Friday, December 2, 2016

HERE WE GO.........

Well, here we are.

As I said previously, it's been quite a ride, and no matter what happens on Sunday, I couldn't be happier with how this training cycle has gone. (I mean. I could have done without the knee drama in weeks 8 & 9. But still.) I feel like I've trained well & am prepared for a solid race, and the time will be whatever it will be.

However. I *do* have to make some decisions about pacing ahead of time, and I have to base that on *something*. (I'm not experienced enough at marathons to run them by feel.) My original thought was that as long as I was healthy and feeling reasonably good and the weather isn't doing anything ridiculous, it wasn't TOO audacious for me to go out with the 3:35 pace group (8:12/mile) and see how it feels. But, that was before I learned that apparently there is no longer a 3:35 pace group, only a 3:38 group & a 3:33 group, presumably to give people a shot at actually *getting in* to Boston should they qualify. SO NOW WHAT???

Eh, whatever. I'll probably start with the 3:38 group & then see how I feel & maybe work my way up (er, hopefully that's how it will work). My recent 10K and half marathon times back up a time somewhere in there, and my training has been simply head and shoulders stronger than the year I ran 3:36. There is definitely something kind of freeing about being able to look back on this training cycle and say, In this training cycle, I ran 35% more miles than ever before. I hit 50 miles or more in twice as many weeks. I did twice times as many runs of 16 miles or more. I did three times as many runs of 12 miles or more. I did longer and harder speed and tempo workouts than I've ever done before in my life. I did multiple workouts that scared the pants off of me.

Still, since I have never run faster than 3:36, I think it's probably smart to be a little conservative and plan to run no faster than 3:35 pace for at least the first half. If I'm feeling absolutely amazing, then maybe I can think about pushing just a tiny bit harder after that, and around 20-22 basically run as fast as I think I can manage.

But, I'm also completely prepared for 8:12 to feel just barely manageable start to finish. And also for it to feel too hard. I know I should be feeling pretty happy & comfortable for the first 13-18 miles, & if that's not what 3:35 pace brings on Sunday, I'm more than willing to back off a bit in the interest of running a negative split.

So, we'll see. At this point I've done all there is to do, training wise; all that's left is to remember to pack everything & not oversleep. D:

(BUT SERIOUSLY IF YOU HAVE ANY PACING SUGGESTIONS OR ADVICE I AM TOTALLY TAKING THEM.)

See you on the flip side of this thing!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Evolution of a Distance Runner: Systems & Process Goals

I wrote a few weeks back about how I'm not really hitching myself to a particular time goal in this race. I've done that lots of times in the past because it's a very bloggerly thing to do ("My A/B/C/D goals for xx race next week are this/that/the other thing!") and because if you're not setting goals how will you ever make any progress ("goals are dreams with deadlines" or some such). Regardless of whether I achieved the goal or not, though, something about defining things that way always felt kind of...off.

There could be a lot of reasons for that. This research, for example, that found that stating a goal publicly can actually make you less likely to achieve it, because "announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed." And if you set a goal and then don't achieve it, how do you understand that? Or this bit from Scott Adams' Secret of Success: Failure:

    "If your goal is to [accomplish x], you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize that you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or to set new goals and re-enter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure."

Then recently I read this post by James Clear (thanks Mario Fraioli via The Morning Shakeout, btw), which is about that exact thing--about why setting goals the way most of us tend to (run xx:xx time, run y miles in z year, qualify for this/that/the other event, finish in the top x, etc.) is maybe not the most productive and effective strategy. Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a dream, an achievement that drives you to work harder and give more, but just saying, "My goal is to run a xx:xx marathon" or "My goal is to BQ" or whatever it is doesn't make it any more likely to happen.

Instead, Clear talks about focusing on systems:

    "What’s the difference between goals and systems? If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day. If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week. If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process. Now for the really interesting question: If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results? I think you would."

What Clear and Adams call "systems," I've been calling "process goals," something I've gotten more and more interested in in the last couple of years. Essentially, you consider the thing you want to achieve (run a certain time, qualify for whatever, etc.) how close or far you are right now, what your timeline is, etc., and then come up with a list of behaviors that support that achievement (the "system"). The behaviors, the habits that support the dream, become the goals.

