Category Archives: races

Race #22: Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k

Some days, you realize just how much of a Regular Joe you are. I ran the Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k this morning, and got absolutely crushed by some of the Bay Area’s elite 5k runners. The male winner won in 14:42, and the female winner in 16:40.

The current men’s world record is 12:37. That’s two minutes faster than today’s winner, though he would have been the world record holder if he’d run 14:42 in around the year 1910. But whatever: 14:42 is seriously fast — 4:44 per mile, and that’s the average over 3.1 miles. I can only dream.

I’ve had a goal in my head for years of running under 20:00. I’d be happy to just run 19:59 once in my life. I know that when I was about 28 years old, I ran 3.1 kilometers in about 12:35 once or twice. If you do the math, that’s about 19:30 for a 5km if I could have kept the pace up over a 5km race. I just never quite got around to trying that pace in a race. And now I’m 45 years old.

The site of my fastest times ever. Princes Park in Melbourne, Australia, circa 2007. I've run this counter-clockwise maybe 1,500 times, and clockwise exactly 0.
The site of my fastest times ever. Princes Park in Melbourne, Australia, circa 2007. I’ve run this counter-clockwise maybe 1,500 times, and clockwise exactly 0.

My best time this year is 21:06, if you don’t count the Double 5k that I ran in 20:15. The Double 5k is broken down into a 3km race, a one hour rest, and a 2k race, so it doesn’t really count. A time of 21:06 is a long way off 20:00. If I want to get there, it’s probably time to drop a few pounds, train three or four times a week, and get serious. What do you think?

Anyway, I digress. The race this morning was flat, fast for everyone else, and a great temperature. I’ve been having ankle troubles, and I think I was just a little “off” physically this morning too. The bottom line was a pretty average time of 22:56. I was annoyed at myself, but I guess I should be happy to have run race #22 this year and got out and run on a beautiful July 4 day! Happy 4th to all of you here in the USA.

See you next time — I’ll be running a 10k trail race next week that looks *gorgeous*.

Race #21: Zoom Quarry Lakes 5k

I’m 40% of the way to my goal of 52 races this year to raise awareness of Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Today’s race was the Zoom Quarry Lakes 5k. Quarry Lakes is nestled in the suburb of Fremont, on the south-east corner of the San Francisco Bay. It’s a beautiful location — if you’re looking for a leisurely run, it’s definitely worth a visit. The race itself was along a pretty mix of gravel trails and meandered around the lakes. It was well-organized, started on time, and had a pretty sweet enameled medal. Definitely penciling the race in for next year! (and, as I always say, maybe I’ll run the 10k or the half marathon next time.)

Our race today wasn’t fast, Selina and I crossed the line together in 24:10. I hurt my foot or ankle or Achilles or something a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been swollen and sore. With some rest and ice, it’s pretty much back to normal. I’m going to stick to a steady cruising pace for a couple of weeks, and probably run only one race per weekend for now — it’s a long way to go to get to 52 races!

Getting ready for the start of the Quarry Lakes 5k
Getting ready for the start of the Quarry Lakes 5k

Ciao for now.

 

 

Race #20: Lupus 5k

This is the fourth year we’ve run the Lupus 5k in Saratoga, CA. It’s a meandering course through our local West Valley College, and it certainly isn’t a fast track — there’s a lot of little ups and downs that take your breath away, and on the second lap you have to navigate your way through an army of folks who are walking the 5k.

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Anyway, Selina and I ran together, and crossed the line together. I forget our time, but it wasn’t blistering and it was steady. Something like 22:30 — I’ll update the post when I figure out what it was. I have a feeling Selina came 3rd in the women’s division, but we didn’t have time to hang around and find out!

Have a great week, and I’ll see you next time.

Race #19: Bubble Run 5k

Kids love novelty races — run though foam, run through bubbles, run while you get sprayed with paint, run in neon under black lights at night. There’s no timing, you invite your friends along, you kind of walk and run a bit, and you start when you feel like it. You get the general idea.

(Family fun at the Bubble Run 5k in San Jose. Click the HD icon in the top right for a better viewing experience.)

We took the girls to the Bubble Run 5k in San Jose for Race #19. Watch the video above to get a feeling for what it’s like — press on the HD icon in the top-right corner for a better viewing experience.

