My Profile

@Jen_L

Hayward, CA Raving since 2014 Running Tangents active 1 year, 9 months ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Big Sur International Marathon

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Big Basin 50K

  • I run because:

    it’s fun, it’s healthy, and it lets me eat all of the noodles I want!

My races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon &/or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Personal Bests (10)

Race Distance Location Date Result
50K Los Gatos, CA Jul 26, 2015 7:57:46
Marathon Santa Rosa, CA Aug 23, 2015 4:21:52
30K Castro Valley, CA 2014 3:44:10
25K Tulsa, OK Feb 27, 2016 3:36:19
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Aug 6, 2016 1:56:58
10 Miler Foster City, CA Jan 12, 2014 1:27:56
9 Miler Oakland, CA 2012 1:50:19
10K Danville, CA May 28, 2016 52:24
5 Miler San Francisco, CA 2012 54:19
5K Oakland, CA Mar 20, 2016 24:52

Future Races (2)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Marathon Koloa, HI TBD
Marathon Taipei, Taiwan TBD

Past Races (56)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Aug 5, 2017
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jun 4, 2017 2:35:00
Half Marathon Oakland, CA May 13, 2017 3:18:00
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 26, 2017
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA Mar 18, 2017
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Feb 5, 2017 2:05:40
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 4, 2016 4:37:17
Half Marathon Berkeley, CA Nov 20, 2016 2:05:15
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Nov 6, 2016
Half Marathon Redwood City, CA Oct 29, 2016 2:19:51
Half Marathon Healdsburg, CA Oct 9, 2016 1:59:33
Half Marathon Tiburon, CA Oct 2, 2016 2:18:57
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Aug 6, 2016 1:56:58
10K Danville, CA May 28, 2016 52:24
Half Marathon Oakland, CA Mar 20, 2016 2:12:44
5K Oakland, CA Mar 20, 2016 24:52
25K Tulsa, OK Feb 27, 2016 3:36:19
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Dec 12, 2015 2:03:08
15K Sausalito, CA Sep 12, 2015
Marathon Santa Rosa, CA Aug 23, 2015 4:21:52
50K Los Gatos, CA Jul 26, 2015 7:57:46
10K San Pablo, CA Jul 11, 2015 1:01:45
Marathon Oakland, CA Jun 20, 2015 6:48:20
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jun 7, 2015 2:30:52
12K San Francisco, CA May 17, 2015 1:31:07
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA May 9, 2015 2:46:23
Marathon Relay Oakland, CA Mar 22, 2015
10 Miler Foster City, CA Jan 18, 2015 1:28:09
Half Marathon Saratoga, CA Dec 13, 2014 3:05:15
200 Mile Relay San Francisco, CA Sep 19, 2014
5K Hayward, CA Aug 24, 2014 27:23
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 27, 2014 2:20:34
Marathon Oakland, CA Mar 23, 2014 4:46:50
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Feb 2, 2014 1:58:51
10 Miler Foster City, CA Jan 12, 2014 1:27:56
30K Castro Valley, CA 2014 3:44:10
Marathon Big Sur, CA 2014 4:40:06
10K San Leandro, CA Aug 3, 2013 52:51
5K Fremont, CA 2013 31:49
10 Miler Clayton, CA 2013 2:22:28
Marathon Arlington, VA 2013 4:33:57
Half Marathon Redwood City, CA 2013 2:39:44
Half Marathon Oakland, CA 2013 2:04:26
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA 2013 2:01:05
Half Marathon Richmond, CA 2013 2:00:01
9 Miler Oakland, CA 2012 1:50:19
Half Marathon Oakland, CA 2012 2:05:40
10K Antioch, CA 2012 1:14:45
5 Miler San Francisco, CA 2012 54:19
Half Marathon Healdsburg, CA 2012 2:00:37
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA 2012 2:28:59
Marathon Folsom, CA 2012 4:32:39
5K Castro Valley, CA 2012 29:29
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA 2012 2:48:56
5K Castro Valley, CA 2011 33:23
Half Marathon Napa, CA 2008 2:09:42

My Raves

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

This was the second time I ran the half marathon. Last year, the course was a tiny bit short; this year, it was 0.2 miles too long (according to my … MORE

This was the second time I ran the half marathon. Last year, the course was a tiny bit short; this year, it was 0.2 miles too long (according to my Garmin)! So, I’d say that, usually, this is a good PR course. They always manage to get great, cool weather, despite the August date. And it’s pancake flat. With the longer course this year, and the fact that I was the 2:20 pacer, it was especially challenging.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

This was my third time running the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge. Due to construction around the Lake, the course was very different than years past. Lake Chabot is much less … MORE

This was my third time running the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge. Due to construction around the Lake, the course was very different than years past. Lake Chabot is much less technical than other trail races in the area, with a lot of wide fire trails/roads and manageable ascents and descents. That said, I did trip and fall towards the end, so be careful! I found myself at the medical tent post-race with a few other people who had done the same. This race benefits the local track team, so while the swag isn’t spectacular, it’s all for a good cause.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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Cinderella Trail Run – Spring

Cinderella Trail Run – Spring

I ran the 10K as my first trail race in 2012, but I forgot how tough and technical this course was! My slowest half marathon by far. Coastal did a … MORE

I ran the 10K as my first trail race in 2012, but I forgot how tough and technical this course was! My slowest half marathon by far. Coastal did a fine job, as usual, with race logistics. I skipped the tshirt to save $5. The terrain was highly variable: everything from relatively level, easily runnable trail, to slippery, rocky single track. I did get a rock in my shoe at some point, so maybe gaiters would have been good.
Advice for other runners: This is a challenging course — the ascents are steep and lung busting, and the descents are treacherous. I was glad to be running “just” the half marathon. I wouldn’t want to run two loops of this course like the full marathon and 50K runners did! Register to run pretty and tough trails, not for a fast time.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Livermore Valley Half Marathon

Livermore Valley Half Marathon

I ran this half marathon as a pacer. Here's some info about the race: Field size: 2600+ finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K that started after … MORE

I ran this half marathon as a pacer. Here’s some info about the race:
Field size: 2600+ finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K that started after the half marathon.
Cost: If you signed up right after the race, it was only $50 for the 2018 half marathon. It’s currently up to $65… I’m not sure where it topped out at. You can also sign up for all 3 races in the Golden Half Series to save money (Livermore, Oakland, and Golden Gate Half).
Course: Starts off on city streets and narrows in parts to bike paths. A few rope bridges too! Total elevation gain/loss: 284 feet (Strava).
Parking: Free parking at the large surface lot behind the downtown shopping district. The parking garage is also available, but I heard that it got full pretty early.
Aid stations: Spaced about 2 miles apart with water and electrolyte (not sure what brand). They were handing out Honey Stinger gels at the aid station around mile 8.
Bathrooms: Porta potties at the start/finish, and ~3 at each aid station with really long lines. I’m sure the long lines at the start caused many people to hold off and wait for a bathroom on the course, which then caused the long lines at each aid station.
Swag: Nice short sleeve tech tee (though they gave me the wrong size, unfortunately), wine stopper medal, and a wine glass. They handed out the wine glasses at the finish, so you could fill it with water from large dispensers (instead of handing out water bottles). I thought this was awesome and environmentally friendly!
Post-race food/drink: They handed out bananas, bars, chocolate milk, and wine glasses (for water). There was also wine and beer at the post-race festival. I didn’t go because the lines to get in were kinda long and I had to go home to get ready for another commitment. But it seemed like it would be fun if you ran the race with a group of friends.
What I liked about this race: Logistics were easy, the course was pretty, and the swag was nice. Having the staging area in Downtown Livermore was a bonus because some of the businesses were open and it was easy for runners to pop in to get coffee, burritos, etc.
What I didn’t like: I’d say the only hiccup was the bathroom situation.
PR-ability: I think it’s possible to PR at Livermore if the weather is cool and if you’re used to running hills. There is some congestion in parts, but not enough to hinder you by more than 30 seconds.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

