Quote of the race, courtesy of Kevin: At mile 11, I was hurting. But I thought, “Damn it, I survived the Deuce Panic – I am making my goal time.”
Spending $90 on an organized race isn’t usually my style, but I like to treat myself to a good road race every now and then – when else are streets blocked off and runners get the right of way?* Exactly. The Oakland Half Marathon was part of a full festival of running love: a marathon, 5K and Kid’s Fun Run were also on the day’s agenda – and yours truly had signed on for the half a few months ago. Why?
First, it’s not a secret that I have an affinity for the East Bay in general – nothing against the city at all, but I’m rooting for the Town if we ever have to Rock Paper Scissors. Getting a chance to run through Oakland was like penning a love letter to the Town with my toes. With purported agility and a definite pure heart, I dedicate myself to Oakland for 13.1 miles.
Snow Park was the starting point for the race, and I met up with friends beforehand so we could hit the starting line together. Nothing says “Let’s Race!” like top-40 hits and boogieing down (I call that a warm-up). Dancing is definitely a great way to limber up and get your muscles warm, plus it clears space in the corral. Kevin and I jammed, managed not to be impolite when the mayor made a few comments (there was a shocking amount of cool decorum about her presence), and then the buzzer ignited our feet into motion.
We wound through downtown, then looped into Chinatown, where drummers and a wiggling Chinese dragon greeted us. Local bands played outside popular establishments (I recognized a friend on a drum kit in Jack London Square), and plenty of locals not on the volunteer crew offered up water, which was really sweet. We hit West Oakland and I saw some really neat loft-style spaces (should go check those out to rent), plus a mass of A’s fans who were tailgating on the route. Awesomely, a giant truck that had been hollowed out had a horse head, flares of fire, and a group of supporters. My favorite cheering squad came next – the Raiders fans, aptly hanging out under the freeway. Best high-fives of the run. The race looped back into Uptown and then finished with a lap around Lake Merritt.
All the while, I zen-ed out to the Shuffle feature on my iPod and simply enjoyed the course. The architecture. The feeling of fellow runners around me. The cheering!! The people cheering that I was smiling! There was nothing actually unique about this course, or this race, except for the fact that it was in the place I love. And some days, that’s all I need: to see people enjoying something I enjoy every day.
I can’t help but note I did claim a personal best for my time: 1:37 – I was hoping for 1:30 though, so I’m not wicked excited. I’m more proud of Kevin for running his first sub-2:00 half marathon. That’s a feat, for sure.
*Mad props to the Oakland Police Department for blocking intersections and being keepers of running peace between turn-crazy cars and joggers of all distances.