25 March 2012

Oakland Running Festival: Half Marathon Race Report

How I Ended Up Here
The Oakland Running Festival offered a 50% off registration with my San Francisco Half Marathon goodie bag.  I normally try to avoid buying things simply because they are on sale.  I jumped at the chance and registered for a half marathon for only $35.  

What I Saw From My Hotel Window on the 18th Floor

An actual view of SOMETHING.  

Since the half marathon didn't start until 9:15 (utterly late for a half-marathon), I was hanging in my hotel room and could see the marathon runners who started at 7:30 make their way down Broadway and then turn around to head back the other direction.  One runner didn't get the memo to make the u-turn.  I think she started late.  She ran off the course and past our hotel INTO TRAFFIC.  I kept watching to see when she would realize that she was off course and come back up Broadway.  She eventually headed back up STILL RUNNING IN THE STREET WITH TRAFFIC.  Holy hell, woman!  Get off of the street.  I saw her ask a volunteer who finally put her on track.  

Good grief.  

What I Learned About Oakland From Running Oakland
1.  People really hate their mayor.  When she was introduced the runners (many of whom were local) booed her.  
2.  Raider Nation is loud.  Very loud. 
3.  There is a place called The Crucible.  And it looks amazing. Fire! 
4.  Lake Merritt is pretty.  I wish I lived near a place with a lake to run around.  
5.  A few residents were mad about street closures.  But the majority of Oakland residents were so kind and encouraging.  

How I Fared
About 3/4 of a mile into the race, the 4,000 runners are still pretty bunched up.  An Oakland Running Festival volunteer froggered his way across the street thick with runners.  I nearly hit him.  I may have turned my head and called him a name.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  This is so unlike me.  He must have really, really, really, really deserved it.  

I hit my pace and went into cruise control mode for the rest of the race.  I'm shocked at how even my splits were.  

For the first time in my running career (odd word, but can't think of a substitute), I didn't listen to music or podcasts while running.  I tuned into all the conversations around me, yet I can't recall a single one that I eavesdropped on.  

Finished in 2:13:10.  Definitely hit my A goal which was to break 2:15.  I'd have to look it up to be sure, but I think that this is a 3:58 PR from Big Sur Half Marathon 2010.  I really need to be better about recording stuff down like that.

Overall Assessment
I'm not a fan of such a late start for a half marathon.  I'm not a fan of the Marriott host hotel who didn't give me a late check out, but then I discovered on Facebook that they granted other runners a late check out.  I'm not a fan of weak corralling and people sardined into the start area.

However, the course itself was nice, and I have to admit that the half marathoners seemed to merge easily with the marathoners.  Of course, I don't know how the marathoners felt about the merge, but it seemed okay.

I'm not sure that I will be back next year for this one.  It depends on my goals and running schedule for next year.  It is definitely not a must run race, but it is also definitely not one to avoid at all costs.  

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