I finished with a time of 2:13:08, my second best half marathon. Considering I went in thinking I had no hope of coming close to my PR (2:10:39), I am even more excited about that finish time! I've been increasing distance for the marathon in June and have been feeling a little sluggish lately. But today, everything worked out.
My splits made me happy too. I was fairly steady, and I sped up just a bit the last few miles. My watch was a little over as always and I didn't stop it immediately, but this is close enough.
This is one of the first times I've felt great the whole way through, and I think I owe it to running above the half distance in training. I felt like I could keep going and I was so energized I kind of wanted to...strange I know. Perhaps if I'd realized how good I would still feel late in the race at the start I wouldn't have held back, but that's ok. I'm still perfectly excited about my finish.
Kevin caught me at mile 9 for a quick photo, taken as he ran alongside me. Nicely done hubby!
After mile 9 I held my pace and even sped up a tiny bit, and I started to pass lots of people. My strategy of holding back a little at the beginning definitely worked for me. I continued on to a great finish, a pretty medal, and Coors Light. We used the mylar sheet as a blanket to sit on, listened to the band, and stretched. It was a relaxing finish line festival.
The course: The half course is one of the easier ones I've done. It was very flat with a few short, easy grades at the end, but I wouldn't really call them big enough to be hills. However, I hear the marathon course is a bear so don't judge it by the half. We ran by many parts of Oakland, around Lake Merritt, and through a little tunnel. Everyone screamed in the tunnel, a nice touch of race energy! A few businesses in the city had surprises for runners, like baked goods, a fire arch, the Raiderettes, and a huge fire-breathing trojan horse vehicle. There were plenty of people out cheering for runners and giving high fives as we went by too.
The support: Way to go volunteers! Everything was very organized, no bottlenecks. The water stops were well-staffed and I could grab water as I ran by. There seemed to be enough porta-potties, but I didn't stop. They handed out Gu, in my fave flavor of Chocolate Outrage. Traffic was controlled by many uniformed Police Officers who were cheering for us as well. All in all, I'm impressed.
The finish line had Gatorade, water, granola bars, fruit, potato chips, bagels and potentially other items I didn't see. I don't tend to go for solid food right after so I grabbed the fluids and headed on through. There were massage people there for free sports massage, but I didn't visit that line either. I went straight to the beer tent...
General Organization: The expo was easy, and the race logistics were easy too. We took BART to the 19th Street station, only about a 5 minute walk to the start. The BART train was full of runners - it was like starting the race party early. We followed the hoard over to Snow Park to the start of the race and caught the end of the 5K finishers.
Once the 5K was done, they lined up the half runners in the corral based on expected pace. I took my spot near the front of the 10 minute mile as I usually do. The start was not packed in tight (yay) and it only took a minute or two to get through the arch.
The size of the race was perfect, 4000 runners in the half. I never had to fight a crowd to pass, didn't get stuck behind walkers, and had no backups at turnarounds. It's so much easier to run when you don't have to expend extra energy to dodge people. In the finish area, it was easy to get food and drink, again not too crowded, and everyone moved through quickly out to the park.
And that's it! As you can tell, I had a great day and would highly recommend this half marathon to anyone and everyone. Thanks for a great race, Oakland!