The Russian River is an amazing place. The past two winters, while California struggled in a long drought, rainstorms upstream turned Guerneville (former home of the swim start for the Vineman) and Monte Rio into Atlantis – that is, they were momentarily underwater. These towns are used to the river overflowing its banks, however, and are resilient. Monte Rio was quiet as ever (though overrun by a bunch of triathletes) as I prepped for my second Olympic distance race.
That’s always funny because I do not like the track.
I was bitten by a yellowjacket on the way there (jerk, and you’re not even dead because there was no stinger left behind) and then I tried to eat a bug on the way back.
But the workout was good, so at least there’s that?
Big weekend: masters swim / OWS with OTC / Oakland Tri bike preview / Pokemon Go with the sister all happening before 1 pm on Saturday. Plus I need some saddle time on the ghost pepper. I don’t know what’s in store for Sunday, though!
I learned a big lesson from this race. Without support, you cannot succeed.
You may have read about my blister. Or maybe you saw my post about my flu-turned-cough? Ya. One of those turned out to affect me a whole lot more than expected. Had I not started the race with a group of teammates, and been found by another teammate, I probably would have written this as soon as possible and literally left it at “I am never running again” – oh ya, that good.
This year, runners had the option to attend an Erdinger-hosted Happy Hour on Friday for packet pickup. Since I live in Oakland, I decided that I’d run to the Expo as a tune up on Saturday. That worked out really well! Nice 2.5 mile jog (that’s a soft ‘j’), picked up my packet, strolled through the vendors, and caught the bus home. Uneventful, easy, well-planned. Corrigan knows what they’re doing.
One of the best parts about the half marathon in the Oakland Running Festival is the start time – 9:10 am. Well, ok, maybe that’s a tough part on hot days in March, but this year it was going to be cool outside so no complaints. This also means that there’s an option to tackle the “Run the Town” Challenge and run the 5k at 7:30 am and then head back to the start for the half marathon. I am crazy, but I am not totally crazy, so no, I did not participate in this challenge. But! I was able to warm up before my own race by heading down the hill to Peet’s, grabbing a coffee, laugh at cheer for the marathoners at mile 3, and make my way to the start with plenty of time!
After the flu and blister setbacks, I decided I’d push my pace back a little bit. I didn’t want to blow up at the start and have to walk in the second half of the race. I lined up with the 11:10 min/mile pace alongside a bunch of OTC teammates – it was one of their birthdays!
We heard words from the Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaff, the National Anthem, and the race started. I was very happy joining my teammates through the streets of downtown Oakland – they were following a run-walk plan and I was just cooling my pace down a bit while they were walking. Another teammate found us (we’re pretty recognizable) right around mile two, when the ladies ducked into Taco Bell for a pit stop. I could not stop laughing, but *spoiler alert* they had the right idea.
My teammate and I continued on our way, pretty solidly on pace. I felt great as we looped back toward downtown and passed my mom. We were really doing pretty solid! Then my buddy broke off for a pit stop, and I continued on, starting to feel really really warm. I took my long sleeves off around mile five and tied the shirt around my waist.
Then I hit mile six.
Out of nowhere – place your bets on blister or flu here – I could not breathe. It felt like I was having an asthma attack, which hasn’t happened to me since I was swimming at Tufts in Hamilton Pool. So, I walked. Felt a little better, started running, and then couldn’t breathe. So I walked again.
If you wanted to read a post inspired by a broken record, I could outline the rest of the course for you. Instead, here are some highlights:
First, this glorious shot:
My buddy caught back up to me at mile six. Unfortunately for him, his calf was starting to really act up, because he had raced the 5k that morning. Fortunately for me, he had raced the 5k that morning and his calf was acting up – otherwise I would have been left in his dust. This also meant that he was 100% in support of run-walking.
The birthday crew caught back up to us shortly after, and carried us in their wake to the Crucible – definitely a highlight of the Oakland Running Festival. Sorry to my teammate who I totally blocked in the pictures…
At West Oakland BART, a bunch of people were handing out daffodils to the runners. It was cute and a nice gesture, but I can’t imagine running with a flower! I’m sure the photos were awesome.
There’s a long straight stretch on Mandela Parkway, and at the end someone had set up a giant mister to cool all the runners off. It was definitely warm for me at that point, so that was very welcome.
THERE WAS ALSO A MINIATURE PIG on Mandela Parkway. Yelling “PIG ON A LEASH” will definitely get your competitors attention!
Lots of churches had people outside handing out water – that was also really nice of them, since we ran by during a probably fairly inconvenient time on a Sunday morning!
At mile twelve, the sky opened up and it POURED. It was like an East Coast rain storm! We got to run in the rain for the next 1.1 miles.
My buddy and I managed to run up the last hill to the finish – at least we didn’t have to walk over the finish line.
Like I said, I learned a lot this race. Had I not had a teammate next to me for the last seven miles, I would have DNFd. There’s no shame in a DNF – and I should have taken one. How do I know that? I got to take my first trip to the medical tent after the race because of…well, dizziness? And maybe some return of liquids that I didn’t think I’d see again.
