Oakland welcomed 9,000 runners for its third annual Oakland Running Festival. I ran a Half Marathon and there were some good and not-so-good surprises today.
A good surprise was the rain, or the lack of. I was totally prepared for a miserable race in a cold rain this morning. Last night, the forecast called for 60% of rain and low 40s, and it was raining pretty good then. Low 40s might not sound too cold, but those who live in northern California, it is plenty cold. So, I had packed a pair of gloves, a towel, and extra warm clothes to change into after the race. When I got up, it was not raining but it did look like the rain can return at any time. By the time I was getting out the door, however, the sky looked better and the temperature was not in the 40s. So, I grabbed a Front Runners singlet and replaced a sweatshirt with a regular cotton long-sleeve shirt. I met up with some of the San Francisco Front Runners on BART, and they seem relieved about the weather, too. By the time I started to run, the sky was clearing up and no rain drops were in sight. Score! This tremendously improved the prospect of me finishing in target time of 1:26. Or did it?
I really did not have a solid plan how to run this Half today, except I wanted to finish around 1:26 pacing at 6:35 minutes/mile. I did not study the course map, though I was told the course was mostly flat. So, I was going to rely on my Timex GPS, despite many disappointments I’ve had with the watch in the past. I knew I was being optimistic, because there was cloud coverage. This piece of junk does not acquire satellite signal when there are a cloud or fog. Who knows, a plane or bird could be preventing this watch from getting the signal.
The first mile, the crappy Timex did not get any GPS signal, but my RunKeeper said I ran in 6:09, though its reading was off by 50 meters or so. It must have been 6:20-ish. Too fast but I felt pretty good. Next mile, no rubbish Timex reading, and RunKeeper said 6:00. Oops. Next few miles, I was able to slow down a bit. The fact that disastrous running weather turned into perfect running weather, coupled with potential to run my PR, pushed me forward faster. I wore Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flats that performed very well on the wet road. At around Mile 7, I started to feel some tightness in my left quad. I don’t run at this speed for more than 7 miles, so that was sort of expected, but it was getting to be a concern, nonetheless. Good thing I decided to wear CEP compression shorts. Next 6 miles, slowed down a bit more. It looked like I was going to get PR, so I did not push it too hard. This way, the chance of getting another PR in the next race would be better =).
The next surprise was not too nice. Just before Mile 13, I see this up-sloping hill… Again, I did not look at the map, so I did not know this. I don’t hate hills but to putting the steepest hill (but it was not that bad) at the very end to the goal is not very nice, is it? Before I saw this hill, I thought I could do less than 1:25. But I came short and finished at 1:25:10, which was a nice surprise. The bloody Timex never got satellite signal and I almost threw it out into the trash bin. I am so not buying another Timex watch, though timing works, or so I thought. It had it 1:24:53 and my RunKeeper had it 1:25:17. The official result says 1:25:10. Oh, well.
Overall, it went very well for me and I am happy with the result. 1:25:10 translates into an average pace of 6:30 minutes/mile. I placed 33rd out of 3,456 finishers. 5th in my age group. A great tune-up run for upcoming Boston. I will have last week of training and then taper time!