Gearing Up for Another Change

My new job officially started today, but there’s a 4 week transition period, where I’m still doing my old job (tech support, working from home) on Mondays and Fridays. So, tomorrow is my actual “first day” on the job. I’m really excited about the new role. I’ll be going to a different location every day (and sometimes multiple locations in one day). For example, my schedule this week has me going to:

  • Tuesday: UCSF Mission Bay/CZI Biohub
  • Wednesday: A biotech in South San Francisco and Stanford
  • Thursday: UC Davis

The starting time each day varies as well. Tomorrow, I don’t have my first meeting until 10am, but Wednesday’s first meeting is 8:45am. Yes, traffic will suck, but at least I don’t have to always be in the same commute traffic day in and day out. Plus I have a new car!

One major challenge will be finding time to train. Or rather, being more flexible in my training schedule. Over the last 6 months, I’ve stuck to a regular schedule of running Tu/W/Th mornings, mostly because I prefer to run in the mornings. However, with this new gig, I’ll have to be more creative. I was thinking of always keeping a change of running clothes with me in case I get out of a meeting early, but not early enough to beat rush hour. So I could go on my run after work and then drive home in lighter traffic. My gym has a couple of branches around the Bay Area and I was thinking about upgrading to the “VIP” level so I could at least access a locker room and jump on a treadmill if I need to. And even though I HATE running on Fridays (I don’t know why), I may very well start running on Fridays because that’s the day I’ll be working from home and will have the most flexibility.

Anyway, I know many of you have hectic work schedules. What kinds of tips or advice do you have for fitting in training runs during the work week?


A quick word about Dirty Dozen training: so far, so good! I guess I’ll call 2 weeks ago (week of April 16th) “Week 1” of training. I ran just under 26 miles (25.9), with a long run at Lake Chabot of 13.2 miles and 1,640 feet of climbing.


The beautiful and tranquil Logger’s Loop at Lake Chabot

Week 2 was another step in the right direction; I logged 30 miles for the week, my first week in the 30-somethings in ages. For my long run, I decided to take a break from trails/climbing and focused on continuous running for 3 hours. I ended up running 16.6 miles at the very flat San Leandro Marina.

Uncharacteristically, I’m kinda making things up as I go. I keep thinking that maybe I should write out a plan, but knowing that I’m heading into a period of uncertainty with a new job, I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I’m taking it one week at a time for now, and am putting more thought into my long run more than anything else.


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Posted in Trail running, Training

Back to Trails

After the Oakland Half, I started thinking about what my next goal would be. DD and I have talked on and off for a while about doing the Brazen Dirty Dozen 6 hour race. This is a 6 (or 12) hour event consisting of 3.3 mile loops at Point Pinole Park in Richmond, CA. It’s not particularly hilly – I think the total elevation gain/loss per loop is only about 150 feet – but it is unpaved, so it’s technically still a trail race. Dirty Dozen was the first race at which the Gypsy Runner and I volunteered, and I remember thinking at the time, “Who would ever want to do this?” But then, shortly after that, I got into long distance running and I started to understand. And eventually, I saw my friends run it and thought, “Hm, that doesn’t look so bad…” Because it’s a Brazen race, it’s extremely well organized and has a great atmosphere. It really is like a 6 hour running party, as weird as that sounds!

I’ve held off on registering for the Dirty Dozen because I haven’t felt a desire to run long on trails for a while. Compared to long runs on roads, it can take me 1.5-2 times longer to complete a long run on trails. Plus, they usually leave me super exhausted. On the upside, the scenery tends to be prettier. What really put me over the edge this year was DD signing up for the race. We both had volunteer credits and we both had wanted to run the 6 hour race, so…why not? Having a friend signed up for this race hopefully means that I’ll have a training partner for a few long runs. We might have even convinced AS to sign up as well! πŸ™‚

My goal for the Dirty Dozen is to run at least the marathon distance and, if all goes well, complete my second ever 50K. My process goal is to run consistently the whole time, meaning I need to start slow and be patient.

