Monday, September 30, 2013

My Daughters First Trail Half Marathon at Brazen's Trail Hog

Early this month, my family participated in Brazen Racing’s Trail Hog series of races.  Beth and my oldest daughter, Emma (our eleven year old) would be running the half marathon, Sophie would be running the 10K, and I would be pacing Myles (our seven year old) on the 5K.  This would be Emma’s first half marathon ever and she decided to run one with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain and with temperatures in the in the low nineties by the time she made it to the finish line.

The race takes place in the Joseph D. Grant Ranch County Park on Mount Hamilton.    It is a beautiful park with rolling hills on both sides of the valley with oak trees dotting the landscape.  The name sake of the race, feral hogs, can be found as well as other wildlife.  The Race Director the night before came across a bobcat on a run the night before.

Sophie heading up the first climb.
Looking on the elevation chart on the Brazen site,  my wife and I thought it would be an OK race for Emma to run her first half and that it would be ok to let our 9 year old daughter to run the 10K by herself.  My son ended up getting sick the night before; which meant that we ended up sitting through his race.

Well the hills were a bit more challenging for my daughters.  The first climb for the 10K (which was also featured half way through the half marathon) was pretty steep.  However, the girls both attacked the hill with much of the same tenacity that I normally see on much tamer trails.

I was expecting Sophie to finish her 10K around an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.  I figured with the heat and running by herself that would be a good time.  I started getting nervous a little after two hours; but after 2:24 minutes of waiting, in came Sophie with energy to spare!  The smile on her face was awesome!  She was gleaming in the accomplishment she had just undertaken.

I figured that Emma and Beth would be coming in at 3:30.  However, with the heat, most of the runners were coming in unusually long so I knew that I might be in for another nerve wreaking wait.  It was becoming too warm and I knew that they would be pushing their limits.  I made a couple of trips to check with Jasmin to see if they had made the cut-off, which they had.  This meant that they would definitely be finishing. 

Off in the distance I could see Emma and Beth coming over the rise.  My eleven year old would be finishing her first half marathon.  On the last quarter mile I saw them both pick up the pace to a quick run, with Emma and Beth finishing in 4 hours and 21 minutes.

I am so proud of my girls!  Emma said shortly after her race that she probably wouldn’t be running another half in a while; however, once the aches and pains dissipated over the next couple of days you could tell she is aching for her next.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

After the Diablo Fire - Juniper and Summit Trail Loop

So I was able to get up to Mount Diablo with my wife this weekend for the first time since the fire.  Beth had gone up on Monday when the park opened and had gotten some impressive photos.  I had gotten her a Golden Poppy Pass which means she can go up on the mountain anytime and now that the kids are back in school will be pretty often.

Today we decided to take the Juniper and Summit Trail loops.  These basically begin and end at the Juniper Campground and would take us through the fire zone once we got to Summit Trail.  We have run the Upper Juniper trail before (my favorite for some pretty fun technical) but not the lower section.  What we found was a wonder bit of single track that combined some awesome views with some wonderful oak grotto.

Once we got to summit trail, the true climb began.  What amazes me that through the devastation of the fire, much of the trees will be fine -even the manzanitas that look like burnt out snags but are really full of live wood.  Really the grass and the smaller shrubs are gone (including the poison oak) but probably was needed anyway.

Summit trail is a pretty fun but steep climb.  The trail is still runnable and it is very clear that after the winter rains there probably be very few indications that the fire even occurred.  

Once to the summit it was time for the quick fun run down Upper Juniper.  All in all it was a fun 3.7 mile, 1,00 foot elevation gain run!


Monday, September 9, 2013

The Morgan Fire - Mount Diablo

The fire from Mitchell Canyon

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a run my wife and I did up on the North Peak of Mount Diablo.  It was an awesome run and it opened up an entirely new side of the mountain to explore.  Yesterday, I went out to start the barbeque on a bright and very warm Sunday to find that the mountain was on fire.  

From our house it looked as if the fire was coming from Mitchell Canyon, so I piled the family in the car to see where the fire was coming from.  We live 2 miles from the Mitchell Canyon trail head, so it didn’t take too long to see that the fire was actually behind North Peak.  In fact we made it just in time to see the brown shed I had come across on the peak explode in flames.

We then drove over to Marsh Creek Road to see that the fire was there off of Morgan Territories.  This is serious horse country, so there were so many folks getting their horse out of the different boarders, with our neighbors leaving late last night when they were alerted that their stables were now threatened. There are also 75 homes threatened.

This morning, the fire seems to be more focused on the Diablo Summit side, with North Peak no longer smoking. It just seems surreal that I had run the areas that are in flames.

North Peak Trail will be looking different for awhile.
My wife is just sick about the fire.  Most of our runs are on this mountain or in the foothills around it.  So it is so sad to see it in flames. 

However, to some degree it is reassuring that in an odd sense this will be good for the mountain.  Fire has such a cleansing effect and it will be exciting to see how it repairs itself over the years.  There has been an increasing amount of poison oak and goat head thistle on the mountain as well as other evasive species.

It just means that running will need to be more concentrated on the west side of the mountain.

CAL Fire reloading water to fight the fire on Sunday off Marsh Creek Road.
I would like to thank the firefighters fighting this blaze.  You have a hard job and it is really appreciated!
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