This was my third time running Kaiser. Things I like: bibs are mailed to you, low registration price (relatively), great volunteers, the first 7 miles of the course are gorgeous, … MORE

This was my third time running Kaiser. Things I like: bibs are mailed to you, low registration price (relatively), great volunteers, the first 7 miles of the course are gorgeous, great overall organization, efficient bus service to the start line. Things I don’t like: the last 6 miles (mind-numbing out and back on the Great Highway), crowding at the start. Tips: get to the parking lot at Fulton and Great Highway before 7am to avoid crowds. The weather can be unpredictable – I’ve run in sun, cloudy conditions, wind, and rain, so be prepared. They’ve improved the swag over the years – the long sleeve t-shirt is now a softer cotton with gender-specific sizing, and the medal was huge and doubles as a coaster.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

California International Marathon (CIM)

California International Marathon (CIM)

This was my second time running CIM. The first time I ran, it was the year of the monsoon (2012), so I thought with the great weather this year, plus … MORE

This was my second time running CIM. The first time I ran, it was the year of the monsoon (2012), so I thought with the great weather this year, plus a solid training cycle, it would be big PR day. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about the small rollers! I don’t think this would be a problem for most people, but I’ve been running flat routes all year and the relentless rollers gave me cramps by mile 22. Despite my personally disappointing race performance, I still think CIM is a great race. The support on the course and race logistics can’t be beat. You can find more details about logistics on my blog.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Berkeley Half Marathon

Berkeley Half Marathon

Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race. … MORE

Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race.
Cost: $85+ for the half marathon, depending on when you register.
Course: All paved, though look out for potholes and uneven roads. Two large climbs in the beginning and a gradual incline over the last 3 miles. Total elevation gain/loss: 512 feet (Garmin).
Parking: There was plenty of free street parking north of University. You could also pay $20 to park in the Berkeley High School parking lot.
Aid stations: Plenty of aid stations serving water and Nuun. They gave out Clif Bloks at one of the aid stations.
Bathrooms: A lot of porta potties at the start/finish, and I saw several on the course.
Swag: A nice medal and a green long sleeve tech tee. Each bib had a ticket for a post-race beer, but it was raining so hard that I doubt many people stuck around for that. GameFace took race photos and provided them for free.
Post-race food/drink: I don’t know if this was affected by the rain, but the post-race spread was disappointing. I got a bottle of water and skipped the energy bars. I saw they were handing out chocolate milk too, but I’m lactose intolerant so I skipped that as well.
What I liked about this race: It was fairly easy logistically, for a medium sized race. I thought the first half of the course was nice, though challenging. I wished that we got to run through UC Berkeley campus as they’ve done in previous years. The wave starts were nice to relieve congestion – which was still a problem in some areas.
What I didn’t like: Two major flaws. First, there’s no excuse for the course to come up a full tenth of a mile short! Second, the misdirection and confusion on Frontage Road was also disappointing. Related to that, I felt so bad for the 10K runners who had to weave through the mass of half marathoners. It seemed like poor planning. I’m not sure I would run this race again due to the cost and the unpredictable weather.
PR-ability: This would be a tough course to PR on, given the elevation gain and the very real possibility of bad weather. I think the motivation here would primarily be to run a decent-sized half marathon and do a running tour of Berkeley.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Vibha Dream Mile Bay Area

Vibha Dream Mile Bay Area

I ran this race as the 2:20 pacer, so I did not have to pay the entry fee. This race is usually held in May/June, but due to permit issues, … MORE

I ran this race as the 2:20 pacer, so I did not have to pay the entry fee.

This race is usually held in May/June, but due to permit issues, they moved it to November this year. Perhaps as a result, the half marathon field was very small – only 150 finishers. The race benefits an organization that helps poor children in India and also in the U.S.
The course was all paved, and started and ended in an office park in San Jose. 11 miles of the race were along the Coyote Creek Trail, which seems mostly flat but actually has a long, very gradual incline from mile 3-9. Total elevation gain/loss: 111 feet (Garmin).
There was plenty of free parking at an office lot up the hill from the start/finish area.
Aid stations were about 2 miles apart. They had Gatorade and water (and fruit?) at all AS and one of the later ones (mile 8? 9?) they had Gu.
There were about 14 porta potties at the start, no lines before the half because the field was so small. I think there was one or two bathrooms along the course.
As for swag, runners got a nice die-cast medal, which was larger for the half marathon finishers than for the 5k/10k folks and a purple cotton race shirt (which I skipped). The post-race food was AMAZING. I loved the catered Indian food, probably the best post-race food I’ve ever had.
What I liked about this race: Race logistics were super easy. Scenic course and decent weather. The community vibe was strong and it felt good to know that the race proceeds were going to a charity. The organizers seemed to really care and implement feedback from previous years. And the food, of course!
What I didn’t like: While I usually like smaller races, this one was a bit too small – especially since I wasn’t running with anyone for 75% of the race and didn’t have headphones. Apparently, previous iterations of this event had attracted more runners. I think they are moving this race back to May/June, so maybe the number of runners will go back up.
PR-ability: this is a pretty PR-friendly course and the weather was optimal (though it would be hotter in May/June). The one downside is number of runners and spectators – if you’re someone who is motivated by chasing down people or cheering crowds, this race isn’t for you.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

rc.oktoberun Half Marathon and 5K

rc.oktoberun Half Marathon and 5K

I hovered between 3 and 4 shoes, and ultimately went with 4 because it's a local charity race that has easy logistics. I ran this as the 2:20 pace group … MORE

