Tag Archives: 5k

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 #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 #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.



Race #12: Wildflower Run 5k

We ran the 32nd annual Wildflower Run at the Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA on Sunday. What a great race — well organized, flat, fast, and a beautiful day for running. You should get along next year for the 33rd running; I’ve a feeling we’ll be there too.

Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!
Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!

I wore my prototype FiftyTwoFives running shirt for the first time today. We’ve been printing a few different versions, and testing them out. We’ll be printing an official shirt in a month or two, and including names of sponsors who’ve donated more than $100 to our fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. If you’d like the shirt, it’s not too late to donate — come on, you know you want to head over here and help a great cause!

Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women's division. Speed demon!
Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women’s division. Speed demon!

Anyway, this morning, just over 500 people ran the 5k race, and around 250 ran the 10k. The race had a friendly, family atmosphere — and a club racing atmosphere too in the form of a large contingent from the Wolfpak running and triathlon club.

I ran into 3rd place in the 40 to 49 age group (and 16th overall), with a reasonable time of 21:40. I have a sneaking suspicion that the race was closer to 5200m than 5000m, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking that my time was actually a little better. My wife Selina ran into second place with a 22:20 (and came 22nd overall, and 5th in the women’s division). The ladies from Wolfpak looked impressive, but Selina didn’t have too much trouble taking all but one of those ladies down. She’s low key but fast.

The start of the pre-race kids' 2k race
The start of the pre-race kids’ 2k race

The race was won overall by 27-year-old Stephanie Pancoast in a time of 17:24. I haven’t seen a female overall winner in my races for a few years, and 17:24 sure is humming. Impressive stuff.

Next weekend, I’m taking a short break from racing. We’ve got seven or eight races lined up in April including a run around the o.co coliseum before the Mariners @ A’s game (Go M’s!), a run across the Golden Gate bridge, and a race up and down the hills of Mt Diablo. Should be a fun month!


Race #9: Jenny’s Light 5k

Some races are just races. Others give you insight into someone else’s life and important causes. This is a race that matters.

Jenny’s Light is a charity formed after the untimely death of Jenny from postpartum depression. It aims to improve and save lives through increasing awareness of postpartum mood disorders. Since its inception a few years ago, they’ve raised over $400,000, and it was our pleasure this morning to contribute by running their annual race. If you’d like to contribute too, head over here. (We sent over a few extra dollars too.)

Speaking of things that matter, my fundraiser to fight GBS matters! We’ve raised nearly $11,000 in less than a month for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. I suffered from GBS — which wasn’t fun — and I’m working to help others who have the misfortune. Please head over here and donate to support the cause.

The Race

This race was at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos in California. It’s a beautiful park, built along the Los Gatos creek trail, with the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad as the center piece. Very flat and all pavement.

It was a cooler morning in Northern California. It took a while to warm up, and we wished we’d brought along running gloves. If you live on the east coast of the US, you probably hate me now. Sorry.

It was a fun race. A family, mothers, strollers friendly vibe. There was a kids run, a 10k, and the 5k that we ran. The 10k and 5k had regular runner and people-pushing-a-stroller divisions. The 10k took off at 10am — a daylight-savings-started-today friendly time — and 5k at 10:05am. What made it extra special was two families from our girls’ school, and other friends being there — it’s great to see families out together, and you can’t beat exercising as a family.

The start wasn’t a ton of fun, but that’s Vasona Lake for you; I’ll come back to Vasona Lake later. Lots of kids running like crazy, then stopping, tying shoelaces, waiting for Dad, and generally trying to get themselves hurt by fast moving “running back”-like guys like me. Anyway, survived that, and had a fun race on a meandering course.

The Jenny's Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA
The Jenny’s Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA

Super well organized race. It started on time, no problems with the timing and awards, and the friendly vibe flowed through. I’ll run this one next year, and hopefully for many years to come.

