One month, three races. While I didn’t necessarily plan to hit Spring running so hard, events stacked up that way, and after last year’s “speed bump racing season,” I for one am not going to complain.
My running challenges have varied as the years have ticked by: Ragnar Relay, the Dumbo Double Dare with a 10K one day and a half marathon the next, my first (very much not flat) marathon. This past Sunday I took a new challenge, one the folks at Corrigan Sports call the We Run the Town Challenge. What town? THE Town, naturally! Oaktown, or to most of the country, Oakland, CA.
Married to an Oakland native, born and raised, Oakland has become a spot in the East Bay near and dear to my heart, the first city that welcomed me home to the Bay Area when I left college in San Diego. A number of my coworkers were talking about running the half marathon, and I was still longing for another go at the marathon course as I had not run as hoped in 2015. (A pregnant second marathon was not in the books for me.) When opportunity arose to tour Oakland again by foot, I jumped at the chance and decided to go for the challenge. Challengers ran the 5K at 7:30, then had a break (depending on their speed) before running the half marathon at 9:10. For someone who is runDisney 5am trained, that was a very late half marathon start!
Once again I wasn’t entirely certain I had trained as much as I “should have” but I will fully admit that I have run a half marathon on little to basically no training since my first one in 2013. Thus, it isn’t exactly unheard of for me to go into a race with low expectations. However, while I’ve certainly run events on back to back days, I haven’t run back to back events on the same day outside of Ragnar legs. Heading in to We Run the Town, I thought I’d run by feel for the 5K and hopefully be able to run with coworkers for the half, as a friend I had planned to run with was unfortunately injured. (Hope your ankle is feeling better, Sarah!)
After finding parking not far from the start/finish, I waited around for a bit watching real speedsters warm up while I tried to get a grasp on my own nerves. No matter how many races I’ve run, it’s always a bit nerve wracking to get to the location and corral up by myself. After such a surprisingly fast San Jose 408K, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially without a pacer. Before long I was budging up in the corral with a bunch of folks I had just met, making small talk and general chit chat. There were a few gals near me in Oakland Triathlon Club gear so I used that as a launching point to see if they knew my coworker Jessica. While they didn’t, it did make for a rather funny moment of the photographer snapping a picture of me with one of them. Nothing says “race day photos” like a picture of you with someone you met moments earlier!
After encouraging said gal to corral herself faster
(where she later placed fifth in her age group) I chatted with another We Run the Town challenger who, for whatever reason, helped set me a bit more at ease. Not everyone here right now has another race later, I told myself. Not everyone in this corral has more miles to come today. Don’t let them mess with your head. You do you.
Almost as soon as my self-coaching was over, they were counting us down and we were off!
The first mile I was certain my Garmin was crazy. Maybe it was everyone else around me, the adrenaline of it all, or feeling lost because I hadn’t given myself a proper game plan, but all I could think glancing at my pace was “That can’t be right, this can’t be right.” Unfortunately, those thoughts stayed with me, both regarding my pace and the mileage on the course. My watch chimed before the first mile marker came up. That set the tone for the rest of the race.
I won’t lie — in my head I was all over the place! Part of me wanted to push a little, part of me kept trying to get my legs and my mind to slow down. My Garmin had the course as being long by over half a mile, but post-race chatter tells me the overages varied. At any rate, a long course can be a surprise that wipes out the legs before we near the finish line. Heading into that territory but not crossing the border, I made it. It wasn’t till I was waiting for the half that I internalized my time.
Garmin splits: 4:57.8/ 6:34.6/8:15.5/6:41.9
Garmin time, distance: 26:30, 3.79mi
Chip time: 26:26
That second mile seems too fast, the first mile time improbable. At first I thought my Garmin may have not been fully connected to GPS when I started it, which was the only thing I could think of to explain what it read at the end of the race. Once I received my chip time I wasn’t sure what to think, and still am not. The math adds up. Am I really getting faster? If this time is real, it is my fastest 5K to date, an unintentional PR!
Notably, it was wonderful seeing so many young runners from Running for a Better Oakland on the course. Many were clearly very well trained and others were just plain fast! One of many reasons to try the 5K distance at the Oakland Running Festival is that it really gives a deep intersection of the incredible people of Oakland, as well as those who come to celebrate the city.
Overall, the 5K was flat, fast and had one crazy bottleneck that came back to haunt me later. It is definitely a road 5K I would consider running again even with the course overage, mostly because I am pro-Oakland and love the outdoor festival area of the race. It is however also partially because the race is basically at the doorstep of a good friend and running buddy, which increases the chances of having brunch at Timeless after. An honest review is important, which is why I’m keepin’ it real here.. (I also like to keep it real when I review races on BibRave, which I highly recommend.)
Next up on the blog: the Oakland Running Festival half marathon recap.
Did you run the Oakland Running Festival 5K? How do you feel about courses that are long, and would you run it again?