Since I ran two races this year at the Oakland Running Festival as part of the “We Run The Town Challenge“, I decided to break this recap into 2 parts. This is part 2 recounting the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. Part 1 (Bank of the West 5K) can be found here.
So, I ran a 5K and PR’d by 33 seconds – WOOHOO! No time to celebrate though; I had about an hour to refuel and get myself ready to run a half marathon. I wondered to myself what I had been thinking when I signed up for this 2 race challenge. I think my reasoning was that I had done almost all of the events at the Oakland Running Festival except for the 5K, but signing up for “just” the 5K – when I’d been offered free registration as a Branch (aka race ambassador) – seemed like a waste. So I decided to do the We Run The Town Challenge. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Fast forward to March 20th, race morning: it was too late, I was committed to another 13.1 miles, so I better make the most of it.
The hour between races was a whirlwind of activity: after saying goodbye to Team Gypsy Runner, Cathryn and I met up with bt. I inhaled a Clif Bar. Cat went to get coffee, bt went to take care of pre-race business, and I went to drop off my bag, where I soon ran into Angela. Then Angela went off to do a warm-up, and I joined bt and her friend C in the corral. We lined up near the 2:10 pacer, listened to the national anthem, and right at 9:10, the race started!
To make this recap less long-winded, I’ll just list one observation per mile, along with my splits.
Mile 1: 10:10
Ugh, how are my quads are hurting already?! Oh yeah, because I just ran an all-out 5K. I got stuck in the bottleneck around Frank Ogawa Plaza, which cost me about 30 seconds.
Mile 2: 9:51
2 miles down, 11.1 to go? This is going to be a long morning. Half marathons are no joke. Oh well, too late to do anything about it now. I started to think of the race as good pacing practice.
Mile 3: 10:13
Oh, look at those men cheering for us outside of their church in their Sunday Best. This is why I love this race! Caught up to bt, chatted for a bit, and ran ahead.
Mile 4: 9:51
Into the 11th St. tunnel and back out. My fellow runners seem less enthusiastic than in years past.
Mile 5: 10:04
First little climb of the race. Ran into my friend PL, who was struggling. Wished him luck and pressed on. Passed a grocery store in Chinatown, where two Asian ladies took a break from their work to cheer us on. It was really adorable.
Mile 6: 9:47
Got a little boost from the Raider Nation aid station at the underpass. It started getting warm, so I dumped some water on my neck and back.
Mile 7: 9:54
I don’t know if they changed the route or what, but it seemed like there were longer stretches of nothing (bleak warehouses, no spectators) this year. This mile was saved by the Crucible’s Arch of Fire and the final relay exchange.
Mile 8: 9:58
The two saving graces of Mandela Parkway: one, the Crucible’s fire-breathing horse and “Great Balls of Fire” blasting through speakers, all while running under a sprinkler set-up. Two, the fantastic volunteers and refreshments at the Brown Sugar Kitchen aid station.
Mile 9: 10:06
This stretch of the race is always tough. I focused on getting to Grand Ave./Lake Merritt. A little girl cheered us on from the Nationwide aid station, yelling, “Give it your all!” It was so cute and earnest, I almost died.
Mile 10: 9:50
I was looking forward to the Lululemon cheering section at Harrison and 27th St., but they weren’t there this year. Bummer. They usually have some funny signs that always make me smile.
Mile 11: 9:48
First mile at Lake Merritt! I started to pass a lot of people, but still wasn’t ready to push it.
Mile 12: 9:25
I decided to pick up the pace, which hurt a lot. I focused on passing people and staying with runners who looked strong.
Mile 13: 9:40
I kept pushing but it was a struggle. And why are these runners stopping to take photos on the bridge, blocking everyone’s way? They suck. I hate them.
Last 0.42 mile: 9:28/mile pace
My second time up the tiny hill at 19th St. of the day. This time, it felt 10x worse and I had no booster engines. But I kept chugging along, aiming to run strong past the finish mats.
Garmin stats: 2:12:38 (13.42 miles at 9:53/mile)
Official race stats: 2:12:44 (13.1 miles at 10:07/mile)
Half Marathon Standings: 93/277 (AG); 567/1618 (F); 1331/2942 (overall)
We Run This Town Standings: 21/107 (F); 64/189 (overall)
After the race, I ran into a Dan (Hi Dan!), a reader who said that my race recaps were very informative. Then, I hobbled over to get my drop bag and ran into Angela. We made our way to the VIP tent, which wasn’t super glamorous, but was stocked with drinks and food. Plus, there were tables and chairs, and a tent that shielded us from a 5-minute sudden deluge of rain.
Eventually, we made our way to brunch at Bellanico, where I binged on all things delicious and caught up with how everyone’s race went. It was a great morning!
I’m very satisfied with how I ran the Half Marathon, even though it was my second slowest half ever. If I hadn’t run a 5K before the half, I’m certain I could’ve run a personal course record (sub-2:04), but I don’t regret giving the 5K my all. I ran by feel and maintained an even pace for the first 11 miles, and then managed to run a tiny bit faster in the last 2.5 miles, which was my goal. I kept a positive attitude throughout the race – thanking volunteers, high-fiving small kids, smiling at the silly signs – and I think that helped me tremendously. I don’t have any regrets in regards to race execution. I fueled and hydrated well, and was only limited by my leg fatigue (thanks to the 5K). So all in all, I think it was a win!
That said, I think this might be the last time I run the Oakland Half for a while. It’s my 3rd time running the half marathon and 5th time on the course, so I think it’s time to change it up. I still think it’s a great race, but there are so many out there that I also want to try. Thanks to the organizers for giving me a chance to be a Branch and for the free entry! #hellaloveOakland
About the race:
- Organizers: Corrigan Sports Events
- Cost: We Run The Town is the most expensive (individual) event at ORF. It starts at $105 for early bird pricing, and goes up to $165 at the Expo. This year it sold out.
- Course: Both the 5K and the Half are very flat, but there are a lot of turns.
- Parking/Transportation: Paid garages and street parking.
- Aid stations: plenty of aid stations spread out about every 1.5-2 miles. Most had water and Gatorade, and a couple of them had Gu. There are also unofficial water stations set up by local businesses and groups.
- Bathrooms: Plenty at the start in several different areas around Snow Park, and clusters of them spread out on the course.
- Swag: A medal for each race, and a third for completing the challenge. You also get a tech t-shirt for each race. There are 2 beer/drink tickets attached to the bib and a lot of food in the finisher’s chute (though once you leave, you can’t get back in). They had a virtual “iGift bag”.
- Misc.: Super well-organized and a really fun event. The route is not super scenic, but the crowds/spectators more than make up for it.
- Tip for anyone wanting to do this event: Pick one of the races as your goal race and focus on that. Run the other one for fun or with a non-performance goal in mind.