I hovered between 3 and 4 shoes, and ultimately went with 4 because it’s a local charity race that has easy logistics.
I ran this as the 2:20 pace group leader with the Trivalley Running Club. This is a small charity race that benefits Redwood City schools. This year, there were ~350 finishers in the half marathon.
The course is USATF-certified, and starts and ends in downtown Redwood City. The course crosses Hwy 101 and runs along the Bay Trail. There’s a mix of paved roads, sidewalk, and fine gravel. It’s almost completely flat, except for one overpass and one pedestrian bridge. It’s also very exposed, which could be really hot in sunny conditions.
Parking: The organizers encouraged parking at the county garage (free), about 2 blocks away, but that was full by 7:00 a.m. I parked on Middlefield Road at a smart meter, which allowed me to pay in advance. (Meters start running at 10:00 a.m., but since I had to run an addition 7 miles after the race, I thought it was better safe than sorry. It was only 25 cents/hour.)
Aid stations: 4 aid stations about 1.5-2 miles apart on the way out, which you hit again on the way back. Water and Gatorade only; no gels or fruit.
Bathrooms: About 10 porta potties at the start – there was a really, really long line, suggesting that perhaps there could’ve been more? There were toilets along the course, preceded by “toilets ahead” signs which I thought was a thoughtful touch.
Swag: A generic medal, a t-shirt (which I never got), and a virtual goodie bag. The virtual goodie bag was geared more towards Redwood City residents and didn’t have any deals that interested me. No race photographers, but TVRC member Peter was on the course taking pictures of the pacers. Since this is a charity race, I don’t think many people expected that much swag.
Post-race food/drink: Cups of water and Gatorade at the finish, along with coffee cake, bagels, and fruit. There were about 4-5 tents set up as a modest post-race expo.
Misc.: What I liked about this race: it’s a small, community event that benefits local schools. There were a lot of thoughtful touches, like signs for bathrooms and water ahead, and even signs for Gatorade and water at each aid station. For a small event, they took runners’ interests seriously by obtaining USATF certification and having properly-placed mile markers. Race logistics were super easy. What I didn’t like: the course was really boring and ugly in parts. Running along the 101 and through some of the industrial parks was a bummer. I was glad it was overcast at least.
If you are looking to PR at this race: Be aware that even though the course is flat, there are a number of potential pitfalls, such as mixed surfaces (hello, gravel), mind-numbing scenery, no shade, and GPS inaccuracy (may have been due to cloud cover?). However, it’s very well supported and USATF certified, so if you’re looking for a time qualifier, this might be a perfect course for you.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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Healdsburg Half Marathon

Healdsburg Half Marathon

This was my second time running the "Run Wine Country" Healdsburg Half marathon. To amend my previous review: I think it's a really well-organized race, though I'm disappointed that it's … MORE

This was my second time running the “Run Wine Country” Healdsburg Half marathon. To amend my previous review: I think it’s a really well-organized race, though I’m disappointed that it’s more expensive than it was 4 years ago…so register early! The course is gorgeous, though hilly. The two years I’ve run it, the weather has varied between cold and foggy, and warm and sunny. Obviously, the cold fog helps with running faster times, but then you don’t get the views. This is a fun race to do with friends. I highly recommend it!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Tiburon Half Marathon

Tiburon Half Marathon

I ran the Tiburon Half as the 2:20 pacer with the TriValley Runners. Cost: My entry was comped, since I was pacing, but registration was $110 close to race day. … MORE

I ran the Tiburon Half as the 2:20 pacer with the TriValley Runners.
Cost: My entry was comped, since I was pacing, but registration was $110 close to race day. The race was oversold, but the field was still quite small.
Course: Starts and ends in downtown Tiburon. It was more scenic than I expected. About a third of the race is run along the water, and the rest is in residential areas. ~500 feet of elevation gain, according to my Garmin. Not a great course to PR, unless you’re used to hills.
Parking: There’s lots of free street parking around the start/finish area (Tiburon Blvd. & Beach Rd.), but also a few paid lots ($5/day).
Aid stations: There were a lot of aid stations! They all had water and electrolyte (I think it was lemon lime Gatorade). They were handing out Hammer Gels at several aid stations (I want to say at 3 or 4 of them). However, the spacing of the aid stations was random. Some of them were clustered really close together, and then there would be a longer stretch without one. This wouldn’t be a problem, except there was no information about aid stations on their website.
Bathrooms: Two long rows of porta potties at the start/finish area with a some along the way in the first few miles. I didn’t see any bathrooms for a large portion of the race (though, to be fair, I wasn’t looking).
Swag: This race was oversold, so the pacers did not get t-shirts (which said “Finisher” on them – kind of bad luck to hand them out pre-race?). The medals were pretty standard, but on the boring side. For those finishing the Tri-City Challenge, they got an additional medal and a fleece vest. Each finisher also got a nice Whole Foods tote bag with lots of free samples of decent things, like a Honey Stinger Waffle, an Rx bar, and 2 bottles of water (well, one is actually pHenoOH – “Intelligent Alkaline Hydration Beverage”).
Post-race food/drink: there was bottled water and kombucha at the Whole Foods tent, and a TON of samples to try from other tents. Since I still had 4 more miles to run after the race, I just grabbed some water and fruit.
Misc.: I really can’t complain about race day execution for the Tiburon Half. The volunteers were great, the finish area was nice, and the course was very well-marked. The one criticism I have about organization is the race website. It has some of the most basic information, but the start/finish location was not obvious. Also, as I mentioned above, the aid station information was no where to be found. I’m also a bit disappointed that the course came up short, and I wasn’t even racing this. If they can fix these things, I think this could be a really great event!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Thanks to very cool, cloudy conditions, I PR'd at this race. If the sun came out, it would've been a totally different ballgame, as there's no shade anywhere along the … MORE

Thanks to very cool, cloudy conditions, I PR’d at this race. If the sun came out, it would’ve been a totally different ballgame, as there’s no shade anywhere along the course. The other pros: it’s nearly impossible to run longer than 13.1 miles and it’s super flat. The cons? There’s gravel for 8 miles, which can slow you down, and there are parts of the trail that are very narrow. It’s crowded at the beginning, but thins out pretty quickly. As always, Brazen does a great job with race organization, swag, and aid stations/post-race food. Highly recommended!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Danville Half Marathon (CA)

Danville Half Marathon (CA)

Course: A majority of the out-and-back course is on the Iron Horse Trail, which is a relatively flat, paved path. The first and last 0.2 miles are on neighborhood streets. … MORE

Course: A majority of the out-and-back course is on the Iron Horse Trail, which is a relatively flat, paved path. The first and last 0.2 miles are on neighborhood streets. There were many intersection crossings, manned by volunteers. I’d say about 80% of course was shaded? The course is fairly straightforward, except for the sections not on the Iron Horse Trail. I was lucky to have some runners ahead of me who knew where they were going, but I could see how you could get lost. Oh, and there is a gradual downhill on the way out, and then a gradual incline on the way back.
Parking: Lots of (free) parking at the LDS church where the start/finish area is located.
Aid stations: Water and Gatorade stops at ~0.7 mile, ~2 miles, ~4 miles, ~5.5 miles. No one was handing out cups at the station at miles 2 and 4.
Bathrooms: The LDS church was open to runners to use their bathroom facilities.
Swag: Short sleeve cotton tee that I skipped and a medal at the finish.
Post race food and drinks: Water, Gatorade, and fruit (watermelon, oranges, and bananas). There may have been other food, but I didn’t notice.
Other notes: I thought this was a really nicely organized local race. In cooler temps, this would be a great race to attempt a PR. However, because it’s benefiting the Semper Fi Fund, I think they purposely plan it for Memorial Day weekend. I wouldn’t be keen to run the half marathon here, mostly because the course is monotonous and the weather is likely to be warm. One last note – to counteract the temps, I wished that the race started an hour earlier.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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Oakland Running Festival