In the past couple of years my process goals have usually been things like "Strength train 2-3x per week," "Sleep 7-8 hours/night," things around nutrition, etc. In 2014 when I DNF'd the Santa Rosa Marathon and took a long hard look at my past marathon training cycles, I made some process goals around running that included things like "Base train at least 40 miles per week at an appropriate heart rate for at least 6 months" and "Strategize/rearrange commitments ahead of time to minimize missing runs/mileage." The idea is that if you get the systems/process goals right and then meet those goals, the "outcome" goals--the achievements, the dreams--tend to take care of themselves. (Well; to the extent that they are reasonable, anyway.)

When I started training again in June, it seemed logical to look back once again over my past marathons and how I trained for them & see what process goals might come to light.

Lololol.

Friends, let me take you on this same little journey I undertook before starting this training cycle, of looking back at my previous marathons and thinking about what I could/should be doing differently. I think you'll find it amusing.

    #1: CIM 2011
    • Total mileage: 542.7
    • Average mileage: 30.15
    • Highest mileage week: 55.5
    • Longest run: 20 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 3
    • 19+ long runs: 1
    • Notable circumstances: Sick with asthma the prior week
    • Weather: Perfect

      Result: Couldn't breathe for most of the race, but still ran 3:47

This race gave me such a false sense of my own abilities! Basically, I finished going, "Meh, I barely trained for this race AND I had an asthma attack! Imagine how fast I'll be when I actually train hard & don't get sick!"

    #2: CIM 2012
    • Total mileage: 394.8
    • Average mileage: 21.9
    • Highest mileage week: 40.8
    • Longest run: 21 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 5
    • 19+ long runs: 1
    • Notable circumstances: "pineapple express" super storm & 30mph headwinds in the forecast
    • Weather: Torrential rain + 20-40mph headwinds

      Result: The timing mat near me malfunctioned due to flooding so I didn't get a chip time, but gun time = 3:55


Credit for this amazing photo, as always, to hmgiraffy

Final thoughts as I crossed the line: "F--- this race and the horse it rode in on." Except for the marathon, 2012 was the year I PR'd every major distance, so between that & my first marathon, I went into this race absolutely convinced I would waltz my way to an effortless PR. Instead I left feeling like I'd gotten robbed by the weather. My memory was that I trained super hard that year (because how else so many PRs??), but seriously. Look at those numbers. Pathetic. The hard truth is I didn't *remotely* earn a fast race & it's probably actually a miracle I managed the time I did, considering the weather.

    #3: Mountains 2 Beach 2013
    • Total mileage: 495.3
    • Average mileage: 27.5
    • Highest mileage week: 48.3
    • Longest run: 20 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 2
    • 19+ long runs: 1
    • Notable circumstances: I badly strained a muscle in my right leg about three weeks before the race, spent that time getting PT & cortisone injections instead of running, & almost didn't even bother starting
    • Weather: Bright, sunny, & 80F+

      Result: Ran a 3:36 (huge PR!), but also further strained said muscle so badly I had to walk most of the last 3-4 miles, went home in a wheelchair, & was on crutches for a month.

Again, considering it was 80 degrees and I walked a lot of the last few miles of this race and STILL set a 11:00 PR, my memory was like, "Surely I trained stupid hard for this race?" Um, no. Sure, I ran over 100 miles more than I did for CIM '12, but 2 long runs? One 17?? and one 20?? Da fuq?

    #n/a: SRM 2014
    • Total mileage: 441
    • Average mileage: 29.4
    • Highest mileage week: 52.2
    • Longest run: 20 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 3
    • 19+ long runs: 1
    • Notable circumstances: Still having problems with my right hip
    • Weather: Perfect

      Result: DNF at mile 14 due to hip pain

I always knew this race was a long shot. Coming off of a stress fracture in fall 2013, my spring training was pretty low mileage/intensity, & then I went to Italy & mostly sat around eating pasta & drinking for 3 weeks. I only had 15 weeks, not 18, & had clearly just not done the work yet to get my hip better. I gave it a shot but honestly was not surprised when I had to quit because I was really worried about another M2B situation, and I knew I honestly didn't have the training for a fast time anyway.

    #4: NVM 2015
    • Total mileage: 566.4
    • Average mileage: 30.4
    • Highest mileage week: 50
    • Longest run: 20 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 4
    • 19+ long runs: 1
    • Notable circumstances: I base trained only for this & ran it at an easy, comfortable pace
    • Weather: Warm-ish & sunny but not *too* hot

      Result: 3:52 & felt really strong & good start to finish

Clearly I did the volume for this race, but my long run game was still pretty weak. At that point I was just glad that my hip finally seemed 100% and was pretty pleased to find that my 6 months of base training had made 26 miles at easy-but-not slow pace feel like a cake walk. Hence getting super excited to train for...

