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2017 East Bay 510k (Berkeley, CA) Race Report

2017 East Bay 510k (Berkeley, CA) Race Report

The last time I ran the East Bay 510k, it was an entirely different race. Then, it was called the Let’s Go 510k, and the course was pretty different, as well: beginning and ending at the horse race track in Berkeley, with some miles along the Bay Trail (I think?) sandwiched in between. In 2015, I approached the 10k with no expectations or goals because just a few days earlier, I had surgery to fetch a runaway IUD that had perforated my uterus (and while I was under, my surgeon noticed that my appendix was “on its way out,” so he went ahead and took that out, as well). Plus, in 2015, I was freshly postpartum, and if memory serves, that might have been my first race post-G. At any rate, even with the weird extenuating factors, including arriving to the race late and starting DFL — so late that the timing mats switched from “start” to “finish” mode — it was a fantastic morning, even though everything about my run that day was kinda a wash.

arguably one of the coolest race experiences ever was hanging with Magda and Owen pre-race. A even raced a lot of the kids’ race alongside her! You can see I am cheesing HARD about this.

Fast forward a couple years, to Sunday, and I ran what’s now called the East Bay 510k, a 10k that began somewhat near the old course, in Berkeley, and ended in downtown Emeryville, on Bay St. The East Bay 510k is the last in the series of Run the Bay events, put on by Represent Running, and the race name signifies its connection to the East Bay (with 510 being an area code for East Bay residents). Earlier in the year, RR hosted the San Jose 408k (my fav road race in SJ) and the Across the Bay 415k in SF. This was my third year being a social media ambassador for RR, but unfortunately, illness and travel kept me away from the other two Run the Bay events this year. I was pleased to finally run a RR event, and I was curious to see how different things would be or feel from the last time I did this event in ‘15.

Coach Lisa gave me pretty specific instructions for this race: namely, that it’d be part of the LR for the day and that it wouldn’t be a “race race” as much as a solid progression, beginning around marathon pace (~7:30) and cutting down ~10 seconds each mile. She, Andy (another Wolfpack teammate), and I carpooled up north for the race, and with Lisa being the lead bike for the 5k and Andy running the 5k — which had a 30-minute earlier start time than the 10k — we dropped Andy off at the start line and parked at the finish line in Emeryville. I was planning on running 5-6 miles as a warm-up — basically just running to the start and then meandering for a while — and if all went well, I’d finish my warm-up just about 5 minutes before the start of the 10k and would hop in, ready to roll.

I quickly learned during my warm-up that while running north was wonderful, running south was going to be a bit hairy. Temps felt nice and almost autumnal, with thick and emo-y cloud cover (and perhaps a bit of humidity for Bay Area standards), but the wind out of the south was intense. I was glad that I noticed it during my warm-up because it blew. Momjoke game strong! No, really, I could tell right away that running south was going to be unnecessarily challenging. I chatted with some RR ambassador buddies, like Christina, Bertrand, and Brian, as well as my Wolfpack teammate Ida, on the start line, and before long, we crossed under the starting arch that had minutes earlier been live-graffitied by an East Bay graffiti artist.

with some RR ambassadors before the 10k. note the flags flappin’! (PC: Brian/@pavementrunner)

While very little of the ‘17 race was similar to the ‘15 iteration, the first two miles seemed to feature some of the original ‘15 course. Immediately off the line, we hung a right and did a loop around a couple little parks, first Eastshore State Park and then Cesar Chavez Park. There were teeny tiny undulations in the first park, as well as some periodic loose gravel/trail “lite” terrain, but with the overcast day and the reprieve from heading south, it was actually pretty nice. It was hard to not fly off the starting line, but I kept telling myself let them go, let them go as racers kept passing me. I tried not to clockwatch, but after my first mile came in at 7:11, I told myself that I just had to stay there — and not go faster — for at least another mile.