I’ve decided against following a specific training plan because I’m starting a new-new job in 2 weeks. I know what you’re thinking – didn’t you just start a new job? Yes, I did. But then another position opened up within my company, I applied, and I got it! That’s the good news. The bad news (for my running, anyway) is that my schedule will vary quite a lot from day to day and week to week, which makes following a training schedule extremely difficult. For now, I plan on running 3 days during the week, with one of them being a longer run (12-15 miles total on weekdays), and two runs on the weekends. On which days the runs happen will be determined on a weekly basis. My long runs will be more focused on time spent on my feet as opposed to distance, since that varies so much with elevation gain/loss. I think if I can get at least three 4.5-5 hour long runs in, I’ll be happy.

So, with that race on the calendar, I decided it would be a good idea to start training. I joined DD and friends for a run/hike up Mt. Diablo this past Sunday. Considering I had only run 12 miles in the span of 2 weeks (thanks to a work trip), I knew Mt. Diablo was going to be a challenge — and it was! It’s up there with one of the toughest trail runs I’ve done: 14 miles and 4300′ gain/loss. Two days later and my legs are still very sore. Fortunately, my left knee feels better — it wasn’t happy with all of that downhill running! At least it was pretty though?



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Posted in Trail running

Out With the Old, In With the New


My new car! The 2018 Honda Civic EX Sedan in Cosmic Blue. I looooove it.

This weekend was a big one – I bought a new car and sold my old one! Angela saw my tweet about getting a good price on my new car ($1200 under invoice) and asked me to share my secrets, so here I am. I hope this is useful to anyone out there hoping to buy a car soon.

Step 1: Research. This was honestly the most time-consuming part. After I had an idea of my budget, and narrowed it down to the compact vehicle category, I started reading online reviews. I did not want to test drive more than 4 vehicles, but you may be more patient than I am. YouTube was useful for video reviews – I particularly liked the Kelley Blue Book videos. I also read through various written guides to get an idea of what kind of features I wanted (or didn’t care about), as well as safety features. When you narrow it down to a handful of models, you can usually find side-by-side comparisons online.

Step 2: Test drive. Do not even think about buying at this point. You are merely checking out the vehicle in person. It can be useful to make an appointment so that you’re not waiting for them to bring the vehicle to you. Some sales people are very chill – we had one guy let us drive the car without him, while you can expect most to want to ride with you and blather on about features. I liked the ones who told us very little except to give us directions on how to get back to the dealer.

Step 3: Evaluate and decide on a model. This can be tough when you’re dealing with so many different options and price points, including dealer rebates, etc. I ultimately went with the Honda Civic EX even though it was a few thousand dollars more than my second choice, mostly because my second choice didn’t have any other pros besides, “cheaper than Honda Civic”.

Step 4: Research price: MSRP, “True Market Value”, invoice, and rebates/specials. You can easily google all of these things without paying a dime. (I think that you used to have to pay for such a report. Not any more!) A few definitions:

  • MSRP: Manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or the sticker price. Never pay this – you can always negotiate lower than sticker price.
  • True Market Value“: this is data compiled by on vehicles sold nationwide. They will give you the market average, what’s considered a “good” price, and what’s considered a “great” price. I can’t help but think these numbers are inflated, because 2 of 3 quotes I received came in lower than the “great” price. But I think these are good starting points.
  • Invoice: a.k.a., “dealer cost” which is misleading, because the true dealer cost is usually lower than invoice price. This is because there are hidden incentives with every vehicle between the factory and the dealer, so you will never know the true cost. Before I bought my car, the only rule of thumb I knew was to try to get $500 under invoice.
  • Rebates/specials: every dealer will advertise on their site if they’re having cash back deals or special financing rates. Traditionally, the deals get better as you go later into the year, but every car manufacturer differs in their release schedule. Toyota, for instance, already had 2018 cars on their lot in September 2017, whereas Honda didn’t have 2018 models on the lot until the very end of 2017/beginning of 2018.

Step 5: Research dealerships. There are so many car dealerships in my area that I basically started with the 3 closest to my house and went from there. You might also want to look at Yelp or Google reviews to read about other people’s experiences. I didn’t spend too much time doing that.

