Friday, April 28, 2017


I think one of the reasons I had such a hard time getting motivated after CIM was because I just couldn't get excited about any particular goals. I'm not really interested in trying a different kind of event (no ultras, triathlons, or trail running beyond maybe the occasional just-for-fun morning with friends, and DEFINITELY nothing involving monkey bars or barbed wire). I'm not going to run another marathon this year, and I haven't been able to get that excited about apocryphal distances like 8K or 10-milers.

The logical thing to do, it seems, would be to focus on the shorter, canonical distances and work on closing the gap between my recent times and old PRs. Ie, shoot for a sub-1:40 half this year, or a sub-44:30 10K. Destroying my marathon PR suggests it's entirely possible, and I've got a good, long chunk of time before I need to start thinking about marathon training again. In a way, it's a no brainer--a couple of completely safe, reasonable goals, definitely doable with some work.

And...also completely unmotivating.

It's not that I wouldn't be pleased to run times around my PRs this year; truly, that would be awesome and I would blog the heck out of it. But right now, that's not enough to get me out on the roads more than 20-30 uninspiring miles a week. No matter how hard I try, I just can't get excited about it.

I've been trying to figure out why, and while chatting with a friend one day about my lack of enthusiasm for what should be pretty cool accomplishments, she asked me, "But have you ever thought about shooting for a 1:35 half?"

Of course I was appropriately scandalized by the very thought.

Because while I do feel pretty confident that if I had a 3:31 marathon in me after all these years of being injured and not 27 anymore then I've definitely got a couple more sub-1:40 halfs in there, I am not at ALL confident that I could *ever* run a 1:35 half. That's 7:15 pace, which is the pace at which I ran my recent February 10K, and even my PR 10K pace is only 7:05. Frankly, it just sounds like crazy talk.

But days after this conversation, the number stuck in my head




Completely unreasonable. My best recent half was 1:42. I haven't run a sub-1:40 in 4 years.

But in the back of my mind, a small voice whispered, "But...what if...?"

And since then I haven't been able to shake it.

Five years ago I thought that if I really trained hard, I could probably qualify for Boston, but 3:30 felt entirely out of the question; then it turned out that doing more aerobic running, increasing my mileage a bit, and getting more consistent with long runs brought me within spitting distance of that number, and I really do believe that if I'd run less conservatively, I probably could have broken it. So maybe I shouldn't write off 1:35 so quickly?

If you know me at all, you know where this path leads: To math.

First, I looked at any time I raced a half marathon and a full marathon close enough together that they could reasonably be said to reflect the same (or reasonably close) fitness level. There were four such instances:

  • October/December 2011: 1:47 and 3:47
  • October/December 2012: 1:38 and 3:55
  • March/May 2013: 1:39 and 3:35
  • March/May 2016: 1:54 and 3:53
  • October/December 2016: 1:42 and 3:31

What I learned from this exercise is that there is no discernible pattern whatsoever in the relationship of my half and full times. Really just not useful AT ALL. Of course in a lot of ways the half and full are really, really different races, so looking for a predictive relationship there might not actually be all that useful anyway.

So what about 10Ks and halfs run in reasonable proximity?

  • February/March 2012: 44:49 and 1:43:15
  • August 2012: 44:21 and 1:44:42
  • March 2013: 44:29 and 1:39:30
  • October/November 2013: 45:31 and 1:44:09
  • February/March 2016: 46:01 and 1:54:53
  • September/October 2016: 44:38 and 1:42:45

A little more consistency here, but still not really enough to give me an accurate idea of what kind of 10K time I'd need to run to predict a 1:35 half. (This data predicts anything from 38:00 to 43:30 which is sort of not really helpful.)

So I asked the internet. 10K seems like the most practical predictor of half performance, so what say you, race time predictor calculators? If I want a 1:35 half, what sort of 10K times should I be shooting for?

Chicago Endurance:

Runner's World:

McMillan Running:

Running Ahead:

Sure, race time prediction based on other race times is always a bit of an art that can vary hugely for different individuals, but it does seem like if I want to have any hope of running a 1:35 half, I really need to get myself down in the vicinity of 43:00, at least. That's ~80 seconds of my PR, ~100 seconds of my fastest recent time, and a full two minutes off the time I ran in February. Not impossible, but certainly not insignificant, either.

And I think that is part of the allure of the Big-Hairy-Audacious Goal, or BHAG, as we used to call them at my last school. The phrase comes from the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. People talk a lot about setting realistic, incremental goals that are just challenging enough to push you out of your comfort zone a bit, but not so challenging that it's discouraging. The entire point of the BHAG, though, is pretty much to drop kick your nice, comfortable ass right out of reasonable-safe-incremental land and smack into the middle of WOW THIS IS SUPER SCARY AND I AM MORE THAN A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT-sville.

By definition, a good BHAG borders on the ludicrous. It's not actually ludicrous to those in the know; just sort of ludicrous-adjacent.

A good BHAG is "audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible." It shakes the entity in question (a company, a country, a mediocre recreational distance runner) out of a business-as-usual mindset and forces it to consider entirely different strategies. Improve sales by 10% this year? Sure, it'll take some extra work, but you can probably get there by doing what you're already doing just a little bit better and a little more consistently. Improve sales by 200%? An entirely different ball game. Chances are, you can't get there using your current set of strategies, no matter how well or consistently you do them. Realistically, improvement that dramatic will require coming up with a completely novel strategy. Maybe multiple such strategies. You can't stick to business as usual, just a little bit better, and accomplish big, hairy, audacious things.

An example people use a lot is President Kennedy's 1961 declaration that the US would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. At the time, the idea seemed crazy to most people. To quote Collins,

    "President Kennedy and his advisors could have gone off into a conference room and drafted something like 'Let's beef up our space program,' or some other such vacuous statement. The most optimistic scientific assessment of the moon mission's chances for success in 1961 was fifty-fifty and most experts were, in fact, more pessimistic. Yet, nonetheless, Congress agreed (to the tune of an immediate $549 million and billions more in the following five years) with Kennedy's proclamation on May 25, 1961, 'that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.' Given the odds, such a bold commitment was, at the time, outrageous. But that's part of what made it such a powerful mechanism for getting the United States, still groggy from the 1950s and the Eisenhower era, moving vigorously forward."

