Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Inaugural Oakland Running Festival - HILLS!

Most people would associate hills in the Bay Area with San Francisco, right? Yeah, well, the SF Marathon last July couldn't hold a candle to the nastiness of the Oakland hills yesterday - yikes!

Although I'd seen the course map, I was totally unprepared for the reality of the hills. The first part of the course through mile 4 was fine, with just some gentle rolls through the neighborhoods. The terrain got a bit steeper up to mile 6 as we approached and ran through Temescal Park. Miles 6 - 8 got even nastier, and just when you thought it was all over (ha!), miles 8 - 10 led through the aptly-named Mountain Boulevard, which was enough to destroy both quads and soul. *sigh*

The view of the entire Bay as we descended by the Mormon and Greek Temples was almost enough to make up for the effort of the ascent. ALMOST enough... Not really... Especially since it really sucks to have completely fatigued legs when you're only 10 miles into a 26.2 mile race. *another sigh*

I walked the last of the 2 nasty hills in a vain attempt to save my legs for the rest of the course, but by then it was just too late. The descent was actually challenging as well, since it was rather steep and very long. The flatlands at the end were a welcome relief but not enough to refuel the tank.

So... let's chalk this up to a great learning experience, shall we? I ended up walking & trotting (yeah, couldn't really even call that running) for the second half of the race. Not pretty. But I wasn't alone - I ended up with a little group of folks in the same situation, and I even passed some other disappointed full marathoners as well as several half marathon walkers during the last 5 miles or so. And I managed to jog (maybe even run?) for the final blocks to the 26-mile marker and the finish - yay!

Observations & Lessons Learned
  • Dr. J's body doesn't like long, continuous hills
  • Mental determination only goes so far in keeping the legs going
  • Challenging courses are a true test of perseverance
  • Oakland neighborhoods have major community spirit - awesome support with cheering, food, drinks, & music
  • Running through confetti at the start is super-fun
  • Spectators who offer sunblock at the start are much appreciated
  • Having a half-marathon begin 90 minutes after a marathon is extremely helpful for race logistics (not to mention traffic control at the porta-potties)
  • Finishing an hour later than usual (5:18:02 - 12:08 pace) isn't so bad considering the body fatigue and amount of walking
  • It's crucial to have a supportive partner, especially when your calves cramp up to the point of falling down when you're walking back to the hotel afterwards
  • I'm still not sure that beer is the most useful mid-race or post-race beverage to offer
  • Long-sleeved technical tees with thumb-holes are awesome when they actually fit right
  • I liked being in the "finish with a smile" impromptu Pace Group (my term), and I actually did finish with a smile
  • Most runners were really conscientious about trying to dispose of their trash in the numerous receptacles along the course (though I did end up with 2 gloves full of Cliff wrappers by the end)
  • No matter how the training goes, you just never know what you'll get on race day
  • I'm glad the Chicago course will be mostly flat