Monday, March 26, 2012

Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon

On Saturday afternoon, Angela & I carpooled from San Francisco to the Oakland Marathon expo, where we picked up our race goods and made our way to Hotel Jana. Once we settled in, we carb-loaded, watched TV, and talked about running up until the granny hour of 10pm. Jana was running the full marathon the next morning, and the other occupants of Hotel Jana (Sesa, Karin, Angela, & me) were running the half. We wanted Jana to get her much-needed sleep and did our best to keep things quiet.

To no fault of anything other than an off-light, I slept like complete crap and woke up feeling less than excited about running through downtown Oakland. Jana's race started at the decently late hour of 7:30a.m., while the half marathoners started at 9:15. The rain forecasts that dominated our Weather Channel apps were totally wrong, and we had a overcast, cool, chilly morning -- perfect for running long.

After we saw Jana off, a few of us went out in search of coffee (I have never had coffee before a race -- not sure why I thought now would be a good time to start that), went back to our heated cars to eat our breakfasts, and finally made our way back to the start line for the half. I was actually kind of diggin' on this later start.

NOW, if I may interject on a total tangent, Page talked us all into wearing matching socks for the race. I do love me some compression socks and I have no qualms about buying a cute purple pair -- turns out this was a BRILLIANT idea! A few spectator friends said it was easy to spot us, and I found that it was really easy to spot one another, too. While waiting for the start and within the first mile, I found Jojo, Jessica, Kristin, Cate, and Naomi. I said hi & wished them all luck, then decided that my plan for this race would be to practice negative splitting. My heart was not in it to race but instead to have a great day with so many friends around.

Sesa, Karin, Jessica, Naomi, Dennis, Jana, me, Cate, Angela, Layla, & Page
(Other sock friends not pictured: Kristin & Caitlin)

Mile 1: 7:01 (crap) -- so much for negative splitting
Mile 2: 7:25 (CRAP) -- I got to see Aron & her husband out cheering!!

Thinking back to Kaiser, where I was in the port-o-potty line when the race started & I went out too fast to try to find my place in the pack, I had gone out too fast again. Only this time I had no good reason -- I just couldn't control my race energy and I knew I was going to pay for it at the end. I started feeling down on myself within the first mile because I was remembering how I felt at the end of Kaiser. I knew I was going to have to reel things in if I wanted to finish without walking, but I also didn't want to have a repeat of that day.
Then lo and behold -- just after mile 2, I spotted a pair of heart compression socks, and saw Angela out there clipping away, without even looking like she was working. I snuck up behind her and followed her for about a quarter mile, using her as my rabbit & pacer. Then realizing that maybe this wasn't fair for me to do without her knowing, I asked her if she minded if I followed her. She said no, and from miles 2 until about 12, Angela and I ran side by side, sometimes even stride for stride, her pushing me to keep up with her and apparently me pushing her to hold her own pace.

Of all the miles we ran together, this is one of the only ones of Angela and me?!

Mile 3: 7:42
Mile 4: 7:46
Mile 5: 7:52
Mile 6: 7:53
Mile 7: 7:53
Mile 8: 7:52
Mile 9: 7:44
Mile 10: 7:43
Mile 11: 7:56

I don't know how else to say it, but it was a perfect running partnership. We didn't share very many words at all during our miles together, but I do remember saying at one point "I know you know this, but don't let me hold you back." I think she might have said the same to me in return, but I have no idea. We were "clicking" with one another and the exchange of feelings were pretty mutual; we started off feeling like our miles were decent together, and toward the end we were most definitely both working pretty hard. It was nice having someone by my side, knowing what I was going through.

Thanks, Beth, for the cheering so loudly and for all the great photos!
By the final water stop, Angela was losing just an ever-so-slight bit of steam, and I felt like I had it in me to kick it into another gear. I looked back a few times to see where she was, but I had lost her. I was hoping that we could cross the finish line together, but it got a little hectic by the end, with runners sprinting in their finish, spectators cheering, and the cruel, cruel final uphill.

