Race Report: 2011 Mt. Diablo Half Marathon

I think one of the best ways to get in a good trail run is to sign up for a race.  As someone who is still pretty new when it comes to trail running, I am not sure where exactly to go without getting lost and don’t always have people to run with.  Both of those things are solved with a race!  When I saw that there was going to be a race in my backyard, I figured it would be a great way to get my long run in for the weekend.  I talked Chris into signing up too and that was that… we were running a trail half marathon!

We have run Mt. Diablo a few times together, bust mostly as shorter runs.  We did an almost 10 mile trail run 2 weeks ago and last weekend I was sick on the couch.  I knew this was going to be my longest run since Nike, but I knew I could do it.

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Love the shirt!
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I picked up our bibs and shirts Saturday afternoon and we fueled up with our standard pre-race meal of pizza.  I went to bed pretty early and was very grateful that we would get an extra hour of sleep with the time change! 

The race didn’t start until 9am and was only 15 minutes away, so we really were lucky with the sleep.  We got up with the alarms at 6:45 (7:45), got ready and headed over to Castle Rock Park where the race started.  We picked up our timing chips, dropped our stuff off at our car and headed to the start with no problems.  I love small races for this!  

It had rained all night the night before but the sun was shining and the air was crisp.  I knew it was going to be perfect running weather.  I wore shorts, a short sleeve shirt and sleeves just incase that I ended up pulling down for most of the race. 

I had no strategy or pacing plans for this race.  I just wanted to run and finish.  I figured I would have to walk a number of the big hills and that was just fine with me.  The first 9 miles were all climbing of some sort and then would be pretty much downhill to the finish.

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I started off feeling good and ran for as long as I could.  We turned onto a single track trail that was pretty steep and the walking/hiking started.  I would run where I could and hike the other parts.  We kept getting higher and higher and the views were so pretty! 

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I was very much enjoying myself and having fun being outside with the dirt under my feet. The miles were ticking by and I was eating shot blocks every couple miles.  There was some mud out there from the rain the night before, but nothing too bad (compared to what I have experienced before).  I would just kick it off my feet when they started getting heavy.

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I knew the top of the climbing was at mile 9 but I kept thinking maybe we would get there earlier, but nope we kept going up up up until mile 9!  Then we had a super steep downhill for a mile+ that I had fun flying down.

I was pretty much by myself at this point and for the next couple miles.  I had picked up the pace with the downhill quite a bit but could tell I was getting generally tired.  I just told myself I was getting so close and to just keep on running.

Then I ate it.

With about a half mile to go, I was running along and must have stopped paying attention to where I was putting my feet and my right ankle twisted which made me fall pretty hard.  There was a guy in front of me and a guy behind me who both stopped to help me up and make sure I was ok.  I had blood on my knee, hands and elbow, but I felt ok and just wanted to get finished!  I thanked them and told them I was ok and started running again.  It kind of kicked in what had just happened and I realized I had totally lost my breath or had the wind knocked out of me, so I stopped to walk for a minute to catch it.

I know a lot of people who trail run a lot (or who don’t trail run because of this) and fall a lot.  Although I am not an expert or that experienced trail running, but I have done a bit of trail running and a few races.  I have always waited for this first fall to happen, so today was that day.  I figure it was just my rite of passage and was bound to happen sometime!

I started running again just wanting to get to the finish line.  My knee was hurting a bit but I kept on running, just slower than I had before.  Finally I saw the finish line ahead and was so happy!

13.63 miles/2:29:29/10:58 avg pace

Just a few hills.  Garmin says 2454 feet of climbing.
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The hilarious splits of trail running.
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Chris was at the finish and I laughed and pointed to my knee.  After I got my medal, I headed over to the first aid tent and they gave us some supplies for Chris to fix me up.  This was the first time he had used his EMT/Paramedic skills on me, and I was happy to have him there.