Oakland Running Festival

This was the first time I ran the 5K out of the 5 years I've participated in the Oakland Running Festival. I ran it as part of the "We Run … MORE

This was the first time I ran the 5K out of the 5 years I’ve participated in the Oakland Running Festival. I ran it as part of the “We Run The Town” Challenge (5K + Half). The 5K was my goal race. I was nervous about running long, as the GPS signal isn’t very accurate downtown, so I studied all of the tangents. There are a lot of turns in the first mile and then a tight U-turn in the second mile. Otherwise, the course is very flat and PR-able. Save some energy for the last little hill up 19th Street to the finish, but start kicking once you pass the intersection of Oak and 14th St.
This year, the 5K sold out with over 3000 participants. Most are fun/casual runners – my friend Cathryn and I lined up at the 8:00/mile marker and only had about 100-200 people ahead of us. So, even though the field was large, I didn’t get stuck behind slower runners after the first quarter mile or so.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Oakland Running Festival

Oakland Running Festival

This is the 3rd time I've run the Oakland Half Marathon over the past 5 years. I ran it this year as part of the "We Run The Town" challenge … MORE

This is the 3rd time I’ve run the Oakland Half Marathon over the past 5 years. I ran it this year as part of the “We Run The Town” challenge (5K + half marathon), so I did not have a goal time. My legs were pretty fried from the 5K, so I just took it easy and enjoyed the crowds. I don’t know if there have been some course changes, but it seemed like this year’s course had more desolate stretches than in the past. It’s a very flat course (only 127 feet of gain/loss on my Garmin), but it’s tough to PR because of the turns and also because it usually gets pretty warm about an hour into the race. Please see my previous reviews and race report for more details about logistics.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

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POSTOAK Lodge Challenge

POSTOAK Lodge Challenge

Coming from hilly California trails, I admit that I totally underestimated this course. It "only" has 1300' elevation gain, the majority of which are in 2 big climbs (done 2x … MORE

Coming from hilly California trails, I admit that I totally underestimated this course. It “only” has 1300′ elevation gain, the majority of which are in 2 big climbs (done 2x for 25K runners, 4x for 50K runners). What killed me were the short ascents and descents, and the large rocks jutting out of the barely-there single track trail. Despite my poor performance, I thought it was super well-organized and a fun race!

Some more about the race:
-Course: A lot of single track with large rocks. A few short sections of fire road or grassy fields. A few small creek crossings. My Garmin listed ~1400′ elevation gain, whereas Strava says it was closer to 1300′.
– Parking: Free parking within a 3-minute walk of the Lodge.
– Aid stations: 4 aid stations. All were stocked with food except for #2, which only had water and sports drink. The first 3 are very closely bunched together, with a big gap between #3 and #4. I brought a 12 oz. handheld, which I refilled twice and felt was sufficient. I also brought my own Gu, as we were told they wouldn’t have any on the course. The 3rd aid station was Oktoberfest themed, and the 4th had alcoholic shots you could partake in, just before the Hill from Hell.
– Bathrooms: Flush toilets at the Lodge. Two porta potties at every aid station.
– Swag: Technical, unisex long-sleeve tee, which was roomy even for an XS. It’s very light and comfy. All finishers received a medal, and age group winners received a handcarved wood medal display.
– Post-race food and drinks: Chili (beef and veggie by request), brats, chips, and beer. No soda, which was disappointing. There was also coffee and it was good!
– Course marking: Fantastic! There seemed to be a ribbon every 20 feet and big signs at every turn.
– Advice for anyone considering this race: Super well-organized. All of the volunteers, fellow runners, and spectators were very friendly. I highly recommend this race! One thing I would also recommend is wearing compression socks to keep the weeds and grass from cutting up your leg.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
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Walnut Creek Running Festival at Christmas

Walnut Creek Running Festival at Christmas

I agree with the previous 2 reviews, one of which is exceedingly comprehensive. I don't regret signing up for it, but I don't think I will run it again in … MORE

I agree with the previous 2 reviews, one of which is exceedingly comprehensive. I don’t regret signing up for it, but I don’t think I will run it again in the future.
Pros: very well-organized, medium sized field (which I prefer), nice race t-shirt, decent weather, easy logistics.
Cons: very expensive for a not-very-scenic, not easily PR-able course. I probably wouldn’t choose to run this again, but it’s a fine race.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5
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Night Sweats Trail Marathon Fall

Night Sweats Trail Marathon Fall

I signed up for this race because I've always been curious about what it's like to run trails at night, but I was too scared to go out and do … MORE

I signed up for this race because I’ve always been curious about what it’s like to run trails at night, but I was too scared to go out and do it alone. So when a friend told me about Night Sweats, I signed up because it was my chance to do a supported night run. It was cool to run/hike up the trails in the dark and see all of the headlamps ahead (see photo). I had fun running trails that I had previously done in daylight, and it was neat to see/feel the difference. The other unique part about this race was that it started 13+ hours after PCTR’s 50-, 75-, and 100-mile races that day. So it was cool to run alongside the ultra runners and cheer them on. I was glad that a friend ran with me – while I wasn’t usually scared, the darkness and solitude did freak me out on occasion. I thought the 15K was a perfect distance – enough to satisfy my curiosity, but not too long to make me miserable. It was quite hilly and I walked the hills, because this was more of a fun run than a race. This was my first PCTR race and I was pleased with the organization. The route was very well-marked and we only got confused one time – mostly because we were following people instead of looking for ribbons and glow sticks. Because there was an ultra at the same time, the post-race spread was quite impressive, with burgers, soup, chips, sodas, and beer. I skipped the shirt to save $5 (and because I have too many race shirts as it is), but the ones I saw were attractive, with gender specific styles. My only complaint was that the medals were rather poor quality. The plastic button fell off the metal part almost immediately after the volunteer handed it to me. I didn’t really care (because I’m not a medal person), but it sucks for the ultra runners to be handed a shoddy medal — though I think some of the longer distances got premium swag. Oh, and we got glow in the dark water bottles, which was cool. I would definitely do this race again!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
1
SWAG
2
My Media

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Santa Rosa Marathon

Santa Rosa Marathon

I signed up for this race only 3 weeks prior, hoping that my 50K training would carry me through the finish line. I ended up running a personal best, to … MORE

I signed up for this race only 3 weeks prior, hoping that my 50K training would carry me through the finish line. I ended up running a personal best, to my surprise. The course is mostly flat with a few rollers through the vineyards (miles 12-20). I liked this race because I prefer small fields (there were 1441 marathon finishers) and low-key events. If you want tons of spectators, on-course entertainment, and lots of distractions, you’ll need to look elsewhere. I thought it was well-supported and well-organized, and seemed to be designed with the runner in mind. The swag was very nice too – gigantic spinner medal, nice jacket, bottle of wine, and post-race pancakes and drinks. I would definitely run Santa Rosa Marathon again.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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CTR Big Basin – Skyline to the Sea

