Oakland Half Marathon

Where do I start?

I think I start with an apology to the people of Oakland for my low, snooty opinion about your city. Its people are amazing. The crowd support today was spectacular and much needed!

Anyway…yesterday, I headed over to Oakland for the expo. I have really mixed feelings about expos. It was a pain in the bum to drive 45 mins each way, pay a bridge toll and parking in order to get my number. But I did enjoy the expo and did come away feeling all excited and hyped. I also signed my little boy up for his first race – his face, when he saw his number, was adorable!

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Me and the Dude’s hero – the Geico Gecko
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Flipping loved the slogan on this T-shirt!
Made me feel really strong just reading it!

The race started at 9.15 today, so we had a relatively leisurely start. We parked up, walked to the staging area and got ready for the kids race and my race! Numbers on, shades on…two cool Ramsdens ready to rock and roll.

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Our time in Japan is still influencing us!
I LOVE this picture.

The start was fantastic. A little chaotic, people crowding onto the road, but we had the national anthem, some hyping up and a ticker tape explosion!! And then we were off.

It goes without saying that I started too fast. Significantly so. I hurtled through the streets like a girl on fire. The course is incredibly twisty and turny, I did my best to run the tangents but failed miserably. But I was having fun. Until I nearly got run over by a dwarf. I stand the chance of offending people big time so I apologise in advance if I use the wrong words…but basically a dwarf gentleman was heading towards the runners on a tiny wheelchair. I thought he was going to stop, but no, he clearly wanted to cross the road and headed straight for me! I yelped and had to jump a bit to miss him. From the yelps behind me, he charged at a number of us! Adrenaline kicked in!

The first few miles went through downtown Oakland and the locals turned out in force to cheer, they were amazing. All the churches we passed had people outside cheering (and inviting us to come to church next Sunday for Easter). I was feeling strong, I was fast, I was unstoppable.

By mile four I was less strong, fast and unstoppable. I had settled into roughly an 8.35 pace and was comfy enough holding it but I was working. In my head, I was cruising towards an amazing PR and I was so excited about it! I started drafting my triumphant blog post.

By mile 7, things were less speedy. I’d slowed down a little but was still on course for a PR, if not a dramatic one. We passed by this amazing sight of what can only be described as an iron dragon breathing fire, with a guy and some decks on top playing some dark music. It was like a scene from Blade Runner, it was fab! But people were starting to pass me, instead of me passing them. This got me down but I tried to hunker down and run my race. I was seeing my boys at mile 10 and I was looking forward to seeing them.

From mile 9 onwards, things went downhill. I was tired, I had gone out waaay too fast. It was also hot – that 9.15 am start suddenly didn’t seem like a good idea. I was struggling a little. Seeing my boys cheering at mile 10 was wonderful but the last three miles wound round beautiful Lake Merritt and it felt like the lake would go on forever. I had slowed down significantly, I felt like I was going backwards.I wanted badly to walk but refused to let myself. I didn’t have to run fast but I had to keep running. I watched as people passed me and my PR faded away. It was kind of soul-destroying.

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Looking much stronger than I felt!

The last mile was about three miles long. Eventually I got to the 13 mile marker and saw that the final 0.1 mile was uphill. Brutal. Nasty! My boys were at the bottom, cheering loudly but I slogged slowly up the hill and crossed the line. My watch said 1.59.18 and my chip time was 1.59.14.

I was done at the end. Really tired. This had been a hard run for me. Mentally I struggled. I cruised round Healdsburg, it was almost easy. I’d kind of expected the same feeling today. But no. I was disappointed by my time.

I was enormously cheered up to see Angela at the end – she had unofficially PRd and told me the course was long! We then found my boys, and soon enough Jen came through as well! I was SO happy to see these girls – I don’t have many running friends and seeing them afterwards made my day. We staggered down to the beer tent (each runner got two free beers). The Husband got one beer and I cashed in the other ticket for a (maybe unwise) glass of pink sparkling wine. Nice!

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Sweaty hugs at the end!
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Me, Jen and Angela
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Angela, Jen’s boyfriend and friend and Jen herself!

