Monday, March 23, 2015

Oakland Running Festival

This was my third year running the Oakland Running Festival's 5k. I always think that one year I want to do the half at this race, but then I remember that the half marathon distance starts at 9:15 am and that seems so ridiculously late to start running 13.1 miles.

I've been working on trying to regain my running speeds from last year; it's been an uphill battle for sure. I knew going into this race that I wouldn't be setting any personal records but I was hoping it would give me a good gauge on where I'm at and if I would see any improvements from the past couple of months.

I arrived in Oakland BFE to get good parking and nearly fell asleep in my car waiting for an appropriate time to get out of the car and brave the light mist that was falling. You know what's fun? Using a port-a-potty when it's still dark out. Thank goodness for the flashlight app! I cruised through the merchandise tent again because Corrigan Sports does a really nice job with their shirts and jackets, it's also a good way to kill time.

I wandered back up to the start line and checked my gear ahead of the marathoners starting. I must admit I'm a sentimental runner and I got a little misty watching them start their journey. The support from the community, race organizers, and OPD is overwhelming and genuine. It really is such a great day for runners and the community of Oakland. After the last brave soul headed out for their 26.2 miles I started a short warm up run and followed it up with some stretching. Once I was done 5k runners had already started to line up, so I worked my way through the crowds to place myself somewhere between the nine and ten minute mile markers.

It was a slow crawl to cross the start line as some of us were anxious to run and others just wanted to walk to the start line. I used the opportunity to control my pace; having big crowds ensures that you won't go out to hard. My goal was to not look at my watch and run based on feel since I had no idea what I would be capable of. I quickly remembered that this is the least straight course and it's impossible to run a clean line. I really didn't want to run this course long but with the crazy turns and switchbacks through the city, my chances were slim to none.

The first mile felt good and then we hit the long second mile where the scenery is less than entertaining. The Firehouse in this section was out and they were cheering us on. Everyone was so quiet so I yelled out "thank you!" which encouraged a few others to do the same. I always try to say thank you to the folks along the course who are supporting runners, because I do truly appreciate it.

I was doing a good job of not looking at my watch but I was counting blocks and paying attention to street signs to determine how much further until we hit the downhill section heading back towards Lake Merritt. At mile two my shoulder started to ache, which I realized meant that my form must have been suffering. I focused on holding my shoulders back and not slouching. Once I finally hit the downhill section I tried to take advantage as best as I could knowing that the final uphill to the finish line was going to hurt.

As I approached the hill that I had already run up during my warm up run I immediately got a cramp. Just another challenge to overcome, I moved up that hill as best as I could but clearly grimacing in pain. I just kept my head down and kept moving forward. Soon enough I crested the top of the hill and just needed to get my body across the finish line. I manged to fake a smile for the camera as I crossed the line.

Official time was 31:44, obviously not my best time but my an improvement over my last 5k, so progress is indeed being made. My nifty Garmin also flashed me a nice reminder that I had run the course long when it told me my 5k time was 30:46, sigh... if only I had really run 3.1 miles. I placed 44/604 in my age group. All things considered, I'm pretty happy with that!

Thanks to SunRype for allowing me to represent your brand; the fruit bars and strips were a huge hit!

As we move into April the focus moves to multi-sport where I will be swimming and running.

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