So I had an A,B and C goal for the Bank of the West 5k at the Oakland Running Festival.
A) A PR… 24.49.
B) Anything under 25.
C) The solid knowledge that I ran my socks off and couldn’t have done any more.
The day before the race, the Dude and I went up to Oakland to the expo to get my number. It’s definitely annoying, to have to trog up there both days, but it’s also lovely to hang out with friends. We met up with Jen and also Debbie, who would be running her first ever 26.2 the next day!! It also got me VERY fired up to run!!
Then came race day.
When the alarm went off at 5.15, I really didn’t want to get up and run. I never do. But up I got. I got dressed, made tea, had breakfast, kissed my husband and got in the car for the drive over to Oakland. I’ve learned to allow an extra ten minutes for an emergency bathroom stop and so I made it to Oakland bang on time. Super chuffed with that 🙂 I joined the other sleepy runners heading like zombies over to Snow Park and got there just in time to watch the marathon start! And boom, just like that, I was wide awake, buzzing on adrenaline and ready to go! I tried to find Debbie, running the marathon but didn’t get to see her in the crowd. The National Anthem was sung, the klaxon went off and off they all went!
In the half hour between the marathon start and the 5k start, I managed to find Jen and her lovely boyfriend. I dropped my bag at the bag check and we joined the throngs lining up in the corrals. Jen and I were both gunning for sub-25 so we lined up at the 8 min mile marker. We’re not used to lining up so far at the front so felt a little daunted but we knew we were in the right place. I took a gel, put my headphones in. Hugs. The klaxon went off. Boom.
Mile One wound its way through Oakland city centre. It was VERY bendy. Lots of turns. Jen and I had both memorized the turns in our heads and that definitely helped me position myself for the tangents. The first hundred yards were crowded and I felt like I was going too slow. I also felt incredibly thirsty – my mouth was SO dry. I even considered getting a drink at the aid station in the first mile. I didn’t, but I’d somehow under-hydrated dramatically.
There were loads of kids running this race – small ones, big ones and teenagers. I LOVE seeing kids run but some of them were all over the place, cutting in front of runners. One kid nearly tripped me up so I yelled at him…and then I felt guilty. I’m a mum, I’m a teacher, I shouldn’t have yelled! Another teenager kept looking behind him and nearly tripped over some cones…it was all quite dramatic. I kept running hard, aware that I wasn’t running hard enough. We ran down some narrow streets where people crowded together, it was all a bit awkward. Eventually it straightened out a bit and I was able to run harder. There was a U-turn (!) and I maneuvered my way round that better than I’d hoped. I saw Jen just 50 yards or so behind me and we waved! And then I turned onto 11th St which was totally straight for about a mile. Oh the relief!
The relief was short-lived. There was a headwind. Not murderous but definitely notable so I was having to run harder here than I’d expected. It was slightly downhill for this stretch so I’d expected to be able to push and to fly a bit…having to push and NOT fly was a bit disheartening. I didn’t check my watch at all, but I knew that I was slower than at parkrun. I told myself to just keep pushing, that’s all I could do.
At about 2.5, we turned left towards the lake and it was a definite downhill here so I tried to push harder. By this point, I was all spitty (does anyone else find that when they run hard, there’s saliva all over the place? Or is that just me?) and I was working so hard. I kept pushing but I wasn’t feeling it at all by this point, especially as I knew the hill was waiting for me! I was a bit despondent but I kept going. I knew that if both my A and B goals were beyond me, I needed to have the knowledge that I’d kept running as hard as I could.
Then, finally we turned left for the final quarter-mile up that hill! It was both worse and better than I’d expected, to be honest. I thought it would be steeper so I was relieved to find it more runnable than I’d hoped. However I had nothing left in me so I just gritted my teeth and plodded up as fast as I could. Everyone around me literally changed gear and SHOT up the hill – I watched as people I’d run the whole race with just left me for dust. I saw Jen pass me on my left like someone had put a motor on her. Inside I was cheering wildly for her, but on the outside I was puffing, panting, spitting and fading! The hill leveled out and I saw the clock and the finish line…24.50 and ticking away! It was enough to put a rocket up my arse so I found myself sprinting (relatively speaking) for the line. I knew Jen had done it as I could see her stopped on the other side. I crossed the line at 25.03 and stopped my watch, wondering if those few seconds it had taken us to cross the start line would be enough for my first official sub-25. It took me a minute to catch my breath and recover enough to dare glance at my watch. And then I did.
Flipping squeaked it! Massive grins. Saw Jen. Massive sweaty hugs all round. Her first sub-25, my first official one. SO proud of her and so hugely relieved for myself!
After the race, we caught up with Jen’s boyfriend and then his sister who had also run and then eventually his dad, who had run it too! They all headed off, and we bumped into BT who was going to run the half-marathon which started half an hour later. Jen was also running it as part of the We Run This Town challenge (the 5k and the half-marathon on the same day). Crazy ladies! I was in desperate need of coffee so left them and got myself some caffeine from a food-truck and then headed back to the start line to watch the girls set off! I was hugely grateful I didn’t have to run it myself!
On the way home, I basked in that lovely glow of an achieved goal. I hadn’t PRd today but that didn’t bother me. I’d hit my sub-25 goal and I was over the moon about that!
There’s some confusion about my exact time. According to my Garmin, I ran 3.18 miles in 24.59 at a 7.52 pace. My splits were: 7.40, 8.00, 7.50. If I’d run today’s pace for 3.1 miles exactly, my time would have been 24.23, so I feel like I can take even more time off my PR on an easier course in the future. However, on the official results, my time is 24.58 for 3.1 miles at an 8.03 pace.Whatever the numbers, it was all good!
I was even more delighted to check my online results (obsessively, in case it changed to 25.01) and realised I’d come 2nd out of the 217 ladies in my 40-45 age-group. I know that 24.58 (my official time) isn’t exactly going to qualify me for Rio but I’m kind of blown away by this. I was SO unsporty as a child and a teenager, and I still very much think of myself as very much a mid-pack runner…to think that I’d come 2nd out of 217 is hard to grasp, but totally thrilling. Apparently awards will be distributed in April once results are finalised.
As ever, the Oakland Running Festival was flawlessly organised – I can’t fault it at all. A note that may be useful to future runners. If you use the bag-check facility, be sure to bring a different bag to the bag you’re given at the expo. I used my (very nice) expo bag, but so did everyone else and it took the ladies a good 10 minutes to find my bag. I’m grateful they found it, but if I’d used something bright and different to everyone else’s, I could have spared them that challenge.
Frankly, it was an awesome day. I was so excited for Jen and for Debbie (who ran her first marathon in just under 4 hrs 30). I’m going to spend the next week recovering and running for fun and my next goal race is the Danville 10k at the end of May so I’ll be working up a training plan for that. I learned a lot over the past 12 weeks and I’ll incorporate those lessons into my next training plan. But for now, I’m signing off HUGELY relieved and satisfied!
Quarter One Goals, I’m nearly done with you!