Race week! Oakland Running Festival Preview 2016

Less than 3 days to go until race day! This will be my 5th consecutive year participating in the Oakland Running Festival (ORF), but my 1st time doing two events in one day – the 5K and the Half Marathon! I’ve never done two races in one day before, so I’m not sure what to expect.


The race that started it all: 2012 Oakland Half Marathon

Here’s a rough outline of my strategy for Sunday:

Bank of the West 5K (7:30 am)
This is my goal race, so I’m going to put it all out there without reserving anything for the half marathon. I’ve never trained for a 5K before, so these past few months have been interesting. I’m fairly certain that I’m in better 5K shape than when I PR’ed last year at the LMJS Couples Relay. However, a PR might depend on how effectively I can run the tangents and not dying on the last hill. (Not dying is always a worthy goal, IMO.) So, while I would love to run a personal best, my “process-oriented” goal is to run hard and execute my race strategy.

Speaking of race strategy, here’s what I had in mind:

  • Mile 1: run strong but relaxed. I should not feel like death at the 1/2 mile mark. With lots of turns in this mile, I should take advantage of my fresh mental capacity to focus on running tangents.
  • Mile 2: increase effort, and don’t freak out about feeling tired. Focus on someone who has a quick, smooth stride and latch onto them.
  • Mile 3: increase effort yet again, and mark runners ahead as targets to pass. Try to catch them without killing myself. Really turn up the effort after turning on Oak St. Just half mile to go.
  • Last 0.1: Legs and lungs will be screaming at this point. Try to “kick” but know it’s unlikely going to translate into any kind of speed on the hill. Concentrate on running across the finish mat – don’t start braking just before (this is a common problem I have).

My strategy at the Crissy Field parkrun in late January was very similar, and it worked out well for me. My only critique of that race is that I might have started off too conservatively. On Sunday, I’ll do a longer warm-up and add some strides. Hopefully that will help with correct pacing right from the start.

Alternatively, perhaps I should go with Coach Gypsy Runner’s plan: “Don’t overthink it. Just go out and run. If you feel good, run harder. If you don’t, then just try as hard as you can.” #GypsyRunnerWisdom

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon (9:10 am)
It’s been really hard for me to *not* set goals for the half marathon, partially out of pride. I’ve run the half marathon twice, in 2012 and 2013, and I know I’m fit enough to run a personal course record (faster than 2:04:26). However, I have no clue how my body will feel after running an all-out 5K. I have an hour to recover between races, which is good, but who knows if that will be enough?

Without a time goal, I’m toying with the strategy of racing by heart rate, at least for the first couple of miles. In both 2012 and 2013, I went out way too fast and started imploding by mile 10. This year, I’m hoping that the third time’s the charm, and that I’ve learned my lessons from the previous races. Hopefully I’m a smarter runner now in general??

Anyway, my murky plan for the half marathon is to:

  • Start conservatively, whether that means running by feel or by heart rate.
  • Gradually increase effort every couple of miles or so, if I’m feeling good.
  • Not allow myself to really push until after Mandela Parkway (at the earliest).
  • Run strong around Lake Merritt.
  • Scrap all of the above if I’m not feeling well. Enjoy the race and take walk breaks the aid stations.

Three out of the four times I’ve run at the ORF, I’ve felt like death by the time I hit Lake Merritt. So out of all of the above “goals”, the most important thing to me is to finish strong. If that means taking it easy for 10 miles and then turning up the engines for the last 3.1, so be it.

Anyone else running ORF on Sunday? Hope to see you there! And best of luck to everyone racing this weekend!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Race Preview
4 comments on “Race week! Oakland Running Festival Preview 2016
  1. Mike says:

    I say kill it in the 5K and leave it all out on the course, knowing you can use the half as a victory lap – run strong and enjoy the day!

  2. Angela says:

    GOOD LUCK with both your goals!!! Can’t wait!! 😀

  3. jess says:

    I’m reading this now, and already know how it ends =) Great planning here!! and I feel like you executed it perfectly!!

  4. […] quite nervous. Even though I’d done the training, committed to nutrition and recovery, and mentally prepared myself, a part of me worried that I wouldn’t perform well on race day. I kept walking that […]

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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon

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