Step 6: Send an email/message to dealerships. The dealerships I messaged all had “Contact Us” forms on their websites. I left off my phone number (or created a fake one) because I didn’t want anyone to call me. This is what I wrote, which I modified from this very helpful post:

I would like to get a quote on the following vehicle:

1. Trim: 2018 Honda Civic EX Sedan, CVT, 1.5L 4 cylinder engine
2. Colors: Exterior – Cosmic Blue or Modern Steel
3. Accessories: None

I am aware of MSRP and invoice prices and would appreciate a competitive bid.

Please respond via email to this request.

Thank you.

Step 7: Wait for a response, then start negotiating. I received 3 quotes within 30 minutes of my initial email. One salesperson said he couldn’t give me a quote over email, until I told him I already had 2 from other dealerships. Then, he sent me a very competitive quote. I withheld information for as long as possible. For instance, I didn’t mention how I would pay (cash vs. financing) or if I was going to trade-in my current vehicle. All I was negotiating was the price of the new car itself. Everything I read online recommended doing that first, then adding the other stuff later. One thing you want to clarify is what’s included in the quotes — destination fee, etc.

I got a good vibe from G in Fremont — he was responsive and not overly pushy. Plus, he immediately kicked off the process with $1,000 under invoice! Just as I was going to say yes to him, another sales person came in with a slightly better deal ($30 less). So, I went back to G with the better quote, saying that I appreciated his responsiveness and that I’d like to give him my business, so could he go lower? He came back with $1230 under invoice, so I told him he had a deal. This was all within 2.5 hours of my initial email. I didn’t expect this to go so quickly! I didn’t immediately tell the other 2 dealerships that I had agreed to a deal with G, because I wanted something in my pocket in case this deal fell through.

Step 8: Buy the car. I made an appointment for Saturday morning. I told G that I didn’t want to haggle or be upsold when I picked up the car, and he pretty much stuck to that. He did show me two quotes (probably because his manager made him)- one with the basic features and price we agreed on, and the second with all weather mats and tinted windows. Hard pass. So, fortunately, everything with GM went smoothly. From a friend who had bought her car using this same method, I knew to expect to be at the dealership for 2-3 hours, despite ironing out the deal in advance. What took so long? We did a short test drive, signed the quote, decided not to trade-in my old car (another story for another time), then I got sent into the financing office to work on payment.

Step 9: Buying the car, part 2. UGH, the financing guy was soooo lame. I don’t think it matters whether you’re paying cash, financing, or leasing, they will try to sell you an extended warranty and maintenance package no matter what. As the financing guy started his spiel, I let him go through the first column (of 5!!!), then I interrupted him and said firmly that I would not be interested in any of these plans. He looked taken aback and said he had to go over the maintenance package, at the very least. OK, fine. I let him say his thing (with ridiculously overinflated estimates for oil changes, etc.), and then I said – again, firmly – no, thanks. The part that bugged me was when he went on to say, “I don’t think you understand what a great deal this is. Do you understand about maintenance?” I about blew my lid. WTF. Yes, I understand car maintenance. I’ve been driving for 25 years and I have a Ph.D., thankyouverymuch. I wish I had said this, but I didn’t. Anyway, there were more irritating parts to this story, but the end result is the same: JUST SAY NO (unless you want to, which by all means, say yes).

After waiting for another 40 minutes for the car to get detailed (tip: bring a book), I was done!! G showed me how to pair my phone up with the car’s Bluetooth, and then I was freeeee. It was all much easier and much much less awkward than I anticipated, minus the short episode with financing. If you have to buy a new or used car from a dealer, I can’t recommend this method enough. I had a terrible experience when I bought my last vehicle, and this way was much more empowering. I had all of the information and power at my fingertips, thanks to the internet! I have wondered if I could have gotten a much better deal (maybe, given how readily two salespeople went so low to begin with?) but I’m generally very satisfied with how this all went. Let me know if you have questions and I’ll try to answer them!

