March 21, 2016

Oakland Half -- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Fire Arch at the Crucible.
I really had no idea what to expect at ORF.  My "training" had been all over the place.  The speedwork since Kaiser had shown me that I'd definitely improved my short distance fitness, but since I hadn't really pushed through any real long runs since Kaiser, I wasn't sure how it would translate into distance performance.

The night before the race was a bit non-standard.  I opted out of a party that E was attending and closed out a bunch of work and housekeeping items while waiting for him to get home.  His mom called to inform us of a death in the family but asked me not to interrupt him at the party.  So, after poking around the Internet to investigate pre-race meals, I decided dinner of leftovers (carrot soup and turkish salad) should be fine.

I kept working and waiting for E until it was apparent that he was having too much fun and I should try to go to sleep.  I was a bit wound up, so I had a glass of wine to help me fall asleep (I don't normally have wine the night before a race, but I don't really think this one glass made any difference at all, I'd been hydrating like crazy all day and definitely didn't feel any wine-related negative effects).  He ended up not making it back to the house 'til after 11 PM, and I woke to tell him the bad news.  We chatted and then I fell back asleep.

The day of the race, I'll report in the style of The Classic Spaghetti Western:

The Good

I finished a half marathon healthy and happy.  I saw Cat before the start -- she'd gotten her 5K PR!  I enjoyed a delicious post-race bruch with Jen (who got her 5K PR *and* ran the half afterwards), Angela, and Clare (who also PR'd).

Jen could *not* wait for the pre-brunch doughnuts!

Mmmmm... Malfatti.  Delicious!
The Bad

I got up and out the door on time, stopped at Starbucks, ordered my standard pre-race latte, and hit the road, letting my phone guide me to the parking garage.  Except, I'd forgotten about road closures, so once I was in Oakland, I was blocked by the 5K that Cat and Jen were in the middle of running.  I had to do some creative driving, including a few miles on the coned-off half course down Mandela Parkway until I found a pay parking lot that was within jogging distance of the start.  Every other time I've run this race, I've *easily* parked in the lot across the street from Snow Park (the location of the start/finish/celebration).  So, this was definitely not ideal.

I started at an effort I thought I might be able to maintain, and then about 0.87 miles in, we hit a gated area around a construction site.  The crowd funneled to a walk.  Someone started a "let's go Oakland" cheer.  We had nothing better to do while we walked, so most of us joined in.  45 seconds later, we were able to start running again.  Not exactly an ideal first mile.

I hit the first aid station around 2.4 miles and walked a minute to take a gu and gatorade and water as planned.  I started back up for a 10:23 mile and realized I'd probably started too fast.  I knew this was a possibility, and I wasn't too concerned.  But it didn't bode well nonetheless.

Somewhere in this area Jen caught up to me, we said hi, and then I let her go as I started to slow.  I knew my A goal of 10:50/mile (assuming I ran 13.1, which is a big assumption on this case) was going to be tough.  I hit the 10K (by my watch) at an average pace of 10:51 and figured I'd keep an eye out for Clare.  She was doing 5 min run/ 1 min walk intervals and should be shooting for something in roughly that pace overall.  Sure enough, I found her, and we stuck together for a while.  The running segments felt good, but her walking recovery was *fast* and perhaps even more difficult for me than just running an even pace.  It was nice to have company though, so I enjoyed a few miles with her.  

The Ugly

At around mile 8 it became very apparent that carrot soup and turkish salad had *way* more fiber than I realized and I would be needing an on-course porta-john soon. (Why had I deviated from my go-to standard spicy noodle soup option?).  At the 8.5 mile aid station, they had portapotties, thankfully, so I told Clare to go on and waited.  In an uncomfortable state.  4+ minutes later, I was back on the course.

I knew I wouldn't meet my A goal, so I settled for my B goal of trying to beat my Kaiser time of 2:32ish.  It was a long slow slog, but I kept on, walking through the aid stations, but otherwise just trying to get done, finally crossing the finish at 2:34:36.  I didn't even beat my Kaiser time!  The only small improvement I can claim here is that my average *moving* time decreased from 11:22/mile at Kaiser to 11:09/mile at Oakland.

I'm definitely looking forward to training for a 10K next.  I want to enjoy some of those speedwork benefits.


Jen said...

Well, you learned your lesson about pre-race carrot soup and had a good sense of humor about it. And now other people googling "pre-race carrot soup" can learn from your experience. That's a win in my book. :) Great job pressing on, in spite of the bad and ugly. As always, it was awesome to see you!

bt said...

Thanks, Jen. Congrats again on your PR and cooldown half.

Cat said...

Darn, I'm sorry it didn't go quite as planned. But those doughnuts look wonderful and I was so happy to see you guys briefly.

Angela Knotts said...

Hey, at least we got to commiserate over brunch!! (And you know what not to do next time.......)

Layla said...

Okay, Jen's comment cracked me UP! You just saved someone's race by posting this on the internet! :-D Anyway, I'm sorry the race didn't go as planned, but I also admire your perspective: You finished without injury and with your sense of humor intact, and those things often elude the elites.

bt said...

Thanks Cat, Angela and Layla.