Once we exited Cesar Chavez Park, around mile 2, Coach Lisa had made her way back on bike and was riding along the course cheering for runners. (Andy won the 5k open, and another teammate, Leilani, was the third woman!). I checked in with Lisa, telling her that I had started faster than she wanted me to, but that I was trying to hang at the same pace before really trying to cut down. I’m sure I must have also muttered something about the ferocious wind, too, because I remember her telling me to go by effort and not pace for the southbound miles — basically the rest of the race — and thus, softly giving me permission to ignore the workout as prescribed. It happens. It was windy enough that even while wearing sunglasses for protection, I could feel the tears being literally sucked out of my eyes when we were going south. Yeah. Slightly unpleasant. Oh well though, right? You can’t control the weather. Don’t waste your mental energy on it.

I *think* around mile 2, in one of the parks, before making our way south for an OAB. (PC: Lisa)

After Eastshore Park, circa mile 3, the 10k runners did a quick OAB on the frontage road/Bay Trail, just like we do on the back half of the Berkeley Half Marathon (and maybe even on the same stretch of the path, if I recall correctly). I saw that I had moved up to 2nd woman, after passing a few women around miles 2.5-3. Once we began the “back” portion of this OAB, that’d be the last time during the 10k where we wouldn’t be heading into the wind, so I tried to use the elements advantageously. The lead woman, Stephanie — who was 3rd at the Race to the End of Summer half a couple weeks before — wasn’t far ahead of me, and she looked great. Earlier in the morning, we chatted on the start line, and I was trying to recruit her to our team (standing invite, gal!). Anyway, I saw Lisa again right as I began my “back” portion, and I just focused on picking up the pace ever-so-slightly, knowing that I was about to run the final 5k of this 10k directly into a tear-sucking headwind.

going north for the last time, somewhere circa mile 3 (PC: Lisa)

Between miles 3 and 4, after the OAB, we crossed over the interstate and headed into what seemed like an industrial section of Emeryville (or maybe Berkeley, not sure), with warehouse after warehouse lining the streets. As we were literally over and then descending from the pedestrian interstate bridge, I kept inching closer to Stephanie (F1), and I finally made a move right at the bottom of the descent and pulled ahead. She looked good and strong, and as much as I was slightly terrified of making a move and exploding over the final 2.2, I just went for it. I feel stupid saying it, but I’m actually somewhat proud of myself for just going for it at this point in my race (or workout, whatevs). I’ve been trying in earnest this year to cultivate some confidence in taking risks more with my running — essentially, getting comfortable with what might sound like ludicrous ideas (you want me to run what!?) and not being afraid of failing tremendously — but it’s (obviously) a lot easier said than done. Comfort zones are comfort zones for a reason. I have no idea what compelled me to pull away when I did, but I had made up my mind that I was going to go for it. YOLO.

By about mile 4, there was now a pretty big chasm between me (first female) and the closest guy, who was ahead of me by at least 20-30 seconds, but he was close enough that I could see where he was and thus, where I needed to be. Lisa was circling back and forth between me, Stephanie, Ida, and the other racers, and “my” lead bike stayed just about smack dab between the closest guy ahead of me and me. Miles 4-6 were essentially a straight shot south — right into that wind — through a series of warehouse-laden streets and a little city park that ran parallel to the interstate. Like the rest of the course, these final 2 miles were flat, save for the tiniest of undulations in just a couple places, and sparse with spectators, pedestrians, or volunteers. Had I not been wearing my singlet or bib, I would have felt like I was just out for a Sunday stroll because everything felt so low-key.

she’s a sneaky one! (PC: Lisa, obvs)

Right after mile 6, we hung a left, and then right, to finish on the upscale shops-lined Bay St, pretty similar to Santana Row and the finish line of the 408k. I ran by myself from mile 4-onward, and right as we approached the finish line, I could peripherally see a guy come up on my left side. I heard the announcers yelling that the first female for the 10k was coming in, and them announcing my name, which was pretty cool. 🙂 It seemed like this guy wanted to race in to the finish (sure), so I gave chase and beat him. Bonus: I got to break tape for the first time ever as first female, which made my little runner heart so happy. (I later found out that Andy also got to break the tape for the first time ever, too, that morning).

almost there (PC: Lisa)


steps away from finishing the thing! (PC: Meredith)