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Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon 2018

Last week, I ran the Oakland Half Marathon. I realized that I should recap this race before I forget too many of the details. Plus, I leave today for an 8-day work trip, and I definitely won’t have time blog.

To review: my goals going into the race were:

  • C-goal: Beat my previous course record (CR) — 2:04:26.
  • B-goal: Beat my time from Kaiser 2018: 2:01:19.
  • A-goal: Finish under 2 hours OR averaging 9:09/mile or faster (in case I didn’t run tangents and ran substantially longer than 13.1 miles).

Spoiler: I hit my A-goal.

I originally registered for Oakland as a back up race, in case I didn’t meet my goal at Kaiser. My friend PC, a race ambassador, had a discount code and then there was a Black Friday sale. Y’all know that I’m a sucker for a good deal! I think I ended up paying like $65(?). It had been 2 years since I last ran the Oakland Half, and since that time, they had changed the start/finish location, so I was really curious how that would affect my experience.

Race Morning
In previous years, the race always started at 9:10, which is already late by half marathon standards. This year, they pushed back the start time to 9:30am, so that most half marathon runners are finishing in the heat of the midday sun. Thankfully, it was much cooler than past years (maybe 50F at the start?), but still very warm in the sun. The upside is that I had a much more leisurely race morning than usual. I met up with friends at their apartment just half a mile from Lake Merritt at 8:00 a.m. We hung out inside for as long as possible to take advantage of their warm, comfortable living room and a real bathroom.


Ready to run! (Photo: CC)

At around 8:45 am, we started walking down to the Lake, taking the longer but less steep route. We got to the start area shortly after 9:00, I went and used the bathroom one last time, said good bye and good luck to my friends, and headed out for a short, 5-minute warm-up. At 9:15, I got into the corral, lining up near the 2 hour pace group. Shortly after, there was an announcement that the race was going to be delayed to 9:40. UGH. It was already very cramped in the corral, so there was no place to move or stretch out. Eventually, as more people came into the corral, I got separated from the 2 hour pacers, who ended up quite a ways in front of me. I know that this (i.e., standing around for 25 minutes in a cramped situation) isn’t even that big of a deal compared to big city races, but I guess that’s why I’m more of a small race kind of girl. Finally, the National Anthem was sung, followed by a countdown, and at 9:46, the race FINALLY started.


Before it got really crowded

The Race
Thinking back on the race itself, I had a very different experience than in the past. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve run the Oakland Half so many times (3 times, plus most of the course for the full marathon once), but I was sort of “in the zone” the whole time. I have random snapshots and memories of Downtown, Chinatown, West Oakland, etc., but it was more observational/detached, like, “OK, I’m here now.” Almost Zen-like? It was also weird because the race started about 2 miles away from where it used to, so there were parts of the course where I would realize that I felt more tired than usual, but reminded myself that I was also 2 miles further along, which would make me happy/relieved.

The other reason I felt a little discombobulated was due to the mile markers. After 2 miles, I switched my Garmin to time lapsed, and I was counting on the mile markers to help me calculate pacing, just as I had done at Kaiser. I like how doing simple math in my head distracts me and gives me a pace goal for the next mile. Anyway, markers for miles 1-3 all appeared right on schedule. I never saw the mile 4 marker…or mile 5…or mile 6. I had to guess at my pace a little, hoping that my Garmin was mostly correct. At mile 7, the marker finally reappeared but earlier than I expected by about a quarter mile. I knew I was running ahead of 2 hour pace, but I didn’t think I was in PR range (1:56)! Same for miles 8 and 9. It wasn’t until mile 10 that things seemed to go back to normal. Looking at the official data, there was something definitely off about the placement of the timing mat at 5.5 miles. Supposedly, I was averaging 8:27/mile — which I can assure you, I definitely was not! Before the race, I was worried about running a lot longer than 13.1; during the race, I began to wonder if the course would end up being too short.Β  Fortunately, I clocked 13.15 miles on my Garmin at the finish, thanks to my mindful running of tangents and having to take less turns than previous years. The marathon runners didn’t get so lucky; just about everyone I know who ran the full has data showing 26.6 miles or longer.

