Posted by: Jen | June 27, 2010

Bear Creek Trail HM: A Race Report

Yesterday was my second trail half marathon and by far, the most challenging race I’ve ever participated in. Once again, Brazen Racing put on a fantastic event. It was actually COLD at the start; I was wearing my friend D’s hoodie and gloves for a little while! We did a short warm-up jog and I rolled out my left ITB because it was feeling tight and my knee was already bothering me just from the warm-up.

My new best friend in foam rolling:

The Trigger Point GRID foam roller. It is nothing short of amazing. The grooves and raised portions simulate massage (low/flat for palm, raised bumps for fingers, etc). It doesn’t compress and lose shape like a standard white foam roller and it hurts so good! I could feel a difference after just two minutes.

We got our gear ready to go and headed over to the start line after the usual pre-race emptying of the bladder and what not… the crowd was small, only 77 people in the half marathon. (The race also featured a 10K and 5K.) For a nice change, the race didn’t start out with a giant uphill – we went flat through the parking lot and then onto a nice fire road with a gentle incline. The big hill portion didn’t come until after the first mile and a half or so – and so it began.

I was not really feeling it in the first few miles – I had a hard time getting used to wearing a vest (or so I thought) and my brain was playing tricks on me. I decided to have a Shot Blok just to distract myself – lo and behold, I discovered I was HUNGRY! I ate almost the whole packet and started to feel better. Thankfully, we reached our first aid station and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I drank Ultima and ate some pretzels and potato chips and an orange slice. They also had Mike & Ikes, gummy bears, bananas, Payday bars, cookies, and salt tablets. D had given me a couple of salt tabs so I took one as I started feeling hot. I was really craving salt.

The race continued on, with another aid station around mile 6. At mile 7, we got entered a valley with beautiful trees and even a little “water crossing” (barely a trickle). Right after that trickle, the course got CRAZY. We went nearly vertical, climbing up with roots and tree branches. I made it to the top with only one slip and had to stop for a moment to catch my breath. The uphill craziness continued, with a brief downhill before the aid station I gratefully stopped at just shy of mile 8.5. More pretzels, more Ultima, and more water. I had banana, too – my calves were starting to really feel knotted.

The trail went downhill for a while, mostly in the sun until our fourth aid station at just past mile 10. At this aid station, a volunteer had a sponge in ice water. I definitely took advantage of that and had her squeeze out the sponge down my back. WHOA! I was suddenly brought back to life, as I had been slogging along for a while, not sure if I even knew my own name anymore. I also drank three cups of ice-cold water, which helped a lot. My water was pretty warm by that point.

I ended up keeping pace with a nice guy from San Jose for a while after that (I never caught his name) and we stuck together through the second-worst uphill between miles 10 and 11. It finally started to ease off and we headed downhill, stopping for another aid station at mile 12. I took off after having some more Ultima and water, knowing the end was finally within reach. My left foot was starting to really hurt by this point (in the arch) and all I could think about was taking off my blasted shoes.

The last mile was in the shade; however, it was definitely not as easy as we all thought. I was under the (mistaken) impression that it was a downhill finish, but alas, that was not to be. It was an extremely tricky section of single-track with a few steep inclines and a couple of nice downhills that ended with yet another uphill. It was pretty demoralizing for a while… until I saw D up ahead. It turns out she had some GI issues and had seen me behind her, so she decided to wait. We slogged out the last half mile or so together, griping and grumbling the whole way. My foot was burning and throbbing and I just wanted it to be OVER. We could hear the finish but couldn’t figure out where it was, and for a moment thought we were lost.

Finally, after a particularly nasty set of steps, we saw a couple of volunteers who said we were almost at the finish. D and I linked arms and I dragged her to the finish, where we crossed at the same time in just over the 2:53 mark. I knew they had Muscle Milk so I high-tailed it over to grab a bottle. OK, it’s more like I hobbled over… and I stuck both swollen hands into that ice bucket like it was going to save my life. I drank my chocolate light Muscle Milk greedily, and signed up for a free A.R.T. consult with our guest sports chiropractor from Innersport Chiropractic. She checked out my foot and it turned out I had aggravated my big toe flexor; thankfully it wasn’t plantar fasciitis! She suggested I ice it and stretch it out and to see how it felt in a week or so. (Thankfully, today it’s not even bothering me.)

While I was on the bench having my foot checked out, I found out I took third in my age group! Bonus! 🙂 I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance of placing considering how many women were ahead of me, but I guess they weren’t in my age group. Haha! I got some nice bling!

Here are a few other photos, courtesy of Alameda Ted (who I keep running into at these awesome events, thanks again for the motivation!!!):

Cheesing it up after the race
Muscle Milk is LOVE

And here is a shot of the lovely view from one of the hills:

It may be crazy expensive to live here, but views like this certainly make it worthwhile. 🙂

P.S. The Nathan Intensity race vest is AWESOME! I wore it for the first time and found it was very comfortable, no chafing, not too heavy, and the extra pockets in the front are great for gels, sunscreen, Chapstick, etc. I used the small pocket on the back for my camera. A great, versatile tool for long runs!



  1. I bought a Grid too, but it’s too gentle for my needs and not long enough to use on my back. Have you tried the RumbleRoller yet? Much more effective for me.

  2. Way to go on the finish and the AG win! Scrambling up the side pulling on vines is hard core. Sounds like an exciting race.

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