I didn’t approach the 510k with a particular time goal simply because I knew it was going to be a workout, so I honestly felt pretty indifferent to my finish time — which was a little weird. My time was literal minutes off the last 10k I ran in May (and PRed), but I felt like I put in a good effort at the 510k, particularly on all the south-bound, windy as hell miles; we’ll call this “mental callusing.” When I kept wanting to dissociate from the discomfort of trying to run hard and fast into what felt like a freaking vacuum, I repeatedly brought myself back to the here and now and tried to stay mentally in it, which isn’t easy for me. I had a blast on the course, though, and definitely think that this course and race experience was a great improvement over the Let’s Go 510k iteration. Having the tie-in to the Warriors was a nice touch, too, what with the blue and gold race tees that said “home of champions” along the back. I’m as fairweather as they come with that type of thing, and even I liked it.

too funny not to share. A (6) saw this pic and asked me, “Mommy, why do you look like” and proceeded to act out death. GOOD QUESTION, KID!

As I finished the race, I was delighted to see that Chicago-turned-Berkeley bud Meredith had made it out to the finish line and got to see me come in. I had somehow managed to not see her since Big Sur (what?!), so we had plenty of catching-up to do. She, Lisa, Ida (who scored a 10k PR, yea!) and I went out for a 4 mile CD along the Bay Trail, putting me at just shy of 16 for the day. It was awesome to get in additional mileage with these ladies because though I saw Ida at RTTEOS a couple weeks back, we didn’t get to run together, and since both she and Lisa are doing NYC, Meredith and I were sharing NYC tips hot and heavy during our miles together. Once we returned, we learned that Ida had notched herself a nice AG placing and that I earned a $75 Athleta GC for winning the women’s open. It was a great morning and an enjoyable way to quietly begin training for CIM.

with the team, minus Leilani (PC: Meredith)

If you run the East Bay 510k, as well as the other two events in the Run the Bay series, you’re eligible to receive a special medal “I run the bay” medal that recognizes you for your efforts. I think it’s a wonderful idea, especially for people who are into race bling, and I really like the way Represent Running/JT Service, RR’s founder runs his races. JT is all about the idea of “run local” (or running locally, anyway), and he strives to ensure that his races reflect the unique environs where they take place. There isn’t any “big box” element to any RR race I’ve done before, and I think it’s a nice touch that distinguishes it from many other road races out there. I think that this race will grow in popularity over time — particularly if Warriors fever stays high — and I think that more people will begin using it as a tune-up for RNR SJ in October once word gets out that it’s so conducive to fast running. I found it odd that a lot of the stores in Bay St. Emeryville weren’t open early, when the 5k and 10k runners came in, because it seemed like a huge opportunity for them to make a ton of money off hungry runners and their supporters; again, maybe that’ll come in time. I don’t think the 510k course is especially scenic, but if you’re looking for a flat and fast 5k or 10k option, these courses are definitely well-suited for PR opportunities and strong running. I would do this race again.


had to include this one, too: Andy casually running a 17:xx 5k , the day after he ran about the same time at another 5k in Campbell (and also won). (PC: your mom, just kidding. does anyone read this?)


And with that: we marathon train!

2017 Marin Memorial Day 10k (Kentfield, CA) – race report

2017 Marin Memorial Day 10k (Kentfield, CA) – race report

For a long time, I’d be able to look at you straight in the face and tell you that running was a fairly straightforward activity. One foot in front of the other, propel yourself in a forward direction (more often than not, ideally), and bam! you’re good. While there’s obviously some inherent degree of truth here, the aforedescribed undermine a lot of the more nuanced aspects of our sport. Sure, it’s just running, but figuring out how hard or when to push, when to pull back, what that borderline feeling is that puts you riiiiiiight up against oh hell oh hell oh hell territory without falling headfirst into the abyss — this is the stuff, the more complicated and messy stuff, that belies running’s simplicity.

… but it’s also the stuff that makes it so effing fun in a (probably) masochistic way.