I don’t really want to get into a mile by mile recap, just to say I pushed myself pretty hard the whole race, just as I had planned. I went out a little too quick in the beginning and I’m so glad I never blew up — though I slowed down a lot by mile 13. I was doing a lot of bargaining and self-talk in those last 2 miles. I knew I was really, really close to finishing in 2 hours, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to come in at 13.2 or 13.4 miles, which I’ve done in the past. I very nearly let off the gas, especially around those tiny hills around Lake Merritt, but countered with the regret and anger that I’d have if I went over 2 hours by just a few seconds.

As I ascended the last small hill and took a right on Grand Ave., I knew it was a straight shot and slightly downhill from there. There was another woman struggling, and I turned to her and said, “Let’s do this!” and we ran as hard as we could toward the finish line. I registered CC and her friend L cheering from the side and waved. However, I didn’t dare spend an extra ounce of energy looking at my watch. I sprinted as hard as I could past the finish and then stopped my watch, which read 1:59:53. I did it! Thank goodness.


Splits according to Strava. I don’t like the bars representing speed – I preferred when it was time/pace instead.

It took me a while to catch my breath, but I finally did and walked toward ME, who finished his first half marathon in 1:55 with minimal training. Soon after, A finished, and then AR. We took photos and drank our free beer, which was disappointingly odd tasting (very sour, but not in a good/intended way). One of the things I love about the Oakland Running Festival is that I always run into people I know post-race. I got to catch up with Angela, who ran the full as a training run for Boston (you can find her recap here).


With Angela (Photo: CC)


Happy finishers (Photo: CC)


Our cheering squad πŸ™‚


I was in disbelief all day Sunday and even now, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around accomplishing my “A” goal based on my current not-great-fitness level and also weighing about 5-8 lbs. more than my “fighting weight”. I can only explain it by citing experience and mental strength. It took me many tries to break 2 hours for the half marathon, but this is now my 4th sub-2 half and probably the least I’ve ever trained for one. The other thing that helped me mentally was moving the start/finish to the northeast corner of Lake Merritt. In previous races, I’ve always floundered in the last 5K around the Lake. This new course finishes only 1 mile into the path around Lake Merritt and has a nice straightaway to the finish line, versus the old course which was a cramp-inducing hill up 19th Street. Anyway, I did it! Yay! Stay tuned for what’s next in my running adventures…

Official results:
1:59:47 (9:08/mile); 13.15 miles (Garmin)
25/182 AG, 270/1532 F, 872/2971 overall


Race logistics were similar to years past except for the start/finish. I parked in the neighborhoods east of Lake Merritt and walked down to the race. There was plenty of street parking there, but there is a very steep hill – don’t kill your quads before the race! There were shuttles for people who rode BART. I don’t know how well those worked, I think I overheard people grumbling about them.

Race organization was excellent minus the delayed start, mile markers, and too long distance for the full marathon runners (or should I say, ultramarathon runners?).

ePKe%z3dSMmNbTW2iOw47QSwag consisted of a nice, if boring, shirt – a soft poly-blend technical long sleeve tee – and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener. There were free race pictures too, but so far I’ve only seen 3 of mine, even though I signed over all of my privacy rights to the photo company on Facebook. Supposedly, photos could be downloaded a week post-race without doing the FB thing, but I just checked (8 days out) and I still don’t see them. Oh well.


I finally got a decent fire arch photo, even if I’m doing something weird with my arms. πŸ˜‰

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Race Preview: Oakland Half 2018

I’ve been referring to the Oakland Half as a goal race, but have I been training like it? Hardly. I finally snuck in a couple of race pace/tempo workouts in the last few weeks, and got some decent long runs in too, but I haven’t done nearly as much running as I intended. However, I’m trying to focus on the positive, such as:

  • Temps should be pleasant (partly cloudy, high of 60F) despite a late start (9:30 a.m.)
  • It’s a similar course as previous years, but the start/finish moved last year to Eastshore Park. That means no more last 5K slog around Lake Merritt, culminating in the last steep-ish hill on 19th St. (which will now be in the second mile of the race).
  • I convinced two friends, AR and ME, to run Oakland as their first half marathons. I’m looking forward to celebrating with them post-race at the Lagunitas beer tent!
  • The late start means a relatively normal pre-race evening. I don’t have to make sure to have an earlybird dinner, nor do I have to be in bed by 9:00 p.m.