Now, to be honest, once I went back and started reading about this stuff again, I started thinking, "Maybe a 1:35 half when 1:38 is your PR isn't actually a big, hairy, audacious goal. Maybe 1:35 is only hard-but-doable and I'd have to be thinking 1:25 or 1:30 to qualify as a BHAG." But to be honest, 1:35 at this point, 7:15 pace for 13+ miles in a row really does scare the shit out of me. I feel like fifty-fifty odds is a generous assessment of my chances of running such a race this year. So to me, 1:35 still does feel very, very BHAG.

More to come as I get my head around this.

(Related: I ran 42 miles last week. That's the most in a while.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hi, hello, I am not dead yet

Hi friends,

I figured I should pop in, however briefly, to assure you all that I a) am not dead and b) have not lost all interest in running. Mostly I've been traveling way, way too much these last few weeks & just generally ultra busy with work and family stuff. I've been getting a run in here & there when & where I can, but it's nothing to write home about, really. (Logging runs publicly has fallen completely by the wayside.) My weekly mileage has been as high as 40 miles and as low as zero, just depending on my travel schedule and what else is going on.

On Monday Mar. 27 I flew to Orange County for work, then flew back two days later on Wednesday night, madly threw in a load of laundry, & started packing three different bags for three wildly different locations. (I'd started on Sunday but there was some stuff I couldn't do until after laundry on Wednesday.)

Orange County does not lack for sidewalks :)

...though some are nicer than others. :-/

Three different climates, three different sets of gear & clothes.

Thursday morning we drove up to Tahoe for a long weekend of skiing, which believe it or not has been on the calendar for a couple of years; Don's parents have a timeshare there that they knew they wouldn't be able to use this year so we'd agreed to take it years ago. (Twist our arms, I know.)

Things started old cold-ish & gradually warmed up

By the last day he was sweating in a T-shirt.

One of the days I got a snowy(-ish) trail run in

Trail shoes were the right call.

Then Sunday evening we drove back to SF, where I had about an hour to unload the dirty clothes & switch out the ski bag for the work suitcase before Don drove me to the airport to get on a 12:30am flight to San Antonio for a conference where I was presenting the next morning. (Herewith kicks off several weeks of less-than-stellar sleep.)

Going on two hours of sleep, *maybe*

Fancy talk-giving math ladies! #obligatory

My boss & co-speaker at the Alamo. Never forget!

Don't miss the Riverwalk if you're in San Antonio. It's a bit touristy in places but other parts are super pretty & peaceful. (Narrow with lots of stairs & pedestrians, though, so I would not recommend for running.)

The view from dinner one evening

Friday afternoon I hopped a plane from San Antonio back to SF; this time there wasn't even time to go home, & Don just picked me up at the airport with yet another bag for our drive down to Paso Robles for some wine pickup events.

I took no vineyard pictures so please enjoy this one from last fall.

Wine pickup!

(Yes, I know you're feeling REALLY sorry for me right now. One endures, somehow.) It was a fun weekend as always, but we got home later than we planned on Sunday night & pretty much came home & crashed.

Then three lovely days at home! By which I mean, three lovely days of both of us suffering from mild food poisoning (the cause of which remains mysterious). YAY. :-/ Then Thursday morning it was back to the airport for a flight to Dallas, where we were celebrating his Grandad's 100th birthday (genuine YAY!). This was also a fun weekend, and I even got a couple of (verrrry humid) runs in with Don's dad & cousin, but I also never really adjusted to the time change and didn't sleep great for most of the trip.

There IS some nice running in Dallas, including a lovely trail that runs around White Rock Lake.

Now I'm back for an entire, blessed week (!) before I have to get back on a plane to LA next Monday. (Though, thankfully for only two days.) Ten days after that it's off to the Big Island for a genuine, real life vacation (WOOHOO!!), & ten days after THAT (and you will not believe this) it's back onto ANOTHER plane to Hawaii for a week, Oahu this time, for work. Then I'm finally home for two solid weeks, then a week in SoCal for work, and SWEET JESUS after that I actually think I'm not getting on a plane again (as far as I know) until September.

So maybe you can see how getting anything consistent going running-wise has been, if not impossible, at least beyond my meager capabilities.

The good news is that, although my travel schedule is not necessarily cooperating with the idea of starting to actual for-real train for a thing again, my motivation is starting to come back. I actually started getting excited about running a 5K or two in June and hitting the pavement hot & heavy this summer in hopes of rocking my goal half (Rock N Roll San Jose) in October. At this point I'm actually feeling not-terrible about committing to 6-10 easy miles most days & something in the 10-15 range on weekends when possible, and I'd also like to start adding in things like clamshells and lunges and single-leg squats and planks and other ab things here and there, even if it's only 10 minutes a day or a half hour a few times a week for now.

Odds are I haven't seen your blog in weeks, sooooo what's up with you?

Monday, April 3, 2017

More Race Discounts!

You guys, I can barely keep up! D:

The Giant Race, August 7, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on all adult distances (half/10K/5K) until midnight Tuesday or 1000 registrations sold with code OPENINGDAY17TGR

Santa Rosa Marathon (+Half/10K/5K), August 26 & 27, Santa Rosa, CA. Save $15 with code NEWYEAR until April 6

Rock Tahoe Half Marathon, June 17, Lake Tahoe, CA. Save $15 with code WEROCKTAHOE until April 9


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Books 2017: Quarter 1

No, it's not about running, but heeeyyyy I finally wrote a real post!! You're welcome.

