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Posts tagged ‘Oakland Running Festival’

Finding my stride and consistency

I’ve written a lot about my lack of consistency lately. I start a run and then trail off. I get weaker as I go through. I can’t maintain a solid pace. My mile numbers are all over the place.

I’m struggling as a runner. I know it. I have a lot of reasons for it. Two jobs don’t help. Lack of a good night’s sleep isn’t either. I’m stressed. It’s impacting my running on every level.

I had no business running the Pasadena Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon last month. None. At. All.

Since the Pasadena fiasco, I’ve tried to gain a little more perspective on my running. I’ve limited my caloric intake too. I’ve made some changes. It’s not a complete answer, but so far I think I’m making progress.

So my goal for the Oakland Half Marathon today was to strive for consistency.

I needed that.

And I wanted to do better than last year. (Even though it’s a new course.)

I’m proud to say I accomplished both.

The Oakland Half Marathon starts at 9:15 a.m. which is a little late in the running world. But it meant we could wake up at a decent hour and head to the new start location, Snow Park, which had a fairly good turnout of people.

I scoped out the finish line.

Not much to see there. The 5K, which until this year was held on Saturday night, happened before the start of the half marathon.

The portable toilet stock was pretty good too for a race with 4,000 people. I’m not kidding, there was a whole stock of portable toilets. I’m kind of sad I didn’t get a photo of it. There were also some location on a side street which was just as nice, especially when we found people were using the other ones more. A morning positive! No bathroom lines!

We also wandered around a little bit. The merchandise tent looked better at the expo. People were buying stuff. I did all that the day before at the expo.

We stopped at the bathrooms. And then we heard the announcement telling the half marathon runners to line up. I made my way into the 11 minute corral. I set my Garmin for an 11:30 average pace. It beeps when I’m not meeting that. And, I’m happy to say, for the first time ever, I met that pace overall for the race.

We crossed the starting mats after three minutes.

And…then we began.

I struggled for the first four miles. I think it was combination of fatigue (this has been a rough week at work) and hunger. I had eaten so long before that I was a little hungry at the start.

Mile 3 was a real struggle. That’s when I decided enough was enough. I needed a Gu. So I downed a Vanilla Bean one. That’s what propelled me through mile 4. You can see my struggle at the end. I let what I had going slip a little bit, otherwise I probably would have finished at 2:30.

My husband, though, was standing waiting for me at around mile 13.

“Two and a half?” he yelled.

I nodded back. He knows my average time on these things. And he knew, then, that this was a better run for me.

I knew too.

Why was it a better run? I listened to my body. When my heart started pounding, I slowed down. When I needed to walk, I walked. Then I picked up the pace and ran my heart out. I ran my heart out the entire race.

When I wanted to stop. I kept going. I just kept at it.

I finished with an official time of 2:32:27. My third best half marathon to date. Better than the 2:35:36 of last year too.

And I looked better than after my finish last year as well.

I did sit down. Because I was tired and, as you can see, red in the face. I have a slight sunburn. The move from Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland to Snow Park was a good one. There was more space. It was closer to a nice view of Lake Merritt. People got to lounge around.

Yes, I take pictures of random people lounging around because I refuse to pull out my camera and take photos while I’m running. I’m not that kind of blogger.

It was Sam’s first time running the Oakland Half. I think this may become her race too. It’s already mine. It’s the only one I knew last year I was 100 percent sure I’d come back to. I hella love Oakland. And this half marathon. And maybe someday, I’ll run the full, giant hill and all.

That said, the last .1 mile of this half was all uphill. That burned. I was so tired at the end.

But I did it. I found my stride. I kept hitting it. I stayed consistent. I slowed when I needed to. And I kept going.

Last year, I had beer tickets at the end I didn’t use. This year, the Barefoot Wine booth was mixing up mimosas. It was close to noon, but yes, I wanted a mimosa in a small cup.

I got Thomas one too. I had two tickets after all.

Then we ventured back to Livermore, after a really urgent bathroom stop at a shady bathroom off the freeway in Oakland. We ate and drank at First Street Alehouse. Finally it was back home. Into the bath tub and then into bed. I was tired. My alarm went off at 5:20 a.m. I decided not to try to go back to sleep.

That was my day. All 13.1 miles of it.

Check out my second expo shirt. I decided on a whim to buy it. I love it because it looks a little more hardcore than my other two shirts. It also was one of the only dark gray shirts at the expo.

