline Park and the Palo Alto Baylands and that made a route of about 27 miles, exactly what I was looking for for a long run!
It was still quite dark when I left home at 6:25 am but the sky was "insanely" clear (no cloud to be seen in January so far unfortunately, meaning no rain either...) and the light quickly raised. I started with a conservative pace to avoid tripping in the dark but, as soon as it was safer, I pushed with a few sub-7-minute miles. The Stevens Creek Trail was actually busy especially going through Shoreline. The bad news is that I've never see the Stevens Creek so low: while the tide was low near the Bay, the creek is actually completely dry in the Mountain View section. What a drought...
I've ran this trail so often, including as far as the Palo Alto Airport and Golf, the first 16 miles felt very familiar. After that, it was a first, starting with going through East Palo Alto

 I had the pleasure to see that the Sobrato Family is helping that challenged community with a wonderful project.

I didn't have a map with me so I got on University Avenue as directly as possible. Since this was the least fun section because of the traffic, I would go through the neighborhood streets instead next time. Anyway, it wasn't too long before I reached an even busiest artery, Highway 84, with a great perspective of the bridge.

On 84, and its long bridge, you run on the bike path, really close to huge trucks going 60 mph but at least there is a fence of concrete blocks to protect you. While the height of the bridge is rather impressive in the distance, it is actually not that bad, very gradual, and I even lowered my average pace on the uphill from 7:58 to 7:57, then shaving two more seconds on the way down. Here is a view of the parallel rail track from the top of the bridge.

It was great to have a goal to run after or against: I really wanted to see Greg at the overpass turnaround so I pushed a bit and clocked a 6:24, 6:32 and 6:31 respectively for miles 22, 23 and 24. While the first runners had already gone through the aid station, I was able to see Greg not too far behind, flying and smiling!
I then saw Agnès at the next intersection where ultra runner Will Gotthardt was volunteering and directing the traffic through this confusing 3-way junction.
Not counting 15 minutes of picture taking or bottle refill, my Garmin was giving 2:59:53 for 26.2 miles, good long tempo run!

We waited for Greg to cover this first out-and-back, then I ran the first loop against the traffic which was now quite heavy with all the half-marathon, 10K and 5K runners on the course!
I saw Greg at the Bay View Trail aid station and advised him to take a Gu, if not the taste, at least for the extra calorie boost.
I then ran to the park headquarters, stopped to chat with Maggie, Michael's wife, who had ran the 5K, then climbed the Quail Trail to meet with Greg at the end of his second out-and-back then run together to the finish. 1:42:56 for 13.1 miles for him, 40th overall. I thought he'd won his age group but, poor guy, he just turned 18 and they had him in the odd 18-24 age group. It doesn't seem so fair to me to mix high schoolers and with potential college or older "kids". Anyway, the finisher medals from Brazen Racing are really awesome!
As for me, with all the stop-and-gos in the park, I managed to log 31.8 miles this morning, with 3:38:58 of running time. Good enough for my 4th ultra run in the first 4 weeks of 2015!

At the finish, I saw two other ultra runners. Kowsik Guruswamy whose 2015 resolution is a pledge to get "Farther, Faster" on his blog, referring to my blog mantra, and Lon Freeman who won the Ohlone 50K race which I missed last year, and was volunteering today. I saw a few other known faces but, overall, and not surprisingly, this is quite a different from my usual ultra trail running community. But I was amazed to see the perfect organization of Brazen Racing and the great participation, across all ages, of runners taking advantage of this opportunity to race in this beautiful and very accessible park.
Talk to you from Texas next week then and Run Happy in the meantime!!

PS: a couple of bonus pictures from Agnès:

1 comment:

Will Cooper said...

good luck at R. Racoon. Don't forget your Vespa!