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last two years. It started as a one-year project in 2014, but I've enjoyed it enough to keep going with it & will probably continue until it starts to feel like a chore. You can find my past reviews by clicking on the "books" tag at the end of this post, or be my friend on Goodreads. (You can also just go to the site & hunt down my review feed without being my friend, if that's more your speed.)

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2017 are here.

On to the reviews!


January: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman (1974, 278 pages). 4 stars. Towards the end of the 20th century, humans are engaged in an interstellar battle with a mysterious alien race known as the Taurans; the book follows the military career of Private William Mandella, who enlists to help fight the mysterious enemy. Both races have light speed travel, though, which makes the logistics of planning and fighting a war extremely interesting if you think all of it through to its logical conclusion. For example, Mandella and his fellows may travel weeks to fight a particular conflict, only to find when they arrive that many years have passed and not only are their knowledge, skills, and equipment potentially outdated and useless, but the very situation itself may have changed as well. As a result, Mandella's years fighting Taurans in space equate to centuries passing back on Earth. I'm not usually much of a hard sci fi fan, but I really enjoyed how well thought out the story was, particularly the issues around light speed travel. It was also decently well written. Some spots felt a bit dated 43 years later, but it actually surprised me how much of it didn't. Worth reading.

February: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt (1994, 386 pages). 4 stars. This book was worth a read for the sheer entertainment value. It's less of a story and more of a brilliant, hilarious--and mostly true, as I understand it--character portrait of a collection of Savannah residents between roughly the mid-70's and mid-80s. In it we meet an eccentric lawyer, a glamorous drag queen, a voodoo witch, a dodgy socialite-cum-antique dealer, & many others. At the heart of the book lies the mystery of what really happened to Danny Hansford, a young man with a rough reputation who ends up with a bullet in his chest. Definitely one of the most unique books I've ever read, and extremely entertaining. I'm not usually much for character studies but I enjoyed this one & I can see why it's become a classic.

March: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (2002, 328 pages). 4 stars. I'm not really sure what took me so long to read this, but it was an enjoyable and lovely read, in spite of the fact that it begins with a (somewhat graphic) depiction of the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl. The story is told from the perspective of the dead girl, watching her friends and family from her own personal heaven as their lives go on and they attempt to deal with her death, each other, and everything else. Sweet, heartbreaking, and beautifully written.


It has not been a terrible quarter for good reads. Also, as I reread this, it's clearly the quarter of "Mmmmm that's all I can say without getting into spoilers," so if you like those sorts of books, oh man. Go to town.

Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle. (2017, 214 pages) 5 stars. In a rural town in Iowa, circa 2000, a woman returns a video to the clerk at Video Hut. "There's something on this one," she tells him uneasily. "You might want to take a look at it." So he does. And finds some bizarre, mildly disturbing footage spliced into the middle of the film. A few other videos with similar scenes show up as well. The clerk informs the store manager, who starts looking into it. And that is just about all I can tell you without spoilers, and I would highly recommend that if you're going to read this one, you avoid learning anything else about the story. (And no, it's not like The Ring.) At barely over 200 pages, it's a short read, but the writing itself is utterly masterful, wringing out every last drop of meaning from every sentence, without a wasted word anywhere; taking my time over the poetry of the writing was as much a treat as the story itself. That said, it's definitely not for everyone. Some people will finish it & go "I don't get it," & others will outright hate it. But if you like cerebral, hazy, edge-of-your seat, what-is-going-on fiction in the vein of Paul Aster, Haruki Murakami, and David Mitchell, it might be for you.

Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters. (2016, 327) 5 stars. The premise of Underground Airlines asks, What if instead of becoming our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated soon after his election? As the story opens in the early 21st century, we learn that four states known as the "Hard Four" still have legal slavery, and we get a vision of what legalized Black slavery could have looked like in the modern age. The protagonist was born a slave on a livestock farm but is now a free man--a free man who works for the US Marshals as a bounty hunter, using his considerable talents to locate "Persons Bound" (or P.B.s) who attempt to escape slavery via the Underground Airlines, because {reasons which are spoiler-ey}. But something about his current case feels off, and suddenly our protagonist is in deeper than he bargained for. This was just an amazing, brilliant book on so many levels. The writing is excellent, the characters rich and three-dimensional, the logical conclusions of the Crittenden Compromise so deftly and methodically thought out. Yes, it is dark and horrifying on a number of levels, but I raced through it anyway, unable to put it down. Highly, highly recommend as long as you're not going through a beach read/escapism kind of phase at the moment (because it is definitely, definitely not that).

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. (2010, 290 pages) 5 stars. And hey! As long as you're eschewing beach reads in favor of socially conscious reads, you might as well move right along to The New Jim Crow, which is just as dark and disturbing, except real. Personally, I put this one up there with "books you should have to read in order to stay a citizen of this country." This is one of those subjects where I knew a lot of the facts (though certainly not all), but having someone place all those facts in a historical and sociological context and spell it all out for you is utterly horrifying. If you're one of those people who thinks racism is over, or that "sure, we still have racism, but it's WAY better than it used to be," this book is probably for you. Do your civic duty & read it (or listen to the audio book like I did).

The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp. (2016, 336 pages) 5 stars. Guys, you're going to love this one or hate it. Basically this book is like if David Mitchell and Paul Tremblay had a creepy and amazing book baby. The book is presented as the last work of (kinda-sorta) journalist and (kinda-sorta) author Jack Sparks before his mysterious and troubling death at the age of 36, with a foreword, epilogue, and annotations by his (skeptical and defensive) older brother. After writing several stunt books like Jack Sparks on Drugs and Jack Sparks on Gangs, he'd begun working on Jack Sparks on the Supernatural, openly approaching the subject as a non-believer. (Indeed, the book opens with our narrator basically chortling his way through an exorcism in rural Italy.) And then...Things get weird. Like. Really, really weird. But in the way I find chilling and entertaining and creepy but also *incredibly* clever and imaginative and well-written. But like I said, it will definitely NOT be to everyone's taste, particularly if you have issues around the religious/supernatural/paranormal. (But if you do enjoy it, may I humbly recommend Paul Tremblay and Grady Hendrix.)