Now let’s talk goals. As I readjusted my goals and expectations to meet the amount of training I’ve done, I realized that my C goal – setting a course record – would actually be very doable, as long as I don’t bonk and/or suffer a serious injury. My course record at Oakland was set in 2013, when I aimed to run sub-2 but fell painfully short, finishing in 2:04:26. I’d say there’s a 95% chance that I will set a course record tomorrow. (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!)

My B goal for this race is to do better than Kaiser, which I ran over a month ago, finishing in 2:01:19. That was a tougher course and in relatively humid conditions. However, I have a tendency to go out too fast at Oakland and run anywhere from 13.3-13.4 miles (according to my Garmin). So, I’ll be happy if I finish with a faster average pace, even if I don’t beat the finish time.

Finally, my A goal is to run a sub-2 hour half. This was my original goal when I signed up for this race, but as the weeks went by, I saw my chances get slimmer. Again, with the very good possibility that I won’t run the tangents and end up running extra distance, I’ll be super happy if I can run 9:09/mile or faster. Basically, sub-2 pace but not sub-2 finish time.

My race plan is to start behind the 2:00 pacer, go out easy for the first mile (9:30-ish). Then, I will pick up the pace and try to catch up to and hang with the 2 hour group for as long as possible. Of course, if the pacer sucks and is running too fast/slow, I won’t run with them. However, I think it’s mentally easier to run with the pack than it is to go it alone, especially when you’re pushing your limits for such an extended period of time.

At the end of the day, finishing a half marathon is a big accomplishment. Regardless of whether I meet my time goals, I’ll be satisfied if I try my best for the duration of the race and to remember to smile and thank all of the volunteers and spectators along the way. I will run happy because I get to run. Cheers!

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Race Recap: Livermore Half 2018

I ran the Livermore Half Marathon last year as a pacer and loved the race and course. So, when pacing sign-ups were posted, I marked my calendar. Unfortunately, the race organizers decided to get rid of 5 pace groups from last year, including mine (2:20). So, despite the fact that there are 2 pacers per group (this is one of the larger races the TVRC paces), sign-ups filled up immediately and I was squeezed out. Whomp whomp. However, the good news was that not running Livermore meant I could go to Tahoe with my former Berkeley colleagues for a ski weekend. Hooray!

After a very snow-less winter, it decided to storm the weekend Tahoe/Livermore. Because of my work schedule, I couldn’t leave until after 5pm on Friday, which put me in the worst possible driving conditions. I ended up having to cancel last-minute, which I was super bummed about.

It was Saturday, March 3rd, and I was doing my usual weekend things – chores, etc. At around noon, I got a message from NT asking me if I wanted a free bib for Livermore. Someone he knew wanted to run the 408K in San Jose instead. Who turns down a free bib? Not me! I know that bib transfers were technically not allowed by the race director, so I’m not posting my actual finish time because I don’t want to get my bib-giver in trouble.

Since I had less than 24 hours notice, this wasn’t really a race for me as much as it was a long run/workout. I had already planned on doing a fast-finish long run, so my plan was to start off with NT and his fellow 2:10 pacer. I’d run with them through mile 10, then pick it up for the last 3.

This race starts early, at 7:00 a.m. It can be warm in Livermore, so I think they want to make sure everyone stays as cool as possible. Just like last year, parking was a breeze. I beat the bathroom line and stowed my things in the TVRC pacing tent. The weather was chilly but clear — great for running.

Before the race started, NT mentioned that their strategy was to bank time in the first miles before the hills at about the halfway point. So, I was mentally prepared to let them go a little bit ahead. ms44exrCQe64dtfcmUllHQ

Because I wasn’t really racing, I’m not going to cover the race in detail. You can read more about the course in my recap from last year. As I ran, I noticed how many sections of the course I missed last year while I was focusing on pacing.


