Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Race Plans

2016 is kind of an interesting year for me because I move into a new age group. Not that I was utterly killing it or anything in the 25-29 range, but when I moved into the 30-34 group, my A/G finish places definitely took a hit, even as my PRs were improving. Those 30-34s are speedy! So, it will be interesting to see what happens as I leave it behind and join the 35-39 crowd in February. (Not that AG placement is the biggest deal on earth to me right now; at this point I'm just excited to get to a finish line. ANY finish line.)

Figuring out running plans for this year has felt a little more straightforward than in the past. I already have two deferrals on the calendar: the Jungle Run Half in July (cancelled in 2015 due to construction/permitting issues), and CIM in December (deferred due to injury). Body willing, I also wanted to try (again) for a solid marathon before June, so that the year would be split into three "seasons": two marathon training cycles to pepper with tune-up and just-for-fun races, and the summer in between to focus on recovery & base training.

There are some good spring marathons in northern CA, including Napa Valley, Oakland, River City, Modesto, SLO, and Big Sur, but given that I knew I wouldn't really be ready for any real training until January, most of them come up a bit soon. On the other hand, I didn't want to wait too long and risk hot weather, either. Between those two constraints, early May kind of seemed like my best bet.

Alas, that didn't leave a ton of local options that weren't either a) at least kinda-sorta trail races, or b) historically on the uncomfortably warm side. Really, it only left SLO, which from all reports is a good race and I've thought about running in the past, but to be honest I just couldn't get that excited about it, and I kind of need something exciting to look forward to running-wise. So, I widened my net a bit and let myself dream a little about what races I'd really be excited to run, and that's when I stumbled across the Eugene Marathon, which is May 1.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like that might be the perfect choice. It's kind of an iconic race but still not super huge, reasonably priced, flat, shaded, and not too far of a trip. I've only heard good things from friends who have run it and always hoped I might get a chance.

The other thing that makes it perfect is the fact that Don has a big birthday coming up at the end of April and I've been trying to think of something a little out of the ordinary we could do to celebrate. There was a brief period of time when it looked like we might have been taking a trip to Scotland then, but given that we'll (hopefully) be deep into construction on our house at that point, it didn't seem like the greatest time to spend a bunch of extra money or be out of the country for multiple weeks. But we could totally go up to Eugene the week before the race and spend a few days conquering the south end of the Willamette Valley, since on our Portland trip in September we only made it to the north end.

(It would also assuage the fear I always have about races that involve plane trips. If you sign up for a local race or even one where you drive and get a hotel room and something catastrophic happens, you're only out the race fee. This way, the plane tickets would still be usable. Not that I'm actively PLANNING for anymore marathon DNS catastrophes, but it's hard not to at least consider these things.)

Lining up local tune-up races in the spring is never very hard around here. I knew I wanted to do a half 4-5 weeks out from Eugene, which made Oakland Running Festival on March 20 a perfect fit. While it's gotten a bit warm toward the end on occasion in the past, I know & like the course fairly well (I PR'd in 2012 and ran a sub-1:40 on a warm day in 2013), and I know I can count on ORF for a well-done race. (A discount code from race ambassador Jen didn't hurt, either!)

Oakland Running Festival 2012 with Bay Area bloggers of yore

Oakland Running Festival 2013 with Catherine and Jen

I also wanted to run something else in February & had narrowed it down to either Kaiser Permanente Half on Feb. 14 or Brazen Bay Breeze 10K on Feb. 13. After talking to Coach Ashley about it, we decided that if I actually wanted to race (which I do), a 10K was a safer bet for that early in my training cycle.

Bay Breeze 2012. 2012 was a good year.

I have always had good luck at Bay Breeze / Summer Breeze (the August race on the same course) & it's the course I ran my 10K PR on in August 2012 (god, that's depressing to type), so while I don't expect to PR, I'm looking forward to at least having a good race & getting a clear idea of where my fitness is after six weeks or so of training.

The CIM cycle is far enough off that I haven't committed to any tune-up races yet, but after a preliminary investigation of the myriad half marathon options available in late October, I'm thinking that the Folsom Blues Breakout Half (formerly Lake Natoma 4 Bridges) in Folsom on Oct. 23 is probably the likeliest option. (Healdsburg Half up in wine country is another, though it's two weeks earlier, which doesn't fit quite as nicely.)

So there you go--my 2016 race schedule as it currently stands:

Spring Racing:

  • Feb. 13 - Bay Breeze 10K (San Leandro, CA)
  • Mar. 20 - Oakland Half Marathon (Oakland, CA)
  • **May 1 - Eugene Marathon (Eugene, OR)**

Summer Base Building:

  • ???
  • July 17 - Jungle Run Half Marathon (Los Gatos, CA)

Fall Racing:

  • ???
  • Oct. 23 - Folsom Blues Breakout Half (Folsom, CA)
  • **Dec. 4 - Cal International Marathon (Sacramento, CA)**


  1. I'm impressed with your organisation. I have only one definite race on my calendar at the moment and it's not even written in my diary or entered. I figure that the year will just evolve - the way it usually does.

  2. Eugene '13 was a monster PR for me. I had a great experience with the race as well. Oakland has a good and hilly full with a flat half (as you know), & Kaiser I'd fairly flat as well, if I recall. Exciting to see your plans!!

    1. Oh, one last thing: Jungle Run is fun. I ran it in '14 as a tuneup for TSFM couple weeks later. It's not a super fast course, but it's fun :)

  3. Eugene has been on my shortlist for the last few years. I'm not up to training that hard between now and May, but maybe next year. I'll be excited to see your race recap and training!