Use of Weapons (Culture #3), by Iain M. Banks. (1990, 411 pages) 4 stars. The Culture are looking for a particular man to stabilize a dangerous political situation, and that man has as his price the location of a particular woman. While extraordinarily gifted in some ways, he's also much, much older than he seems, and much more broken, with a back story that's anything but straightforward. In the universe of Culture novels, for me this one fell in between Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. Brilliant writing and character development as always, a bit more abstract and less strictly plot-driven than PoG, but not quite as bleak and WTF as CP. The structure was cool (though I didn't notice exactly how it was laid out until more than halfway through, and that would have clarified some things), and I absolutely 100% did not see the "big reveal" coming until, like, less than a page before. Not giving up on the Culture yet!

The Girl Before, by JP Delaney. (2017, 320 pages) 4 stars. My quest to read all psychological thrillers with the word 'Girl' in the title continues. This book follows the story of two women, woven together chapter-by-chapter although the events of each woman's story occurred a year apart. Both are similar in age and appearance, and both have suffered a personal trauma, and as a result both have moved into the shockingly minimalist, smart-house architectural wonder at One Folgate Street. In both cases, the women are only able to afford the house because the sober, austere architect rents it cheaply to those who are willing to open it to the public occasionally and live by its 200+ draconian rules ("No personal effects," "Wash, dry, & put away dishes immediately after using," "Wipe the shower dry immediately after every use," "No pets/children," etc.). Erie similarities emerge as both women find themselves enmeshed in trying to make sense of what is happening and who they can trust. The use of symmetry is interesting, and I have to admit that I did not see the vast majority of the twists and turns coming. The end felt a bit sappy, but it was still an entertaining and well written read. (And yes, if you liked Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, All the Missing Girls, etc., you'll probably enjoy this one as well.)

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow. (2016, 264 pages) 4 stars. (While we're on the subject of girls.) Not exactly my usual cup of tea, but still a really excellent, well-written debut. After a horrific (and mysterious) accident, Rachel--the daughter of a Black GI father and Danish mother--comes to live with her (rather strict) paternal grandmother and aunt. Having mostly grown up in Europe, Rachel has never particularly thought of herself of as Black, but in 1980s Chicago, she is quickly forced to confront her racial identity while also dealing with the emotional fallout of the accident. Short, insightful, & beautifully written. To me this reads a lot like older, literary young adult; file in the same mental bucket as Number the Stars and A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.

Dreams and Shadows, by C. Robert Cargill. (2013, 448 pages) 4 stars. I don't know how to explain the premise of this book without writing paragraphs and paragraphs, so I'll just say that it's what the kids I think call "urban fantasy," set in present-day Austin which hides a secret world of faeries and monsters and what have you, including cigar-smoking, leather jacket-wearing genies and whiskey-drinking fallen angels and returned-from-the-dead changelings that live off the pain and anguish of their unsuspecting foster parents. This type of book isn't really my bag but it was well written and sort of imaginatively brilliant in terms of weaving together the modern world and a bunch of old folklore, and I agree with the reviewers who said that it might be just the thing for fans of The Magicians or Neil Gaiman's more adult works.

Dear Mr. M, by Herman Koch. (2014, 400 pages) 4 stars. I didn't LUUUURRRV everything about this book, but I thought it was extremely well-written and cleverly structured. The story revolves around a Dutch novelist (Mr. M) and is mostly written from the perspective of his downstairs neighbor, a younger man with shall we say strong-ish opinions about M's work. As the book unfolds we learn more about M and the downstairs neighbor, their pasts, and mmmmmmm to say more would really just spoil everything. There is a bit of a twist at the end and I did NOT see it coming until maybe that same page. If you like long-game, character-driven mysteries with subtle bits of cleverness, you might enjoy. If you like more heavily plot-driven books where Things are always Happening and the story proceeds in a clear, chronological fashion, it may not be exactly your bag.

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1), by Christina Henry. (2015, 291 pages) 4 stars. This was a good, if not earth-shattering, read. The story begins with early-2os-perhaps Alice locked in a mental hospital, with disturbing, fragmented memories of a rabbit and a tea party and a missing friend. "She and Dor went into the Old City for Dor's birthday.... Two weeks later came Alice, covered in blood, babbling about tea and a rabbit, wearing a dress that wasn't hers." I'm a fan of sinister re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, and this one was well written and entertaining. My only real complaint was that it felt a bit rushed and the conflicts too easily resolved (especially given how dark and graphic it is, definitely DEFINITELY not for children). I was glad to see it's actually the first in a series, which may give the story and characters more room to play out. Fans of Gregory McGuire should enjoy.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1), by Jeff VanderMeer. (2014, 195 pages) 4 stars. It's hard to really say anything about this book without getting into spoilers, but let's see. #1) There is a place called Area X, which is top secret or highly restricted, or something. #2) It's kind of in a coastal area, with a swampy, jungly sort of vibe. #3) An agency called the Southern Reach is in charge of periodically sending small teams of scientists on "expeditions" into Area X to...investigate? #4) Strange and/or concerning things happen when people go there. It is the twelfth expedition, a team of four nameless women: a psychologist (the leader), a surveyor, an anthropologist, and a biologist (the narrator). Essentially the book tells the story of the twelfth expedition, which gets really, really weird. But the writing is excellent, and the suspense and intrigue made me desperate to learn what happened and get the whole story. (Also...I know that you'll probably ignore my advice, because you have to know what happens, but if you really, really love this book, just stop after the first one. Trust me. Just...stop.)

* * *

Currently Reading:
Tell The Wolves I'm Home
, by Carol Rifka Brunt

Currently Listening To:
The Wanderers
, by Meg Howrey

Up Next:

And who knows, whatever else tickles my fancy. (Taking future suggestions as always!)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Discount Codes UPDATED!!

