Since I started running in late 2011/early 2012, I’ve made it a point to run a race for my birthday. In 2012, I ran the She.Is.Beautiful 10k (which still holds as my current 10k PR) and in 2013, I ran the San Diego Half Marathon (which holds my former half marathon PR).
This year, I wanted to run the Oakland Full Marathon (26.2 miles for turning 26 years old), but due to training and sickness (times two!), I downgraded to the half marathon. Smart move- thanks to my family and friends who helped me with my decision! Although, I will admit that not being able to run the full dampened my spirits for a bit… Oh well.
4:15am on race day. It’s early. The tile floors in the bathroom are cold. I get dressed, and I start causing a ruckus in the kitchen… Make some oatmeal, eat said oatmeal, pack a cooler with water and coconut water, make sure I have my gels and electrolytes and make sure I’ve packed what I needed for post-race.
I pulled up to my teammates’ house, as we were all going to caravan. There were four cars; I drove myself since I had plans for after the race. In morning darkness, we zipped along the 880 freeway towards Oakland. It took us a while to find some parking; we spent some time going around in circles. We finally found a lot and we all parked together with lots of other racers. In fact, I think that particular lot filled up about 5 minutes after we’d parked!
At 6:30am, we are parked and standing around as Mimi gets herself ready for her race. My race doesn’t start until 9:15am, and I have lots of time to kill. We walked around the post-race expo and got some free Chobani yogurt. At 7:15am, we saw our teammate, Mimi, take off for her first full marathon ever!
With plenty of time to kill, we ended up going back to the cars to hang out. Around 8:45am, Francis texts me and asks me where I’m at. I admit to him that I’m still waiting in my car because it’s cold and why would I want to be out there right now?! I eventually decide to leave the car and meet him at the start, as I figured, if I don’t take the chance now, I might not see him for the rest of the day! We find each other near the start corral; we stand somewhere in the 11min and 12min pace signs. Then we talk our plans for the race. Francis did the We Run The Bay challenge (where he ran a 5k before the half), and was just going to hang out and enjoy the race. My goal was to come finish in less than 3 hours. Simple enough. We can do this!
The race is off at 9:15am. Francis and I are going at a decent pace. I tell him all my training stories and experiences with open water swimming. They’re hilarious. At least I think so. We laugh at each others stories, we laugh at each other, we laugh at people, we just have a great time!
Even with some short walking breaks, we were making good time. At one point, I decided that I could try for a PR! But I didn’t make myself too excited at the thought; I just kept trekking along. The weather was beautiful, and slightly getting warmer with every mile. And even though I had my Ignite Naturals INRefresh in my water bottle, I occasionally stopped for water at some of the stops.
Francis and I broke off from each other around mile 6. I was still feeling really good, but the weather was starting to warm up a little faster. I kept going and sipped some electrolytes along the way. When I took a walking “break,” I tried to keep it no more than 30 seconds. The little breaks were definitely helpful.
Honestly, from about mile 6 to mile 10, it’s a blur. I vaguely remember slowing down a bit around mile 8. I was getting really hot and feared overheating. In my head, I was chanting, “Just keep moving forward, you can do it!”
The last 5k was the hardest of my life. Or that’s how it felt. Not only was it hot, but I had slowed down by about 40-60 seconds, falling into the 13-minute/mile pace. Now, the pace itself doesn’t bother me, because I knew I would make it under 3 hours still. It was the fact that once I’d slowed down, I started to feel all the little aches and blisters that had come creeping up along the last 10 miles. I suddenly felt like I was dragging my body through the heat. Womp, womp, womp.
The last three miles were situated around Lake Merritt, which was a beautiful sight! However, I just wanted to finish and pushed as hard as I could. At that point, I just wanted to be done. I also wanted to finish up because earlier in the race, between miles 9 and 10, Martin had texted me saying he was going to find a spot near the finish – that made me excited! 😛
I ran the last 5k as best and as fast as I could without trying to injure myself. My legs were definitely a bit sore, but not as much as I expected. The finish to the race was on a slight uphill, which I didn’t even know about. Hah. Oh well, I made it up the hill and through the finish chute and was greeted by the Oakland Raiderettes. 🙂
My official time via their results page is 2:48:57. It might not be a PR, but it was definitely a great race. I am very proud of my efforts, as this time, I wasn’t pacing or being coached by anyone. (Read this recap of how that half marathon went down….) I managed to stay consistent with minimal walking breaks. Maybe if I had trained more in the warm weather, I might have been able to hit a PR, but I’m not too concerned about that. There will be other races!
In the end, I thank my Bangarang Runners teammates and Martin for coming out and supporting Mimi and me at our races. The last few weeks have been nothing but triathlon training. If it weren’t for training with them, I wouldn’t have been in the best shape to run this race. Also, a special shout out to Ignite Naturals! Having their INRefresh electrolytes for the race helped my body a lot more than I expected. (I will most likely be reviewing the product in the near future, so look out for that!)