Another perk of not racing – I took pictures! I actually managed to take this photo while running

In general, it is a beautiful course with a few hills but nothing too major. I ended up running faster than 10:00/mile for the first 10 miles because the 2:10 group just took off. I kept them within reach for a while, but realized that they were going way faster than my plan so I let them go. My splits for the first 10 miles:
10:09 (big hill)
9:07 (big downhill)

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 1.39.24 PM

Both feet off the ground!

Then, it was time for the fast finish, and hopefully catch up to the 2:10 pacers. I finally did at mile 11.7. My last 3.2 miles were: 9:22, 9:00, 8:47, 7:53 (for 0.2 miles). I finished in 2:05:xx. I was pretty pleased with how I did as far as a long run/workout goes. I was especially happy to see sub-8:00/mile pace for the last sprint. I don’t think I’ve done that since the Healdsburg Half 2016. bf8r7kc0qnsbv8qvod8la.jpg

Anyway, it was a great day and I left with tons of endorphins. I got to see friends, run on a beautiful course, get some nice swag, and NT even bought me a cup of coffee. πŸ™‚ Similar to last year, I finished too early in the day to want to drink wine at the post-race wine festival, but one of these years, I will! I highly recommend the Livermore Half.


Great swag


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Pacing Recap: Brazen Victory Half 2018

Hello! February went by in a blur, and here we are, almost 4 weeks since I last blogged. I’m doing well for the most part. Still adjusting to the “new” job — I went to a work meeting/conference in Dallas during the 2nd week of February, came home for 36 hours, then T and I went LA to see Mike and Katie (of RaceRaves fame!) for President’s Day weekend. I logged my lowest weekly mileage ever during half marathon training — 2.3 miles, on a treadmill, in between work meetings. But, you know, what’s done is done. Or rather, what’s not done isn’t done. πŸ˜‰

Hiking with Mike and Katie at Temescal Canyon

I came back from that 2.3 mile week and got back on the training horse, doing my usual ~10 miles during the week. That Saturday (the 24th), I headed to Richmond to pace the 2:20 group at Brazen’s Victory Half Marathon. This is one of the newer Brazen races and I had yet to run it. It starts up near Richmond Marina, then runs south along the shoreline to the Albany bulb (just north of Golden Gate Fields), then back again to Richmond. Admittedly, it’s not the most exciting course — I’ve run these paths many times during marathon training and it’s often a “let’s put on headphones and put one foot in front of the other” kind of slog. However, it is extremely flat, and on a clear day (like last Saturday), there are beautiful views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I got to the race at 7am, when I was supposed to meet my fellow Trivalley Running Group pacers, but no one was there yet. It was unusually cold (real feel 32 degrees F!), so I went back to my car to stay warm. Eventually, it was time to face the weather and I met up with the pacing team at 7:30 for a group photo.

Pre-race Group Photo (PC: NT)

After some more shenanigans (I was unusually disoriented that morning — * foreshadowing *), I did a short warmup and lined up in the start corral at 7:50.

So the two things I regret about pre-race preparation (or lack thereof): not looking at the course map and not knowing where the aid stations were. Not a huge deal, but I feel like, as a pacer, I should be able to give runners some basic information. There was also a huge gap between the 2nd and 3rd aid station (and subsequently, the 4th and 5th aid stations), for which I felt it would have been good to be mentally prepared.

At 8:00 a.m., the airhorn sounded and we were off. I was really lucky during this race to have people running with me almost the whole time. There are some races where I’m pacing no one — not even someone who might be following me, like 10 seconds behind. Sometimes there are people around but not all of them want to engage in conversation. So, it’s a total crapshoot.

quarter mile_PC

At the start of the race (quarter mile in). Photo: PC

For the first couple of miles, I was running with A. My legs already felt heavy and it was only mile 2. Oh well. I lost A at an aid station, but picked up M, who was using the race as a training run for the L.A. Marathon. We chatted on and off until the halfway point, where she decided she needed a stretch break. I noticed that we were running just a tad faster than 10:40/mile (according to my Garmin), but my time elapsed was on track at each mile marker. So, I went with the mile markers instead of my Garmin, which is what I tend to do when I’m pacing.