They're coming in fast & furious!

(As always if you try one & it doesn't work please let me know so I can remove it.)


Water To Wine Half Marathon & 10K, August 6, Sonoma County (starting and finishing at Kendall Jackson Winery). Save 10% with LUCKY10 through March 30. I haven't run this race, but I've run the other two in the series (Windsor Green Half & Healdsburg Half) & they've been quite well done.

SACTOWN 10-Mile & 5k, April 2, Sacramento, CA. Save $5 with code LUCKY5 until ???. This race has a great reputation -- I've never run it but it's on my list.

The San Francisco Marathon, July 23, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on the full or half with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL or TSFM2017ERIN until ??? or $10 off the 5K with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL5K or TSFM2017ERIN5K. (You should also check out Erin's blog!)

The Hollywood Half Marathon, April 8, Hollywood, CA. Save $5 with code STAR until ??? ***OR*** save 25% with code NEWSTAR (thanks Mike!!!).

Race to the End of Summer, September 3, San Jose, CA, . Get 25% off your registration for any distance with code NOJOKE17 until ???. I ran the 10K at this race last year & it was great, & I'm signed up again this year!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Discount Codes!!

Just getting these off my plate before they're no good anymore:

(And if you try one & it doesn't work please let me know so I can remove it.)


Water To Wine Half Marathon & 10K, August 6, Sonoma County (starting and finishing at Kendall Jackson Winery). Save 10% with LUCKY10 through March 30. I haven't run this race, but I've run the other two in the series (Windsor Green Half & Healdsburg Half) & they've been quite well done.

SACTOWN 10-Mile & 5k, April 2, Sacramento, CA. Save $5 with code LUCKY5 until ???. This race has a great reputation -- I've never run it but it's on my list.

The San Francisco Marathon, July 23, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on the full or half with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL or TSFM2017ERIN until ??? or $10 off the 5K with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL5K or TSFM2017ERIN5K. (You should also check out Erin's blog!)

The Hollywood Half Marathon, April 8, Hollywood, CA. Save $5 with code STAR until ???.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017: The Classics

Yes, yes, I's March already. I'm behind. On everything. Without further ado....

BEHOLD! The classic novels I'll be reading in 2017:

JANUARY: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. "The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand, despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. He's willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But 'home' may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries." I like to do one true sci fi classic each year & this one got a lot of votes.

FEBRUARY: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. "Voodoo. Decadent socialites packing Lugars. Cotillions. With towns like Savannah, Georgia, who needs Fellini? Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes two narrative strands--each worthy of its own book--and weaves them together to make a single fascinating tale. The first is author John Berendt's loving depiction of the characters and rascals that prowled Savannah in the eight years it was his home-away-from-home. Then, on May 2, 1981, the book's second story line commences, when Jim Williams, a wealthy antique dealer and Savannah's host with the most, kills his "friend" Danny Hansford. (If those quotes make you suspect something, you should.) Was it self-defense, as Williams claimed--or murder? The book sketches four separate trials, during which the dark side of this genteel party town is well and truly plumbed."

MARCH (Women's History Month): The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. "The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure. The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished."

APRIL: The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. "In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro's dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change."

MAY (Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month): The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. "In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined."

JUNE (Russian Heritage Month): The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. "The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia."

JULY: Atonement, by Ian McEwan. "Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose. On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece."

AUGUST: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. " 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the 'most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,' and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as 'irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.' "

SEPTEMBER (Banned Books Week): Lady Chatterly's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence. "Lawrence's frank portrayal of an extramarital affair and the explicit sexual explorations of the central characters caused this controversial book, now considered a masterpiece, to be banned as pornography until 1960."

OCTOBER: The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler. "When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in." I dunno, I want to read an old detective novel.

NOVEMBER: Far From The Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. (Leftover from 2016, womp womp) "Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community." Overflow from last year that I didn't get to since I was busy re-reading the entire Lightbringer series. A lot of people have recommended this and I have never read Thomas Hardy.

DECEMBER: East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. (Again, leftover from 2016. :-/ )"Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence." Ditto. I haven't read Steinbeck since high school, so it's only fair to give him another shot.

Thanks for all your suggestions! :)

Other Books I'm Planning to Read this Year...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Here Comes The Sun!

*Of course*, the week I decided to nix my erstwhile goal race & not worry about weekly mileage for a while, I would end up running my first 40+ week in two months (and, in fact if I'm not mistaken, my highest mileage week thus far this year).

    Monday 3/6: Karate

    Tuesday 3/7: 8 easy

    Wednesday 3/8: 8 easy

    Thursday 3/9: 8 easy

    Friday 3/10: 4 easy (planned 8, but had plans to meet friends for happy hour & just ran out of time)

    Saturday 3/11: Rest/mad tile shopping

    Sunday 3/12: 13.1 easy. This was the day I was supposed to run Shamrock'n, so since I was feeling pretty good, I decided to pay a little homage to the-race-that-wasn't & do my own super easy half marathon in Golden Gate Park (no driving involved). It was also my first double-digit run in *quite* some time, so I was relieve that it went well.

    Total: 41.1 easy miles

Also, I don't know if it's just taking all the race/training pressure off or what, but this week my easy runs have been FAST! (Y'know, for me, for easy runs.) Most of the time when I shoot for keeping my heart rate around 140-145, my easy runs average somewhere in the 10:10-10:15/mile range; this week I was regularly ticking off miles in the 9:30-45 range at that same heart rate, sometimes even 9:15! The change seems too sudden (and my training lately too sparse) to really attribute it to an improvement in fitness, so I wonder if it had to do in part with me suddenly not being super stressed about racing a half marathon.

In other news, SPRING IS BACK!

