Month: March 2016

Oakland Half Marathon

Oakland Half Marathon, March 20, 2016

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View of West Oakland & San Francisco from my hotel room

I had planned on running the full marathon, but to my surprise, I was mortal and unable to get in the training necessary in three months, so I switched races down to the Half three weeks before race day.

Leading up to race day, I was extremely apprehensive. I suffered from an earache, which luckily, wasn’t infected, but was quite painful. It still is, although it is getting better. I don’t have a cold, so I think it might be allergy or hay fever-related. Every time I chew too hard or talk too much, it hurts. But, life continues…

I made plans to stay at the Marriott in Oakland. They had a great group rate and it was close enough to the start/finish. What a beautiful hotel! The rooms are lovely, a little small, but perfect for me. The staff was outstanding and the amenities were superb.

I was able to check in early which is always a HUGE bonus! I dropped off my bag and scurried down to the Race Expo in the hall on the ground floor. It was pretty good, not the largest I’ve ever seen, but it was cool.

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Pre-race Snow Park

The Half started at 9:10am Sunday. Everything happened at Snow Park close to Lake Merritt. I walked to the start, about a half mile from the hotel and passed some of the marathon runners already on their course. I cheered and clapped and encouraged them. There were a few spectators, but it was pretty quiet. In fact, on most of the course it was very quiet, one of the quieter races I’ve done, spectator-wise. Oakland just doesn’t get up early, I suppose.

Snow Park is a nice urban green refuge in a financial neighborhood of Oakland. There were lots of vendor booths, refreshments, sponsors, bag drop-offs and other things as well as lots and lots of porto-bathrooms.

The 13.1-mile course is flat, with only a couple very small and short uphills and most of it was well-marked, except for one bit after the third mile. There was some confusion that caused around 30 of us to run too far in the wrong direction. I lost about .3 miles because of it. Other than that, though, I like the course. I enjoyed the Taiko drummers, the Capoeira experts and the blues band. I especially liked the burning arch The Crucible created.

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The Crucible Arch 

My favorite part, even though it was my most difficult part, was running around Lake Merritt. It really is beautiful. Around miles Eight through 10, my right IT band started bugging me and I had to walk a couple times. And then, as we had about a mile and a half left to run, it started pouring! It rained like it never rained before! The weirdest part is it only lasted about five minutes and stopped as soon as it started. As I turned into the last mile, I gathered up all my reserved energy, what little there was and pushed myself to finish running and running just a little bit faster. That was fun!

I gave it all on that course. It wasn’t my best race, but it was a great time. I’m thinking I will do the full Oakland Marathon next year. Why not?

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RAIN RUNNERS

SF Rain

I have a confession to make….. I like, no I LOVE running in the rain. I LOVE RAIN RUNNING!

Now, there’s a bit more planning before going out and I think this it what intimidates a lot of would be Rain Runners. We have to think of whether it will be light/dark, cold/warm, how long….

And then those first steps outside…..if it’s not raining yet, you’ll probably start running and hope to get some good distance in before the drops start to fall.

In my case last night, it was pouring from the time I started to the time I ended. So, once I was outside, I committed. It was run or go back inside and call myself a wimp. I know that not everyone, in fact, very few people like to run in the pouring rain, but it’s one of my greatest challenges I have in my life these days. Some people bungee jump, others lift really heavy weights, I run in the rain.

It’s been such a long time since we’re had stormy days in the Bay Area, my soaked run was nearly pure joy. I made it fun. I jumped over puddles, turned down my music and listened to the drops on my rain jacket, I enjoyed the way the water distorts the lights on all the new buildings in Mission Bay. I especially get a snicker at the way drivers and walkers rushing to get out of the rain, look at me.

“Are you crazy??” They seem to say. Yeah, maybe.

When the rain starts to pick up, and the puddles get a little bigger, that’s when the real fun happens. It gets a little harder to see, maybe the wind is blowing a bit, and there’s a GREAT BIG PUDDLE right in front of me! All of a sudden, I’m Super Woman and leap! Making it to the other side in a single bound.

The other very cool part of being a Rain Runner is when we see other Rain Runners, we acknowledge them. Sometimes it’s just a smile but other times, when it’s really coming down, a fist pump or high-five is the answer.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that coming home to dry off, have something extra delicious to eat and knowing I conquered a rainstorm wasn’t the very best part. I used to downhill ski and sometimes being at the top of the hill was intimidating and really scary. But once I settled down my fears and started edging my skis down the steep of the hill, I was OK, much like once I get going into a rainy run.

If you’ve been fearful of running in the rain, I would say try to tackle that fear and go for it. Be prepared for it first, have the right gear. A good running shell or light running-style raincoat, if it’s cold, running tights, long distance shoes, with thicker soles are the best just for the puddles, a don’t forget a hat.

With El Nino visiting Northern California this year, it seems I’ll be getting more excellent Rain Runs in soon.

Cheers!

PLANS CHANGE

The last few weeks I had been ramping up my mileage in preparation for my upcoming marathon. I was also getting in plenty of strength training, doing lots of rolling and stretching.

But I have found that I am mortal after all. My IT band on my right leg, the bane of my existence,  started bothering me during my last two long runs. After today’s long run, I decided to switch from a full marathon to a half.

This saddened me, but I knew it had to be done. I know that at this time, with the nagging aching of my IT band after eight miles or so, I couldn’t finish 26 miles. I can handle 13. It might not be the best half I’ve ever run, but I’ll do it. I’m already registered to run the full San Francisco Marathon, held in July, so I’ll start training for that at a much slower increasing pace with plenty of time.

It’s only been three months since the California International Marathon, much too soon. I know that now. I guess I thought I could handle it. Now I know.

After a few hours, I’m looking at it in a more positive light. I will work harder, be a better runner, get as fit and trim as I can. And I will write all about it.

Cheers!