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Around 10,000 people were in yesterday’s run. We started at 9am in the second “wave” (they let groups of people go so everyone can enjoy the bubbles). When we left at around 10am, there were still several thousand people lined up and yet to start. You have to love how mellow these races are. If you’re looking to do something fun with the family, and you’re new to running this might be the thing for you.

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Bubbled after the Bubble Run with the Kochars
Bubbled after the Bubble Run with the Kochars

As for us, we caught up with the Kochar family for the race (who are supporters of our fundraiser!). It’s twice the family fun when the kids get to run with their friends. All good, fun day, and one more race down towards our goal of 52!

Race #18: Trail Quake 5k

Ah, the Trail Quake race. The start horn goes, and you just go up, and up, and up, and up on a single-track hiking trail. Then, you turn around and you go down, and down, and down, and down. And then it’s over. Over in a thank-goodness-that’s-over kind of way.

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This race is completely bonkers. But in that good way, where you’d run it again today if you could. It’s some of the most beautiful trails in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, it’s shaded, and it has that awesome much-more-mellow-than-a-road-race feel of the Brazen Racing series. Love it.

traul quake heartrate

Next year, I’ll run the half marathon. Or, at least, in my dreams that’s what I’d love to do. This year, after a month away from racing, the 5k was plenty — over 700 feet of climbing in around 1.6 miles, and then 700 feet of drop in the last 1.6 miles. It really gets you working — you can see my heartrate sat in the 190 bpm range for most of the race.

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I had a good race. I came fourth overall, and was the second male. Not bad, but the serious runners were in the 10k and the half-marathon, and probably the smarter people don’t try and push this race too hard anyway. Selina ran well too and placed 6th overall. I ran the race in 30:13, which was 7 seconds slower than last year.

Anyway, that’s 18 races in the books. That’s a lot, but I am a mile behind where I should be. If I run two races every weekend in June, I’ll only be a couple behind target; because, of course, I should have run 26 races at the half-way mark. I’ve already found two for next weekend, so that’ll help.

Race #17: The Great Race

The Great Race from Saratoga to Los Gatos is aptly titled! And it was the site of Race #17 in 2015 in my journey to race 52 times to raise $52,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. If you’d like to be part of helping me raise awareness for Guillane-Barre Syndrome, then donating is the best thing you can do.

Lined up at the start of the Great Race in Saratoga. The guy behind me posed nicely for the photo too!
Lined up at the start of the Great Race in Saratoga. The guy behind me posed nicely for the photo too!

Today’s race was the 38th running of the Great Race. I’ve raced this race four times in a row, dating back to the 2012 edition. Every year, it’s been the whole family, with the exception of this race — Selina’s away with Rose, and so it was Lucy and I who carried the torch.

It’s a terrific, I mean great, race. The start is in beautiful, sleepy downtown Saratoga, CA on Big Basin Way. Around 1,000 people lined up tightly, with a large contingent of families running together and typically closer to the back. After a quarter mile or so, it’s a hard right onto Highway 9, and three miles or so of running until you reach downtown Los Gatos. Then, it’s a hard right onto North Santa Cruz avenue, and maybe a little over a quarter mile to the finish line.

The family at the 2012 Great Race
The family at the 2012 Great Race

The first little-more-than-half is deceptive. It looks flat when you’re in the car, but it’s actually a very gentle climb until the three mile mark (with the exception of a half mile dip in the middle). It takes more out of you than you’d expect, and if you’re accustomed to running 5k, then the 4 mile or 6.5 kilometers comes as a shock.

I’ve never run the race at anything above a jog with the kids. Today, with Lucy off with her friends, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m not sure that was the wisest move after yesterday’s race, but I’m not the wisest at the best of times. Anyway, I came 71st out of a thousand or so, but a disappointing 21st in my age group of 40 to 49. There’s some fast middle age guys out there for sure. I was happy with a time under 29 minutes, and winner won it in a completely-bonkers 20 minutes. Insane. He beat the guy who came second by nearly two minutes. Wow.