    #n/a: SRM 2015
    • Total mileage: 253.7
    • Average mileage: 24.6
    • Highest mileage week: 44
    • Longest run: 22 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 5
    • 19+ long runs: 3
    • Unfortunate circumstances: Felt really strong until ~3 weeks before the race when I got a stress fracture
    • Weather: No idea, I wasn't awake

      Result: DNS

I feel like I can barely call this a training cycle. I only actually trained for like 8 weeks before I ended up with a stress fracture. Again my memory was sort of like "But I ran so much that summer??" No; no, I really didn't. In fact I apparently took like an entire month off after NVM. In retrospect maybe the stress fracture was not surprising given how I did two 21 mile runs & a 22 after only about 5 weeks of less than 40 mpw?

    #5: Eugene 2016
    • Total mileage: 478.3
    • Average mileage: 29.9
    • Highest mileage week: 44.2
    • Longest run: 20 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 5
    • 19+ long runs: 2
    • Unfortunate circumstances: Started the training cycle pretty much 100% detrained from the stress fracture, & most of the early weeks involved lots of elliptical & not much actual running.
    • Weather: Warm-ish & sunny but not *too* hot

      Result: 3:53

I knew this would not be a fast race for me, but I was at peace with it, & just tried to run the best I could & enjoy the ride.

So yeah--looking back at these statistics left me scratching my head. Wait, I trained really hard for that race...Didn't I? Ha! Apparently not! Face to face with the actual numbers, it's like, Well what did you expect? Sure, I've had my share of bad luck with illness, injury, & weather, but still. That 3:36? In retrospect, it seems like an absolute miracle from the gods as I really, really do NOT feel like I earned it. Looking back at the numbers, my mindset suddenly switched from, I don't know what else I can possibly do to Uhhhh idk but maybe start running actual marathon training volume consistently, and also maybe like do long runs more than 3-5 times a cycle or whatever, just a thought.

Therefore, some process goals for CIM 2016:

Before jumping into the training plan:

  • Establish a solid base of 40+ mpw of easy running for at least a couple months before jumping into marathon training.
  • As part of that base, work up to 16 mile long runs so I can START my training cycle with a 16 mile long run.
  • Hit the gym for 2-3 hours a week consistently so I can get everything strong while I'm not under the stress of mileage & tough workouts.

During the training cycle:

  • Do not not NOT miss a run if there is any way around it! Do risk planning at the beginning of the cycle & of every week, & move things around as needed. Always be planning.
  • NEVER miss a long run. If all else fails, DO THE EFFING LONG RUNS! (Again...planning.)
  • If injured, do time/effort equivalent cross-training. No copping out.
  • Attempt every workout. Plan A: Do the whole thing as written. Plan B: Do the whole distance as close to written as I can manage. Plan C: Do the whole distance at any pace possible. Plan D: Do as much of the distance as possible at any pace & cross train the rest. Plan E: Cross train @ time/effort equivalent.

(Obviously this excludes being sick/injured/any days when I'm getting those srsbzns red flags from my body.)

Have I been perfect? No. But I've been pretty darn close. How does training for marathon #6 stack up to the first five?

    #6: CIM 2016
    • Total mileage: 760
    • Average mileage: 42.2
    • Highest mileage week: 57
    • Longest run: 22 miles
    • 16+ long runs: 13
    • 19+ long runs: 4
    • Notable circumstances: None so far (fingers crossed)

I'm not going to pretend to know what these numbers portend. I'm not going to make the mistake of saying "Well I ran x time on y mileage, so I should run z time this time around" or feeling like I've earned a certain time or I'm entitled to it because LOOK AT ALL THE TRAINING!! or like the universe "owes" me a sub-whatever whatever because numbers.

But, the truth is, when I look back at those numbers and at how hard I worked during this training cycle, I kind of feel like I already won? I set the process goals, and I met them. I ran more and more consistently and hit higher mileage and more and longer long runs than I have in *quite* sometime, AND even managed not to injure myself! Now THAT is a victory. I'm excited for CIM and to see what all this crazy (for me) mileage produces, but even if I have a horrible day and run a completely mediocre race, I still feel so thankful and proud for having been able to do the training and meet my process goals. No matter what happens, I still feel like I'll finish out this year feeling like I'm on the right track.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Deep Breathes



Man, I do NOT understand people who talk about the "taper crazies." I love taper. I'm great at it. I don't even see why I have to run as much during taper as I do. I still had a couple of workouts this week, but outside of that, put my feet up, you say? Get lots of extra sleep, you say? Eat plenty of carbs, you say?