Plus, this is on the backside.

That’s exactly what I did today. Am I happy? Yes. Today was a good day. My run was a solid one. I’m proud of what I accomplished out there.

Can I do better? Always.

I’m going to keep working on it. As always.

A sort of runniversary

A year ago, I was scared. This time last year was the eve of my first half marathon. It was one I signed up for with hardly any training. But after a January full of running nine and 10 mile training runs, I figured, why not?

Thomas and I ventured to Oakland on a rainy day in late March 2011 to pick up my race packet. I was nervous. I’m glad we spent the rest of the day looking for new furniture for our family room.

Today was a similar type of day as we ventured back to Oakland to go through the same process all over again.

We went early, to avoid traffic and lines more than anything. And we were in and out in about an hour.

The Oakland Running Festival doesn’t have a huge expo. It’s only in the third year. Last year went well. The run wasn’t overcrowded or too exhausting. But at mile 10, my body nearly decided to give out. I wasn’t running nearly as much as I am now. I’m hoping tomorrow will be better than last year.

But I finished.

And it was my first half marathon.

I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.

Tomorrow, the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon will be my ninth half marathon. It will be the first one I’ve repeated.

The expo was held at the Oakland Marriott. We arrived around 10 a.m. The line was short. I already had my eConfirmation printed out with a bar code on it. Funny, though, no one asked me to scan in or anything like that.

I grabbed a bag for the items I’d be picking up. I walked over to the bib table where there were no lines.

There were tons of race guides out on tables. I grabbed only one, as opposed to last year when I took a handful because I thought I’d figure out a way to preserve them forever. (That hasn’t happened.)

I then went and grabbed my race premium. People get really up in arms about race shirts. I have so many that I always wonder why. If you don’t like it, don’t wear it. It’s that easy. But more often that not, especially with the growth of social media, people complain about race shirts.

This is the 2012 half marathon shirt:

In the middle is a script-type font that says “half marathon.” I’ll be honest, I’m not in love with this shirt. Since I saw the race organization post it, I thought it wasn’t too attractive. Last year the designs were simple. It was just a vertical block with the race information. I still consider my blue premium from 2011 one of my favorite race shirts.

So I likely won’t wear this much. It’s a shame too, because very few race organizations go the full-sleeve shirt route. I appreciate Oakland for that, but am just not that into this one. The 5K had Cal colors, which I liked more. The marathon race premium I wasn’t digging too much either. It seemed as if the race organizer was trying to pull colors from local teams, in the half marathon case the Oakland Raiders, for each shirt without considering consistency.

But the shirt doesn’t really matter.

We walked around the expo, but outside of a couple booths, there wasn’t much to buy. Let’s face it, I was just starting to buy good running clothes this time last year. I think I only owned one pair of Nike capri running pants. You don’t want to see my closest now.

Once upon a time, I would have been tempted by cool socks and craziness like this:

Now, not so much. I buy for function (hello Lululemon obsession), and not because something is one color or anything. And really, would anyone wear cheetah socks to run? Not unless you really wanted to stand out.

The longest part of the entire expo? Waiting in line for “official merchandise” because there were only two people taking payment. And the woman I went with seemed to just want to get me through as fast as possible, no hello or anything.

I bought a great green shirt with a tree (for Oakland) and names of the streets run. We don’t run all of the streets in the half marathon, but we run a lot of them.

Then, not so suddenly, we were at the end of the expo. There was nothing left even though we hadn’t been there all too long.

I picked up a couple more couples, particularly for restaurants tomorrow, and we headed back out. Quick in and out trip to Oakland from Tracy. That was it.

Thomas and I had talked about a new burger place in Tracy for a couple weeks now. The Squeeze Inn opened sometime earlier this month. We’ve heard all about it, but had yet to partake.

So we stopped by and ordered two hamburgers, an order or regular and an order of sweet potato fries. It took awhile and we literally had to “squeeze in” because at a point there were a ton of people.

About half way through my meal, my burger wasn’t even all that broken in.

Now I’m home doing laundry and some cleaning. I don’t really have an projections for my race tomorrow. I’d like to do well, or at least better than I have lately. But I also know this is a new route. That means I can’t compare it to last year in terms of time. I also saw a mileage chart that registered the distance now at 13.4 miles.

So I’m not sure where I stand.

But I’m getting ready for my runniversary. And I’m glad that, a year after my first, I’m still at it.