CTR Big Basin – Skyline to the Sea

Everyone looks at the elevation profile and thinks, "Ooh! Net downhill! Piece of cake!" But let me tell you, it's not. This is an extremely difficult course to pace, because … MORE

Everyone looks at the elevation profile and thinks, “Ooh! Net downhill! Piece of cake!” But let me tell you, it’s not. This is an extremely difficult course to pace, because the first 5 miles are the best kind of single trail– runnable downhill that forces you to run faster than you ought to for a 31-mile race. It’s also shaded, which made me think it was cooler than it was, so I didn’t drink enough and got dehydrated and overheated. There’s a decent mix of different terrain, from pine-covered soft dirt, to shale-covered rock (where’s the trail again?), to extended technical sections of rocks, roots, and stairs. There were also a few fallen trees to climb over and creeks to cross. It was quite beautiful, even though I was miserable for about 75% of the race, having gone out too hard. CTR did a great job marking the course, though be on the lookout for a couple of the sharp turns. The aid stations were great. Definitely take advantage of the ice that they have — I used it for my bandana around my neck, and also for my hydration bladder. If you can get a ride to the start, that’s what I would recommend. It saves you so much time in the morning. If you have a crew/spectators, be forewarned that it can take a really long time to drive to Big Basin (for the Gazos Creek aid station), and even longer to get to the finish.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Runs

Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Runs

I signed up for this race to support my friends who were running the 6 hour event. They started at 7 am, while the 5K and 10K started at 10:30. … MORE

I signed up for this race to support my friends who were running the 6 hour event. They started at 7 am, while the 5K and 10K started at 10:30. There’s another 5K and 10K in the afternoon. The purpose of the shorter distances is to inject some fresh energy and support throughout the day for the 6 and 12 hour runners. As a result, the field for the 5K and 10K is a lot smaller than other Brazen races, but it was still a lot of fun. Everyone runs a 3.37-mile loop that has a couple of small hills, but nothing insane. The 10K is composed of 2 such loops, which makes it an “ultra” 10K of 6.7 miles. The most difficult aspect of the course is the mix of gravel and wood chips, which increases the overall amount of effort if you’re trying to run fast. There’s also one small section of single track, but generally the course is very friendly to those new to trail running. Because of the smaller field, I came in 1st in my age group and 4th female — so if you’re interested in getting on the podium, this race might be for you! As for logistics and organization, Brazen can’t be beat. The special thing about this event is the free BBQ that comes with race entry. I would be tempted to do the 6 hour event as training for an ultra or just to see how far I could go. It’s nice to have so much support/aid throughout the day.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Redwood Trail Run (Spring)

Redwood Trail Run (Spring)

I ran the Canyon Meadows trail marathon as a training run for my first 50K. There are multiple distances and the full marathon is basically 2 loops of the half … MORE

I ran the Canyon Meadows trail marathon as a training run for my first 50K. There are multiple distances and the full marathon is basically 2 loops of the half marathon course. I thought the trail markings were excellent, which was a huge relief because there are sometimes issues at Redwood Regional, where vandals come and remove or relocate course ribbons. The most difficult section of the course was the first 3.5 miles of each loop, which starts with a steep, exposed ascent and keeps going up until you hit Skyline Gate. Thankfully, from that point on, it’s mostly runnable with the exception of a few big hills. There are also some really scenic portions from mile 3.5 to 11. I found the last 2 miles of each loop psychologically challenging because you essentially run past the start/finish area and do an out-and-back (luckily you can’t see the finish, but you can hear it). The aid stations were well-stocked, but be aware that there’s a long, 6.2 mile gap between 2 of the aid stations. I would definitely recommend bringing at least a handheld water bottle, if not a hydration vest. It was really hot pretty early in the race, and I definitely didn’t drink enough water on the first loop. Personally, I was sick with a head cold, so I didn’t have my best performance, but I thought the race itself was well-organized and executed. However, I would *not* recommend the 50K as anything but a training run, because it’s essentially the marathon plus another 5 mile loop that includes the horrible, exposed ascent. Oh, and get to the race early to avoid the parking madness!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
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Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

LCTC was my first trail half marathon back in 2012. Since then, it seems that the organizers and I have both stepped up our game. Regarding the race itself, the … MORE

LCTC was my first trail half marathon back in 2012. Since then, it seems that the organizers and I have both stepped up our game. Regarding the race itself, the half marathon field has increased to 226 finishers, up from 160. There was at least one aid station that offered Gu gels, in addition to Gatorade and water. At the finish line, volunteers handed out medals (no medals in 2012) and bottles of water and Powerade (they ran out of water by the time I finished in 2012). The t-shirt is still a boxy cotton unisex thing, so I didn’t take one. It’s $10 more expensive than in 2012, but considering the new perks and that it still benefits the Castro Valley Track Club, I didn’t mind the increase.

Personally, I ran a much better race than in 2012. Knowing the course and being a more seasoned trail runner, I pace myself more evenly, finishing 18 minutes faster than in 2012! The biggest key is to be patient while going up Live Oak/Towhee, the steepest and longest ascent of the course. Conserve your energy for the second half. And don’t forget to enjoy your view from the top!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
1

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Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers

As a Bay Area runner, I've had B2B on my bucket list for years, but it always seemed cost prohibitive. This year, they had a crazy deal around Halloween -- … MORE

As a Bay Area runner, I’ve had B2B on my bucket list for years, but it always seemed cost prohibitive. This year, they had a crazy deal around Halloween — something like $39 — so I signed up. I had heard it was really crowded, but I didn’t realize how congested it would be. My friend J and I ran as Mario and Luigi. We started in Corral C, which is supposed to be 9-10 min/mile pace. Unfortunately, the corrals were self-seeded, which meant no regulation in terms of separating the runners from the walkers. We spent the first half of the race weaving and dodging walkers taking up the whole road (4 lanes). The race would have benefited from course marshalls along the way encouraging walkers to stay on the right to allow runners to pass on the left. Instead, it looks like they put all of their efforts into sobriety checks at various points. Even though I went in with a relaxed attitude of doing a fun run, I still think that the organizers had done a better job of prioritizing the RACE and the runners. In the past, I’ve done B2B as a (non-paying) walker following the runners, and it was way more fun than being an official, registered runner.

As for some of the race logistics, I’m lucky in that my friend picked up my bib for me. I heard that the expo was crazy busy and a pain to get to (at Fort Mason). The t-shirt design was just OK, but the material was a nice, soft cotton and gender-specific. There were a lot of porta potties on the course. We received medals at the end, which I think is a new thing. The post-race food was strange – because it’s such a huge race, it seems like they’re way more reliant on sponsor donations, so we got Kettle chips, Kind mini granola bars, and boxed water. The beer garden was jam packed – we didn’t go in, but I’ve heard that the beer is expensive.

