Sunday, 27 March 2011
Another great bit of training for the major races this year but slightly more effort than I'd have liked. And the Oakland marathon is a fairly hard road marathon (trail guys would call me a wimp here and would think of it as flat, but then they don't try to run six-minute miles up hills). No costume this week, even though everyone now seems to expect me to do it every weekend :)
It was rainy for the couple of weeks before the race but on the day it was overcast and a little windy. I planned to run 2:37 to fill another of my missing marathon minutes (see my post on the Napa marathon: http://sharmanian.blogspot.com/2011/03/guinness-world-record-at-napa-marathon.html), which is faster than 50 mile pace but close enough to be great training for it.
On the start line I saw Scott Dunlap, having a rare day off from becoming a Dad for the second time. He said he'd barely had three hours sleep a night since the birth so just wanted to go sub-three (which he did easily in 2:53). Just one more reason we're happy to only have pups for now...
The start was speedier than I expected with a group of four guys zooming off at a sub 2:30 marathon pace, then me in a small chase pack. Soon the race spread out and I lost sight of all of them, with me running alone in fifth from about six miles in, which was after the big (road) climbs started. Maybe these would have felt easier if I'd not moved house over the previous two days, but it's certainly a challenge to try to maintain pace on the inclines. And great to building strength, although I did lose ground on the leaders.
Oakland isn't the prettiest place, but the higher sections went through Piedmont which was a decent-looking neighborhood. I hit 10 miles in just over 61 minutes but I'd expected to lose some time, then it immediately started going downhill and I felt great cruising faster than my mile PB pace. Anyone know any downhill only races? I think I'd love them, especially if they're on really technical trails.
Much of the rest of the race was through nasty parts of Oakland before hitting the old town. I was offered a water cup by a homeless guy next to a band (there were a few bands round the course) and had started to drink a sip before I realized it wasn't an aid station and decided not to risk it, although maybe he was just being helpful.
After it levelled out I knew it'd be virtually ironing board flat to the finish and all I had to do was run 15 six-minute miles. Would my tired legs manage that? Well, it seems they could since I did hit 2:37:50, with a nice jog for the last couple of miles after deciding not to race a guy for second (it was meant to be a training run after all). I only overtook one guy to move up from fifth, but a couple of faster guys missed a turn around 20 miles and lost a few minutes.
So, onwards to everything else this season. American River is only a couple of weeks away and I feel confident now that I'm in shape for it if I stay uninjured.