Mile 12: 7:42

Final uphill push
I looked at my watch once I hit 13.1 (I had heard rumors that the course ran long & I wanted an accurate reading for my own piece of mind), and my Garmin said 1:40:28. I was BEYOND ecstatic -- this was a huge PR for me, and there's no way I could have done it without Angela pushing me to dig deeper & run harder. But because the course ran long -- 13.34 miles by my watch -- my official finishing time wasn't as great... but it was still a PR.

Mile 13: 7:28
Mile .34: 7:10/pace

Thanks for the support & photos, Aron!

The speed-demon who held me accountable, Angela!

For going into a half without really wanting to race and for feeling pretty bad about myself early on, I can't be disappointed. I know that on the right course & the right day, both Angela and I will be busting through the sub-1:40 barrier soon. This thought is a very exciting one for me.

Overall, the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon was a great race. The perfect weather helped a lot, but the course support, crowds, police escorts, and the city of Oakland really showed a great side on Sunday morning. The course wound around a lot of historic Oakland landmarks, and it was cool being able to take over the city by foot. I loved how organized and well-executed this race was, and I wouldn't hesitate to run the half again.

Team Newton!
Jess went on to pace Kristin to a new half PR
& Dennis went on to pace Jana to a sub-4 full.

Punk Rock Runners 4-eva! Layla & me

Garmin time: 13.34 miles, 1:42:12 -- 7:39 pace

Official time: 13.1 miles, 1:42:11 -- a 1:08 PR!
Overall place: 299 out of 3,452
Gender place: 58 out of 2,077
A/G place: 18 out of 381


  1. I am SO SO SO excited for your PR! Bring on Ogden!

  2. You are a super stud! Way to PR, A! I wish I'd seen it :) Congrats!!!!

  3. Bravo to you!!! that is fast! loved looking at all these pics!!!
    congrats on the PR!!

  4. Awesome job! You don't even look like you are working for that pace. AND YOUR OUTFIT IS SO CUTE!!!

  5. Feeling it or not, you did a great job!! Keep up the training, believe in yourself, and there's no telling what you'll do! (sub-1:40 fo' sho') :)

  6. When are you going to believe in your speed, woman?! Fantastic job!

  7. WOAH DUDE! Great race! Congrats on a fabulous PR. :)

  8. Great time! Awesome PR. I'm happy for you! Hopefully one of these days I'll get to see you fly by me in a race!

  9. Running this race with you has totally re-energized me around the whole 1:40 thing. I've been feeling intimidated & overwhelmed by all the hard work & drudgery I know it will involve, but now I'm totally pumped! Every time I'm like, "Blech, I don't really feel like doing x run..." I'm going to tell myself, "Don't you let Alyssa down!! You go work your ass off!!" You were AWESOME & it was so great both running & just hanging out this weekend. :)

  10. Congratulations on the PR! And, the matching compression sock idea sounds like it was a great plan!

  11. Wow!!! Impressive PR! Great Job!!!!

  12. CONGRATULATIONS on that PR!! Amazing job out there :)

  13. Way to go! Congratulations on the PR! Seems you had a perfect race.

  14. This last weekend must have been the weekend of PRs!!! Great job @ Oakland!

    I really like those socks. I see them at races all of the time and see them in pictures and always tell myself I like them. Maybe I should just order some finally!

  15. YAyyyyy!! Congrats - such an awesome race! Way to go!!
    Now that my marathon is over, I'm working towards a new half PR this spring. I hope I can do as well as you did!!

  16. CONGRATULATIONS on your PR! I've said this over and over, but you are getting SO GOOD! Congrats!

  17. dude, I laughed so hard - "mile 1 (crap)"



  18. Sounds like you ran a perfect race! Congrats on the PR! I have no doubt you'll break 1:40 soon at a flatter course!

  19. Congrats congrats CONGRATS on a brand spanking new PR! That is awesome and you dominated that course. You will definitely be getting sub 1:40 soon!

  20. !!!! awesome!!! I bet you, one day, that "too fast" mile is going to be your half-marathon pace. With your improvements, you will be there soon.

    So the magic socks worked for all of us!? or maybe it was Oakland? the special Oakland air? Either way, you're the only person I've read so far that had a Garmin time of that length. I was secretly thinking my "real" time was like 2 minutes faster, but then I read a few reports where they clocked 13.25 miles or something, which isn't quite as significant as being a full quarter-mile or more long.