Such grandiose statements to begin talking about the Marin Memorial Day (MMD) 10k USATF PA road race up at the College of Marin on Memorial Day, no doubt, but all told, I think these descriptions fit a 10k race pretty accurately. The distance is manageable, a good 6.2 miles, a bread and butter daily run distance, but from every distance I’ve ever raced, I think the 10k is among, if not the, most calculated. It’s like the friend you think you have but who can be really manipulative and downright treacherous if you don’t watch your back. If you give too much, your friend will take it all and run like hell away from you, leaving you on the sidelines, whimpering to yourself, questioning your life’s choices. Conversely, if you give too little, she’ll demand more and wonder why you’re not holding up your end of the deal, pondering what is wrong with you that you didn’t contribute more earlier or sooner. Cold, calculated, conniving.

A 10k is nowhere on the scale of distance of a half or marathon — obviously — but it’s also twice as long as a 5k (two graduate degrees here, thanks!), so finding the effort that you can sustain for longer than what feels comfortable can be just  … elusive. I’m sold that 10ks are among the most challenging distances to race because of the high-but-not-too-high effort that the relatively shorter, but not too short, 10k distance necessitates. It’s like a tedious, complicated dance on an impossibly taut tightrope; one poor decision, and you’re falling off the edge, a goner. You have more time to work with, more time to make decisions, but in the grand scheme of things, you don’t really. There’s no luxury in “easing into things” like in longer distances, but dare you get off the line like you do in a 5k, you will absolutely pay for it later. This is probably why I woke up on race morning with feelings foreboding trepidation; I knew what was coming.

The MMD is another road race on the PA circuit and one that, as our team master captain leader extraordinaire, Lisa, said, tended to produce fast times, PRs, and club records. In fact, I think I had read somewhere online that the course was one of the fastest in California. Going into the race, to be honest, my singular goal was to pace this 10k more intelligently than I had at Heart and Soles 10k in March. On paper, I thought that I could possibly eke out a PR at MMD — owing it to the faster field, probably a faster course, and more weeks of marathon training under my belt — but a PR was a very faint and distant secondary goal, barely a blip on my radar. I really just wanted to run a 10k without pacing it like an idiot tool.

Come MMD, I was about 8 weeks out from San Francisco and thus, really needing to emphasize the long stuff over the short, so I rearranged my long run schedule in the days pre-MMD and ran 18 with 12 @ GMP on Saturday (which went really well, yay!), recovery ran with my runnergang on Sunday early, and hoped for the best that I’d be recovered by race morning on Monday. By race day, I had about 140+ miles of volume in my legs from the previous 14 days, having taken some time off in the beginning of May for a colitis flare. Fortunately, since May 15 anyway, I had been feeling great and complaint-free. My legs weren’t necessarily “fresh” to race, but they were fresh enough, given that I’m focusing more on July 27 than anything else right now.

After a minivan ride up beautiful 280 to the College, my six teammates and I piled out of the van and quickly noticed the overcast, cloudy skies and the slight “chill” in the air from the 5x degree temps; hello, perfect racing weather. Claire and Sam, my teammates whom I am often chasing in our PA races, and I talked goals for the day, and while they both vied for a sub-40, I knew that today wouldn’t be my day to try to go for something that laudable; keeping them in my sight — but pacing intelligently — would be more than sufficient. Based on a text exchange with Impala galpal Robin in the days preceding the race, I figured she and I would also likely be working together, too, in this race, so I felt I was virtually guaranteed a good ride for 40ish minutes, being surrounded by Claire, Sam, and Robin in my immediate vicinity. Racing is a lot of fun, no doubt, but as any child will tell you, chasing others is also a pretty good time.   