All in all, I would not personally run B2B again. I don’t like racing in huge crowds and it was mentally overwhelming with all of the costumes and people. Plus, I’ve run some part of this course multiple times as part of the Kaiser Half Marathon and San Francisco Half Marathons – it wasn’t that exciting to me, but I could see how as a visitor it would be fun.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Wildcat Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Wildcat Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Wildcat Canyon is one of Brazen's "Ultra Half Marathons" and for good reason -- over 2200 feet of elevation gain and tough footing throughout the course. Thankfully, when I ran … MORE

Wildcat Canyon is one of Brazen’s “Ultra Half Marathons” and for good reason — over 2200 feet of elevation gain and tough footing throughout the course. Thankfully, when I ran it, it was overcast and cool; otherwise, the sun would have been blazing hot on this very exposed course. The good news is that with the climbing comes beautiful, 360-degree views of the Bay Area. It’s not all hills either; there were several nice, long, runnable stretches — so save your legs for those. The hills are spread intermittently throughout the course – mile 1 (killer start to the race), ~mile 4-5, mile 9-11. The last set of hills are the most runnable, yet they never seemed to end! And when they finally do, the downhill is initially so steep that it’s nearly impossible to actually run — at least it was for me anyway. At some point, it becomes runnable and you can fly down to the finish.

I had a great time at this race. I took it easy, as it was a training run en route to my first 50K, and had fun chatting with my fellow runners and the aid station volunteers. As usual, Brazen did a terrific job with logistics and everything was flawless. My only criticism was the race shirt design, which seemed amateurish compared to their other shirts, which I usually love.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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Oakland Running Festival

Oakland Running Festival

This is the 4th year I've participated in the Oakland Running Festival, but the first time I've run the 4-person marathon relay. I ran the 4th and final leg, which … MORE

This is the 4th year I’ve participated in the Oakland Running Festival, but the first time I’ve run the 4-person marathon relay. I ran the 4th and final leg, which overlaps with the last 6.5 miles of the half marathon course. One of the nicest things about this relay is that 2 of the 3 relay exchanges are about 1 block from a BART station, which meant that I didn’t need to get to the start of the race (7:30am) in order to take a shuttle, only to have to wait almost 3 hours for my runner to arrive. Instead, I got to sleep in (for a race morning) and arrived at the West Oakland BART station at 9:40, with plenty of time to use the bathroom (there were 4 porta potties there) and do a quick warm-up. The relay exchange wasn’t very well organized – they had said we’d be organized by bib number, and it looked like they meant to separate the relay runners from the mass of marathon and half marathon runners, but in the end, they had all of the runners going through the same chute, which made it very difficult to spot relay runners. That’s probably be my only criticism of the logistics. Luckily, our team’s leg #3 spotted me before I saw her and we exchanged the ankle tag (stuck on by velcro) as quickly as possible, which still took 10 seconds too long for my taste. With hours of race anticipation in my veins, I took off way too quickly. I spent the first 2 miles passing a load of runners, which made the usually dull Mandela Parkway and the neighborhood areas go by quickly. I got tired pretty soon though, and the sun was beaming down — this section is really exposed, so it can get really warm. I made the mistake of not taking any water from the first few stops and my mouth got so dry that I felt nauseous. I tried to pick up the pace around Lake Merritt, and while I was able to run it a lot faster compared to previous years (as part of the half and full marathons), it was a lot slower than I had hoped. When I hit the final stretch on Lakeside, I tried to turn up the pace because I knew the short, steep hill up 19th Street was coming up. Halfway up the hill, I spotted my teammates waving, yelling, and jumping up and down. As I approached them, they ran into the road so that we could cross the finish line together. They took off so quickly that I was afraid I might puke; luckily, I didn’t. It took me a couple of minutes after crossing to get over that wave of nausea. I had fun at the post-race party, where there were free drinks (beer and wine) and live music. The weather was nice and tons of runners and their family and friends were hanging out on the lawn. It’s a great event; I think the relay might be my favorite out of the 3 distances that I’ve done.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
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Foster City 10 Miler

Foster City 10 Miler

This was my second time running the Foster City 10-miler. Pros: easy logistics, small race, flat course, scenic course (if somewhat boring after a while). The cops stationed along the … MORE

This was my second time running the Foster City 10-miler.
Pros: easy logistics, small race, flat course, scenic course (if somewhat boring after a while). The cops stationed along the course to direct traffic are pretty friendly.
Cons: The stretch along the Bay Trail seems never-ending and can be mentally challenging. No bathrooms along the course. Almost no spectators. No medals (not a con for me, but I know other people who care about that stuff).

The course is mostly the same as last year, with small changes in the first 2 miles that were not a big deal. The mile marker placement has improved compared to last year, and they have a better finish line setup as well, with volunteers giving out water and oranges. However, they ran out of Gatorade and other promised food items (chocolate milk, coconut water, and granola bars), which was an issue last year as well. It seems like the 5K runners help themselves to most of the refreshments, leaving very little for the 10-milers — and I even finished in the first half of the pack; I can’t imagine that there was enough water and fruit for those coming in at the very end.

I really like the timing of this race. It keeps me motivated to run over the holidays, and it’s only 2-3 weeks before the Kaiser Half marathon, so it’s a good opportunity to practice the whole race routine.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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Summit Rock Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Summit Rock Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I'm glad I approached this race as a fun run/hike, because it was a tough one, but more importantly, because of the congestion in the first 1-2 miles. Almost 250 … MORE

I’m glad I approached this race as a fun run/hike, because it was a tough one, but more importantly, because of the congestion in the first 1-2 miles. Almost 250 half marathon runners were squeezed almost immediately into a single-file line as we climbed up a true single track trail. My friends and I positioned ourselves towards the back, as none of us were racing mode, but I wish we had been closer to the middle so that we weren’t stuck behind some slower folks. Honestly, it didn’t frustrate me that much since I was just out there to explore, and I knew that with almost 2900′ elevation gain, I wouldn’t be setting any PR’s.

Congestion aside, this course was gorgeous — single track trails in the redwood forest with magical moss-covered rocks and such. Be mentally prepared for the extended climbs – two big ones on the way out, and one big one on the way back. Most of the downhill is runnable, with the exception of a few technical sections and sharp switchbacks. Hill training is definitely advisable while preparing for this one!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
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Ragnar Road Napa Valley

Ragnar Road Napa Valley

Given the potential and cost of this race, I felt disappointed by the course, general vibe, and lack of aid stations. Some of the legs were quite dangerous -- there … MORE

Given the potential and cost of this race, I felt disappointed by the course, general vibe, and lack of aid stations. Some of the legs were quite dangerous — there was little to no shoulder on 2 lane highways. Several of the hottest, longest legs ran low or out of water, which I found inexcusable. The major exchanges could have been improved as well with more sleeping areas and food vendors. On the plus side, signage was plentiful and porta potties remained immaculate throughout the race. The post-race party seemed fun, but we were too tired to enjoy it.