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Since then my knee is feeling ok, the scrapes aren’t too bad but I have some road rash on my thigh in addition to the other scrapes.  My knee is a little swollen and will probably have a pretty bruise on it tomorrow.  I am icing away and covering everything else with Neosporin like a good girl!

Overall, it was such a fun morning, even with the fall, and I am so glad I did this race.  It was so pretty out there, the weather was perfect and this race is great.  On top of everything, it has been forever since Chris and I have ran the same race which made it even more fun.  I have big plans with trail running in my near future, so this was a great place to start.  Today I just loved running and I can’t wait to get out there again very soon.

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Also for all you bay area runners, I highly recommend any event put on by Brazen Racing.   They put on a such a well organized race, with great volunteers, great swag and great finish line food. I was very impressed by everything today and I can’t wait to do another one soon!

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40 Responses to Race Report: 2011 Mt. Diablo Half Marathon

  1. tricia November 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    Holy smokes ont the climbing.


  2. Nicole November 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    yay for a EMT hubby who can fix you up! great job out there girl! keep it up!

  3. Laurie November 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    That is a lot of climbing! I had my first trail crash yesterday (just on a training run) and thought the same thing… now I’m officially a trail runner. :) Glad you’re okay and enjoyed what looked like a beautiful day for running.

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

      Hah glad it’s not just me ;) Hope you are ok too!

  4. Page November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Falling just makes you an official trail running bad ass! Way to go out there and get ‘er done!

  5. Sesa November 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    I’ve only run two Brazen events — a turkey trot 5K and the Summer Breeze half. I agree, they are both well-organized and stress-free. Great swag, especially. I just haven’t done that many because trail races intimidate the heck out of me, and I’ve heard Brazen races are tough like a mother.

    I once got an email that mentioned runners racing into a swarm of bees near the finish line … pretty badass. But yeah, scary.

    Congrats on the awesome race; a ~2,500-ft climb is no joke. When you flashed that elevation map I felt faint.

  6. Monika November 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    that race profile looks awful!! :( Then again i hate hills and trail races. Yet.. I signed up for both of Brazen’s races over Thanksgiving weekend. I blame their extra race medal. :) My racing BFF in SF does all of their races and talked me into their turkey trot last year. I’ve been on their mailing list all year and finally signed up for the turkey trot again this year and their saturday half marathon. Looks hilly. Eek. On a diff note, my friend said they have a thing where if you volunteer at one race you can run the next one free? Sounds so cool. Wish I still lived up north. Might be something you’re interested in since you’re local. Anyways, congrats on today!

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Yes!! They have great volunteer perks, I definitely need to check into them :)

  7. irunthere4iam November 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Looks like a beautiful course! Great job on what looks to be a very, very tough course! Hope your knee heals soon!

  8. Lazy chick November 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Wow, what a great run!!!! Like Page mentioned, this make you totally bad ass!!! I just finished the US half, and they freakn changed the course so it was 1600ft elevation gain instead of 600!

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Yikes I didn’t know they changed the course!

  9. Alyssa November 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Big plans coming up soon, eh?? ;)

    I love how proud you look in that picture with you & Chris. What a perfect morning… even with the right-of-passage fall. :)

  10. Lauren November 7, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    I did a trail half this fall and totally wiped out as well! It was mile 11.5 and I just stopped thinking for a second and BAM, I hit the ground hard. I learned that zoning out is not possible on the trail :) Great race!

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      LOL yep me too… must pay attention!

  11. sarah k @ the pajama chef November 7, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    that looks intense but fun! great job!

  12. Jen November 7, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Congrats Aron!! What a beautiful course, I love the pictures. What a tough course -that climb is insane. I’m so glad you didn’t get more seriously hurt when you fell- having taken a few tumbles myself I know it can be scary. Great job out there! :)

  13. Denise November 7, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    i’m glad you’re ok! this is why i steer clear of trail races. i would kill myself. great job!!