After the race, there’s a nice festival, cool t-shirts, and a nice display of the 38 different t-shirts from the event over the years. If you’re reading this Los Gatos Rotary club, then I’d like a retro look like the 1985 edition next year please! Then, it’s time to jump on a school bus and take a ride back to the race start (where the car’s parked).

Riding the school bus back to the start
Riding the school bus back to the start

Alright, it’s time for a few days off from running. I’ll share news of an adventure that’s coming up soon! Promise!

 

Race #16: St. Lawrence Run for Fun 5k

Race 16 of 52 was on Saturday April 25. That took me 31% of the way to my goal of running 52 races in 2015 to raise awareness of Guillane-Barre Syndrome. Most importantly, I’m also focused on raising $52,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. If you’d like to help, you just have to head over here and you can donate in less than three minutes!

Lucy and I ready for the start of the St. Lawrence Run for Fun 5k
Lucy and I ready for the start of the St. Lawrence Run for Fun 5k

The St. Lawrence Run for Fun is a new race in the Bay Area, and was a fundraiser for the St. Lawrence Elementary and Middle School. The turnout was typical of a small, new race — around 200 in the 5k race, and around 40 in the 10k, and the location was Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.

On paper, it’s a nice location — grassy parklands, situated on the bay, with plenty of well-maintained gravel trails. In practice, it can get pretty windy, and there’s a ripe smell that drifts in either from the bay or the nearby landfill. On Saturday, it wasn’t windy, but the smell definitely cleared the sinuses at a couple of points. Still, I’m being fussy — really, it’s a wonderful place to spend your Saturday morning running at a local fundraiser.

Selina’s in Australia, and so our eldest daughter Lucy and I took to the trails. She ran a solid race, and placed first in her age group — a pretty awesome result and a cool medal to show for it! But how’s this: I actually *won* the race. There’s a first time for everything: I can assure you I’ve never won a race in my life, I’m not even sure I’ve ever been in the top three. Yep, 1st out of 200.

Things are getting silly while we wait for the medal presentation
Things are getting silly while we wait for the medal presentation

There’s a back story. Like many inaugural races, there’s something that isn’t quite right. In this race, there were plenty of cones at the turnaround point (at almost exactly the 2.5km or 1.55 mile mark), but there wasn’t anyone standing there saying “this is the turnaround”. So, the three young guys about 30 seconds in front of me just kept on going. I yelled out to them (aren’t I kind?), made the turn myself, and took off — and so I was in first place in a Steve Bradbury kind of way.

All I had to do from there was not implode, and victory was mine. The track was wet, and the adrenaline was pumping, and so it was a pretty tough last mile. But, yes, I won the race — and I have a large crystal trophy and a $25 gift card to prove it. I’m pretty sure that’ll go down as one of the racing highlights of the 52 race challenge.

Lined up at the start of the St Lawrence Run for Fun 5k
Lined up at the start of the St Lawrence Run for Fun 5k

Next up is the Great Race from Saratoga to Los Gatos in California. It’s Sunday. Wish me luck with that!

Race #15: Brazen Racing Mt Diablo Trail Challenge

What a crazy week! International travel wears you down. But it is truly amazing to fall off the plane and into a race — and trail running is good for the soul. Doubly so at the magnificent Mt Diablo.

Ready for the start of the Brazen Racing Mt Diablo Trail Challenge 5k
Ready for the start of the Brazen Racing Mt Diablo Trail Challenge 5k

We ran the Brazen Racing Mt Diablo Trail Challenge on Sunday morning, and that’s race #15 in the books. We’re well on the way to 52 races in 52 weeks to raise awareness for the GBS/CIDP Foundation, and $52,000 to help people who suffer from Guillane-Barre Syndrome and related conditions. If you’d like to be part of helping, you can head over here and donate.

Any normal week, we’d run the 10k or contemplate the half marathon. But with the trip to Australia and back this week, we made the smart choice and ran the 5k. It’s a great little run — out and back on a sandy trail, with three or four creek crossings, and a little bit of agile scrambling over smooth rocks. We were warned that our feet would get wet, and that was very true — the third creek had probably half a foot of water in it and was a few yards across. Navigating a creek at speed is a challenge, but it sure beats pounding asphalt on some city street somewhere. Ah, trail running!

