Last year, Jesse and I spent Christmas in New York celebrating with his family. When we returned home a day before New Year’s Eve, the last thing we wanted to do was go out, spend money, drink, and stay out late. We decided to go to bed early, wake up early, and summit Mt. Tam for the first time. After earning this accomplishment and seeing this beautiful expanse of the bay on the first day of the year, Jesse and I realized partying on New Year’s Eve is overrated, and feeling sick and hungover on New Year’s Day is no way to start a year.
This year, Jesse and I registered for the Brazen Racing New Year’s Day race, opting for the half. We were joined by Jesse’s family from New Zealand. His Uncle Pete from New York moved to New Zealand about 20 years and started a family with his wife, Emma. His two sons, Hank and Finn, are sponsored athletes in skiing. The whole family is incredibly athletic overall: Uncle Pete is a helisking instructor and Emma is an accomplished trail winner, often winning overall for women.
We met the Kiwis at the race start in Lake Chabot in the East Bay. It was an incredibly chilly morning by Bay Area standards, with frost lingering on the grass and temperatures in the low 40s. However, the morning was clear abd gorgeous, and I knew that I’d heat up once I started running. The boys had never really ran before and definitely did not train at all for the race, but we figured with their fitness levels, the two would finish high overall.
When the race begun, I settled into a comfortable pace. I didn’t know what to except, but Jesse told me this was a mostly rolling course with a steep pitch every so often (the type of course that really plays to his strengths). During the first mile, Emma caught up with me and we ran together for the whole race, despite my telling her to ditch me when we’d hit a steeper portion of the course and I’d walk.
I was worried about my knee the whole time during this race. Since North Face, my right knee has hurt after a few miles of running. I think my lower IT band is extremely tight, causing this pain, but I won’t know for sure until my next massage. Thankfully, the icing and stretching leading up to the race seemed to help, and I made it to the finish line with minimal pain.
Although I didn’t take any photos during the race, the course was beautiful, and I definitely want to run at Lake Chabot again. Between the hill top views of San Francisco, morning lighting reflecting off of the lake, and the lush eucalyptus groves, I was never bored by my surroundings and very appreciative of the way I rang in the new year.
Emma and I crossed the finish line in 2:20, which was a decent time for me given the 2,000 feet of elevation gain. I was greeted at the finish line by Jesse, Hank, and Finn, who were all wearing age group winner finishers’ medals.
Upon finishing, we hung out for a while and Emma ran back to Pete, who was walking due to a hurt (and possibly broken from an accident the week prior) toe and aching IT band. She checked out the results, which I didn’t bother to do, and I learned I had placed third in my age group! I was happily surprised.
Brazen Racing organized a fantastic race, and I would absolutely run this race again. The experience was a refreshing start to the year, and I loved starting 2015 on such a positive and constructive note. I don’t know if Jesse and I will ever go out on New Year’s Eve again with opportunities like this in our community!