Since I am just an amateur athlete juggling training with work, family and the numerous other demands of everyday life, jumping on a plane and jet-setting to Flagstaff, Mexico or Ethiopia for altitude training is not in the cards. Although I am fortunate enough to sneak in a few weekend training stints in Tahoe or in SoCal here and there, for the most part I train local and I love it. I am blessed to live in an area that is an outdoor paradise when it comes to training. With lakes available for open water swimming, back roads that stretch for miles for cycling and scenic trails for mountain biking or off-road running I have everything I need right in my “backyard”– what more could I ask for?
When it comes time to race it seems to be a different story. I often find myself packing my bags, booking hotels and jumping in a plane or the car for long trips to places like Texas, Florida and Idaho. While these race-cations have given me a lifetime of fun memories, racing local has many advantages.
When you race local you can sleep in your own bed and stick to your normal eating plan. You don’t have to worry about forgetting items at home or making those last minute expo purchases for things like race belts or gels. You can train on the course, learn the terrain and know what to expect in terms of race day weather. You will have lots of friends and family cheering you on and supporting at the finish line. And last but not least – racing local will support your local endurance sports’ community.
This year I decided to adopt the motto – Train Local, Race Local. Although I haven’t finalized my schedule, here are a few of my favorite NorCal races that you do not want to miss this spring and summer.
Gold Rush 50k
The Gold Rush 50k is hosted by the Sacramento Running Association. This race was my first (and only – so far) 50k. I highly recommend it anyone looking to do their first 50k or their tenth. The race, which boasts 9 well-stocked aid stations, starts off with an 8+ mile lollipop loop on the Darrington Trail. After returning to Salmon Falls runners jump on technical, single-track trails as they make their way to the finish in Old Folsom. Favorite race memory: There are many from this race but one is dropping gummy bears at the Brown’s Ravine aid station and eating them off the trail because I was so hungry!
The Auburn Triathlon which began in 2002 consists of the World’s Toughest Half, the Auburn International Triathlon and the Auburn Mini Triathlon. All three races begin at Rattle Snake Bar which is located 7 miles downhill from the American River Canyon Overlook. The Auburn Triathlon is the perfect event for those looking for a family-oriented race with a fun vibe, a scenic bike course and a beautiful trail run. If you are a half distance triathlete the World’s Toughest Half you should definitely add this event to your bucket list. Favorite race memory: Hanging out on the grass with my 3 greyhounds during the race and cheering Freeplay athlete, Elise Winter, to the USAT West Regional title…twice! (Image Freeplay athlete, Elise Winter, en route to winning the 2015 Auburn International Triathlon.)
Total Body Fitness hosts numerous races a year from trail runs to mountain bike races to triathlons. So when it came time to pick one race to highlight here it was tough! But since the first races I competed in with TBF were triathlons I thought it would be fun to highlight one of my favorite triathlons they host – the Fleet Feet Sports Women’s Triathlon. A few reasons I love this event is because it is a fun and competitive race just for women (and it is hosted by some amazing athlete-centered race directors)! So if you are looking for a race with warm, calm waters, a fast bike, a run on fire trails and post-race festivities just for women – then this is your race. Favorite TBF Tri Memory: Learning after my first triathlon that you can change the gears on your bike! Everyone starts somewhere…
The Donner paddle board race takes place on Memorial weekend on the scenic and peaceful Donner Lake. The course is a 5 mile loop that circumnavigates Donner Lake. The race which has a festive, party vibe is the perfect race for all levels of paddle boarders – beginners to elite. All athletes race together and celebrate together after the event! This is the first of 3 races that compose the Tahoe Cup. Favorite race memory: My favorite memory from this event is when I toppled off my board at the finish. After doing a few somersaults under the water, I popped my head up to see a 12 year kid leaping over my head to beat me to the finish. If you look closely at the picture you will see the kid who is about to show me how SUP dismounting is done!
4th of July 5 Miler
The 4th of July 5 Miler was my very first road race back in 1994. Despite having just spent 4 years running track and cross country in high school I didn’t even know road races existed until my college coach introduced me to this free event in Sacramento. This race hosted by the Buffalo Chips is a must-do if you are a runner in the Sacramento community. With so many runners in attendance it is the perfect opportunity to catch with those runner friends you haven’t seen in a while. Favorite race memory: My favorite race memory is that the first time I did this event I was fresh off a sub-5 minute mile and I was thrilled to run 6:45s for 5 miles. Since then I have run 2.5 times that distance at 30 seconds faster per mile. Patience and hard work pay off!
What are some of your favorite local races? Share them with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!