This is two race recaps in one: The Brazen New Years races, the 2016 New Year’s Eve Half Marathon and the 2017 New Year’s Day Half Marathon. Together, also known as the two-year marathon. If you do both races you can say it took two years to run a marathon. You also get a ‘mega medal’ – a connector that combines the two race medals into one monster medal (well, you are supposed to get the mega medal, more on that later).
Historically these races were done on the same course run in different directions. This year, they were in different places. New Year’s Eve (heretofore known as ‘Eve’) was a flat course at Quarry Lakes park, New Year’s Day (‘Day’) was a hilly monster at Lake Chabot.
I couldn’t come up with any goals for these races that charged me up in the slightest. My pre-race goal was really only to finish both races and start 2017 strong.
What Became My Goal
Sometimes goals appear mid-race, this was one of those times.
There is a well-known ultra trail runner in the Bay Area that does trail races with her mini-dachshund TruMan. They ran both races. I leap-frogging them on both days and became determined to beat TruMan. I did. Barely.
I barely beat a dog whose legs are 3 inches long.
The two events were at different locations, but both were about a 20-minute drive for me, with race starts at 8:30. This meant totally respectable wake-up times around 6:15.
Much better than many of my recent races and volunteer shifts that required a wake-up call around 3:30 a.m.
Temperatures were perfect for a winter run.
At the start, the temps were in the upper 40s, but the sun made it feel much warmer. High 50s and partly sunny at the finish.
Warm enough the still enjoy the ice cream sandwiches, which is always my top priority post-run.
What I Wore
Basically the same thing both days. My running skirt and calf sleeves (worn more for warmth than compression) were exactly the same. Shirts and arm warmers were different.
Who needs laundry anyway?
Saturday – New Year’s Eve
Eve was a “trail” race. Technically on a trail, but only just. It is a flat course mostly on paved bike trail.
I don’t usually do the flat trail courses. If I’m doing a trail I want dirt and hills, but this is how the 2-year was arranged this year, so there I was.
The flat, narrow course leads to lots of passing of other runners, which annoys and stresses me out, but maybe I should do more flat trail races because I totally rocked it!
I finished in 2:02. WTF! 2:02!
I’m not a time-focused runner, so I don’t know exactly what my half PR was, I think it was 2:13 or 2:14. In any case, it was over 2:10. Whatever it was, I totally smashed it.
And the remarkable thing was how totally unremarkable I felt, and I mean that in the best possible way.
I felt strong, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing it to my limit. I was just out doing my thing and totally nailed it.
How to Spend Saturday?
My biggest question with the back-to-back races was how to spend the day in-between – the day of New Year’s Eve. I really hate New Year’s celebrations, so I liked having an excuse to not do anything (not that I feel like I needed an excuse).
I spent the day drinking water and watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. Never say I don’t know how to live it up!
Sunday – New Year’s Day
Day was the more typical trail race. The course climbs around 1500 feet. I haven’t done this exact course – the usual half course around the lake is closed to due construction.
Again it was remarkably unremarkable. I once again felt strong and powered up the hills.
And I didn’t fall on my face! That’s an improvement.
I finished in 2:39, which for me on this course is much better than expected.
Both races seemed more crowded than most trail runs, and with a less typical trail crowd.
One reason I love trail races is they tend to have a distinct energy to them, the runners are generally lower key. I think the chance to do back to back runs (one of them on a flat course) brought out a different crowd.
There also seemed to be a ton of race day sign-ups that added to the congestion.
By the time I finished, they had run out of the connector medal that turned the race medals into a ‘mega medal’. I’ve done dozens of Brazen races over the past 5 years, and this is the first time I’m disappointed with them.
I understand that they wouldn’t want a ton of leftover medals so they would under-order, but I finished in a pretty respectable time and based on the list of names they had already taken, they’d run out some time earlier. My guess is that the majority of half marathon runners didn’t get the full medal on race day. This just happens to hit on one my biggest running pet-peeves: slower runners getting the dregs (or getting nothing) at races.
I’ll still get it mailed to me in a few weeks, but it just isn’t the same.
Places Chaffed & What Hurt Most the Next Day
I’m shocked by this, almost as much as my 2:02 finish. I am generally tired and worn out, but I’m not sore.
I’m often less sore after trail races. The variety of terrain engages different muscles so the exhaustion is more spread out.
But that doesn’t explain why I wasn’t sore after Saturday’s flat race.
Would I Do This Race Again?
I have and I would. They do this every year, with the ‘New Year’s Eve’ race being run on the Saturday nearest NYE, which usually means the races are a few days apart. I like doing this event when New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday or Sunday so the races are back-to-back.
I hope in future years, the Eve race is returned to the ‘real’ trail, the hilly course.
I did much better than I ever would have expected on both races.
My biggest take away was how much I am seeing the results from my recent weight loss and regular strength work.
My times were better than they’ve ever been, but more importantly, I felt strong doing it. Running 26.2 miles over two days felt almost (dare I say it?)… Easy.
I have nothing more on the racing calendar until I pace the Oakland Marathon in April.
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