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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 Santa Clara Kids Triathlon race report – guest post from my 6 year-old

2017 Santa Clara Kids Triathlon race report – guest post from my 6 year-old

Since January, my eldest (“A”) has been riding her bike to and from school while I run alongside her, pushing my littlest (“G”) in the single BOB stroller. When A was much younger, we purchased a balance bike for her, but she never used it. My sister had purchased her a scooter for our first Christmas here, when she was about 2.5, and she loved it and used it all the time. Somewhere in that same timeframe, we also bought her a bike, probably 12” or 14” — thinking that if she didn’t like the balance bike, she might like a regular bike — but nope. For whatever reason, we never had training wheels for her; if memory serves, her bike never came with them. Given A’s total lack of interest in using a balance bike, she had even less interest in trying to learn to ride her bike, so it sat gathering dust in our garage for years.

Thanks to a neighbor friend her age who learned to ride his bike pretty young (after he figured out how to get around quite quickly on a balance bike), at the end of last year, A got pretty fired up to learn how to ride a bike, and in just a couple days of trial and error on the princess bike — that by then, was quite too small for her — she figured it out and loved it. She adored being in motion on her bike and wanted to ride it everywhere, all the time. Naturally, the next conversations became when can I ride my bike to school? Secretly, I had hoped that by the end of kinder, not only would she know how to ride her bike, but that she’d also want to ride her bike to school — and selfishly, alleviate me of all the BS and headaches that come with the traffic mess that is school dropoff and pickup (and with her little sister in tow). I figured, and experience has since taught me, that it’s much easier and faster to run/ride to/from school on foot than it is by car. Once I was certain that A would be physically capable of riding her bike about 1.5 miles each way — and slightly uphill, on the “out” portion of our commute — we began riding and running to school 4 days a week.

Sometime during the course of one of our many run-ride commutes, A mentioned to me that she wanted to do a swim-bike race because not only had she become enamored with riding, she has been swimming since she was 8 months old and loves it pretty equally. I told her about this thing called triathlon, and what it all entailed, and how there are kiddo triathlons out there that she could do if she wanted. A has done many kid dashes and kid races, mostly here in the Bay Area, and I knew that she’d be physically capable of handling a distance for kids her age in any kid tris around. She was ecstatic about the opportunity, so I signed her up for the Santa Clara Kids Triathlon.

On a sunny and warm race day in August, A was one of over 800 children, aged 6 and under all the way through teenagers, who participated in triathlon. Kids in the 6 and under division got to swim 25 meters (or yards? idk), which was 1 length of the pool; run out to T1, which was located pretty close to the pool; bike an out-and-back 1 mile; run back into T2 (which was the same as T1); and then run 400 meters, or a quarter of a mile. Her age group, the youngest, could have a parent in the water or could also use buoys or flotation devices, and on the ride, the littlest ones could use training wheels or balance bikes, too. On the run, they could run, walk, run-walk, walk-run, whatever they wanted (also with a parent alongside, if they wanted). Her AG didn’t start until 11am, when it was already pretty sunny and warm out, but it was a beautiful morning.

Rather than tell you more details about my daughter’s race, I’ll switch things up a bit and put on my interviewer hat. I’m so stinkin’ proud of her, as if that wasn’t totally clear 🙂 Turning it over to my six year-old…


How did you prepare for your first tri?

I got my swimsuit; then I picked out some biking clothes, with my biking shorts and a little shirt; and then I got my bike and helmet; and then … (thinking) … I ran in the same clothes, and I did not like the running, but we talked about it, so it was good. (foreshadowing!)

How did you feel going into your first tri? Was it different from how you felt before your running races that you’ve done before?

I felt kinda nervous, but I was mostly excited. I’m not sure (if I felt differently); it was probably the same. 

What did you wear for the race? Why did you choose that?

I thought the biking clothes would be good for running, and I thought the swimsuit would be good to wear. (I chose those clothings) because the shorts have a pad on the back so anytime I fall, I have a pad on the back.

ready to swim! sweet ankle chip, right?!

