It’s only been ONE WHOLE MONTH since the Oakland Running Festival but I am finally catching up on my race recaps… in other words, hubby and kids are out of the house and I can actually hear myself think! It may even be a 2-post kinda day!
Anyhoo, if you know me and/or if you have been following my blog, you know that after my 1st season with Team in Training I signed on to be a mentor for that following spring season, my 5 mentees all running Oakland (4 doing the full, 1 doing the half). After nearly 5 months of training, The Big Day finally came on March 25th.
While the marathon started at 7:30am, the half marathon started at 9:15am. Wow. That’s late. Nice to sleep in and then easily take a 10 minute BART ride over to the starting line but that late start really messed up my fueling- I ate my typical pre-race Luna bar & coffee meal at 7am and some Sport Beans 5 minutes before the race, but that was it. Not smart. When the race started, I was so hungry… that lack of calories would come back to haunt me by mile 9…
I met up with my team and we shared a group hug with final words of wisdom from Coach Kim, then headed over to the starting line…
About 6 months ago, I challenged Hubby to run a half marathon and we chose Hollywood for his first (that recap will be Part 2). A TNT friend posted on Facebook that he was selling his bib for Oakland and as both hubby and I are born and raised in Oakland, I encouraged/pressured/forced hubby to get the bib and run the half with me. And he did.
The race finally started, and we were off… I can’t tell you how amazing it is to run through closed streets in the city where I was born and raised. Every mile had a different memory for me and I just loved the course! We started off in downtown Oakland and then hit Broadway, and I settled into an easy 9:30 pace thinking, “Wow, keep it up! You could PR this thing!” Having studied my pace chart, I knew that if I kept up the 9:30 pace, I would finish the half in 2:04. Without my iPod to distract me, my brain kept repeating, “2:04, 2:04, 2:04…”
Once we exited the tunnel (pictured above), we then merged with the full marathoners- at that point in the race, the fullers were at mile 17 while the halfers, like Hubby & I, were just at mile 4. It was pretty motivating to pass the mile markers for the full- I was thinking how tired *I* would be by mile 17, so with nothing to complain about (yet), I cheered on the marathoners, smiled at hubby, and pushed on…”2:04, 2:04, 2:04…”
Like I’ve already said- in my complete and utter bias- I just LOVED this course! It was not crowded, really highlighted Oakland, ample water stops. However, I was surprised that there weren’t as many cheering sections, bands, and free stuff along the course as there was 2 years ago when I ran the 4th leg of the marathon relay. The days leading up to the Oakland Running Festival were completely drenched with torrential rain while race day was dry with blue skies and perfect 60 degree running weather. Nevertheless, I have heard that a lot of bands canceled in light of the rain just the day before, that makes sense, and made for a quieter course than I was expecting.
We hit mile 7 at Mandela parkway and I snagged this pic of hubby:
I noticed that from the start, hubby was running completely outside of the marked course- he ended up clocking 14.3 miles in all. Being a race newbie, he did not understand that a race course is marked in the MIDDLE of the course as well as along all the tangents in order to make it the “shortest” course possible. He claims he was just trying to avoid all the people but by doing so, added a whole extra mile! For a half, that’s just crazy!
I heard that there was a whole “run through fire” element to the race- I couldn’t wait to see what it was! I guess I was expecting something along the Tough Mudder lines-o-fire but this is what we got:
Still feeling pretty good at this point, “2:04, 2:04, 2:04!” I snagged yet another self-portrait-while-running:
And then things went bad. Real bad. My stomach started cramping. I couldn’t ignore it. I started slowing down. I started feeling faint and nauseous. I started to fail mentally. I started to make deals with myself, “Okay, just get to the next water stop, in and out of the porta potty, you’ll be fine.” I grabbed hubby’s arm and yelled over his blaring iPod, “MY TUMMY IS NO GOOD!” And he responded, “OKAY BUT I’M NOT GOING TO STOP!” Super supportive, hunh?
I kid, I kid, I only want for him to run the best race he can so leaving me behind is always an option, one which he took, and at the mile 9 water stop, hubby ran on while I met my fate with the Big Green Porta Potty. I was in the sucker for 11 minutes doing my business, trying not to touch anything, trying to feel better. Goodbye 2:04 and hello super sore quads from squatting for 11 minutes straight!
After that, I was miserable. So angry at myself, still not feeling well, all my energy was gone, I tried to suck down a gel but my body rejected it and I nearly threw up. By mile 10, we hit Lake Merritt and thankfully Coach Kim saw me and ran/walked with me. I complained about my tummy and how much I just blew this race while she encouraged me to start moving my legs again. A couple miles with Coach Kim and a brief high-five from Coach Al finally got me going and I tried to pick up the pace around the lake. Too little too late, I finished in 2:17.
Hubby finished in 2:13- such a great job for his first half ever!!! So proud!!! Although now he can officially say he is “faster” than me and that stinks. I dunno why I ever encouraged him! LOL!
After the race, I spent time with some TNT friends before heading to Luka’s Taproom for the victory party where I treated myself to a big hamburger and belini. I was still really wrecked though, and couldn’t really eat, drink or be merry at that point. I was so self-absorbed and caught up in my own imagined failure and aching stomach that I missed seeing my mentees cross the finish line. I really regret that. (For my next mentorship, I will not make the same mistake.)
Given my physical issues at this race, you know what the funny thing is? I’m seriously considering the full for 2013. Call me crazy. HELLA crazy. Go ahead. I won’t mind.
And then just 2 weeks after Oakland, hubby and I ran the Hollywood Half marathon and it was a completely different experience with even more running lessons learned… stay tuned for Part 2…
Anyone else experience stomach & porta potty issues during a race? How do you handle it? How do you handle the disappointment that comes with completely blowing a time goal? Do you expect to hit your PR every time?
Also, check out this post about the female winner of the Oakland marathon, Anna Bretan, mother of 3 who just gave birth 6 weeks prior! YOU GO GIRL!!!!