I really wanted to stick around and enjoy the party, but I couldn’t. I knew I needed to get home and warm up, get in bed, and let my body calm back down.
Was I sore? No. Was I tired after my nap? Not really. So that tells me I was pretty prepared for my race – my lungs just couldn’t handle it after that flu.
Lesson Learned 1: Listen to your body. I refused to believe my body when I was sick. I kept going in to work (new job and all) and kept having to leave early. If I had taken care of myself day one of feeling crappy, I may have had a shorter cycle of the flu.
Lesson Learned 2: Race with what you’ve got. If there were a 10k in the ORF, I think I would have dropped down to that. But that wasn’t an option. So I should have either deferred or dropped to the 5k. But I was (unreasonably) determined and pushed too hard.
Lesson Learned 3: Look at the bigger picture. So despite being sick and walking the second half of the race, I came out of it only four minutes slower than my first attempt. That first attempt had me walking, too, and I could barely walk the next day. This year? Stayed on pace, walked, had dealt with the flu, and I could walk the next day. I’m pretty happy with where my fitness is, but now this race will just be looming as something I need to conquer (still)!
Time flies. We’re officially less than a week to the Oakland Running Festival.
And somehow, my blister is healed and my flu is now just a little cough (oh KJ, ye of little faith). I’m terrified that I’m not ready because I basically missed the past two weeks of training (eff you, blister and flu) but at least I know I can finish the race. I know what to expect, I know there are lots of turns and long straight aways, I just have to make it through!
My favorite part of this race is that it finishes around Lake Merritt. If you follow me on Strava, then you know that Lake Merritt is included in…what, 90% of my runs? And that when I’m adding volume, I front-stack that volume so I’m wrapping up my run around the lake. My last long run was nine miles – I figure that if I can make it through that (yes, KJ, you can do that), then all I have left is my regular old Lake Merritt route, and I can do that in my sleep.
I’m also planning on running with the pace group. Originally, my goal was to run with the 2:20 group and hope to hold on in the last mile. After the month I’ve had, I realized I needed to adjust that goal to the 2:30 group at the least. That should land me comfortably around 11:30 min/mile, which I should definitely be able to keep up with. I’ve never run with a pace group before, though, so I’m a little unsure of what to expect! Any suggestions?
Are you racing this Sunday? Either in Oakland or elsewhere? If so, good luck!
What a rollercoaster the past few weeks have been!
My knee was not too thrilled to be a part of my body the past few weeks. Something was funky, something was weird. I probably should have visited the doctor (do as I say, not as I do), but I didn’t… it seems like it may have worked itself out! Unfortunately, not with enough time to complete the Merry Miles I committed myself to, but I am so glad to know about it and will try to spread a smile on all my workouts going forward.
I took a few weeks off of activity all together. I had some sheer nuttiness in my life (which, for privacy’s sake, I can’t delve into), but there were days when I wished I could have run but knew I shouldn’t. Those were tough! Plus, it’s been too dark (and cold) here when I’m home to get a ride in, so that wasn’t an option.
Christmas Day was my first run back. I did my two-mile “around the block” run – it’s all right turns so I don’t have to wait at any major traffic lights – and to be honest, my knee didn’t feel great starting at the first half mile. I got back out there the next day, and my knee kept feeling like it was going to hurt. You know that feeling? Where something feels off and it seems like it may need to pop or tweak or something… but it doesn’t go away? Fortunately it was fine! And I had a good run! Feel free to keep me accountable and check my Strava.
TODAY was even better news! I started my (ohgodisthisreal) half marathon schedule today with a three-miler on the treadmill, and it wasn’t miserable AND my knee was totally fine! I’m on a cloud right now and super thrilled. Shout out to Mike and Eric for keeping me positive and all the great advice!!
I hope you guys had a great holiday season! Did you get any cool triathlon / running / athletic gear for your winter holidays? I did not, but I did receive a gorgeous wool blanket and I am totally obsessed with it.
So, recap: I failed Merry Miles, but my knee isn’t killing me anymore. Great success. Oh – and I don’t have any good running pictures, so here’s me and the baby kitty we rescued (she’s doing so much better!
Well, this morning was a run where everything was set up to go perfectly and it really didn’t go well at all.
Gah. I’ll keep this short. I feel like I wasted my good gear on a crappy run. I know that’s not really how it works, but I’m not sure how else to express it. I was planning on running a 7-mile loop through Piedmont and around Lake Merritt – the same route I ran on Thanksgiving. Put on my cushioned shoes, warm socks, favorite shorts and top, and started the run. Piedmont Ave was really busy but I dealt with it, dodging shoppers and walkers – no big deal – but I think I started out too quickly. I don’t know. Two miles in, my knee was aching every single step.
I’m frustrated because I can’t pinpoint what’s wrong, I’m frustrated because I got my good gear all sweaty for a short run, and I’m frustrated because I didn’t get to finish my whole run.
I’m currently icing my knee. Here’s hoping it’s doing way better tomorrow!