You shared a lane with another little girl for the swim portion of your tri. Did you like sharing a lane with someone?

Yes! Because it’s nice to share with people! Because sharing is caring! And because it’s nice!

waiting patiently to begin; she’s in this lane, on the left hand side

Which type of stroke did you swim? How was the swim for you? Did you have a strategy going into the swim?

Breaststroke. It felt great! The lane was short. I could swim the whole lane. I just did a medium speed. I got a little pushoff off the wall and started to breaststroke. It gives me a little boost to the end! I practiced in the big pool (at swim class), which is bigger than the other lanes.


After your swim, you had to get out of the pool quickly and into T1, where you had to take off your goggles and swim cap, put on your shirt with bib number attached, shorts, socks, shoes, helmet, and sunglasses and quickly get on your bike to go begin your ride. Was it hard to get dressed really fast? Did you get dressed faster than you do each morning before school, or did you take your time?

Yea (it was hard to get dressed really fast), because when I got dressed, I was really sticky, and it was hard to put clothes on! I didn’t get a chance to dry off, like I usually do. I got dressed kinda faster (getting dressed for the tri), but getting dressed for school is kinda a little faster because I wasn’t wet. My hair was tangled.

How was the bike part of your race? What was your favorite part? What was your biking strategy?

It felt great! (My favorite part) was pedaling! It was not so long; it was very short. It was only 1 mile. I can do 7 miles! I mean, 3 miles! I tried to go faster when everyone was cheering for me so I could try to get my legs more stronger.

A’s cheer section. There’s Meg and her fam, Connie and her kiddo, and Janet wearing her baby. They were so sweet and made signs and cowbelled.


the source of many accidents for her — not keeping her eyes forward! 0_o (but to be fair, she wanted to see the signs and say hi to everyone). PC: Connie


on the back portion of the bike

After the bike, you had to ride really fast into T2, dismount, and start running, the last part of your triathlon. Was it hard to get off your bike really fast? Did you think you were going to fall?

Mmhmm. Because I didn’t have a kickstand. And because they raised my seat, it was hard to bend over. I just had to be careful that I didn’t fall off. No, I didn’t think I was going to fall.  (Yup, Mom fail; we’ve had a kickstand in the garage since Santa brought her bike, but we have yet to put it on her bike. In the days before the race, Sports Basement offered participants a complimentary bike and helmet check, and they suggested we raise her seat since she had grown since she began riding.)

T2; you can see the parents running with their children ahead of us

How did your body feel after you finished swimming and biking? Were you tired at all? Did you think that you wouldn’t be able to complete the run?

My body felt kinda exhausted, so I went out to eat. (after clarification) Oh, it felt kinda good! But then I felt kinda nervous to run because I don’t run that much. Yes, but you know what I did? I didn’t give up! Now I know that triathlons are fun! (can you tell how much I try to emphasize not giving up when things are challenging?!)

PC: the race (thanks for the free pics!)

You said that you liked the run part the least from the three sports you did in your triathlon. What didn’t you like about the run? What made it difficult or less enjoyable compared to swimming or biking?

The run? Because my legs got so exhausting! I tried to speedwalk, but I always walk so slow! It was just because I don’t run that much, so my body, or my legs, get kinda weak of running, so I start to fall, but I just don’t give up! (and again with the tenacity talk. My legs get really exhausting sometimes when I run, too. I feel ya.)

about halfway through the run

Sometimes running can feel really horrible, and I sometimes doubt that I’ll be able to finish a run or a race. Did that happen to you? What did you do to make yourself keep going?

No, that didn’t happen to me. My brain told me, “Alice, keep going! Keep going so you can get a medal!” And I went and got a medal for finishing all of the sports.

PC: the race


PC: the race

How did you feel when you saw that the finish line was near?