I'm not usually someone that deals with Seasonal Affective stuff or gets too bummed about winter (partly due to the fact that we only really have a kind of "winter-lite", probably) but I suspect that that has played a nonzero role in my general lack of excitement about running. Sure, when I'm training hard for something and super committed, I'll run in just about whatever conditions exist without a second thought--wind, rain, darkness, cold, whatever. Enjoyment is not the primary goal. But when I'm not feeling super invested in training for something, I'm mostly running when I feel like it, in order to enjoy it and feel good. Running in the dark and cold and wind and rain most of the time? Not conducive to that.

So yes, I get that everyone hates Daylight Saving Time and it's an invention of the devil and all, but I cannot tell you how I excited I was to get an extra hour of daylight on Sunday. Being an afternoon/evening running, it's a huge relief to not feel the pressure of having to get a long run done by 5pm because I don't want to run in the dark.

Also, Sunday was just the most beautiful day imaginable in SF--75-80° and sunny, with just enough of a breeze for running to be pleasant.

All these people agree

It's looking like we might get a whole week without rain, so we'll see if this high (for admittedly quite low values of "high") mileage trend continues!

(And if you're reading this from the east coast....sorry. :-/ )

Friday, March 10, 2017

Time to Step Back (and some pictures, because, pictures)

You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven't had much to say here lately, and that's kind of a combination of a bunch of factors. 1) I've been stretched super thin with precious free time for rambling on the internet (ie, it's taken me like two weeks working in fits and starts to scrape this post together), 2) the same thin-stretching has, sadly, resulted in less actual/interesting running to write *about*, and, well, 3) running has kind of just sucked lately.

Things I've been doing instead of running: I was supposed to race a 10K this weekend but said ehhhhh screw it & we went skiing instead.

View from our hotel room.

This place is pretty hard to beat.

There were poke cones for dinner, and good wine.

I mentioned this in my Victory 10K race report a bit, how from the start of the year even just lacing up my shoes has been a struggle, how everything hurts, how sometimes I get home from work and running is just about the absolute last thing I feel like doing, which is just really weird after six months of "WEEEEE RUN ALLLLL THE MILES & FEEL (mostly) GREAT!!!11!1" I had this goal of taking my post-CIM marathon fitness, which was no question the best it's ever been in my life, and stacking 10 weeks of half marathon-specific training on top of that with the hopes of running if not a PR at Shamrock'n Half at least my first sub-1:40 in 4.5 years.

OTHER NON-RUNNING STUFF: That time I put on non-running clothes for Valentine's Day.

But it's like the universe is just completely dead set against it. First I was sick. Then running sucked. Then I was super busy with work and renovations and traveling all the time. Then I started having asthma problems from all the dust. Then I pulled a hamstring last week. (It was getting better, then this week I tripped & re-pulled it.) Then I got food poisoning this past weekend. So instead revving up for a super sick half, I've spent most of 2017 with my Shamrock training feeling like the BBQ piglet from season 7 of The Simpsons.

"It's just a little malaise! It's still good! It's still good!" "It's just a little undertraining! It's still good! It's still good!" "It's just a little hypoxia! It's still good! It's still good!"

Then this weekend happened and when I was finally not feeling like I was going to puke every half hour or so, I looked down the barrel of the work that's left to be done for our renovations, much of which must be done very soon and can be done only on weekends, and finally had to admit, "Nope; nope, it's gone."

What our downstairs looked like a month ago:

What it looks like now:

If the race was here in town and I didn't have to drive 2 hours there and back and pay for a hotel and give up half my Saturday as well as half my Sunday, I'd probably still run it since I've paid for, but even then I don't think I'd try to race. My workouts have been few and far between, I haven't run double digits since January, and I've only run the full race distance or more once this year. I don't know, maybe I could still coast my way on all that marathon training to a pretty decent half, but the truth is I just AM.NOT.FEELING IT. (And I'm definitely not feeling like giving up so much of one of my only free weekends between now and May and paying for a hotel room.)

Before the food poisoning, hanging out with my mom & sisters in Ft. Worth. (I randomly happened to be there for a conference this past weekend.)

Me & my tall sisters.

So, Wednesday morning I finally emailed my RunCoach coaches and ask them to suspend my account for a couple of months. They both agreed that there was nothing wrong with taking a bit of a break after CIM, especially during a busy time and especially when my motivation for real "training" is completely MIA. I can't tell you what a relief it was to finally, officially make that decision (which I think is how you know it's the right one).

There is decent running in Ft. Worth! Trinity Park (30+ miles of paved & dirt trails) is just two miles outsie of downtown.

Running across the Trinity River towards the park, then along the river for 4 miles out & back. (I don't know the area well enough to do loops, but one could, in theory.)

As for the new plan, here's what I've got:

  • Keep running as much as I'm able and feel up to. So, I dunno, maybe ~30 mpw or so, but I'm not planning to set any real number goals. I just don't want to be dreading it all day.
  • Forget about workouts for the next two months. Getting to the track adds a solid 30-40 minutes to my run, plus it's that much harder to muster the mental focus for fast running when you feel crappy and also guilty about all the other stuff you should be doing instead. (Besides, a good chunk of easy base training never hurts!)
  • Finish building my damn house. Or, y'know, making final decisions about tile and engineered wood and appliances so the wonderful wonderful guys we're paying can finish building our damn house. I didn't realize how much I'd been stressed out by thoughts like "How am I going to visit the tile store AND get in my run?" and "How am I going to go look at fridges all morning plus all the usual weekend chores AND get in my run?" until I said, "Fuck it, the house has to be the top priority right now" and it was such a weight off my chest.
  • Go to Hawaii in May. Because I need a damn vacation. (I have completely forgotten what it feels like to get on a plane out of something other than a sense of obligation.)
  • Train for PrideRun 5K on June 24. In the best of worlds, I will get in lots and lots of good base training, six weeks of solid speed work, and crush it; in more mediocre ones, I will do almost nothing and pay $30 to jog three comfortable miles for charity 20 minutes from my house, which will also be fine. Most likely it will be something in between, and that's fine too. :)

Ft. Worth also has cool water gardens. (Yes, the water recirculates.)

