If you have never done a race put on by Brazen Racing, you are truly missing out. I typically do a few of their trail races in the winter, but skipped out this year so I could put some extra miles on the bike. Brazen has some fabulous trail runs that are well thought out, challenging, and well organized. Plus, I can't get enough of trail runner fashion. A beanie with tiny shorts, tiny tank and arm warmers? Sign me up!
If you are a runner who needs some extra hills while training for a road race, or if you just want to do something new, check out the elevation profiles for some of these races. Some of the Brazen courses are really challenging. I've done the Summit Rock 10k and Half Marathon, and it is 2,500 feet of climbing - just enough for this speed junkie. Lake Chabot is also a rad course for a New Year's Eve run, and if you aren't tired yet, you can do the New Year's Day run, which is the same course in the opposite direction.
On the flip, some of Brazen's courses are no more challenging than a road race, but they are out in nature, so you get a wonderful scenery change. If you are tired of running through San Jose (we locals have now done it a million times), you can run through Quarry Lakes, or Sanborn Park, or Hellyer Park.
For those of you who won't run without the guarantee of a t-shirt or medal, their schwag is pretty nice too. The t-shirts usually have a simple design with a cute but determined woodland creature on the front, and they fit nicely. For the Hellyer run, it's a white rabbit. For the Coyote Creek run, it's a Coyote. Badger Cove has a badger, and you get the point. For additional medals, they do quite a few multi-race challenges throughout the year, like the New Year's Eve/New Year's Day combo. Or you can sign up to be a legendary 'streaker' by doing all of their events (or volunteering) in a year. Brazen does an excellent job of awarding those who come out and support them. It's a great little community.
Brazen has really good post-race food: hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and forget bagels... they have pretzels, candy and apple pie! What, what? For those who don't feel their race deserves dessert, they also have bananas, oranges, and those bagels too.
A couple of friends were doing the Hellyer 10k and half marathon, so I registered late. Why not? It's been a long time since I've raced a 10k, so I figured this would be a good measure of my 10k fitness. My goal this year is to improve my short course / Olympic distance overall, so speed is important. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling the 7:35 pace on this rainy morning, so I decided about 2 miles in to back off, listen to my body and try to run as comfortably as possible. This is a flatter course, so there were no huge obstacles besides the rain and the mini-reservoir we had to run through at miles 2.5 and 5. Yep, we were drenched. But, we were all drenched together.
My insane marathon-training friends got up earlier, and ran 5 miles before the half marathon race. My friends are absolute beasts! I should probably take a queue for my next marathon, and do something similar so those dreaded 18-20 mile runs don't seem so terrible.
Anyhoo, I did fine. My pace was around 7:52, I was the 10th woman overall, and the 2nd in my age group. It's fun to do a local race and get an age group title. It feels pretty awesome after coming in 8,487th place at the Chicago marathon.
This weekend, I'm doing another local race - Go Green half marathon. I've promised myself not to race this one, but just enjoy it.