Done, done, and done.

I always worry that I'm not tapering enough or my taper is too short & then panic when 3-4 days into the taper I don't feel peppy & rested. My philosophy has always been better over-tapered than under-tapered, but then recently I've read a bunch of articles from coaches who say they more often see recreational runners make the mistake of tapering too much than not enough, so I'm trying to just follow the plan & not panic too much. (Then again, the plan did not take into consideration spending week 17 at altitude, so there's also that.)


It wasn't that cold (upper 30s/low 40s), but it was a LOT colder than I'm used to!


* * *

Grand Total: 42.6 miles

    * 35 easy
    * 5.6 threshold
    * 2 race pace

Monday 11/21: Karate

Tuesday 11/22: Fly to Spokane/rest

    On Tuesday we flew to Spokane, Washington to spend the week with Don's parents. I didn't even bother trying to do my track workout before our flight since it was at 10am and I would have had to get up at like 4am. In fact don't think the track even opens until 7.

Wednesday 11/23: 2 warm up, 2 @ marathon pace, 6 easy

    On the schedule, my Tuesday speed workout was 2 warm up, 6 x 200m/200m, 2 @ marathon pace, 6 x 200m/200m, 2 cool down. Alas, running on hilly country roads mostly without sidewalks, the 200m's were rather impractical. I thought instead I'd try some short marathon pace intervals, but WOW, the altitude was wreaking complete havoc on my heart rate! Not wanting to push things too hard with only 12 days to go, I decided to run the rest of the distance "easy" & let the altitude do its work without any extra effort from me. 700 ft of elevation gain seemed quite enough to be getting on with.


It's what you'd call a "curvy" landscape.

Thursday 11/24: 6 easy

    Definitely still acclimating. I did that unfortunate thing on this run where you convince yourself that it's basically nothing & then as a result it feels super hard and waaaaay longer than it is.

    On the plus side: Turkey.

Friday 11/25: 2 warm-up, 4 x 2K @ HM pace, 2 cool down = 5.6 threshold/9.6 total

    (I did these as 1.25 miles since that's easier for my watch to autolap than 1.24 miles.) I really had no idea if I would be able to pull off this workout given the altitude, but I figured I'd just put the effort in & see what pace I could manage. It was hard, but not harder than I expected. The target time was 9:35, & I managed the intervals in 9:39, 9:33, 9:38, & 9:20 (so 7:44, 7:38, 7:43, & 7:29 pace-wise).

    Also ran into a deer family visiting when I got back!

Saturday 11/19: 5 easy

    On Saturday we all drove down to a nice, flat, pretty bike path by the train tracks. I ran 1 mile out and back along one trail head while Don & his folks walked 1.6 miles out and back along a second one. After I finished my two miles out-and-back, I did the same on their trail to make it 5 miles total, and we all walked maybe the last third of a mile or so together back to the car.

Sunday 11/20: 12 easy

    I'll admit to going into this run with a bit of a grumpy attitude. It was cold and windy and part of me felt kind of annoyed at having to run double digits just a week before a marathon. Those Spokane hills were starting to get to me, too--I didn't really mean to run nearly 1000' of elevation gain but apparently that's what happened.

It's always nice to knock out that last double digit run before a marathon. Just one more short track workout, an easy three on Thursday, & a two-mile shakeout on marathon eve!

* * *

CIM 2016 Week 1 of 18 - It's On

CIM 2016 Week 2 of 18 - Escape From NY (Barely)

CIM 2016 Week 3 of 18 - A Discount Code to Share (+ back on Strava!)

CIM 2016 Week 4 of 18 - 18/day, 47.5/week, 205.5/month.

CIM 2016 Week 5 of 18 - That cutback feeling

CIM 2016 Week 6 of 18 - french toast, trail shoes, & a little race fatigue

CIM 2016 Week 7 of 18 - Big week & feelin' fine!

CIM 2016 Week 8 of 18 - Knee Troubles :(

CIM 2016 Week 9 of 18 - Improvement on the knee front!

CIM 2016 Week 10 of 18 - Train kept a-rollin' (+ free shoes!)

CIM 2016 Week 11 of 18 - Texas Half Marathon #1 (+ my sister's wedding!)

