March 22, 2015

Oakland’s Run the Town Challenge

I must be crazy. I’m running at the Oakland Running Festival and doing it a little differently.

Here’s the We Run The Town Challenge: Run the 5k at 7:45am. Then run the Half Marathon at 9am.

I hadn’t done much the week prior as I was resting from a half marathon the weekend prior. I knew running ~17 miles was going to be my longest effort ever so rest was key. This was also a little nostalgic for me as this race last year was my first half marathon EVER.

I signed up for the challenge at the expo of the Golden Gate Half expo for ~$110 which isn’t that bad considering it’s essentially two races for one cost. 2 shirts, 2 medal, 2 courses… the only caveat is that it’s crammed into one day.

I wasn’t exactly training for this and had no clue how to prepare for such an event. Do you go out fast for the 5k then take it easy during the half? Does one try to PR both? I figured my legs are freshest first thing in the morning so I might as well try to do a great 5k and just hope my legs have enough to carry me through a half marathon.

This was the first year they were giving out medals for the 5k race and that alone attracted a huge crowd. I lined up with the 6:30min/mi pacers which seemed really aggressive at the time but out of the gates proved there were some slow runners to battle through. I really hate having to bob-and-weave through walls of people, walkers and considerably slower runners.

I felt like I was able to push through by the first mile though and my pace was quick. I felt great though! My music was hitting on all cylinders and motivated me to push it. I literally kept my eyes on the groups ahead of me and tried to feel like they were pulling me toward them.

I started to separate myself a bit nearing mile 3 when police officers, one on a motorcycle and one in a car, sped in front of me. The car blocked me from running through the underpass where the next group of runners just went through. The motorcycle officer was then pointing me to go through a side route where another officer was directing me back to the finish line. Oops!! Looks like they didn’t get to the course in time causing the front of the pack to run a little longer than they needed to.

The final stretch is a uphill climb that really hurts when you’re giving it your all. There was one runner to my left that was looking to push it too and I knew he was the runner I needed to beat mentally. We were stride for stride until the final 20 feet when I mustered up everything I had… and I did it! Crossing that line maybe two steps in front of him.

I wanted to vomit but I could barely catch my breath. I got my medal, grabbed some snacks and drinks then met up with Jen and the kids. Jen was impressed how early I crossed the finish line but I think the mix-up on the course let me cross earlier than other faster runners then ran a longer distance unknowingly.

I checked my time and HOLY SHIT, IT WAS A PERSONAL RECORD!! I’ll take it :)

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I had a little less than an hour before the half marathon. We got the kids situated for the kid’s fun run and just rested. Fueled back up and used the rest room one last time. Before I knew it, it was time for the half marathon runner to line up.

Ugh… He we go!

I looked around for pace runners but there were none faster than a 2:00 finishing time. I was going to be on my own for this one.

I was feeling pretty good for the most part. Feeling proud of my effort during the 5k, I was familiar with this course so I knew where I was and what parts were remaining. For a while there, I was thinking “How amazing would it be to PR the 5k and Half back to back like this”

Oh, wishful thinking…

By mile 8 I realized my pace was slipping away. By mile 10 my legs felt like they were weighted by concrete blocks. My pace was slipping away quickly now. I kept telling myself that it was almost over. Just a 5k remains… just 2 miles… just one more mile. When that same finishing hill was in front of me, it was everything I had left just to get up that damn thing. I could see the clock ahead. No PR possible. I took the final stretch nice and easy through the end.

I was awarded my challenge medal and half medal at the same time (my bib was a different color than the half runners so they spot us crazy runners easily). I again grabbed snacks and drinks then met up with my cheering squad. Jen was really impressed but I can’t lie that I was secretly hoping I could have done a little better to PR the half too. Considering I was really training, this was still a great effort.

When I looked at the overall standings for the challenge event, I was SHOCKED to see that I came in FOURTH overall. They combined your times for both events then ranked runners. FOURTH out of more than 100 other runners. By now, I’m feeling really good about my efforts.

We hung out with the kids in the park after… drank some beers, showed off our medals and just enjoyed the sun. It was another great day of running filled with accomplishments.

My one gripe: The 5k medal and the half marathon medal were WAY too similar.

I love this race. But I’m not doing that challenge race again… well, at least not next year.

Event Standings

  • Overall: 4th of 154
  • Age Group: 4th of 63

Official Times

  • 5k Official Time: 00:21:10 (21st of 3008)
  • Half Marathon Official Time 01:42:11 (232 of 3208)
  • Total Time: 02:03:21

The other big winners were Miles and Olivia who ran the kid’s fun run. It warms my heart that they love to run “like daddy” :)

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