Our team did about a 2.5 mile warmup along what was mile 4-end (or thereabouts) of the course, a nice little preview. I was feeling pretty good — knowing the tempest was brewing but hadn’t yet arrived — and before too long, we all headed over to the starting area and cramped in. I’m still learning all the USATF intricacies, but I’ve gathered that even though it’s chip timed, for scoring purposes (and money purposes, I think?), it’s based on gun time; hence, the squashed-in-like-sardines at the start, even though we’ve all got chips on our bibs and our chip times still count as the “official” times… or something. There were a lot of small children right on the line, right with the 5xx/mile runners — making me very nervous that they’d get trampled — but mid-I hope those kids move over real soon, real fast thought, we just started running — no gun, again (why?) — and suddenly, it was another Lion King run or be run over moment at the start of the race. I legit got elbowed in the ribs by an older woman within the first 10 meters of the race, as though we were in the bell lap of an 800m (seriously? lady, you still had 9,990 meters to go!) and stayed fairly boxed in for the first mile or so. Even if I wanted to move around the masses, I couldn’t. Claire and Sam, in addition to my other teammates Jenn and Lisa, were all right within my line of vision, and before the first 400m of the race, a tap on the shoulder and wave on my right showed that Robin was there, too. Yay! Time to work together.

For the first three miles, the course gently and rolling-ly wound its way through the downtown and some residential areas of Kentfield before turning around, making a lollipop design in the process, and heading back toward the direction of the college and the bike path/streets where we had run our warm-up. Fortunately, by about mile 2 and change, the sea of runner humanity began to open up, my claustrophobia and fear that I was going to trip on someone and eat shit finally abating. My teammates were still visible, though I had lost Robin again somehow, and I even had the good grace of getting some mid-run coaching by two different gentlemen. Probably before the first 1.5 mi of the race, when I was stride-for-stride with another woman, a guy behind us — maybe someone this other woman knew — was dishing out lots of yeah ladies, really smooth, really strong, that’s right, you’re really good and strong, you’re looking really great to us both. I don’t particularly need to hear that when I still have more than half the race to go, but … thanks? Not much later, around mile 3, soon after I had the unexpected delight of seeing and hearing Michael Stricklan on the sidelines yelling at me (last time I saw him, I was massively pregnant before SF ‘15), another gentleman and I began running elbow to elbow, and he, too, began dishing out gratuitous mid-run coaching: we’re looking really strong, we’re going to finish side by side, really smooth, really smooth. Alright! Maybe he needed to say it out loud to himself, and I just happened to be there at the right time. Whatever floats your boat, dude.

As I came through the 5k, a quick glance at my watch showed me to be not that far off my 5k PR — a thought both momentarily terrifying (shit is redlining imminent?! Did I go out too fast?) and strangely encouraging (the next 19 +/- minutes are going to feel long and never-ending, but I’m preeeeeeeeeetty sure I can do this). Sam was still in my sight, even looking at the storefronts on her left to see if she could catch my reflection; my mid-run coaches had basically disappeared into thin air; I hadn’t seen or heard Robin since early on and had no idea where she was … but at least we were all heading into familiar territory by now.

I’m thankful Lisa had us run the last 2 and change in our warmup because it was (understandably) nice to know what to expect. The sun had begun to peek out for the first time in the morning, but the temps were still really nice and comfortable, and I (poorly) began trying to do the I can run for X or so minutes more math as we got onto the bike trail. I still hadn’t found Robin since I saw her in the first mile, and Sam was still about 5 steps in front of me, but my other teammates were significantly farther ahead. I couldn’t recall anyone passing me in a while, so I tried to hold on to that and just keep pulling myself to Sam. Throughout the race, I had periodically looked at my watch to see my pace, and I had been running about where I thought I should have been. I wasn’t able to catch my splits each time, but from what I could recall, they were all close to each other: a far cry from Heart and Soles. Out of seeming nowhere, we had a hefty-enough wind coming at us for the final 1.2, and somehow, the slight downhill that we felt over the final 1.2 in our warmup seemed to have disappeared altogether. (Mind games… mind games…).  

Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.07.59 PM
Chasing Sam around mile 4.5/4.75  (the blue at 9 o’clock, far left of the picture, is Robin). Thanks to Tamalpa Runners for the pics.
Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.08.19 PM
Still chasing…


Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.08.40 PM
The shades only moderately hide my confusion. The camera was mounted on a tripod, and I can recall trying to discern whether it was a) a camera, b) a camcorder (to catch cheaters?), or c) a bib alert monitor that’d register when runners pass through the checkpoint. Answer: it was a camera. Taking pictures. As cameras are wont to do.