CIM 2016 Week 12 of 18 - Race Week Cutback, blah dee blah dee blah...

CIM 2016 Week 13 of 18 - One More Block....

CIM 2016 Week 14 of 18 - Fun mileage facts & some HR wonkiness.

CIM 2016 Week 15 of 18 - Hang in there.

CIM 2016 Week 16 of 18 - Opioids, speed work, & a soggy weekend

Thursday, November 24, 2016

'Race' Report: Berkeley Half Marathon

I signed up for this race back in September back when I was looking down the barrel of a dozen+ CIM long runs and already dying of boredom from running my same old routes over and over again. I'd run the inaugural Berkeley Half back in 2013 and been disappointed by the course (which spent about 8 miles dog-legging along freeway frontage roads), but since then it seems like they've been able to get the permits to create something more interesting & scenic where you actually get to see a bit of Berkeley. My schedule called for 17 miles with a fast finish and doing it on a race course seemed more appealing than doing it on my own with pedestrians and traffic lights to contend with, and since BHM was close to home and not stupid expensive, I figured what the heck.


Inaugural Berkeley Half 2013 with IronHubs, the Dude, & friends of Cat.


Moments later with Courtney, Cate, & Renee.

I got to Berkeley around 6:30 & easily found street parking two blocks from the start. (Our wave was starting at 8:12.) The forecast called for rain all morning, and though there were definitely plenty of ominous clouds, there was no sign yet of rain. I walked over to the staging area to find the port-a-potties, then started my 4 easy pre-race miles around 7.


Pretty sure I was the first one here.

Those first miles felt so awful. Like I almost think if I hadn't paid to run a race I would have scratched it. My feet and legs felt sore and heavy and "easy" effort was getting me like 10:30-11:00 pace. I just felt completely awful, and when my watch ticked off mile #1 I kind of wanted to cry at the thought of running 16 more.


Start

I felt *slightly* better after three more miles, then headed to the bag drop in the Berkeley High School to meet Jen & get my bib from her. We made our way to the corrals and found our wave and also Jen's friend K (who is also running CIM). We were all running pretty much the same pace and I was happy for the distraction.


Around mile 4, maybe, it started to drizzle, which was actually nice and refreshing. It was cool but not cold and not at all windy. In the second half of the race the rain picked up at bit and by mile 10 it was full-on raining. (Coming back across the University bridge from the out-and-back section at that point, we past a lot of walkers at maybe mile 6 just headed out, and as the rain intensified I thought that if I were facing the prospect of walking 6-7 more miles in this, I would have probably quit.)

I now present for your enjoyment a collection of facial expressions from the Berkeley Half:



And the pièce de résistance (courtesy of Kimra):


EXTRA CREDIT: Caption this picture.

Mile markers matched my watch exactly until mile 10, which appeared when my watch read 9.86. Every mile marker after that showed up at exactly x.86 by my watch, and I got 13 exactly at the finish, which seemed in line with what most other folks got. Given the accuracy of the later mile markers, I kind of wondered if maybe we went through a GPS dead patch in that two-mile out-and-back section & lost .14 miles somewhere. Then again I don't think the course is certified, so it could also have just legitimately been short.

Something else strange happened in that section. We started the out-and-back in the north lane, with folks running back in the south lane, but the mile 8 marker was in the south lane and the mile 10 marker on our side (facing the other way). Then suddenly out of nowhere we found ourselves running straight at people heading back in our lane! People were suddenly frantically trying to switch sides so that outbound runners (us) were now in the south lane and those returning were in the north lane. Weird, but we just went with it. After the turnaround, we ran in the north lane for a good bit, and all our mile markers were on the correct side, but then were directed by course marshals in a smart cart to cross over to the south lane. Now our mile markers were on the wrong side of the road.

Not long after that, we heard someone screaming behind us, "LOOK OUT LOOK OUT!!" It turned out to be probably the 10K leader, running, I dunno, 5:30-6:00 pace & desperately trying to weave his way through our crowd running 9:00-10:00 pace. More super fast 10K runners followed him. We tried our best to stay out of their way, but it was still a mess for the faster 10K runners. I still don't know what happened with the course during that section but it was a mess.

I was never running even remotely hard in this race but even so, by mile 10-11 I was *SO* over it and ready to be done. On the plus side, once we finished and I wasn't running anymore, I actually felt fine almost right away and was fine for the rest of the day, so I suppose that's the combination of peak cumulative fatigue along with being in pretty much peak shape endurance-wise. I felt horrible, but I felt horrible from the first step and it never got any worse than that.