So, there you go. That's what I've been up to. What's new with you?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Race Report: Victory 10K

Alternative title: There's Always Room for More Navel Gazing!

This post will be mostly about Victory 10K but, full disclosure, it's also a lot of me having an existential running crisis, because these are the times we live in & it's semi-semi-semi-relevant. You've been warned.

(Also: Apparently there were no photos taken of me running so please enjoy the many, many incredibly thoughtful animated gifs with which I have accented this post. #yourewelcome)

(UPDATE: Turns out you get one real photo. Enjoy!)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Victory races are a fairly new addition to Brazen Racing’s portfolio, just in their second year, I think. Brazen is well known in the Bay Area for fun, reasonably affordable, and extremely well-organized events; most of them are trail races (including some real doozies!), but they host a few flat, paved events as well (including Hellyer in the South Bay and the Bay Breeze/Summer Breeze races at the San Leandro Marina).

Back in the fall when I was plotting my post-CIM exploits, I had this idea that I would take the month of December more or less off, then spend the first part of 2017 working on speed to see what else I could do with the monster aerobic base that I’d built up during marathon training. I signed up for Shamrock’n Half on March 12 and figured I’d run a nice, flat 10K sometime in February to get a sense of where I was.

Alas, in terms of running, 2017 didn’t get off to the start I’d had in mind. I was sick for the first week or so of the year, but even once I got over that, I never really stopped feeling tired and lazy. Running felt like a chore, something I had to force myself to do almost every day. Every little niggle I’ve ever had related to running (most of which had remained blessedly silent during CIM training) suddenly decided to rear its ugly head. And to be fair to myself, I've also been swamped with work and renovation stuff, which means just that many more days when I legitimately don't have time for more than a handful of miles (unless I'm going to cut into my 7-8 hours of shut-eye, which is where I try super hard to draw the line).

The more I thought about it, though, the more I felt like part of my trouble was that I don't have any super inspiring goals right now. I mean. Obviously, I will take a PR any day. But the times when I've been really fired up and motivated to work extra hard have always been in pursuit of something specific, like a sub-1:40 half or a BQ. After CIM, I just didn't have anything like that revving my engines.

Originally I'd wanted to run a February 10K to check my progress, but as January came to an end I just could not bring myself to care. In fact I got so sour on lacing up that I decided to just take a full week off and do literally anything else. I felt a lot better when I went back to running on Valentine's Day, but still not particularly inspired. I'd skipped Bay Breeze 10K on 2/11 to go skiing, so my other option was Victory on 2/25. And oh man, was there a lot of waffling.

  • "Eh, you should just do it to see where you are."
  • "But why, when I basically haven't trained?"
  • "It can't hurt! If nothing else you'll get a solid workout in."
  • "But also, getting up at the butt crack of before dawn & paying the late registration fee."
  • "Eh, you like racing. You should just do it for fun!"
  • "Sometimes we have really different ideas about fun."

In the end I decided to do it, not because I felt like I was in incredible shape to destroy a 10K, but because maybe it would be a kick in the pants & whatever happened, good or bad, would finally light a fire under me and get me off the couch and back on the roads more than 30 miles a week.

It turns out there IS an upside of racing at the last minute, and that's the lack of stakes. At CIM I had several goals that I cared about a lot and had 18 weeks of my life invested in, so I raced pretty conservatively--basically just hard enough to be 100% certain I met them all. There was just no way I was going to risk those things on the off chance that I might be fit enough to blow the whole thing out of the water. This weekend? No such qualms!


In 10Ks, my usual pattern is to go out at a fast-but-comfortable pace, try to pick it up in the middle miles, & run the last 1.5 miles or so as fast as I can manage, & I think that's pretty much how I've run my fastest 10K's (ie, 44:20-44:40ish). In the grand scheme of things I don't think this is a bad strategy, but a lot of times it's resulted in running my last mile 20-30 seconds faster than the first, which in a race that short probably indicates going out a bit too conservatively. Since I had nothing to lose this time, I decided to try to break that pattern by running the first miles pretty close to my PR pace of 7:09, then see how hard it felt to hold onto that.

For a warm-up, I jogged the first 1.5 miles of the course and back, and I was glad I did as there were a few spots that weren't totally clear and it also gave me a chance to think about the tangents. A couple parts of the course were also on boardwalk rather than pavement, and since it had rained recently, the footing was a bit slippery, which was good to know. After that I hit the port-a-potties one more time, dropped off my jacket and phone, & headed back to the starting area for some quick drills while the half marathon was getting started. Then it was into the corral and we were off!

Several women leapt ahead at a pace that I was certainly not going to try to match, but after a few minutes I settled in with a small group of men who seemed to be running at about my pace, about 7:08-7:12 according to my watch. I felt like I was working and definitely running harder than I usually like to early in a 10K, but since that was part of today's goal, I tried to just relax into it. Imagine my shock when we hit the first mile marker in 6:58!

Friends, that is an end-of-10K split for me, NOT a mile 1 split! In a goal race I might have panicked a bit (also, WTF, GPS?), but since there were no stakes here and I didn't feel awful yet, I kind of took it as permission to back off just a touch if I felt like. Mostly I just tried to keep up the same effort level & stay in pretty close contact with the couple of dudes in front of me. Any time it started to feel hard I tried to tell myself, "Imagine you're training to run a half at this pace. TOTALLY DOABLE, RIGHT?" #traininglies

Mile 2 ticked off in 7:05. Slightly less scary than sub-7, but still a faster pace than I have ever run a 10K before in my life, even when I was training specifically for 10Ks. Of course when you're in the midst of racing you aren't always at your most logical and there was definitely a part of me going "THIS IS FINE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY SOME KIND OF MAGIC HAS HAPPENED AND I AM TOTALLY GOING TO RUN A PR 10K AFTER FOUR MONTHS OF MARATHON TRAINING AND THREE MONTHS OF DICKING AROUND BECAUSE THAT 100% MAKES SENSE."