Around Mile 1. Photo: Brazen


Somewhere near the turnaround.

After I completed the lap at the Albany loop, which is the only section that’s not on pavement, I ended up talking to W. We ran together pretty much for the rest of the race. W told me that if he stuck with me, he’d have a 4+ minute PR. Challenge accepted! At about 9.5 miles, I pulled off course to make use of park restrooms (yay flushing toilets). I sprinted for a few minutes to catch up with W. I was happy that I made up my time lost (about 3 minutes) and maybe that’s what led me to zone out a bit. I somehow missed a turn and ran through a set of red cones.

albany bulb

Finishing the loop at the Albany Bulb and about to catch up to W. Photo: Brazen.

Thinking back, I must’ve seen the aid station in the distance and subconsciously decided to run towards it on the shortest path possible. As I approached the aid station, a runner came from an adjoining trail came up and yelled towards me, “Hey, you cut the course!” I was completely stunned and confused. One of the aid station volunteers confirmed that I had come from the wrong direction. What made it worse was that I had about 5 runners following me. The aid station captain was just about to call Sam, one of the race organizers, to ask him what we should do when W pointed out that we didn’t run too far off course — we could just go back to where we missed the turn and get back on course. Thank goodness for W’s clear thinking! It was probably a 100 yards, so not that bad of a mistake. I was pretty annoyed at myself nonetheless.

I ran hard back to the missed turn and tried to make up for lost time, apologizing profusely to those who followed me. In the craziness of it all, I stopped my Garmin out of habit, so now I had no idea how much time I lost during that whole debacle. I decided to estimate chip time based on time of day — assuming that we started right at 8:00 a.m., and that I crossed the start line about 30 seconds after. I still felt like I was running (time) blind, something a pacer shouldn’t be doing. Even though I picked up the pace, I was relieved to see that W was still with me. I managed to pick up a couple more runners in the last mile, too, who seemed happy to be finishing with the 2:20 pacer.

This is the first time I’ve crossed the finish line as a pacer with no idea what my finish time was. So, I was super relieved to see that I finished in 2:19:37, 23 seconds off my target. Even better, I helped W achieve a 4+ minute PR. Victory indeed! But still, there were some valuable lessons learned — I need to be more on top of things before and during races. And never, ever stop my watch!



About the race:

  • Organizers: Brazen Racing
  • Cost: (n/a, I was a pacer)
  • Course: Out and back course: starts at the Richmond Marina, runs south along the shoreline to Albany, and back again. Completely exposed, so can be warm if the sun is out. Total elevation gain/loss: 125 feet according to my Garmin. I was surprised to see that because it seemed completely flat. Asphalt/cement for a most of the course, with a small gravel/dirt loop at the turnaround in Albany.
  • Parking: Plentiful and free.
  • Aid stations: 6 with water and Ultima electrolyte drink. There was probably food, but I didn’t look for any. There was a large gap (about 4 miles) between Aid 2 & 3, and Aid 4 & 5. On a warmer day, that would have been brutal.
  • Bathrooms: Many porta potties at the start and some park bathrooms en route.
  • Swag: Nice looking war ship — Richmond was where ships were built during WWII (and home of “Rosie the Riveter”). If people ran the Bay Breeze, they got a special connector piece that connects both medals for the B2V challenge. Lots of food afterwards, as usual. Free race photos taken by volunteers.
  • Misc.: This race has decent PR potential, depending on the weather. Though it was cold at the start, I eventually warmed up. The scenery is a mixed bag — there are a few nice views of SF and the Golden Gate Bridge, but also quite a few lackluster areas. As always, Brazen puts on a good race. This would be a good race to try to PR (weather permitting), or for those looking for a easy, fun run that’s not super crowded.
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Posted in Pace Group, Race Recap
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On the docket…

10/28/18: OktobeRun 5K
2/3/19: SF Kaiser Half Marathon
4/28/19: London Marathon