You can't tell but all three of us leapt into the air at the finish. Apparently I was the only one the photographer caught. #lame


Soaked. (Also, it took me until maybe mile 7 to realize that the 'B' on the shirts was supposed to be a '13'. GET IT???? SO CLEVER.)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: Berkeley, CA

Date: Mid/late November (Nov 20, 2016 this year).

Field Size: 4225 in the half, 1544 in the 10K, 1472 in the 5K

Deadlines/sellout factor: This year all three races sold out. I think the 10K went first and the other distances sold out closer to race day. (Weirdly, there was a "Race Registration" tent in the staging area. I'm not sure what that was about. Maybe early registration for next year?)

Price:

It looks like the website now has only the most recent price ($110), and I don't remember what it was when I signed up or how many times it increased. Fail. It might have been like $80 in September & I think I had a discount code. If you decide to run this race, I recommend poking around the internet for Groupons, race ambassador promo codes, and other discounts.

The Expo:

The expo/bib pickup was Friday and Saturday at Berkeley Sports Basement. There is no race day bib pickup, but you can have a friend pick up for you. (Since she lives closer, Jen volunteered to pick up my bib for me. THANK YOU JEN!!!)

Staging:

Race Start was on Milvia St. at Kittredge St., & the finish was just a block or two away, on Milvia at Allston.

Bag check was in the Berkeley High School gym right by the start, and when the rain showed up it was REALLY nice to have an indoor area available after the race!

As mentioned above, there were plenty of port-a-potties. I also appreciated all the picnic table seating (though due to weather there wasn't much use for it). Often after races I find myself lamenting the lack of available seating areas that are not on the ground.

The Course:

The course was a big loop with lots of turns, a few steep-ish hills, and one nasty two-mile out-and-back section along the Bay. This year's course was MUCH nicer than the first year I ran it, meandering through various parts of Berkeley. I've been told that in the second and third years the course actually wound through parts of the UC Berkeley campus, but no such luck this year. Some of the roads were fine but a not insignificant portion of them were chewed up and riddled with potholes. (Between this and the rain, I decided to wear trail shoes.)

Aid stations were every couple of miles with water and Nuun, which makes the second time I've run this race without any useful sports drink out on the course. Nuun is electrolytes; it contains no calories. This makes it next to useless in terms of distance running. One of the aid stations had chews and a few had granola bars of some kind, so there was that. But still. I don't understand why so many races seem to be switching away from calorie-rich sports drink to low- or no-calorie drinks. It makes zero sense to me.

Like I said above, pretty much everyone I know clocked a short course, starting at the mile 10 marker. The course isn't certified, I believe, so it's hard to say whether this was a GPS issue or a legitimately short course. Also there was definitely some sort of issue in that out-and-back section that will need to be sorted out, as well as the issue of the fastest 10K runners getting stuck behind thick crowds of half-marathon mid-packers. Either something went very very wrong with the 10K or someone just didn't think the whole situation through.

Swag:

Long sleeves tech shirt & finisher medal, plus post-race snacks and free race photos.

If you decide to run:

  • Poke around for discounts from race ambassadors and other sources. They've usually been out there & you can often get ~$10 off or so.
  • There is plenty of street parking along University if you get there a bit early, or you can be a good person & pay $20 to park at Berkeley High School (though I think it's actually not closer). But do not repeat DO NOT pay any for-profit company $21 to reserve you a parking spot ahead of time. It's a total racket.
  • If you're driving back toward SF after the race while it's still going on, just remember you can't take University or realistically anything south of that. Instead head up to Gilman & take that to I80 & the Bay Bridge.
  • There are no super bad hills, but two reasonably long-ish ones that definitely take some extra work. Just know they're there & adjust your time goals accordingly.

Overall Assessment:

This race was fine, I guess, but I didn't love it. The course is okay but not particularly fast or scenic, and there is some question in my mind as to whether it might be short. (Though, I think the course has been different every year, so who knows what future years will bring.) It's not stupidly expensive, but not particularly cheap either (~$80-110, I think, maybe a little less with a discount), so the only real reason I can come up for running this particular race is that it's nearby and the date most likely means cooler weather (though you could also get a downpour as we did). Due to all the turns, the few hills, the uncertainty about the distance, and the funkiness with the course in the out-and-back section, I don't think I'd recommend this race for a PR/time trial course.