I just realized I hadn't yet written up a review of the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda on June 5th. One reason is that it was almost exactly like last year and the year before . Another is that it took me so long to write up the Vermont reports. So this will be a report without pictures, just because I'm lazy. This is a very expensive race to run, so expectations were high.
The ways in which it was exactly like last year
1) early packet pickup at the store in Oakland (and available at the other stores); 2) goody bag made of plastic containing a Luna bar and not much else; 3) tech shirt in white with similar design to last year; 4) horrific lines to check sweats at the start; 5) stupid long lines for the porta potties at the start; 6) late start; 7) crowded path after the bridge; 8) abundant water stops; 9) abrupt stop after the finish; 10) I clocked the first mile .1 mile too long and the finish at 13.25 miles (even on tangents); 11) champagne glass with chocolate; 12) regular medal on a ribbon; 13) abundant finish area food; 14) many vendors selling stuff and/or giving samples.
The ways in which it was different from last year
1) the timing chips had to be picked up race morning, meaning another long line; 2) Anita and Bree were running this year; 3) there weren't enough volunteers, most of the water stops were self-service; 4) there were a lot more walkers and slow runners, so it was crowded for longer on the route; 5) the bubbly was free-flowing. Very free flowing; 6) it was hot and sunny.
I was overwhelmingly disappointed by the lack of course support. It's ridiculous to have to pour your own water as if it's a training run. Yes, there was plenty of water (and some electrolyte drink) available, but with only 2 volunteers at each table, they couldn't keep up with the crowds. I recognize that it was warmer than it had been and people were taking more than 1 cup at a time, but even so it was poorly planned.
The starting area is a mess. I've said it for the past 2 years and I'll say it again. They should have this down by now, the organizers should be able to have better flowing traffic and they should be able to start on time.
That said, I still like the route. Of course, it's almost exactly our normal Alameda training route, but I like it. It's pretty and scenic running along the Bay. It's fun to see all the regular people on the trail trying to figure out why there are so many women with numbers pinned on their chests. I like running in the middle of the street instead of on the canted parts. I love seeing women of all shapes and sizes and talents and ages running in a pack.
I didn't have an easy day, which I expected since I had run a full marathon less than a week earlier. Also, my lungs were still crapped up from the smoke in Vermont. We all ran together for a couple of miles, then Bree dropped back to a different interval. Anita and I ran together until about mile 8-9 where I just fell apart and told her to go ahead at her own speed. I walked for most of a mile but when I crossed the bridge for the final 3 miles I was able to start running again. My goal had been to finish the race under 3 hours and I didn't. According to Mr. Garmin, I finished the 13.1 miles under 3 but it took me a couple of more minutes to finish the long course and I'm a believer in official times.
Will we do it again? It's unlikely. It's a hell of a lot of money for a training run with fringe benefits. I don't like the shirts and I could buy lots of bottles of champagne for the entry fee. On the other hand, I like supporting women's races where any rookie can feel secure in her first race. But there are so many races out there, lots of competition for my buck, and I think they'll have to work harder for it.