The other really exciting thing about today was the Dude’s first race. I was kind of heartbroken not to be there, I have to admit. He crushed it – it was 100 yards long but up that final hill, which seems a little cruel for a toddlers’ race! Watching the footage in the car on the way home, I cried a bit, I was so proud of him running the whole way. He got a cute little medal and was SO proud of himself.

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On the start-line
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At the finish line
My heart kind of bursts at this photo

A few hours later, I’m kind of better about my time. Interestingly, when I synched my Nike Plus, it told me that I’d run 13.1 in 1.55.44 – I ran half a mile extra.

I am mainly disappointed that I started out so fast and then crashed and burned. I should have known better not to get dragged along on adrenaline. That was stupid. But it was a hard race for me and I kept running and kept running and I’m proud of that!

A few thoughts on the race itself…really well organised, amazing volunteers, loads of water stops, some fantastic sights along the course and mind blowing crowd support. The people of San Francisco could learn a lot from the people of Oakland in that respect! There were some great bands along the course, including some fantastic drummers, and one girl I spotted three times around the course with her cheer-leader pompoms. That kind of dedication is amazing. I had a good time! The swag was good..a lovely, heavy medal and a cool shirt that fits really nicely!

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Thank you again to my patient husband and son for their support.

My legs ache πŸ˜‰ And I’m ravenous!!

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    First, I have good news for you. I looked up your time and your “net time” (which is your chip time) is 1:59:14! So you did OFFICIALLY run a sub-2, and on a long course at that! Fantastic job!

    Second, can I just copy your recap and repost it? Because I felt almost the exact same way about everything – from the renegade “little person” (that’s the PC term) on his wheel chair to the too fast start to the endless trek around the Lake. You pretty much described my race to a tee – except 5 minutes slower!

    It was so great to see you and your lovely family! We’ll have to avenge ourselves at the SF Half!!

    1. Cathryn says:

      OOOOH….you made my day!!! I didn’t realize! That makes me feel MUCH better! And OH MY WORD the little person! I keep giggling whenever I think about that! SO good to see you too! xxx

  2. Angela says:

    Even though it didn’t go exactly how you wanted, I think this race bodes well for future halfs — specifically ones that are cooler and not several tenths too long! (And I still think you had an “unofficial” PR as well. πŸ˜‰ )

    1. Cathryn says:

      My unofficial time was 10 secs off my PR so that’s positive. And I think you’re right, there is a lot of good in the nitty gritty of the race, just some ridiculous issues with pacing!! Oh well…

  3. Bean says:

    Even though you feel like you didn’t rock this race you still did great! Love that picture of the little guy with his medal. SO Cute!

    1. Cathryn says:

      There’s a lot of positives to take out of it, if I can just learn not to fly out the stalls like a racehorse!! yeah, the Dude’s first race was a triumph…at least one of us knows the meaning of ‘pacing themselves!

  4. Your son equals cuteness supreme. I love his sunglasses. And those race shirts are really cool too. We always have the worst artwork for race shirts around here. And I am right there with you on not being able to figure out how to not go out too fast. I always do it and always regret it later. But it sounds like their distance was off for this race, so there is some comfort in that.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you! We like him!! There’s a lot of positives that came out of a disappointing overall time…lots to think through!! And yep, it was a long course! Obviously I would have killed it otherwise πŸ™‚

  5. bt says:

    Great to meet you and congrats on pushing to such a good performance on a difficult day.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, you too!!!! Congrats on your race as well…it was hot!

  6. Cate says:

    Oh my goodness your boy is SO CUTE!
    Congratulations on a strong race (even if it didn’t feel that way at the end!) One of these days we’ll finally meet!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you for the support…and the comment about the Dude. We like him lots! Hopefully see you at a race soon…

  7. Nic J says:

    Well done Team Ramsden! Proud of you both, time or no time!!!

  8. RoseRunner says:

    Your apology to Oakland is accepted. Silly, you shoulda known it rocks here! 1) eff that long course man. You ran 13.6?!? So not awesome. I ran 13.41. Also not awesome. 2) get used to seeing 7:xx on your watch. Now that you have broken that barrier, you know it can be done, and you will do it again and again. 3) you are friends with Jen!? Yay! love Jen.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Jen is fab, I agree!! I am confident the 7.xx was due to lost satellites in the tunnel but for a few minutes, looking at my splits, I considered the Olympic trials!

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