The first hilly 10 miles were actually my favorite part. Wonderful, wonderful spectators! Hot and thirsty at the end. Three marathons in my birthday month to celebrate my 30th completed.
The Full Recap, Marathon #15:
We arrived in Oakland at about 6:30 am for a 7:30 am start. There were a few parking garages listed and I was determined to make it into the one free garage! I guess I overestimated the number of marathoners (the half marathon started 1.5 hours after the full) because the garage was fairly empty when we arrived. I waited in the warm car another 20 minutes or so before walking to the start area.
We stumbled upon a row of portapotties. Barely any line. WIN! Made that pit stop then sat down on a planter to wait for the start. There were so few people it was almost eerie. I don't know where I got the number, but I thought there were 3,000 marathoners. Boyfriend commented it couldn't be more than 1,000 people and he was totally right (945 finishers).
While we were waiting a tall guy was walking through the start area high-fiving people. He was being followed by a small camera crew. I looked at him and thought, "Is that Mr. Cooper?!" Boyfriend and I weren't really sure. He was tall so we thought maybe it was a local basketball star. Anyhow, turns out it was Mr. Cooper (yes, I will be referring to the actor as Mr. Cooper this entire post)! I used to love his show when I was 13 or so! I had this song stuck in my head.
I got into place around where I thought the 4:30 pace group would be lining up. For the first time in a long time, I felt nervous. I think it was because I wanted to prove to myself that I could run back-to-backs without dissolving into a walking puddle at the end. I also wanted to finish off my three marathon March well.
They had confetti at the start which was something new. Boyfriend shot this video of the start line:
Mr. Cooper saves the day and helps to right the fallen start sign
I had this race broken up into four parts: 1) Get to mile 5.5 (steepest hill), 2) Survive until mile 10 (peak of uphill segment), 3) love the downhill until mile 14, and 4) hold on until finish.
Simple enough, yes?
I have to say that the uphill 10 mile segment had a lot more downhill portions than I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it went up, up, up, but there were some nice rollers nestled inside to recover on. The hill at mile 5.5ish was pretty long and brutal. It reminded me of Hurricane Point at Big Sur. But probably worse. Ah well, good training for next month.
There was an extra out-and-back they added on that I wasn't expecting (it isn't on the official map on the website). Sort of wicked because it made you run further up that steep hill before turning around.
My favorite part of the course was running through Lake Temescal Park. It was a nice little bike/running path and so peaceful! After that section there was a run through some hilly fancy neighborhood which was really nice, too.
Up until this point, I was actually feeling pretty decent. I took short walking breaks on two of the steepest, longest inclines, but otherwise was able to keep powering through. A lot of times I'll give myself permission to walk a bit (i.e. until the top of the hill). But when the ultimate top is at mile 10 you can't really tell yourself that. My average pace was just hovering at about a sub 10:00 at this point.
After cresting the hill at mile 10 we were treated to a beautiful view of the bay and Oakland. My first thought was, "Holy S&@%, we ran all the way up here from all the way down there?!" Sorry, I develop a little bit of a potty brain when running. After the shock of that, I was pretty proud of the accomplishment.
The next mile went down, down, down. I need to work on my downhill running. Lots of runners who I passed or held off on the long uphills passed me on the downhill. It was fun for about 2 minutes. Then after that it started to hurt more than running up the steep hills. Ow, ow, ow, all the way down the hill. It leveled off a little at about mile 11 but I knew it was still fairly net downhill until mile 14. After the just-go-with-gravity part of the hill was over, I started to use my legs again. They were shot. The hard work up the hills and the pounding down the hill had done me in. My pace started to slow a bit.
Meanwhile, back at the finish area, Boyfriend got to talk to Mr. Cooper and snapped this photo (to my dismay he did not get a photo with Mr. Cooper).
Sorry, people. I didn't carry my camera. All I got are Mr. Cooper photos!
I'd say around mile 13 or 14 I stopped enjoying the day as much. What I now consider to be my favorite part of the course was over, and the heat was starting to be a factor. I also started to get thirsty. I was carrying my small bottle which I stopped to refill a few times but was still drinking a full cup of water at every water stop. Since the race was so small, the water stops were usually just one or two tables. This meant that if I needed more than 1 cup of water, I had to actually stop to get it or a few times I even had to turn around and go back to the table for another. Most marathons I can drink a cup while walking and grab another further down the line.
