Everyone loves lists, right?
So here are my 26.2 impressions of the 2017 Oakland Marathon.
Or maybe 27 impressions…or 28. Let’s see how this thing goes.
First, some backstory (cuz everyone loves backstory as well!):
I knew when I signed up for this year’s marathon it would be as a training run. I’m running the Miwok 100k on May 6th and I think it would compromise that race if I pushed myself too fast in this marathon.
So my goal was to run the entire race with the 4 hour pace group. Last year I had the same goal and failed spectacularly to run an intelligent race.
On to the list!
START LINE: Waiting at the start, I wisely, sagely, place myself directly behind the pacer with the “4 hour” sign. I see the 3:45 sign and remind myself, “Miwok…Miwok…Miwok…”
MILE ONE: This year’s course is slightly different and we start by running along part of Lake Merritt. A gorgeous way to start!
MILE TWO: Despite the change to the course, we still do that silly diversion through Frank Ogawa plaza: sharp turns, jumping curbs, narrowly avoiding garbage cans and concrete pillars. Why do we do this every year?
MILE THREE: Cruising along, feeling great, beautiful morning!
MILE FOUR: I’m completely shocked to see a friend standing on the sidewalk and cheering us runners…I had no idea she would be here…AND it’s not even 8am…so cool!
MILE FIVE: There are disadvantages to being tucked into the middle of the pace group. For instance, that guy taking race photos cannot possibly see my bib # or even my face for that matter… I resolve to drop 10 to 15 yards behind the group before the next photographer.
MILE SIX: We reach the first hill. Bring. It. On.
MILE SEVEN: Disappointed to see that the local running store is not involved this year…nothing. Even though we run right past them twice during a little out-and-back section. In years past they handed out water and GU…what gives?
MILE EIGHT: The real hills begin. I decide to move ahead of the pace group because uphill is my strength. They’ll catch me on the steep downhill…
MILE NINE: Potty break. The pace group passes while I’m…uh…”busy.”
MILE TEN: Super amazing locals handing out gummy bears & cookies. They’re waving pompoms and cheering like mad! I LOVE this town! I speed up a tiny bit & catch the pace group.
MILE ELEVEN: Our first band! They. Are. Loud!
MILE TWELVE: Last real hill. I move ahead of the pace group again.
MILE THIRTEEN: My least favorite section…an extremely steep descent. I downshift into a lower gear and wait for the pace group to pass me again.
MILE FOURTEEN: The pace group did not catch me on the downhill. I look back and see them about 30 yards back. No worries. I start talking to a marathon virgin. She’s desperate for calories. She failed to bring any gels, the aid stations have not supplied any food yet, and she couldn’t eat breakfast due to nerves! I hand her one of my GU packets. Pretty sure I just made a friend for life!
MILE FIFTEEN: I peek behind me. The 4 hour pace group is hot on my heels.
MILE SIXTEEN: Some of THE BEST locals come out and cheer on this stretch. Lot’s of kids. Many high-5s are exchanged!
MILE SEVENTEEN: There is usually a group of locals playing music and dancing here…but not this year. I’m bummed.
MILE EIGHTEEN: This is always the quietest mile. Almost no one cheers. I’m used to it. Head down, keep moving.
MILE NINETEEN: We merge with the half marathon. Suddenly there are TONS of people in the road. The race organizers have mastered the merge and somehow we are all running about the same pace. Amazing!
MILE TWENTY: I look back and see…wait, what happened to my pace group?
MILE TWENTY-ONE: Gotta be honest here…I’m starting to get bored. Where are all the bands that have always been here in these last few miles? I need a running buddy!
MILE TWENTY-THREE: Looking forward to the last mile around Lake Merritt. In years past, there have been THOUSANDS of people cheering like mad!
MILE TWENTY-FOUR: I look back…no pace group in sight. I check my watch…I may be a couple minutes ahead of them, but it’s hard to do math right now.
MILE TWENTY-FIVE: I can see the lake and…where are all the people? Not nearly as many as last year…
MILE TWENTY-SIX: Cruising along beside Lake Merritt is an absolute joy! I can see the finish line…and here are the crowds! It’s so loud!
FINISH: I cross the finish line into a narrow chute packed with sweaty runners. We did it! I grab a banana, a water bottle, a protein bar and I collect my medal. For some reason, I want a coffee…
My goal was to run with the 4 hour pace group the entire race. I did not do this. Despite my best intentions, I lost them again. But I had a fantastic time! I did NOT run too fast. I finished strong and I was hurting just enough to know that I earned something significant. The marathon is a difficult thing…but such an amazing feeling to know I’ve finished this race EIGHT TIMES!
I’m smiling even before I find the coffee truck…
Final time: 3:57:45
Age Group Place: 19th
Mission accomplished & bring on the 100k!