Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Awesome Weekend at the Diablo Trail Adventure

We had an awesome weekend setting up and participating in the Diablo Trail Adventure!  This Brazen Racing and Save Mount Diablo event is held each November right in our back yard in the Castle Rock Regional Park and Mount Diablo State Park.


It started on Saturday where we meet up with the race directors, Sam and Jasmin, and the other volunteers for the setup.  If you have ever volunteered for Brazen Racing, you will know that they are an extremely organized well-oiled machine, which meant that we got set up relatively quickly.  Since this is a Save Mount Diablo event, there is a greater than normal number of participants especially with the family hike that started in Borges Ranch and finished at Castle Rock Regional Park.  All went well on the setup and we headed home to get our rest for the following day.

We awoke to a lovely chilly (41 degrees at the house) but sunny day.  Emma would be running the 10K (pretty much doesn’t run the 5K’s anymore), Sophie and Myles would be running the 5K, and I would be running the half marathon.  Beth would be Myles motivator so that he would keep moving and having fun so that he would be wanting to do another run.

This was Emma, Sophie, and Myles second run in as many weeks, so they were in a good mindset.  In fact they all PR’d over the previous week.  

My run, well, was a good run and I am happy with the results keeping in mind that I hadn’t really done any training, or exercise for that matter, for the previous three weeks.  In fact, figuring that I wasn’t a 100 percent from Strep throat as of Wednesday, finishing the half in 3:07 was good. 

Mind you, I had been telling Beth all week that my target was to beat my Lagoon Valley half time of 2:28.  That would in itself be a lofty goal since this course is 0.5 mile further and has 500 more feet of elevation gain.  I even downgraded my expectations to closer to 2:38, similar to a race I did a couple of years back; however, even with that time, that course was a little under a mile shorter than this one.

At the start line I positioned myself in the middle of the group.  My strategy was to power hike the climbs and make up time on the downhill.  I would make up the majority of the time on the longest climb in the last 4.5 miles reasoning that I could sustain my flat road pace of a 9:30 minute mile through this final section.

I can say that this strategy was working for me.  I made it to the first climb, Sunset trail, a nice single track I am normally running down than running up on time.  Arriving at the second aid station and knowing that the next would be 5 miles after the longest climb, I picked up two Gu’s.  My thought was that I would need to refuel twice on the climb and if I could keep my blood sugar levels up then my downhill strategy would be fine.

I also began the climb up Dusty Trail and then on to Wall Point ahead of schedule.  Here I met up with a fellow runner, Sam, and we talked about running.  This was his first trail half marathon; however, he was having problems with his knee going downhill (which I got really concerned for him knowing what mile 9 looked like).  He was making a good pace up hill and took off.

I made it to the Curry Station aid station at 1:50.  By this time I knew my 2:28 was out the window; however, I was still on target for 2:38.  I drank two Dixie-cups of Coca Cola and took another Gu for the run back.  When I look at my stop times, I spent no more than 2 minutes combined at the aid stations which I feel pretty good about.

When I made it to the point of the long decent, I had lost another 5 minutes.  I still felt this was ok since it would be easy to make up on the downhill.  Well after the first mile, pace going pretty good, I started to feel the drain.  Very subtle at first but about 1.5 miles into the decent I had lost my energy.  I started feeling a slight amount of hamstring tightness and pulled it back a bit. 

Once I got to the bottom of the steepest grade I was spent.  I was now being realistic with my finish time; however still wanting to be less than 3 hours.  I found myself alternating between running and walking trying to keep my overall pace under 13 minutes; however, was really finding that a struggle.  By the time I was a mile out and with 9 minutes to spare, I realized that I would be just happy with my time and finish.  I came across the finish line at 3:07, being met by my wife and kids as well as our friends the Berhens.

Like I said before, I am happy with my time.  I was sick a short time before, and even with the suggestion of my wife to downgrade to the 10K I went for it.  While it wasn’t my best performance, I have set a good baseline for the next time I run this race.  

Also, I have to (as I have done a lot with my runs lately) rethink my refueling strategy.  I was concerned with the distance between the second and third aid station which revised my normal refueling.  I also typically stay away from Gu’s unless it is a last resort.  I think in this case I started a cycle of carb loading that I wasn’t sustaining at the level of exertion and caused my blood sugar to drop.  In a lot of ways, if I had waited until I got to aid 3, then had a Pay Day Bar and the soda (like I normally do) I would have probably have done better.  I really need to nail my nutrition down.  If I am going to be carb focused I either needs to keep more gel’s or sugar with me or stay more fat adaptive and focus on lower glycemic options.

That said, this is an awesome event and a weekend that our family will be enjoying hopefully for years to come!



  1. Wow - if you ask me, that's an astonishing time considering how sick you had been. Actually, that's a great time regardless! That's a tough course - congrats on this! It was a bit sad to see all the creek crossings so dry.

    Also, did you see any evidence of the fire along the course at all? (I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have since I think this is all in a different area of the park.)

    1. Not on the course; however, you could look to the left and up towards the peak, right before the long descent, to see the fire damage. The great news is on Beth's runs up there lately the green is coming back.


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