  14. Carly November 7, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    So jealous, I really want to try trail running but haven’t been able to find any good races near me!

    I hope your knee is better today :)

  15. Morgan November 7, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Well done girl!!!! I hope that knee heals up quick so you can tackle the next challenge!

  16. selina November 7, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Aron! Love your positive voice in taking the fall. You are so right; it happens to all of us. It’s just the matter of when. It’s so sweet you have EMT your husband there. :)

    I debated to run this race but decided not to, due to the rain. Now, I am kicking myself because it looks so fun and pretty.

    Well, maybe the double Turkey?!

  17. Indi November 7, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Trail running totally Rocks!! I love it and we all fall sometime :) You’ve been initiated into it now!!

  18. Jenn November 7, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Holy Hannah Hills!! You poor thing but Congrats I guess on your rite of passage! Heal up:)

  19. Beth @ Boston2Berkeley November 7, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Great race! war wounds just make for a better story :) Running UP Mt. Diablo seems crazy, though I suppose you really earn your down hill. Every time I run up a hill, I think “at least I get to come down this” but then when I’m actually going down hill and worry about my knees it’s not as great as I’d hoped for. But I never learn, and keep running up hills all over Berkeley :)

  20. Angela @ SF Road Warrior November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Yay! Nicely done! I’ve run two Brazen events and they have both been spectacular. The first one was also my first trail race & I remember laughing about the ridiculous nature of the splits! Definitely took my time on the way back down because I was so afraid of eating it. Congratulations!

  21. Cate November 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    I’m glad you’re OK after that fall! I know PCTR does some events on Mt. Diablo too… I’m pretty tempted even though it looks super hard! Way to rock it!

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      Yes they do!! You should totally do it ;) Brazen does another one in April too.

  22. Christine November 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Glad you didn’t get more injured! Sounds like a fun race, I will run my first trail race this Sunday! I’m excited :)

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      So exciting!!! Have fun :)

  23. Nelly November 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Bummer about the fall happening! Trail running is indeed dangerous depending on the type of trail you are doing, and I usually always need to pay attention at all times or else I will end up falling for sure. That is why I generally don’t like doing trail races above 10K because my mind starts to zone out when the race gets above this point, and when your mind starts to zone out that is when falls usually happen.

    That elevation chart is legit!!!

    I’ve only really had 1 hard fall when trail running – I was running last year on somewhat muddy trails when my feet slipped out from under me while I was trying to turn, and ate it really hard on the mud. I didn’t even realize what happened until I was on the ground trying to figure out what happened. Luckily I wasn’t hurt! lol

  24. katie November 8, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    Ouch, friend! Glad it was just a bump. This looks like a gorgeous race!

  25. Susan - Nurse on the Run November 8, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Congrats on the trail half and surviving the fall! I took a dive on my first trail run and I think it made it that much more official. I’m excited to hear about your future trail races…they look awesome!

  26. marlene November 8, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    So cute that Chris the Paramedic Hubby got to fix you up. :) Glad you were okay and that this happened near the end. I think that would just suck to wipe out early on. Congrats on the trail half – I think I’d love to try one!

    • Aron November 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

      DO IT!! :)

  27. Joanne November 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Way to climb those hills. You’re lucky – I fall just going along the pavements. SO glad you didn’t hurt yourself too badly.

  28. Rachel November 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    this looks like so much fun! i desperately miss the trails : ( i have yet to take my first fall (although i hope i didn’t just jinx myself!), but way to take yours like a champ!

  29. RoadBunner November 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I am sad I never became a trail runner because I think I would really enjoy it (minus the sprained ankles and mountain lions). And I seriously think I would get lost on a trail run even during a race. Gah! I’m glad you weren’t seriously hurt on your fall. I think you’re right — it is sort of like falling in clipless bike pedals. I suppose we can look forward to more trail run race reports from you ;)


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