Yesterday, I participated in the 2nd annual Oakland Running Festival by running a half marathon.
A half what? A half. MARATHON. Like, one of those things that crazy people do.
For weeks leading up to it, it was pretty much all I could think about. People would ask how I was and I’m all “Yeah. I’m freaking out. Half marathon.” Meeting someone for the first time, it’s “Hi, I’m Maggie. I’m running a half marathon for the first time.”
The day got closer and closer. For perhaps the first time ever in my life, I was dreading the weekend.
I had dreams about runs that would never end.
We ate some pasta on Saturday night, went to bed, got up at 7 in the morning (although I woke up much earlier and then had restless, pseudo-snoozy time). We ate whole wheat English muffins with almond butter and banana, drank some water. I had to pee about 4 times before we left. And then still had to pee some more when we got there.
We wore the long sleeve tech race shirts that we got at the expo/packet pick-up the day before. It was cold waiting around, but it all started pretty promptly at 9 am and then I wasn’t cold for long. In fact, I had to take the shirt off and tie it around my waste around mile 5 or so. Which means that my bib number isn’t visible and I may miss out on some of the official photos, but David kept his on and we were together throughout, so that’s probably good enough for picture finding purposes. Which is really the whole reason I did it, you know. For the official race photos.
There was a countdown from 10, which made me insanely nervous, even knowing that it would probably be another 3 to 5 minutes after the start time before we’d be crossing the line. But the fanfare and hoopdy of the countdown and the exploding confetti all added to the surrealness of it all.
There were over 4,000 people running the half, so once the race got going, it felt like we were just being swept along in this current. Don’t know where we’re going, where to turn, how fast we’re going, just going. We were towards the back of the pack, so the current wasn’t super speedy, but probably faster than I would have gone on my own.
We went ALL over Oakland, zig-zagging this way and that. I kinda liked not really knowing where I was going, since it meant I couldn’t anticipate and create ideas in my head about how much was left or what parts were good or easy parts. There were all different kinds of bands along the way, including a taiko drum group. There was a ring of fire to run through. People from the A’s and the Raiders were there, including some sassy Raiderettes right at the finish line.
So, the event itself was really cool There were a ton of people out to cheer the runners on and a lot of Oakland pride.
And the running? Well…. it was definitely fine at first. I still didn’t LIKE it, and it was pretty quick to start feeling like I was slogging through the hard work of it. But it was being ok. Doable.
After about 4 miles or so, I started to get some hot spots on my feet. Those just got worse and worse. I started to get a bit of a pain in my hip, but it was fine. Just for “fun” or something like it, I decided to speed up and do a little sprint to the mile marker when i could see the 5 marker, the 7 and 9. But I knew that that 9 mile marker was the last one. That’s where it started to just be really rough.
The last 3 miles were dreadful. I just really, really wanted to stop. And just to be ridiculous, there was a stupid hill right at the end. And then I couldn’t believe it was happening. The end was coming. The whole thing, that I’d been so incredulous of, so full of dread for, it was going to be over. It was going to be finished. Coming through the finish line, I started to get the choke of hysteria. Relief? Pride? Exhaustion? I’m not sure. But I was feeling emotional and too tired to process anything.
And then it was over. 2 hours and 35 minutes. Which was about what I had been expecting.
I learned that I really do not like Gu. Seriously. Grosso and a half.
Also, the advice that I’d gotten from people that it would all just be fine since I’d done a 10 and a 9 mile run? Fart on you, I say. Yes, I did finish those last 4 miles, but it was like zombie jogging. Worse than I had imagined.
I didn’t start training soon enough to do as well as I might have been able to… in the weekends leading up to this, we did a 6 mile run, then a 7, then a 10 and a 9. Then we bailed on the 8 mile run that was supposed to happen. So in total, I’ve done 4 “long” runs in my whole life. I think I should have gotten in more of them, and probably some that were a bit longer. 10 miles is NOT just like 13 miles.
So now what?
I’m not sure that I want to do one again. Maybe? Maybe if I train more? But the training would still involve these hours and hours of running. And that’s kind of a drag.
Maybe I want to work on improving my 5K time next. I’d really like to break that 30 minute mark.
And, I have to admit, somewhere in the deep dark recesses, there’s a wee worm with a taste for 26.2.