Monday, March 25, 2013

Canyon Meadows 30K

It has been awhile since I have actually run a race, and even longer since I have run over 13 miles.  So it can easily be said that I approached the Canyon Meadows 30K with cautious exuberance. This race, as well as next weeks Lagoon Valley half marathon, was to serve as a go/no go for the Diablo 50K. Considering that I waited at an aide station for 12 minutes to check in with my wife as well as the 7 minutes I was in the porta-potty, I am proud of my 4:04 hour finish time.

I have actually wanted to do a race in the Redwood Regional Park for quite some time. My wife and I had taken our kids on a hike over 5 years ago on much of the course.  At the time I was much heavier and was pushing a jogging stroller with two kids on it for 13 miles. On this trip, I slid on some eucalyptus berries resulting in a chip out of my shin when it slammed against the stroller.

The park is beautiful though, with redwoods on the valley floor and a nice fire road that circumnavigates the valley.  From here you can see Moraga to the east and Oakland and the Bay to the west.  I heard one runner compare the view to the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south.  I can definitely see why.
Oakland Hills or Blue Ridge Mountains, you make the call.

The race was done by Coastal Trails.  The raced director, Wendell Doman had laid out a 5 mile, half marathon, 30K, marathon, and 50K course.  Since the circumference of the valley is 13 miles, to get the additional miles, you do cover some or all of the trail more than once if you are doing anything greater than a half marathon.  That is OK though since there is nothing monotonous about the course. And while there is a fair bit of fire trail, Wendell has masterfully thrown in some awesome single track with some nice technical for good measure.  You are rewarded during the last 3 miles of the 30K with the redwoods on the valley floor.

Everyone at all distances started together at 8:00 AM.  This year included a record crowd of over 400 participants in all the different race distances.  You start out with a nice climb out the gate for the first couple of miles.  The first aid station was 4.7 miles and we made really good time getting there, even with a bathroom stop.  Once we got to the Chabot Science Center, my wife and I separated.  About a quarter mile the first bit of single track began, with a nice gentle grade through redwoods and eucalyptus.  The trail connected back with the main trail for another mile, then split off for some nice technical single track.  At this point I was more concerned with getting a nasty  dose of poison oak, but everything went OK.  
Yes this is this is Oakland, but no, my wife just wanted to take a nap.

At the bottom of the single track you found the next aid station, 6.2 miles from the first.  I spent a couple minutes here before continuing on.  The next 3.1 miles of the course took us through some of the redwoods and the bottom of the valley and then back to the start.  This is really the only negative of the course since it means that you face the finish before starting the final 5 miles of the course.  I waited here for my wife to check in and to see how she was doing before restarting the climb back up the first hill.

I began to feel how tired I was at the top of the hill even though I felt strong.  The cut-down to the valley came pretty quickly and then I was back on the forest floor for the grand conclusion through the redwoods.  By this time all tiredness had faded and I was recharged for the final 1.5 mile.  In fact, looking back at my Strava times, this was the fastest part of the run.

All in all in was a great race and I would recommend to the course to anyone.

So as a test for the Diablo 50K, I feel pretty good about the decision to sign up.  I know that I can complete it.  Also, normally after a run with that downhill, my quads are thrashed for a couple of days.  They feel great.  I really feel that the hill training clinic by Footfeathers that my wife and I took back  in October was definitely worth the money.  So let's see how I do at the next race this coming weekend.  It is the Lagoon Valley half-marathon.  My goal is to complete it within 2:30.  I would really be happy with a 2:20, which would be better than my first half-marathon, the flat Surf City half.  I think I have a good chance to do that.

So on to Lagoon Valley!!!!


  1. Your wife would like to say she was fine, knows what she's doing, and doesnt' need you to "wait" for her to check in.
    Just keep running, dude.

  2. Solid run, Brian. Diablo 50k is a great race. Keep up on your hydration and electrolytes and take it easy without getting discouraged during the hot hours and you'll do fine. Have a great run there. Wish I could run it again this year.

  3. Thanks Tim for the words of encouragement! Looking at your schedule this year and with Lake Sonoma coming up, I think your record on the course is going to be safe this year.

  4. Great job Brian and a nice report - I can't wait to hear how Lagoon Valley goes. And I love that picture of Beth on the road; too funny! Diablo is not going to be a problem this year. Assuming the snow drifts don't get too high.

  5. Thanks Alan. Trying to figure out the Lagoon Valley course but we will have a good time.

    And no Diablo Iditarod for me!!!


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