If you don’t do well on little to no sleep like me, definitely go for a spot in Van 1. I was in Van 2, which had the warmest legs and also had to run from 2-8 am.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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10K on the Bay

10K on the Bay

I ran the 5K that's held the same morning as the 10K on the Bay. Both benefit the Hayward Shoreline/Nature Interpretive Area (aka the marsh along the coast of Hayward). … MORE

I ran the 5K that’s held the same morning as the 10K on the Bay. Both benefit the Hayward Shoreline/Nature Interpretive Area (aka the marsh along the coast of Hayward). The 5K is smaller than the 10K (the main event), and starts about 15 minutes earlier. Both run along the extensive Bay Trail system by Eden Landing. I wouldn’t say this is a particularly fast course, even though it’s very flat, mostly because of the gravel and potential headwind. It’s also distressing to be able to see the finish line from so far away (like a mile or so?) and think you’re almost done, when you’ve got a ways to go.

Production isn’t awesome, as it’s a small charity race. The 5K start banner was so low that tall people had to duck under it. The cotton t-shirts were not attractive — I would’ve readily given that up and donated an extra $5 to the charity. I was impressed, however, by the donated fruits from local farms (or was it a supermarket?). Ripe, local peaches and plums — so good!

I think it’s a perfectly well-run for a small, local charity race. Just don’t expect too many bells and whistles.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
1

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San Francisco Marathon

San Francisco Marathon

This review is for the 1st Half Marathon. Considering that I had to run/walk it due to injury, I really enjoyed this race! I didn't mind the early start as … MORE

This review is for the 1st Half Marathon. Considering that I had to run/walk it due to injury, I really enjoyed this race! I didn’t mind the early start as it allowed for cool running throughout the race. The course is a great tour of SF, running from the Embarcadero through Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Crissy Field, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, and finishing in Golden Gate Park. It’s probably the most hilly half marathon I’ve ever done, so be ready for that. Not many spectators, but the views were enough to keep me engaged.

I ran this race to complete the “Half It All” challenge, since I ran the 2nd Half Marathon in 2013. I much preferred the 1st Half to the 2nd — the reasons are detailed in my race report.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Oakland Running Festival

Oakland Running Festival

I love the Oakland Running Festival for their seamless production and great community vibe on race day. The course was a mixed-bag -- I enjoyed the first 6 miles through … MORE

I love the Oakland Running Festival for their seamless production and great community vibe on race day. The course was a mixed-bag — I enjoyed the first 6 miles through Downtown Oakland, Temescal, and Rockridge. The climb up to Montclair was breathtaking – literally and figuratively. The section from Fruitvale to Chinatown on International Blvd. was my least favorite. It was hot, exposed, and there were zero spectators. It’s a very small marathon field, so there were very few runners around me. At mile 17, the marathon course merges with mile 4 of the half marathon and I ended up running next to a lot of half marathon walkers. I had hoped to be energized as I passed each walker, but instead, it felt like I was losing steam. This was the 3rd year I’ve run ORF, and it’s always hot by the end of the race, so my advice is to stay hydrated and save some energy for the last 3 miles around Lake Merritt. There is one last steep uphill before the finish line, so be ready for that as well.

The after-party is quite lively and fun. It’s usually a beautiful day around the Lake and there’s some musical entertainment and 2 drink tickets per runner.

The best part about this event is the crowd support. The City of Oakland loves this race and it shows! So much Oak-town pride!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

A pseudo point-to-point course allows for a net elevation drop and a fast course. However, weather in the past couple of years has varied from hot and sunny to cold … MORE

A pseudo point-to-point course allows for a net elevation drop and a fast course. However, weather in the past couple of years has varied from hot and sunny to cold and rainy. It seems that no matter what the weather, the out-and-back section along the Great Highway is almost always windy, which makes for a tough final 6 miles even though it’s pancake flat. There’s also a small hill right before the end, which is brutal after 13 miles. However, overall, I liked this course a lot.

Even though it was cold and rainy when I ran Kaiser, I have very fond memories because I finally ran a sub-2 hour half at this race after 4 tries. My advice is to not go out too fast in the first half of the course, which is very easy to do. Another key is to focus on one stoplight at a time on the Great Highway section, as that stretch can seem like it goes on forever (it’s about 3 miles out and 3 miles back). My final piece of advice is to park near the finish and take the free shuttle to the start. My friend that did this had no issues whatsoever, while me and another friend spent precious pre-race time and energy trying to find parking about 1 mile from the start. Then, we had to walk 1.5 miles back to my car after the race in the cold rain.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Chabot Trail Run – Redtail Ridge

Chabot Trail Run – Redtail Ridge

Inside Trail puts on great races, and this one was no different. The trails were extremely well-marked and the aid stations well-stocked. As for the course, there were at least … MORE

Inside Trail puts on great races, and this one was no different. The trails were extremely well-marked and the aid stations well-stocked. As for the course, there were at least 3 very tough climbs with other small rollers interspersed. The terrain was mostly wide, well-maintained trails with a short gravel portion after the first aid station and paved trail to bookend the race. Lots of snacks and drinks at the end, which I appreciated!

I rated the swag at a “3” because I opted not to get a t-shirt to save $5, but other Inside Trail t-shirts were nice and gender-specific, though a bit on the snug size (i.e. order one size up!). The medals are fine, but I’m no medal freak, so I could care less. In fact, they used to give out glassware instead of medals, and I wish they still gave out ceramic mugs!

FYI, this race sold out (all distances) so register early!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Big Sur International Marathon

Big Sur International Marathon

Great marathon! Ideal for people who love scenic courses and don't mind a few hills. If you want a flat, fast course that has tons of spectators, look elsewhere. Morning … MORE

Great marathon! Ideal for people who love scenic courses and don’t mind a few hills. If you want a flat, fast course that has tons of spectators, look elsewhere. Morning shuttle service was very early, but flawless. The start village was a bit chaotic, and I had no cell phone service, so just be aware of that if you’re planning on meeting up with other people. My advice is to take it easy and enjoy the views, the Taiko drummers, and the baby grand piano at Bixby Bridge! Save some gas for the final 6 miles through Carmel.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

This is a great, flat, PR-friendly course -- weather permitting. The year that I ran it, there was very little to no wind along the Bay Trail, which was fantastic. … MORE

This is a great, flat, PR-friendly course — weather permitting. The year that I ran it, there was very little to no wind along the Bay Trail, which was fantastic. It was also very mild for August — I believe we had flog or cloudy skies the whole morning. The 10K course is mostly paved, which makes for a faster race than the half marathon, which has a significant stretch on gravel. There were tons of volunteer photographers along the course, and I came away with a lot of nice photos (free on Brazen’s Picasa site).

