Berkeley Half Marathon Recap

My last half marathon of 2013 was this past weekend at the Berkeley Half. What a great ending! After the ankle situation I knew I didn't want to go for a PR, but I wanted Berkeley to be a test to see how the ankle may or may not hold up for longer distances (ahem, CIM.)

On Saturday, Kevin and I headed to Pyramid Brewery for packet pick-up and met up with friends and San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors to say hello. Packet pick-up at a brewery? Yes please! We stayed for beer and food after grabbing our race goods. There wasn't an actual expo; pick-up was held at Sports Basement in SF on Friday, and at Pyramid in Berkeley on Saturday. It was very easy and efficient to get bibs and shirts when we arrived, plus I was able to change from wave 3 to wave 2 at the solutions table. Finally have that sub-2 hour half to move up a wave!

SFM Ambassadors at Pyramid.

The Pyramid dining crew.

Kevin and I smartly decided to stay in Berkeley for the night instead of driving back and forth, and we loved the Hotel Shattuck Plaza which was one of the race rate hotels. It was only about a 5 minute walk to the start line in the morning, plus it was in the middle of the University area so there were tons of restaurants. On Sunday morning, we happily slept until 7 am and then got ready for the 8 am race start. We didn't even need to use the porta potties because the hotel was so close. Win.

Hanging with Kev in the start corral. Loving my new Sparkly Soul headband to match the singlet!

I found Alisyn, Layla, and Kristen, at the start line, plus my friend Sasha, who all happened to be standing near one another. We ran near each other for the beginning, and then I ran with Alisyn for most of the race when the group became more separated. I really miss running with Alisyn now that she doesn't live in San Jose so that was fantastic.

The race went well for me and I felt good running. My ankle felt ok when running although did end up with more soreness than I hoped after the fact. Off topic: I'm still not sure how I feel about CIM right now because I want to be fully healed to get back to trail running asap. I finished in 2:04:14, making it my second best half marathon time. The funny part is how different I felt when I ran 2:04 in SF last June; I was wiped out, pushing to the end, feeling done. This 2:04 felt happy, chatty with Alisyn, and comfortable. I love seeing progress like that and hope it continues.

The race ended about 3 miles away from the start line, so they provided charter bus shuttles to take everyone back to the start. The line for the shuttles was super long, although it didn't seem as bad as I thought it would. That said, we waited a long time to get in line and I'm sure it would have been faster if we didn't dilly dally. 

Highlight of the shuttles? We rode the Cal Bears Football bus!

 In the beer line.

Double bling for the Berkeley-SF Challenge!

The course. The race started in downtown Berkeley but quickly headed out to the marina area. We ran alongside the highway on a service drive, which also happens to be by the water. It's a strange mix of being annoyed to be by a highway but happy to be by water, although overall I didn't mind it. The course has a number of out and back turnarounds, which isn't the greatest, although I do enjoy saying hi to other runners when passing on the out and backs. I knew quite a few people running, so I was pretty occupied with searching for friends. The last couple of miles were on dirt and gravel, again not something I minded but many people weren't happy based on the conversations I heard around me. We finished by going through some back and forth sections in a parking lot to add distance, and then over a small hill and into the finish area on the beach. Overall I found it enjoyable, but I anticipate they'll make a few changes to the course next year based on feedback.

Beach finish with Alisyn.

The support. Volunteer support was great, aid stations were manned well and there were tons of porta potties both at the start and along the course. They handed out Gu Chomps along the course in two spots. The electrolyte drink was not something I'd ever heard of, but I didn't end up drinking it to comment on taste. I didn't use gear check, but I heard different observations depending on when the person picked up gear. Alisyn had to wait a while and it was more disorganized when they tried to find the bags in the bus, but Kristen was able to get hers quickly and easily. Gear drop off involved taking it to a bus with your bib number at the start line.

The finish line. The finish area was on the beach, which I love! My favorite courses involve lots of running by water and ending by water. They had lots of food options, the ones I remember being bagels, Snap Pea Crisps, Ginger Chews, Kind Bars and Kind Granola, Zico flavored coconut water, and regular water. Even more exciting to me, they had a Pyramid beer area where each runner could have one free beer. I chose Snowcap - the Pyramid winter warmer - which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The swag. I love the long sleeve tech tees, and I especially love that the shirts and medals say inaugural event. My first inaugural event! In addition to the Berkeley medal, I received the Berkeley-SF Challenge medal for running both races consecutively.

 Medals and back of shirt.

Small design on front of shirt.

All in all, we had a fun weekend and enjoyed the social time with friends. I'd recommend this race going forward, although I think a few course modifications would make it even better. Check it out - perhaps even do the Berkeley-SF Challenge next year!


  1. Thought about running this but didn't have the time. Glad it was a fun run for you and you felt stronger than
    before. Perhaps next year.

    The local race I really want to try is the Half Moon Bay Marathon (also half and 10k). Supposed to be pretty fast course and nice water views.

    1. It was a good one, I'd do it again depending on schedules. Half Moon Bay looks awesome too - and it's my birthday weekend! I want to do that one sometime too.

  2. I think any inaugural event that gets most good reviews is a success...because it's easy to goof up a first-time event. But with just a few small technical issues to work out, hopefully you'll have many years to run this race in the future! :)

    Congrats on a solid finish - "same time, but felt easier" is a great way to realize you're making progress. Hope the ankle sorts itself out, though - and be careful! Don't want to ruin a winter of trail running!!! :)

    [Staying AT the start line is awesome - did it for the first time for a marathon a few months ago. For someone who is a worrier (me!), I even SLEPT better knowing I was just a few blocks away from the start!]

    1. Thanks! I'll be careful - thinks are feeling even better now a week out from this. NEED to get back to the trails. NEED.

  3. Great race's amazing to see progress in running, isn't it! So exciting. I LOVE the shirts too. I wore mine today and really like it!


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