This was a race of many “firsts” for me: 1) first race in California 2) first trail race and 3) first relay race!
I signed up with the Golden Gate Running Club with two girls I met during the one training run I attended a few weeks ago (I’ve been delinquent with attendance since, but they didn’t mind). When one reached out to me only a week ago (we decided on this race very last minute!), I thought since I was going to run 10-12 miles this weekend anyway for half marathon training, so why not tack this on and meet some other runners while I’m at it 🙂
The race was 6 hours long, on a loop of 3.3 miles (approx 5k). Teams of 3 alternate the 5K loops and try to complete as many as possibly in 6 hours (there was also a 12 hour option…yikes). During the last hour, a smaller 1k loop opened up so teams could fit in as much mileage as possible.
Race morning started bright and early at 5am. I ate my usual race morning breakfast: oatmeal and coffee. Then, my running club carpool picked me up and we were off.
The race took place at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, a park in east bay with lots of different trails. I was actually pretty taken aback from the beauty of the area – on a map it seemed like an underwhelming park but in person it was quite gorgeous, especially along the water!
Our car had very little margin, pulling in at 6:45am for a 7am start. We rushed to the club’s tent, and luckily, one of my teammates, Colette, was already there and ready to run first, giving me and my other teammate, Alison, time to get ready. Our group decided on each of us doing 2 loops to begin, and after that alternating 1 loop each.
The gun went off and Colette was off for her first 2 loops! The first hour was nice and relaxing as I got ready, fueled and hydrated, and used the bathroom approximately 34 times before my turn to run. I loved that the club had a huge area all to ourselves – the tent kept us cool and was a great spot to have some down time and socialize with other runners.
Colette came back a little after the hour mark, and then it was my turn!
The actual 5K trail…A+. Super dope and diverse views that kept me very engaged and excited to run. There were some straightforward parts of the trail on fireroad, usually very exposed and along the shore:
And also less-exposed actual trails in the woods, which happened to be my favorite part of the race:
There were a few tough rolling hills, but overall, not as hilly as other trail races. An attempted selfie during my second loop when I was feeling strong!
There were even individual runners doing the 6-hour and 12-hour race all by themselves (beyond impressive)! The fueling/aid stations of this race were A++. Best I’ve ever seen. There was a huge spread including watermelon and PB&J sandwiches which I went ham on.
My one complaint – the HEAT. It was getting really hot by the end of my stretch…I ran back to home base and passed it off to Alison, who I felt was getting the short end of the stick having to run her two loops at the hottest part of the day!
After Alison’s two loops, we went down to each doing one loop. The third loop for me was a bit of a struggle. The heat was killer and the hills were starting to take a toll. I did have to walk a few portions.
Before we knew it, we were down to the final hour, which meant 1K loops. After talking to the girls, we were not interested in doing .6-mile sprints for an entire hour…Colette was looking to get some extra mileage in so she did another 5K loop (a true team player!). Bringing us down to the last 20 minutes. I then did 2 of the mini-loops, and passed it off to Alison for our final mini-loop.
Alison came in after her mini-loop with 5 minutes to spare…we thought she’d be done but she kept running past the finish to attempt one final loop! We were so surprised!! She would have to really book it to get in that last 1K for us. We waited anxiously praying she would beat the clock…and she sure did with a whole 30 seconds to spare!! We couldn’t believe it! 🙂
Final group mileage: 36.1 miles
Personal mileage: 11.6 miles
After the race was a yummy barbecue – probably the best post-race food I’ve ever experienced. The club all came together celebrating each other’s runs and having run now that it was over.
This was definitely the most social race I’ve ever done, and it really helps to go in a big group with multiple teams. There is just so much down time that if you didn’t have a fun group/team, then it would be a loooong morning :P.
However, I don’t know if I would do this race again…I’m use to races being on the more personal-side, where I’m either testing my progress or actually racing for something I’ve been working towards. We were there for a long time (almost 10 hours!) and there was a LOT of sitting around and waiting; for the amount I ran, it didn’t feel like the best use of time (in my humble type-A opinion, haha). I guess it’s new for me to experience a race that is also an all-day social event.
Overall, I enjoyed this race and was happy to bond with my awesome teammates – we were so on the same page with our view of the race (aka not taking it seriously at all and just having fun). They really made the experience worth it 🙂
SF Half Marathon is in 2 weeks and I could not be more excited now that I have some vibes for racing once again (this was my first race since the Newport Marthon in April)!