As to a time, well, I came seventh overall in 21:46. I wasn’t feeling the best with a slight cold, and just never quite got in the groove. Still, I was happy with the result, and I’m looking forward to Buenos Aires next week — a 10k through the streets of Argentina’s capital!

Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny's Light 5k
Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny’s Light 5k

Running Races at Vasona Lake

Races at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos tend to meander. It’s a beautiful place to be, but its designers clearly weren’t thinking about 5k racers when they laid the trails. I reckon I’ve run around ten races at Vasona, and everyone’s been different — and they all involve lots of corners, doubling back, and generally running a snaking trail.

Which reminds me of the worst race I’ve run. It was at Vasona Lake, and maybe in 2012, and was a “first annual *something* race”. (Pro tip: don’t sign up to run in the first annual anything.)  There were no course markers, and no marshals on the course. I’m moderately confident that the leader of each pack of runners ran a different course, leading to maybe ten different races being run. I crossed the line in a suspiciously slow 25 minutes. Several slower looking people had been over the line for 10 minutes, and several faster looking people crossed the line at the 30 minute mark. I’m mellow about that king of thing. Several people weren’t. Chaos ensued.  Anyway, got a nice t-shirt.

Well, that’s race #9 in the books. I hope you’ll join in supporting my fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation, and follow my journey to 52 races in 52 weeks.


Race 7: Mardi Gras Madness 5k

Cruising across the line
Cruising across the line

I felt blessed to be out running today. It must have been 60 degrees at race time, with a light breeze, and on its way to a low 70s day in the Bay Area. I feel doubly-blessed to be running with my family and for a great cause: the GBS/CIDP Foundation. As always, I encourage you to like my Facebook page athttp://facebook.com/fiftytwofives, and donate over at IndieGoGo.

Rosie, Lucy, and Selina ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k
Rosie, Lucy, and Selina ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k

After yesterday’s crazy time of 20:15 for a 5k, I took it a whole lot easier today. My left calf has a knot in it, my quads were tight, and I had to take a few deep breaths as I warmed up with a yoga-inspired downward dog. I probably should have stretched, rolled, and drank less champagne last night — you’d think I’d have learnt by now.

New shoes, old shoes: ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose
New shoes, old shoes: ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose

The Mardi Gras Madness 5k is a well-organized, small, local event that has a small town, happy crowd feel. There were around 150 folks at the race, and no-one was looking too fast or competitive at the start line. I ran with my youngest daughter Rosie, who’s nearly 11, and let her set the pace. My wife Selina took off with the leaders, and my eldest daughter Lucy ran in the middle of the pack.

I ran a 27:05, and enjoyed the streetscape, parks, and ambling along in the middle of the pack. Selina won the women’s and was fourth overall. The girls did great, running with the family is pretty special. Cool t-shirt, nice medal, and a good time had by all.

See you next week for race #8.

Race 6: The UjENA Double 5k

It’s been an amazing week. I’m blessed to have so many friends and colleagues supporting my fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. As of this morning, we’re at $5,124 raised on our way to the $52,000 goal. Please like my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/fiftytwofives, and donate over at IndieGoGo.

Working as hard as I can -- just after crossing the finish line
Working as hard as I can — just after crossing the finish line

This morning I ran the UjENA Fit Club Double 5k race in San Jose. It’s a new concept in running: run part of the race, take a “half time” break, and run the rest of the race. In the case of this 5k, it’s a 3k race, an hour break, and a 2k race. You sum the times from both races to get your overall time.

Getting ready for the start of the UjENA Fit Double 5k in San Jose
Getting ready for the start of the UjENA Fit Double 5k in San Jose

I ran the Double 15k race last year at the same location. Afterwards I decided this wasn’t the greatest new concept in road racing. It’s tough to stop running for an hour and start again: the legs seize up and you don’t feel great on the second leg. It’s boring to stand around for an hour waiting for something to happen. Throw in that it was badly organized, and it didn’t make for a fun day. I mean, what’s the point?