I have 2 comments/criticisms about the 10K course. One, it came up short on my Garmin – 6.1 instead of 6.2 miles. Brazen says it’s a certified course, but I’ve heard other people also say that the course was short. It’s not a big deal, but I feel like I have to stick a big asterisk next to my 10K PR. Two, there is a lot of overlapping traffic with the slowest 5K finishers in the last mile or so, which is super annoying when you’re trying to finish fast. The worst part is the bottleneck at a gated area only 1/4 mile from the end, which is almost single file.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

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CTR Diablo Trail Run

CTR Diablo Trail Run

I ran this more as a "fun run" with friends than an all-out race. I knew it was a steady climb up for the first 5 miles (2400' total), then … MORE

I ran this more as a “fun run” with friends than an all-out race. I knew it was a steady climb up for the first 5 miles (2400′ total), then back down the same route for the second half, so I paced myself. I mostly hiked on the ascent, as the climbs were relentless. About half a mile from the top, we reached some gorgeous views and my friend and I took a short break to take photos of each other — something I never do during a “real” race. We caught up with another friend and the 3 of us ran down together. It was really fun! I’d definitely run this race again. Also, despite my leisurely pace and a long potty break, I still came in 3rd in my age group. Gotta love these small trail races!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Woodside Ramble

Woodside Ramble

I ran the trail half in 2013. The race is held in Huddart Park, which has some of the most beautiful trails in the Bay Area. Gorgeous redwoods with pine … MORE

I ran the trail half in 2013. The race is held in Huddart Park, which has some of the most beautiful trails in the Bay Area. Gorgeous redwoods with pine needle coated trails align almost the entire course. As for grade, the course was steadily uphill on the way out and then downhill on the way back. I would say that all of it was fairly runnable switchbacks (if you’re fit enough, which I wasn’t) except for one steep hill. The downhill portion was so fun – not technical at all, so I felt like I was flying. Oh, one thing to note was that my Garmin’s GPS was confused by either the trees or the switchbacks because it logged only 12 miles, so you might want to consider leaving your watch at home.

Inside Trail always does a great job with race organization. The course was well-marked, with a volunteer stationed at the half marathon turn around. We were given mugs instead of shirts, which is still one of my most prized pieces of race swag. At this particular race, Michigan Bluff Photography was on hand to take professional pictures and later distributed them for FREE. Definitely a major perk!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
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Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

I think if I had gone into MCM with different expectations, I would've enjoyed it a lot more. Not to mention, I probably would've had a better performance as well. … MORE

I think if I had gone into MCM with different expectations, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Not to mention, I probably would’ve had a better performance as well. But let me back up — I expected to PR because the course seemed relatively flat and fast, and also because my training leading up to the race was almost flawless. However, this being only my second marathon, I didn’t consider a few factors. One was that I didn’t realize how running with so many people for so long would drain me physically and mentally. Second, I went out too fast and didn’t paced myself as well as I had at my first marathon (CIM 2012). Third, compared to CIM, there were a lot more turns (read: not as PR-friendly) and too many out-and-backs for my taste. I also spent way too much mental energy looking for my spectators (read: come up with a good spectating plan pre-race!).

In retrospect, I wished I had approached MCM with a run-for-fun mentality. I ran on or ahead of pace for the first 18 miles, slowed down a little from 19-20, then the last 6 were struggle-fest, USA. The last bit of the course takes you past the start line on exposed highway (not fun) and then you run up the last hill with Marines cheering you on (pretty cool).

Race logistics were flawless, as you might expect from an event organized by the U.S. Marines. There were plenty of porta potties at the start and the aid stations were plentiful and organized. My only criticism was that the expo was very time consuming. There were separate lines for bib and t-shirt pick up, and both required very long security lines. It took me over 45 minutes to pick up my bib and another 20 minutes to get my t-shirt.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Healdsburg Half Marathon

Healdsburg Half Marathon

This was my idea of a perfect race: gorgeous route through small wine country roads, cool weather, rolling hills (small enough to be runnable, yet big enough to keep things … MORE

This was my idea of a perfect race: gorgeous route through small wine country roads, cool weather, rolling hills (small enough to be runnable, yet big enough to keep things interesting), medium-sized crowd, great post-race food and wine, and a nice wine glass to go with the winestopper medal! It was also pretty affordable, especially when compared to the other big wine country race organization (Destination Races). A few more reasons that this race holds a special place in my heart: I PR’ed, I ran it on my birthday, and I ran it with friends. Highly recommended!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K

This race was my very first trail half marathon and so my recollection is that it was a very tough course. However, many trail half marathons later, I can say … MORE

This race was my very first trail half marathon and so my recollection is that it was a very tough course. However, many trail half marathons later, I can say that the course was only moderately difficult, with the biggest challenge being the hill going up the Live Oak/Towhee trails (about 10% grade). The other factors that made this race challenging were the competition (this was the last race of the East Bay Triple Crown – and I finished 153 out of 163 runners) and the weather and exposed trails. In terms of organization, this is a race put on by the Castro Valley (high school) Track Club, so it’s very, very low key. Unlike the trail races put on by other organizations in the Bay Area, the aid stations for the LCTC only had water and Gatorade – no gels or food. There were no medals at the end and the t-shirts were cotton. They raffled away pies and wine at the finish, which was charming and also a bit random. However, registration was only $40 and it all goes towards a good cause, so you get what you pay for.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
1

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California International Marathon (CIM)

California International Marathon (CIM)

I ran CIM as my very first marathon in 2012. Widely touted as “the fastest course in the West,” CIM has a net downhill of ~400 feet. The key is … MORE

I ran CIM as my very first marathon in 2012. Widely touted as “the fastest course in the West,” CIM has a net downhill of ~400 feet. The key is “net downhill.” There are actually plenty of rolling hills for the first 20 miles or so. The last “hill” is the bridge at mile 21, after which it’s pancake flat. I think the reason it’s a fast course is because the weather is usually optimal, it’s point-to-point, and it finishes flat. In terms of scenery, it’s okay. There are a few pretty parts, going through small towns and in front of nice houses, but there are also ugly/boring portions with strip malls and such. As it was my first marathon and the weather conditions were insane (it was the year of the monsoon), I wasn’t paying that much attention to the scenery!

Now that I have 4 marathons under my belt, I can safely say that CIM has several strong points:
– SO MANY porta potties at the start
– decent sized field capped at ~8000 — big enough to draw crowd support, but small enough to have plenty of room to run after the first mile
– point-to-point course and easy to run tangents — my Garmin read 26.27 miles, which is the closest I’ve ever come to 26.2
– the crowd support, especially in the monsoon-like conditions, was very enthusiastic

My advice is to take it easy in the first half of the course, especially during the big downhill section. I also read somewhere to avoid reading the street signs once you hit downtown Sacramento, as it can be deflating to look up and see 59th Street and know you still have 50 blocks to go. I think that’s good advice. As for whether to stay at the start or finish — I think that depends on your preference. I stayed at the start (Folsom) because I had heard several horror stories about shuttle drivers getting lost driving from Sacramento. If you stay in Folsom, I recommend taking the shuttle to the start, as the drop off 2-miles from the start was crazy – we were stuck in traffic about 3/4 mile from the bus and I had to sprint to catch the shuttle. Staying at the finish has the obvious advantage of the post-race shower and doesn’t require a ride back to Folsom to check out/pick up your car.

Even though it’s not that scenic, I think CIM is a gem of a race. I look forward to running it again!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

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