Last Wednesday I trekked into Oakland to pick up my race packet for the See Jane Run Half Marathon. Packet pick-up was at their Oakland store either Wednesday or Friday, in SF in Thursday or before the race on Saturday. I decided to get it out of the way early. It's a nice little store with a very good selection of athletic clothing, shoes and gear. Including a rack with large sizes, yay. There was a table set up where they were handing out bibs, shirts and goody bags. The shirts were a light-weight tech fabric, short sleeved and v-necked, in white. The back is blank and the front had their race motto: "I run for champagne and chocolate." I had ordered a large size and it was very large. Too bad it's white; we know how I feel about white running shirts. I'll probably wear it at home for cross training though. The goody bag itself (which they ran out of before Saturday, although an email has already been sent saying they'll be mailed out to those who didn't get them) was a wonderful reusable shopping bag. It had the saying "A Fit Woman is a Powerful Woman" and all the letters were pictures of women athletes. Very cool. Inside was some literature, race announcements, a couple of samples, a Luna Bar and a discount coupon for See Jane Run Sports. At least as nice as you'd get at bigger races.
Early Saturday morning I carpooled to the start with Bree and Sandy. We drove around for a while, looking for street parking, and it was tight. There was apparently a lot charging for parking but we wanted a free spot. We finally got one and walked over to the start area. There was a humongous line for the porto potties so Sandy and I stood there while Bree went to pick up our chips.
While we were standing and waiting Cynthia joined us in line as we inched forward. It didn't take too long and then we headed toward the start line. There were signs with pace but they were really close together. We lost Cynthia, but Bree and Sandy and I lined up together.
The weather was cool, about 50 degrees, and completely overcast. The wind was strong and swirly and could become an issue later. I wore shorts, a short sleeved shirt, a disposable poncho and gloves. The gun went off and woosh, so did Bree and Sandy. Mr. Garmin told me they were going about an 11:15 mile pace so I hung back and got into my own pace.
There seemed to be about 1000 women running the race (oh, did I mention? It was a woman-only race.) and the race results show 995 finishers. Pretty impressive for a small race. It was crowded but I was still able to get into my rhythm without too much weaving and bobbing. A lot of women were run:walking but they were mostly being good about getting out of the way then they slowed down. Mostly.
My plan was to 9:1 it for as long as I could, hopefully not have to walk any additional time because of my knee or my breathing. It worked out well and I managed to stick with it the entire race. The course was a typical Alameda run except for some back and forthing in a couple of business parks. I got totally confused at a couple of points but there was very good course control. At any corner with a questionable turn there were people directing runners and stopping traffic to let us by. I didn't see any markings on the street but maybe I just missed it. It didn't make any difference since the traffic directors and police were very efficient.
Water stops were about every 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 miles apart. They all had water, some electrolyte drink and Gu. Different flavors of Gu were at each table so it was easy to get what I wanted, even though I had some of my own. I was tired and heavy-footed so I took my own Gu on a shorter schedule than I'm used to, about every 40 minutes instead of 50 or 60, hoping the calories and sugar would pep me up.
There was very little crowd support except for some family members cheering on their mom/wife/sister/daughter/friend. These people cheered for everyone and it was nice to see them. Except for one woman at about the 6 mile mark who kept shouting "you're almost there" and I wanted to "almost there" her upside the head. I couldn't restrain myself from telling her to not say that, we were way the hell not almost there. A woman running next to me cracked up and agreed that "almost there" only counted when you could see the finish area.
The sky remained overcast, with maybe a little bit of moisture falling here and there (although that could have been sweat falling). The wind was an issue mostly because I have problems with my allergies and asthma when wind blows into or across my face. I think for a large part of the race the wind was like that, with a couple of short distances of tail wind. My breathing was crappy but I tried not to let it slow me down. I had ditched the poncho after about a mile, dropped one glove after a couple of miles, tossed the other glove after about an hour and a half.
I was happy to finally head back over the bridge, knowing there were only a few miles left. There was a lot of slant on the roads and I tried to run at the crest. I also tried to take every single tangent there was. Mr. Garmin told me that around 6 miles I had run .1 mile more than posted and after that I noticed the mile markers were almost all correct. They were just little signs stuck on pylons and there seemed to be 1 or 2 missing.
I finally got to the park, got to the finish area, crossed the line. I was handed my very cool finisher medallion, a sterling silver charm on a black cord: But they were out of chocolate.
I finished in 2:49, a good time for me. I had basically sprinted the last mile, while needing to walk, because I wanted to break 2:50. I don't know why I needed to do that, but it was a mental thing. I stuck with my game plan throughout, walking only at my 1 minute interval or through the couple of water stops where I got water. Otherwise I ran whether I was wheezing or not, whether my knee hurt or not (and after mid-way it hurt a lot), whether I wanted to stop or not. I was very pleased with my finish time.
After I walked off my little last-mile sprint, I looked over the food to see what was good. They had cut up bagels (3 flavors), some fruit, yogurty things, no chocolate. We walked around the booths and got our champagne. There was about 2 ounces in a glass, perfect. It's the principle of the thing: if a race has free champagne (or beer) at the end you have to drink it. Even if you're feeling like you'll puke it back up. Heh. I just thought of it as bubbly rehydration. We walked around the area and tried to find the chocolate but it was gone. Long gone.
It was still cold out, we were tired, so we didn't hang around too long. All in all, a good morning. My knee was aching, my lungs hurt, I was cold and tired and very happy that I'd been able to run another race. I think the race was well done for a small club-type race.