Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Race: Brazen Racing’s Badger Cove, Livermore CA
Distance: 10K Trail
One of my favorite racing companies is Brazen Racing. Brazen Races are FUN and attract many runners from all over the San Francisco Bay Area. They are known for their challenging races, supportive runners, friendly volunteers, yummy post-race food (Hello?! IT’S-IT ice-cream sandwiches!) and the coolest medals. The Brazen Badger Cove Race takes place at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. Like with all Brazen Races, there are 4 different distance options for this race: Hiker, Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K. All courses are challenging but offer scenic views and rolling hills.
It was the night before the race and I had carbo-loaded with pasta, laid out my running outfit and was excited. I hadn’t raced since the Rio Resolution 5K Run in Carmel so I was looking forward to this one. This was also my first 10K race for the year and my second trail race ever.
The next morning, I woke up super-early and ready to run. I got dressed, stretched and headed out. Livermore is well-known for its wineries and it was a pleasure driving past their vineyards as the sun rose above the hills.
Since this was my first time at this park and Brazen Races are very popular I worried that there would be limited parking. But with the convenience of having our parking permits pre-printed, getting in was a breeze. Parking was plentiful and was not far from the registration area.
The Brazen Race volunteers are always helpful and made bib pick-up easy. I collected my bib, shirt and sample swag bag and watched the half marathoners start off. It’s always inspiring to see these runners off because it gets me pumped for my upcoming half marathon in October. Since this race fell on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, many runners wore their festive green attire. Myself included. Even my PRO Compression socks matched!
As I was stretching, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous because this was my second trail race and I had only trained on flat terrain. I fueled up with some ENERGYbits and waited for the 10K start. While we listened to the pre-race instructions we were warned about potholes, steep hills, uneven terrain and grazing cows. We were also told that due to the nature of the course, it would be slightly longer than 6.2 miles! OMG, what have I signed up for?! I thought. I said my usual pre-race prayer, set my watch and swallowed even more ENERGYbits. Suddenly, the sounds of a bagpipe (yes!) started and we were off.
The start of the race brought us around the boat docks and hugged Lake Del Valle. It was the perfect backdrop for the slight climb to the trail. Little did I know that this was nothing compared to the hills I was about to tackle on the course.
I quickly made it to the one mile marker and saw that my pace was at 10:13. I was surprised and thought I better slow it down to conserve my energy. Before I knew it, I saw the water station and turnaround for the 5K runners. I reminisced and thought about how far I had come in my running. Here I was going past this marker and doing this tough trail race. That motivated me to keep going and to finish strong.
The beginning of the trail was shaded, had slight dips and ran on single tract. Most of my races have been road races so I enjoyed the change in scenery. I wondered why I hadn’t done more trail running until I saw what was waiting for me near the 10K halfway point.
What the F is THAT?! I looked ahead and saw the STEEPEST hill I had seen so far on this course. Several runners stopped and started walking up that hill. Me? I’m stubborn and decided that I would at least try to run up this incline. I slowed my pace, took small running steps and tried to keep a good form as I made my way up.
My quads protested and I kept telling myself to just keep going. Lately, I have been doing plenty of strength training and HIIT workouts so I knew all those burpees, squats and mountain climbers were not done in vain. They helped me get up this mini-mountain! As I was slowly running up this never-ending hill, a fellow runner caught up to me and said, “Looks like you need company! We can do this! Come on!” I was so focused on reaching the top, I barely squeaked out a “Thank You”. I enjoyed her enthusiasm and it was added motivation for me to not quit. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it up and continued on.
For the remainder of the race, there were (surprise!) more rolling hills. I enjoyed the sights and embraced running on the oak-covered trail. The weather was gorgeous and I could feel the morning sun heat up. Despite some challenging slopes, I felt good and continued to press on at a comfortable pace.
When I go hiking, I am always nervous about falling on the descent. When I came upon a few steep declines near the end of the race, I had to allow myself to relax and use the momentum and trust my footing to get me down them. It was scary but I was proud of myself for conquering my fear. I also realized that I needed to do more trail runs to build up my confidence, endurance and form.
The course is slightly shaped like a lollipop and as we headed back we caught up to the 5K runners. With lots of energy still left in me, I sprinted to the finish. My unofficial time on my watch: 1:13. Not bad for my second trail run! I gleefully accepted my medal and headed to the post race festivities.
Race #30 COMPLETE! I had a lot of fun running this race and after this one, I think I’m hooked on trail running! It was a nice change from running on the road and I loved that we were running in nature. There’s something about running on a wooded trail, breathing in the fresh air and seeing breathtaking views at the top. This race was challenging and tough but I enjoyed myself throughout the whole time!
Do you like trail races? What’s your favorite?
See you at the finish line!
Placed: 11th in my age group, 161 overall
Course Map & Splits (according to Nike):
Post run Pancakes:
I got back a little late to have pancakes BUT had them the next morning for brunch! I had a short stack of Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes! Yumm…
If you want to run this race, check out: