Monday, March 26, 2012

Race Report: Chesebro Half Marathon

Saturday was the Chesebro Half Marathon, one of several races that make up the Dole Great Race of Agoura Hills.  While the entire event had about 6,000 participants between the Fun Run, Kids 1 mile, 5k, 10k, and Pacific (road) half marathon; the Chesebro (half trail) half marathon was capped at 1500 runners.

greatracelogo12_385 source

Dan was nice enough to wake up before the crack of dawn with me at 5:15 so we could get to the race, 40 minutes away, in time for the 7am start.  Dan spared me the pain of parking (though I will say they did a good job of listing several lots where you could park and when certain roads would be closed) and dropped me off near the start, continuing on to a nearby park for some solo hiking while I ran.

It was foggy and in the mid 40s when I got out of the car at 6:35.  I thought the fog would burn off once the sun came up so I brought my sunglasses…definitely could have left them at home.  It may have warmed up to 50 by the time we were done running.  I wore shorts, a short sleeve top and arm warmers which I took off after the first 3 miles.  I brought my handheld water bottle and a mint chocolate gu.  I wore my ifitness belt so I’d have a place to stuff my arm warmers and so I could bring my phone for music, picture, and so I’d have a chance of finding Dan after the race.

There were plenty of volunteers along the way to make sure you were headed the right direction for your race since the different events had different start lines and starting times.  The start of the Chesebro half was at the top of a hill in a residential neighborhood.  The blue inflatable arch at the top was hard to miss.


This meant an automatic warm-up walking up that hill, and a nice easy downhill start.  Also, kudos to the race organizers for having plenty of port-a-potties on the way up the hill; the lines weren’t bad at all, definitely less than a 5 minute wait.

The race started shortly after the scheduled 7am start time.  The course wound through a neighborhood, around the park where we would finish, then past some ranches for the first 3 miles before moving to trails.

My one shoe felt kinda tight at the start and I envisioned the foot problem I gave myself during December’s 15k, so I pulled over to the side somewhere between mile 1 an 2 to fix it.


I take amazing phone pictures while running, I know.  I wanted to capture the fog/clouds and the mountains though.


From mile 3.0-10.5 we were on trails.  The course followed the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail (yes, different spelling on purpose) on a dirt path through some very green mountains, then became single track on the Sulphur Springs Trail (you could smell the sulphur, too).  This part was less green and more desert-looking and had a lot of uneven ground and big rocks to carefully navigate. I’m pleased that my clumsy self did not trip or fall even once.

Surprise horses!


The crazy switchbacks winding up the mountain began on the Sheep Corral Trail.

This was the worst of the up hill, getting close to the top.



Soon after that, it was glorious downhill for about a mile on the Palo Comado Canyon Trail.  I let myself fly on the downhill, forgetting that there was a small (but very noticeable) little hill coming up at mile 10, not to mention 4 more miles of running.  The path widened and the surrounding land became more grassy.

Trail coming to an end soon:


The last 2.5 miles were on roads with another tiny little hill at the beginning then a gradual downhill until the finish.

I finished in 2:14:29 which is by no means a PR, but it is a huge improvement over my last trail half marathon (which, really, post-hurricane and related flooding was more of a mud-run/obstacle course). 

chesebro splits

The total elevation gain for the Chesebro half according to my watch was 1051’.  To compare, my previous half marathons have had the following total elevation gains:

  • Philadelphia Half Marathon: 278’
  • Sloppy Cuckoo Trail Half: 604’
  • Philadelphia RnR Half: 168’
  • ODDyssey Half: 259’
  • Bucks County Half: 1342’ (ran it in ~2:19)

To be honest, I felt pretty good about my run until I just looked up these stats and realized the Bucks County Half last April had more elevation gain than this one.  I’m a little mad that I didn’t push harder up the hills Saturday.  The Bucks half was all paved roads, but with some killer hills and my paces was never slower than 11:11 (none were faster than 9:38 either).

On Saturday, I guess from prancing around to dodge rocks and washed away spots in the trail, my HR was already higher than it would have been in a road race, and I wasn’t happy that my HR had hit 195 already with half the race to go.  While I did run up several of the inclines, I walked up some others to help conserve some energy for later in the run. 

I will say my average and max HR were noticeably lower this weekend than last April, and on more challenging terrain I ran 4:30 faster.  Maybe that’s progress.


After the race, I found some folks from the running club and Dan was able to find a parking spot and track me down in the park.  I picked up a bottle of FRS protein recovery drink (don’t really love the blackberry acai flavor, maybe it’s better when colder), a Peanut Butter Power Bar, a soft taco from a Mexican place that were surprisingly good at 10am, and a peanut butter crepe from Whole Foods (not really worth the 20 minute wait in line).

Sorry, no race pics.  If you’re lucky, maybe there will be a picture of me with my eyes not-closed that will be worth sharing in a few days.  I think September of 2010 was the last time I saw a race picture worth hanging on to, so don’t get your hopes up.

But I do have this medal:


And a sweet drawstring bag with a zip pocket and a tech tee in women’s sizing.

100_6965   100_6967

The FRS folks at packet pick up were very generous.  Also in the drawstring bag was a bunch of things, coffee, post-it notes, a chip clip, magnet, and an LA Sports & Fitness magazine—where [fun fact] I learned that I now live in the area where Lauren Fleshman is from.

100_6969   100_6973

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t go too crazy on the downhill when you still have 1/3 of the race to go.
  • Push harder on hills in training runs.
    • I don’t know if this really matters, as I don’t have a hilly race lined up. But I still want to improve.

Sunday it rained hard for most of the day, so it was a good excuse to lounge around in my compression shorts, bake oatmeal butterscotch cookies, and make an attempt to do some cleaning/organizing/decorating.

I’m off to shake out my legs on a short run.

How was your weekend?


  1. congrats! and thanks for the reminder to never run the bucks county HM ;)

    1. Hills were killer. But I liked the small size and it was well run. Did that client of yours end up registering for it?

  2. Great job on the race! Those hills look pretty steep to me and rocky footing always slows me down too!

    1. Thanks! Hills and all, I did enjoy it. I do consider it an accomplishment that I did not trip on the rocky parts. May make the trip out there some time to run parts of those trails again or to further explore that area by hiking.

  3. Great job...looks like a good one. I'm terrible on rocky terrain as well so kudos for not tripping or falling, that's always an accomplishment!

  4. Man, that's some impressive race swag. I would cross the finish with blood everywhere if I had ran a route that rocky and hilly. Great job!

  5. That's so fast for such a tough course! That hill looks killer. Nice work! Dan earns extra husband points for tagging along. I like the medal, too.

  6. Congratulations!! those hills look insane

  7. Don't kick yourself too much. At similar elevation changes, trail are harder and will slow you down, mostly because you have to watch your footing.
    I think you should consider this a trail PR.

    Personally I had a great week end, ran a local 12k trail run, had a blast, got 1st of my age group and won a pair of running socks as a medal :)

    Cécy aka trailrunningchick, wordpress and blogger don't like each other today.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words. Congrats on your age group award!! Free running socks are way more useful than a medal :)

    2. Oh yes, I agree. Especially for a "smaller" run that doesn't really give any bragging rights :) I'm looking forward to try them.

  8. That sounds like a great race! Congrats! I'm always a big baby about trail races and am afraid I'll twist my ankle and end up rolling down the mountain. But maybe someday I'll be brave enough to try one!

    My weekend was not nearly as exciting as a trail race. Just started running again after the NYC Half Marathon and did a nice 5 miles by the beach. Nice relaxing run!

    1. There were a few times where I envisioned myself mis-stepping or sliding on a rock. I also passed a woman getting First Aid who appeared to have slipped on one of the rocky downhills; she had ripped through her capris on her thigh. Tried to block that out! 5 miles by the beach sounds beautiful!

  9. Good job! My friend also did this race, she placed first of course. She always does at every race!!! This course didn't sound like something I wanted to attempt lol.

    1. Wow, congrats to your friend! Not an easy course.


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