I have to say that the spectators at this marathon were incredible! I was so surprised so many people came out to support an inaugural event. They were also so proud of Oakland. So many people were yelling, "Thank you for running Oakland!" or "Welcome to Fruitvale!" That sort of thing. Loved it. I had a lot of fun waving back and yelling thank you to them (when I did this tons of them would yell back, "Thank you for running!")
In honor of my favorite running skirt company closing up shop (sniffles) I wore this shirt:
I am here to report after a highly scientific study that women love this shirt and men feel it is inappropriate to comment. I got tons of remarks from women. "Fast butt!" or "Nice butt!" or "It looks super fast!" A few ladies misread it and said, "Your skirt doesn't make your butt look fat!" Out of 26.2 miles of great spectators only one guy had the balls to say anything to me. Props to you, man. Fist bump. I once wore a shirt in a marathon that said, "Run like a girl," which garnered equal responses from both men and women -- so guys aren't afraid to comment on females' shirts in general.
At around mile 17 the half marathon and marathon courses merge (this is mile 3.5 for the half). Since I am not so speedy I only caught up to the half marathon walkers. I heard that faster marathoners were frustrated getting stuck behind slower half runners, though.
From here on out, the race was tough. The scenery was not so hot (industrial area). The spectators seemed much sparser, too. It was sunny & hot. I saw Boyfriend at mile 18 and said, "I want to die!" (In retrospect I was being a bit melodramatic). I trudged on. I started to hit the aid stations with more gusto which helped to revive me a bit. My average pace was creeping up in the 10:30's.
I foresaw myself walking a lot more than I ended up walking. I was sort of in this zone where it wasn't so pleasant to be running and walking was mighty appealing, but I was able to keep trudging along without too much effort. I didn't have any additional gears left, though.
The miles ticked away a lot faster than I thought they would. Running around Lake Merritt was a little interesting but I think my brain had checked out at this point. Before I knew it, I was at mile 25.
There was no mad dash to the finish á la LA Marathon. I just kept up my little trudgey pace. I knew I would be able to finish under 4:40 which had been my main goal for the race. At what I thought would be about mile 25.5 I tried to kick it up a bit and then truly did push for the last 0.2 miles. I wasn't putting on the speed for time so much as I just wanted to be done. I shot up three fingers as I approached the finish line to celebrate my 3 marathons in one month accomplishment.
I celebrated by downing 4 full cups of watered down Powerade after getting my medal. Thirsty, much?
I don't think I mentioned it on the blog before, but I turned 30 this month. Originally I thought it would be awesome to run 30 miles on my birthday. But it ended up falling on a workday. I wasn't about to take off to run and there was no way I could do that type of mileage before or after work. Some other ideas were batted around, but I ended up deciding that running three marathons in my birthday month would sufficiently commemorate the achievement.
The shirts were pretty cool. They did do gender specific shirts, but the small is still too big for me. Can I ever win?
I was watching the news the night of the marathon. They had a short blurb about how there had been a marathon in Oakland today. They cut to an interview with a guy they had labeled as "Marathon Spectator." He said, (and I am paraphrasing here) "I came outside because I thought it was a raid! There were so many cops out! But it wasn't a raid. So I stayed out to enjoy the beautiful day. Everyone is getting along." They then used this to segue into a story about an Oakland shooting the night before, "But everyone wasn't getting along the night before... blah blah."
I couldn't believe that was the story they had about the marathon. I also couldn't believe they had exploited that poor guy like that (they were clearly making fun of him, as I am now -- you had to see it to fully appreciate the humor). I even sat around another hour for the next news hour to try to tape it for you. Alas, someone must have complained because they had a proper segment about the marathon that actually named the winners.
There has been a lot of Oakland humor (hilarious, Ron!) circulating about this race. I will report that for the first time ever I saw two marathon "spectators" look like they were about to get trounced by police officers who were manning traffic points. One was a man who was sort of getting too close to the police officer in a semi-aggressive way (the officer even moved his hand to his gun), and the other was a teenager who was being harshly talked to by another officer as I ran by (moments later a police car with sirens blazing came screaming up and a second officer jumped out and ran to the scene).
But all that aside, I was very impressed with this event. Boyfriend mentioned that I have to run it every year so that 25 years from now I can be one of those crazy legacy runners. I'm not sure about that, but I am thinking of doing the full again next year. I like that it is a small marathon and am a little sad that it will probably be a much larger event next year.
Well done, Oakland! You should be proud.
Well done, Oakland! You should be proud.