After that I basically hitched my wagon to the dude in front of me &, for better or worse, used him as a rabbit.

Things started to feel hard as we approached the halfway point. Mile three was 7:13, which meant my rabbit was definitely slowing down--a good thing for me. At this point I also started trying to remember how I usually feel halfway through a 10K & if it's supposed to feel this hard. Just don't chicken out and slow down just because it's getting harder, I thought. I could have sworn in mile 4 that we were slowing down significantly, but that mile was 7:13 as well, so apparently not.

The last two miles were HARD. It was then that I really started to experience the cost of having gone out so fast (for the record, 15-20 seconds faster than usual) and I wanted so badly to say "Ehhh fine, we tried that and it sucked" and ease up and phone it in, so every time the thought occurred to me I started repeating to myself "Don't be a weenie, don't be a weenie, don't be a weenie," and tried instead to speed up juuuust a touch. (And failed, obviously, as my watch showed me 7:16 for the 5th split.)

However, my rabbit was starting to fade too at this point, and somewhere around then I pulled even with him (or, more accurately, he dropped back to me), and I passed him. With one mile to go I tried to muster every ounce of resolve I had and ratchet down the pace; I really could have sworn I was doing it, too, as I started passing quite a few people and my legs were on fire. Unfortunately my watch did not agree and I blanched a little when I hit mile 6 in 7:27. (For the record, that may be the slowest mile I've EVER run in a 10K. UPDATE No it's not, I checked & I ran a 7:40 mile a year ago at Bay Breeze 2016.) Not sure what happened there but I did manage to crank out the last .2(5?) in 1:44, so 6:58-7:10 pace, depending on whether you trust GPS or the course measurements more.

In the end I juuuust managed to squeak in under the 45:00 mark with an official time of 44:59 (7:15 pace), 39 seconds off my PR. Also I found it kind of hilarious that after running a near-perfect negative split marathon in December, I'd managed to run near-perfect positive 10K splits (6:58, 7:05, 7:13, 7:13, 7:16, 7:27).



    Overall: 18/330
    Women: 8/194
    A/G: 2/24

Podiums & medals are fun & all, but I really did not go into this race expecting any and honestly I didn't feel especially excited about how I ran. A 45:00 10K for me is not terrible and not great, so really more or less what you'd probably expect having gotten into pretty good marathon shape but then kind of doing only the bare minimum in terms of real 10K prep over the last 7-8 weeks. When I got home, I plugged in my CIM time into a few race time predictor calculators out of curiosity, & they basically all predicted 10K times of around 46 minutes, so I guess I can't be too bothered by a (barely) sub-45. If nothing else, it was a good refresher on what it feels like to actually race hard.

Other Random Thoughts During & After the Race:

  • You only think a 10K is a "short" race when you're not in the middle of running one. 40-50 minutes is a LONG ASS TIME to run hard! ("OMG there's no way I can do this for another mile." Better figure out, then, 'cause there's three more left!)
  • WOW, it's been a long time since I ran a 10K in flats. My calf muscles were hamburger meat for a solid two days.
  • I'm getting pretty tired of looking at 10K finish times that start with '44' so maybe we can do something about that in the near future. New exciting non-process goal???

Heyyyyy look I found one! ca. mile 1 so not feeling awful yet.

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

Location: Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA

Date: Late February (2/25 this year)

Price: For 5K/10K/Half:

  • Until 1/07: $44/$51/$67
  • Until 2/04: $49/$56/$72
  • After 2/04: $54/$61/$77

Deadline / Sellout Factor: I believe there was race day registration at all distances this year. Some Brazen races sell out ahead of time, especially the shorter distances, but since this is one of their newer races I suspect it's not as popular yet.

Parking: Volunteers were directing traffic to two different parking lots, both free & within easy walking distance of the start/finish.


The start/finish was set up right at the end of the road, with a row of race logistic/sponsor tents along one side and a row of port-a-potties (of which there were plenty) a little further down past the farther of the two parking lots.

As with the other Brazen races, you have the option of local pre-race packet pickup on Thursday and Friday or race morning pick up. As always, the pick-up & t-shirt tables were well-labeled, well-organized, and efficient. I was able to do race day registration by credit card, which I appreciated. Free sweat check close to the start, though I parked close enough that I didn't need it. These days they just set the sample bags out for runners to take if they want instead of handing them out with the T-shirts, which seems less wasteful to me.

Volunteer photographers are stationed along the course & upload their pics for runners to download for free (love), not to mention awesome, enthusiastic, & hard-working volunteers all around.

The Course

All three courses were *sort of* out-and-back, mostly along the water in Richmond, which I have to admit was pretty gorgeous.

The 10K was a kind of lollypop with a dogleg:

I think it's fair to call at least the 5K and 10K courses flat and fast, & paved with the exception of the short boardwalk sections I mentioned earlier. I can't speak for the rest of the half marathon course, which covered the 10K course but kept going past the 10K dogleg turnaround. The stretches of boardwalk were mostly fine for me, though I was glad I got out there and warmed up on it because it was a bit wet and potentially slippery. (I didn't have any trouble with it during the race.)


  • I think if you signed up online you got your choice of a cotton T for no extra charge or a logo T for a few extra dollars. Since I signed up on race morning I got the cotton shirt, which I actually DID take for once because it was kind of cool-looking:

    As with other Brazen races, there was an option to take a few dollars off your registration & go sans-shirt if you registered early.

  • Hefty finisher medals for all distances; age group medals awarded three deep in each age/gender group in five year increments (less for the kiddies)
  • Bags of free samples
  • Fantastic post-race spread (water, sports drink, bagels, fruit, granola, cake, candy, etc.)

All in all, if you're looking for something flat, fast, well-organized, & not outrageously expensive (if you register early), Victory is definitely a solid option.