Saturday was race day! As such it started very early – 5.10am. Grim. I was running it with Jen and her friend T, who I’ve never met but who kindly offered to give me a lift as she was coming my way. So at 6am I got into the car with a total stranger! Luckily, this total stranger was lovely! We swapped cars at Jen’s and piled into her car and headed to Point Pinole, a state park on a peninsula in the East Bay. It was FREEZING when we arrived but that’s preferable to being hot so we only moaned a little. Packet Pick-Up was easy – although we were somewhat dismayed at the colour of the race t-shirts. Chartreuse? Puce? Flattering on any skin-tone?
The only stress of the morning was the loo, as ever. I had to go one more time, but there was no loo-roll in the portaloo. Major stress, so I dashed up to the next set of loos and armed myself with some leaves and bark to use if there was none there either. Thank you race organisers…they’d refilled the loo-roll and I was much happier.
This race is a trail race. Very different from Crystal Springs – it’s mainly on fire road with a little single track and is theoretically pretty flat. The course is interesting – kind of butterfly shaped. You run two loops radiating from the start point…and then for the half-marathon, you run it again. So four loops. None of us really had plans for this race apart from to run it and see how we felt. I decided to stay with Jen so off we set.
It was harder than I’d anticipated! Whilst it was pretty flat, it was deceptively undulating. And whilst the hard-packed gravel on the fire road looked like a smooth running surface, gravel proved hard to run through – draining on the legs. Having said that, it was really pretty…we wound through lots of Eucalyptus trees which are always beautiful and then had some lovely bay views on the other stretch. I really enjoyed the location! We also struck gold with the weather…despite the chill before the race, it was utterly perfect once we got running!
The first loop seemed to take forever and I was a little disheartened when we got back to the start point ready for loop 2. However looking at my watch, we were a few minutes under the hour…which meant that we could push it for a sub-two finish. I really wanted Jen to go sub-two as she’s been a few seconds on the wrong side of it a few times. So I told her that if we pushed, we could do it and promptly turned into a British Military Fitness insutructor. (We had discussed this in advance so it wasn’t a total shock for the poor girl).
So Sergeant-Major Ramsden started ‘encouraging’ poor Jen to run faster. Firstly, I turned on one of my ‘best’ playlists for her enjoyment and motivation, using the inbuilt iPhone speakers. Then I told her to run faster on the downhills. I did quake a little inside and wonder if this would motivate her or if she’d want to murder me, it’s a tricky one, ‘encouraging’ a friend. We ended up with me running a few metres ahead for most of that second lap, with imaginary ropes pulling her along. My legs were tired and actually I really appreciated the motivation to push myself rather than coast along. Other runners seemed to enjoy the music too (I did keep an eye out for their reactions, I promise) although the parts where I would burst into song seemed less popular.
The last half-mile came up eventually – a relatively smooth trail and a downhill. I looked at my watch and realised that we could do it – it was 1.58 or so. So I yelled at poor Jen that she needed to run faster and she had this and then turned on the jets and ‘sprinted’ off, desperately hoping she was following me. I dashed through the finish line at 1.59.32 and turned to ‘cheer’ for Jen as she squeaked through on the cusp of two hours.
Once we’d recovered and I’d checked we were still friends, we found out that her watch said 1.59.59 but that we’d not run the full 13.1. She checked with the race director and nope, it was 12.9 miles. Agony! I would happily (kind of) have run an extra little loop around the finish line to get to the standard distance! However, the agony abated when I saw the spread ready for me to eat!
T sprinted through the line shortly afterwards! She smoked that finish line.
Once T had sprinted to the line, we headed off to Berkeley to eat mexican and meet Jen’s boyfriend. For his viewing pleasure, we all wore our new t-shirts! The food was GOOD, the coffee was STRONG!
All in all, this was a great race and I really enjoyed it. My legs feel like they had a good workout (seriously) and it was perfectly organised. Thank you Zoom Running Events, you did a great job. And those t-shirts? The colour’s actually growing on me and secretly I rather like it now. You win!
Ps….if you want to share my joy/Jen’s misery, the playlist in question is here! You’re so welcome.