So, why run it again? Well, I promised if we raised $5,000 by midnight last night, I’d run two races this weekend. And there wasn’t any other nearby race to run. So, Double 5k it was.

The good news was I cranked it out. I ran the first 3k in 11:58 and the second 2k in 8:16. They gave me a 20:15 for the 5k total. By far the fastest I’ve run 5k since I started racing or timing myself. I don’t know whether it really counts — having a one hour break makes it rather non-standard. On the one hand, you could argue taking a rest break is an unfair advantage. On the other hand, you could argue it’s a handicap and I would have gone faster without it. Who knows. In any case, it’s the fastest I’ve run a Double 5k (and, er, the only time).

Got a slight calf tweak in the last quarter mile. Another good indication that it’s not a great idea to have a “half time” in a running race. Hopefully, I’ll be ok for the race tomorrow — the whole family is running with me in the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose. See you then.


Race 5: Bay Breeze 5k

I’m 9.6% of the way through 52 races in 2015. Only 5.3% of the way through the fundraising for the work of the GBS/CIDP Foundation — but that’s only the first week! I know it’s hard to find time and that you want to donate — so please help me out. And give me a Like over at http://facebook.com/fiftytwofives

Running the Bay Breeze 5k. A gorgeous day for a race in San Leandro, right on the San Fran Bay.
Running the Bay Breeze 5k. A gorgeous day for a race in San Leandro, right on the San Fran Bay.

I ran race 1 in 21 minutes, 32 seconds. Race 2 in 21:21. Race 3 in 21:06. For a 5’9″ guy who’s 45 and who has legs like tree trunks, I’m moving. Kind of like the NASCAR truck series.

Race 5 was the Brazen Bay Breeze, a flat and fast course. Beautiful day by the Bay. Not a cloud. Not a breeze (false advertising I guess).  Great crowd — hundreds of runners in the 5k. I was ready, so was Selina. It was Valentines Day, and every couple at least starts Valentines Day happy. You get the setup — this is going to a fast time, right? (By the way, the girl who sells us flowers at the Farmer’s Market works in the service industry — she says over her years working in restaurants, she sees more couples arguing over dinner on Valentines Day than any other day of the year.)

Oh sorry. Anyway, I ran 31 minutes, 37 seconds. About 10 minutes slower than the first four races of the year. I wasn’t actually supposed to be running — the doctor said no strenuous exercise for a week. I had surgery on Monday — so it was more of a shuffle than a run. I recommend it — running slow, not surgery — it’s nice to smell the roses, look around at the beautiful Bay Area, chat while you run, and have no pressure to get faster.  Don’t tell my doctor. I’ll be faster next week.

Crossing the finish line in a blistering time of 31 minutes and change.
Crossing the finish line in a blistering time of 31 minutes and change.

The race was one of the Brazen Racing series. These guys put on a great show — packet pickup is fast, the races start on time, the courses are marked carefully, they take *free* photos, they have the best medals in the business, and the food afterwards is amazing. Most of their races are hard, in state parks on trails, and with climbs that burn your legs. This race wasn’t like that, it’s probably their flattest and fastest, and their most urban and accessible to everyone. Throw in Valentines Day, and you get a crowd of thousands running the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon.

Starting the 5k at the Brazen Bay Breeze
Starting the 5k at the Brazen Bay Breeze

Oh, what was the surgery? if you donate $100 and ask me, I’ll tell you 🙂

Several amazing people donated to my campaign this week. Thank you to (in order of donation): Nate Lyman, Luis Gaitan (best limo service in the Bay Area),  Prathibha Alam, Jay Weiler, Katy Chu, Antoine El Daher, Mike Mathieson, Angela Lau, Oliver Hurst-Hiller, Brian Johnson, Wilson Pang, Gene Cook, and Matt Madrigal. You guys are amazing.

Please donate — help people who are debilitated by GBS and its related conditions. It’s a great cause. See you next time.