I felt kinda happy that I made it! And then I smiled! And then I was so tired that I needed water, and the friends gave me posters, and they also gave me some apple drink, a sweet drink.  (Janet and her baby, Meg and her family, and Connie and her baby, in addition to our family, so graciously came out to support A. Connie brought a big ol’ bottle of Martinelli’s for A, and she was floored because we rarely drink juice at home!).

finishing kick! (PC: Connie)

What was the first thing you thought when you crossed the finish line?

I thought … (thinking) … I didn’t think anything. Well, I think I thought “I’m going to finish! One more step, and then I get to walk! Finally!”  (said every runner, everywhere)


this gang made her feel so special. I tear up just thinking about it.

Did you hear or see Meg and her family, Connie and her family, and Janet and her family cheering for you?

I saw Meg and Connie. It felt great (to see them/hear them)!

someone said something hilarious, apparently


How did you celebrate finishing your first triathlon?

I celebrated by getting a cup of water so I could cool off from the hot, hot sun. I was lucky that I got to go in the pool. Everyone else had to stay in the sun. Mom got to run with me. I celebrated by making a little happy face, which is nice!

judging by Meg’s face, someone said something inappropriate


Did anything surprise you about triathlon? Was it as fun as you thought it’d be, or harder, or easier?

Um… kinda easier? I mean, a little bit hard? But a little bit… I mean, half half? I mean, harder is the less because running was the only hard part, and biking was the fun part. Oh, swimming too — that was fun.

Do you want to do another triathlon?

Next year? Mmhmm, yea, next year. I just want to do biking and swimming because they’ll have that one next year. I hope it’ll be three laps around for the bike ride because I can do that.  (She’s really interested in the idea of an aquabike race, but I have yet to find one in the Bay Area that’s suitable for kids. Most aquabike races I’ve found have significantly longer distances that don’t seem well suited for the younger racers. Suggestions!?)

family pic <3

Do you have any piece of advice for other boys or girls your age who want to do a triathlon? Would you recommend it?

You’d have to sign up for it and then practice running, biking, and swimming. If you don’t like any of those, then you shouldn’t do a triathlon. If they’re scared, they can see how fun it is! Try it, you’ll like it!  It was fun and a little bit nervous but most excited! I’d tell people you should do it if you want to. (Sagacious insight, daughter).

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

It was really fun! I didn’t give up on anything, even the running, because I didn’t like running. It was great.


One last thing (from a parent perspective) about this race: plan on arriving at least 90+ minutes ahead of your designated heat. I only gave us an hour — which was suggested — and we cut it very close. I hadn’t accounted for how long it’d take to park the car, get the family out and situated, and walk over to the park (and find where we were supposed to be); get her bib and ankle chip (and my parent bracelet that’d allow me to be on the run with her); set up her transition area; slather her up with sunscreen; and get to the pool to figure out where we were supposed to go. Man, triathlon is complicated! The race only offered same day race packet pickup, too, which I’ve never experienced before (though then again, I’ve also never done a tri, so…). When you register your child for the tri, you’ll also have to purchase USAT membership for him or her, too, but the cost was just an additional $10 or so for the annual membership. It doesn’t matter if you already have USAT membership; if your child doesn’t, you’ll have to fork over the additional monies. It’s an insurance thing, apparently. For the $30 or so triathlon registration cost, kids got a t-shirt, medal, and the typical race bag with some samples and coupons. I have since found another kids’ tri in the Bay Area that offered similar distances for 6 year-olds but cost nearly $150; that seems excessive, particularly for a kids’ race. 

Overall, aside from that whole running thing, my daughter seemed to really enjoy her first triathlon. She talked about it all the time the following week (and continues to do so), and it was the talk of her class on Monday, too. 😉  I want her to do activities that she enjoys, so if she never wants to do this again — or if she wants to try her hand at aquabike — we’ll obviously be supportive. I just want her to grow up knowing that “exercising” — playing, really, or just regular physical movement — is a part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. How that will continue to manifest, be it in tris, aquabikes, running races, dancing, soccer, karate, gymnastics, swim lessons, or who knows, we’ll learn along the way. It’s part of the fun. It’s supposed to be fun.