The start of the 5k at the Mt Diablo Trail Challenge
The start of the 5k at the Mt Diablo Trail Challenge

I ran into first place in my age group, and 8th overall. That’s more of a testament to the fact that the serious runners were in the 10k and the half-marathon. Selina, my speedy wife, came 2nd overall in the women’s division and also first in her age group. Not bad after an international flight, nothing to sniff at.

Selina crossing the line, 2nd in the women's division
Selina crossing the line, 2nd in the women’s division

If you haven’t run trails, and you enjoy running, give it a try. You’ll thank me. And, if you’re in NorCal, give Brazen Racing a serious look. They put on the best organized races around, in beautiful settings, and with amazing medals and shirts. The food is awesome too.

Alright, see you next week. I’m planning two races this weekend, let’s see how that goes…

Race #14: Presidio 10

Our fundraising challenge continues. We’ve run 14 races in 2015 toward our goal of running 52 races to raise awareness of Guillane-Barre Syndrome, and we’ve raised almost $26,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation on our way to the goal of $52,000. Help us help people who suffer from GBS and related conditions by heading over here and donating.

A special place for a run on an amazing day
A special place for a run on an amazing day

We were up at 5am on Sunday, out the door at 6am, and running the most beautiful race we’ve run this year at 8:30am! The Presidio 10k started on Crissy Field in San Francisco, almost in the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge and near the infamous Alcatraz. The weather was beautiful, the views spectacular, and the race was overflowing with runners running either 10 miles, 10 kilometers, or 5 kilometers. We took the 10k challenge — after running yesterday, we didn’t want to run 10 miles, but we also wanted to run across the bridge (and the 5k route didn’t cross the bridge).

The race was incredibly well organized, the vibe relaxed, and the crowd in the mood for a fun run on a Sunday morning.There must have been a few thousand people running, and that always makes the atmosphere special. The route took us through the Presidio, across the bridge, back across the bridge, and along the foreshore of the bay, and across the finish line. I’m not sure there’s too many races that’d beat this one for scenery.

A tiny fraction of the crowd milling around before the start of the Presidio 10k race
A tiny fraction of the crowd milling around before the start of the Presidio 10k race

We loved the race — we have to run this next year — and Selina’s sure it was her favorite so far this year. I’m thinking that I agree — you can’t beat SF on a beautiful day, and running across the Golden Gate is a special treat.

Next week, we’re headed to the Brazen Mt Diablo race, which should be special too. See you next time.

 

 

Race #13: Play Ball 5k

We ran the Play Ball 5k this morning at the o.co colisseum in Oakland, CA. That’s thirteen races in the books! I’m now a quarter of the way to the goal of 52 races in 2015, and so close to half way to our fundraising goal of $52,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. Help us help people who suffer from GBS and related conditions by heading over here and donating!

Lined up ready to start. There's about 1,295 A's fans, Selina, 3 other M's fans, and I.
Lined up ready to start. There’s about 1,295 A’s fans, Selina, 3 other M’s fans, and I.

This morning’s run was a fun 5k race that started on the field of the Oakland Athletics, made its way around the warning track, and out onto the local surface streets near the stadium. The finish was in the parking lot.

There were nearly 1,300 people racing today. Because the start was on the warning track, people were lined up for miles waiting to start — as we left the stadium, there were still a few hundred people lined up waiting to get into the stadium, and they were probably more than 10 minutes away from crossing the start line.

Ready to race! Right in front of home plate at the home of the Oakland A's
Ready to race! Right in front of home plate at the home of the Oakland A’s

The quirkiness of the start made for an interesting race. I probably crossed the line in 10th place on “gun time”, but that later turned out to be 32nd overall on “chip time”. Selina and I took it pretty easy to be honest, we’ve got another 10k race tomorrow morning! My time was about 22:40.

Race done! Hanging out with Selina and the 1969 A's World Series trophy
Race done! Hanging out with Selina and the 1989 A’s World Series trophy

All of the participants got a cool A’s shirt, and a free ticket to today game between the *mighty* Seattle Mariners and the A’s. i wish I could have stuck around for the game — but I’ll definitely be listening to the dulcet tones of Rick Rizzs.