On March 26th, I paced my 4th half marathon with the Trivalley Running Club at the Livermore Half Marathon. Once again, I was the 2:20 pacer, though this time, because of the size of the race (2600+ finishers), I also had a co-pacer for the first time ever. It was nice to have two pacers because it relieved the pressure, allowing for small hiccups along the way.
Thanks to Michael, the TVRC pacing group coordinator who picked up my bib for me, I did not have to drive out to Livermore to attend the expo on Saturday. Race time was early on Sunday morning – 7am – which was brutal because Daylight Savings Time was just the week before. However, because it can get very warm in Livermore by 9am, the early start was pretty well-tolerated by all of the half marathon runners.
I pulled into the large parking lot in Downtown Livermore just before 6am and made my way (in the dark) to the TVRC tent in the staging area. I’d have to say that the logistics of this race were very well done – more on that below. I got my bib, chatted with some of the other pacers, and then we took a group photo.
I heard the porta potty line was really long – thankfully, I had stopped at a gas station right off the freeway so I didn’t have to go. My co-pacer Kevin didn’t want to risk missing the start, so he decided to wait for a porta potty on the course. We lined up at 6:45am, and I was pleasantly surprised to run into not just one, but two familiar faces! Kristen was running the half with her sister and her sister’s friend, and J (whom I “met” at Tiburon and friended later on Strava) came up to say hi.
The race started shortly after 7:00am. The course ran through parts of downtown Livermore before heading south toward Sycamore Grove Park, then back up to downtown. Here’s my Strava data:
I recorded a total elevation gain of 284 feet. There was some significant, steady climbing between miles 7-9, but nothing too terrible (if you’re used to trail running).
Having a co-pacer meant that I had someone who was definitely going to run with me. Happy to have a running buddy, I proceeded to chat Kevin’s ear off. However, I think it also dissuaded any of the people running with us to identify themselves, which was a bummer. There isn’t too much to report from the race, except that I felt fine the whole time. We ran a bit fast throughout the race (10:30/mile pace vs. 10:40) because we had been told that the course ran long – as much as 0.2 miles too long. Plus with the uphill section, I thought it would be reasonable to bank about 30-40 seconds. The mile markers were consistently coming at about a tenth of a mile after our Garmins beeped, so I was going by my pace band instead of my Garmin.
Everything was going along smoothly, except that by mile 5, Kevin was desperate to use the bathroom. He had decided to drink 2 glasses of water in the morning. (He was practicing race day hydration for the Oakland Marathon the following week.) The lines at each aid station were super long though! So, he kept pressing on until the aid station at mile 8, where he decided to take his chances and get in line. I wished him luck and hoped that he would be able to catch me before the finish line.
I soldiered along, alone, for the next 4.5 miles. The course was quite beautiful in parts, running through parks and vineyards. At about 12.5 miles, a runner came up beside me and told me that she had been running with me the whole time. She said that she had never been able to stay with a pace group before and that she wasn’t about to lose me. I told her that she was doing great and encouraged her to keep going. With every tenth of a mile down, I would tell her, “OK, only 5 minutes to go.” or “Only 3 minutes left. You’ve got this!” We ended up crossing the finish line just under 2:19. A little too fast, but I had been only 30 seconds fast at the mile 13 marker… so I think there was a mile marker issue. The runner thanked me and I congratulated her. Then, Kevin crossed the finish line, only 30 seconds after me. He said he had been running 8:xx pace for the last 5 miles trying to catch me. So much for a nice easy, pre-marathon taper run for him!
All in all, it was a really nice day. It was a race that was well-organized and the weather was perfect (if a bit chilly for the post-race party). I would definitely recommend the Livermore Half Marathon for anyone who wants the California wine country running experience without Napa prices.
About the race:
- Race website
- Field size: 2600+ finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K that started after the half marathon.
- Cost: If you signed up right after the race, it was only $50 for the 2018 half marathon. It’s currently up to $65… I’m not sure where it topped out at. You can also sign up for all 3 races in the Golden Half Series to save money (Livermore, Oakland, and Golden Gate Half).
- Course: Starts off on city streets and narrows in parts to bike paths. A few rope bridges too! Total elevation gain/loss: 284 feet (Strava).
- Parking: Free parking at the large surface lot behind the downtown shopping district. The parking garage is also available, but I heard that it got full pretty early.
- Aid stations: Spaced about 2 miles apart with water and electrolyte (not sure what brand). They were handing out Honey Stinger gels at the aid station around mile 8.
- Bathrooms: Porta potties at the start/finish, and ~3 at each aid station with really long lines. I’m sure the long lines at the start caused many people to hold off and wait for a bathroom on the course, which then caused the long lines at each aid station.
- Swag: Nice short sleeve tech tee (though they gave me the wrong size, unfortunately), wine stopper medal, and a wine glass. They handed out the wine glasses at the finish, so you could fill it with water from large dispensers (instead of handing out water bottles). I thought this was awesome and environmentally friendly!
- Post-race food/drink: They handed out bananas, bars, chocolate milk, and wine glasses (for water). There was also wine and beer at the post-race festival. I didn’t go because the lines to get in were kinda long and I had to go home to get ready for another commitment. But it seemed like it would be fun if you ran the race with a group of friends.
- What I liked about this race: Logistics were easy, the course was pretty, and the swag was nice. Having the staging area in Downtown Livermore was a bonus because some of the businesses were open and it was easy for runners to pop in to get coffee, burritos, etc.
- What I didn’t like: I’d say the only hiccup was the bathroom situation.
- PR-ability: I think it’s possible to PR at Livermore if the weather is cool and if you’re used to running hills. There is some congestion in parts, but not enough to hinder you by more than 30 seconds.