While I was running in the valley of Mt. Tam over that last mile and change especially, as I was beginning to feel tired and increasingly eager to finish the thing, the mental moments started to come out hot and heavy. Trust the process. Own the work and training that you’ve put in. You should be right here, right now, running this pace. Start at yes. Why not you? Why not today? Why not now? Do not dissociate. Stop looking at your surroundings. Just run. Lean in. LEAN IN. Mere minutes more. We hopped off the mile 5 street, turned into the parking lot adjacent to the track that we’d finish on, where a volunteer yelled that I was “looking really smooth,” — the apparent phrase of the morning — and then it was a matter of 300 meters on the track (clockwise) before it was over. Sam was still right in front of me, and with about 150m to go, I saw my watch click over from 39:59 to 40 — telling me that provided I didn’t erupt into flames in the next 150, I’d finish this much faster (and much closer to 40) than I had anticipated. My male teammates were on the sidelines, right in front of the finishing arch, yelling something about using my arms to launch me forward — oh yea! Arms! I have arms! Use my arms! — and whatever I had left I laid bare on that beautiful all-weather gem of a track.

Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.13.25 PM
shoutout to my teammates for reminding me I have upper body appendages, whose use can be advantageous when running hard. PC: @temms


40:53 — a 16 second PR. More importantly, and what I was really getting after for the morning: night-and-day-better pacing.


Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.43.11 PM
far from perfect, but a huge improvement. hard to run tangents with the cluster early on, too, unfortunately

Just seconds after I had shared congratulatory high-5s and sweaty hugs with Sam, I turned around and saw Robin, commenting about the beauty of my ass (ha), which, unbeknownst to me, she had apparently been chasing. Better yet, we reveled in her killer nearly 3 minute 10k PR. Three minutes!! In a 10k! How amazing is that!!!? It was hard to not just beam because I was so much happier with how I raced (and so massively inspired, as always, by my teammates and my friends). Racing is really unparalleled. I love training, but man … I love racing. It is so hard yet so gratifying.

Connecting with my teammates post-race is one of the highlights for me, just because it’s always so interesting to hear about everyone’s different experiences. We have the shared experience of running the same course, but how it plays out varies tremendously. It’s another aspect of running and racing that I find so attractive; it’s kinda like this great egalitarian force, a shared, lived experience among people of varying capabilities. It doesn’t matter if you ran a 31 or a 101 minute 10k because chances are high that you can identify with the same sentiments that your teammates feel when they’re also throwing down mid-race: the fear, the despair, the encouragement, the leaning in, the dissociating, the questioning of life’s choices, the wanting to do this all over again to see what would happen if you do X instead of Y next time … They (we) get it. They (we) know. It’s just such an interesting conversation to have immediately post-race when emotions are still high, muscles are shredded, and the endocannibinoids are still likely unduly influencing our perception of just about everything. Those first few moments post-race are as raw as it can be, it seems, and it’s just …  wonderful.  

Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.09.22 PM
the harriers at MDD. PC: Wolfpack Running Club

The cool-down miles with my team put me at 11 and change for the day, a nice start to the last week in May and a most excellent way to start a Monday. I came home with the quiet satisfaction that comes from accomplishing what I wanted for the morning — making the 60+ mile each way drive worth it — and really fired up about how SF training is faring and how my mental game is coming along. As I’ve said before, this short stuff is basically on the other side of the river from My Comfort Zone, but I’m finding that the more that I wade over into Unfamiliar Territory, the less on edge — not necessarily comfortable — I’m getting being over there visiting. I don’t necessarily feel like I belong, but I think periodically putting myself into The Great Unknown does a great service for me when I return to where I am most comfortable.

There are two more PA races on the calendar in the next couple months — a 1 miler and a 5k in June and July, respectively — but I’ll be out of town for both of them, so I’ll resume PA stuff in the fall. While I’m visiting family in the midwest, I have a half marathon and a 5 miler (I think) that I’ll be doing something with — racing, workout-ing, something — but otherwise, it’s mostly just going to be a lot of putting my nose to the ground for the final 8 weeks of SF training. Good luck to everyone racing in Los Gatos and Morgan Hill. There in spirit!