Oakland Running Festival Run the Town Challenge

This weekend, I did the We Run the Town Challenge at the Oakland Running Festival. It allows you to do both the 5k and Half-Marathon race the same morning, if you are so inclined. I had never done anything like this before, but I always felt like I had a little energy after the 5k. I had done the half-marathon in the past so why not? I had been training for the 5k, so my plan was to go ahead and go all out on that, and then do the half-marathon as an LSD training run. Well, it turned out to be the hardest half-marathon ever! It felt almost as hard as trying to do the whole marathon. I guess that is why they call it a Challenge, and we like challenges.

The 5k was fast, I did in 21:08, which is a PR, and 9 seconds faster than last year. Last PR was on the DSE St. Patrick's Day 5k in 2012. My max HR on this was 182, compared to Kaiser 5k 6 weeks ago which was 197. I made sure to do a 15 minute warmup with a few strides 30 minutes before. I was running comfortably hard and it felt a lot more on the comfortable side. I was holding myself back in the beginning, but maybe a little too much. I was flying downhill on the first half mile and thought I was going too fast. Technically, it is wise not to go out to fast, but it is also possible to use some downhill to your advantage. I should not have looked at my Garmin. Next time I would go ahead and use these little downhills to gain a few seconds because that is only time you are going to find these free seconds. It took me several attempts at this course to finally learn this. There were lots of kids Running for a Better Oakland out there, which was inspiring. I was running through the finish line with them.

I had an hour between races so I got my bag out of bag check and put my jacket back on so I wouldn't get too cold. Then I drank some electrolytes (S.O.S.) and liquid carbs (Hammer Perpetuem) and mingled at the finish line. I did not see my 5k results, which freaked me out, but now I realize it's probably because I was entered in a different race and they didn't want to confuse them. Pretty soon it was time to start Part II. The half-marathon was pretty packed. I lined up with the 10 minute milers and got mentally prepared to keep running and finish. Felt pretty good in the beginning. Those 9:30 minute miles feel alot better than 7 minute miles. I stopped at every aid station and took everything that was offered. Kept downing electrolytes and energy gels, whatever I could to feed my legs. My favorite aid station was the Brown Sugar Kitchen. They had the most delicious energy bars! Had to really focus on the second half to keep going, since I felt like I was running on fumes, but I'm glad I got to enjoy the longer course. My favorite part is the home stretch as you enter Lake Merritt. There was a blind runner that was nearing the finish, and that was another inspiring moment. I had definitely slowed down at the end, but took time to enjoy the scenery and soak up the vibe. The feeling of crossing the finish line for the second time, that was awesome! Did the half in about 2:13:38, Total WRTTC Finish time: 2:34:46! They have a great cheering squad turnout and lots of music to keep you going, and groovin' live music at the end. I had no interest in the alcohol tent or the non-alcohol tent so I skipped all that and went straight for my Recoverite. In the end I came in third in the 5k portion of the Town Challenge race, and that is overall. Turns out there were only 1 male and female in the Masters 5k, a pretty small field, but I  made it into the top 10 ladies on the 5k in the All Divisions results.

Training-wise I put in a little more mileage in the weeks leading up to the race with a few more longer runs and I think that helped. Also, a weekly run up and down my favorite hill, Divisadero. I bus/biked to the race as always. The BART on the way back was so packed though, I'm considering a bike ride to Jack London Square ferry next time, grabbing lunch there on the way out. Would I do the We Run the Town Challenge again? I would, it is hard to do though. I could have been satisfied with the hard and fast 5k that I had been training for, but I embraced a larger challenge with the satisfaction of running more miles and enjoying the longer course, and a little more strength in my legs to carry me to the next run.

My ORF History:
2012: 21:47 5k
2013: (Did the Half-Marathon in 2:04)
2014: 21:17 5k
2015: 21:08 5k, We Run The Town 2:34:46
Click on "All Division" to see the complete results

Update: They sorted all the 5k the results out and here is the final. It's a little bit confusing with multiple races. Not sure what happened. but I got an age group award. 1st AG in 5k, 5th in that race and 9th OA. Every little thing counts!


Training Notes

Running on the SF Bay Trail
This year the ORF has a new event called We Run the Town Challenge where you run the half-marathon after the 5k and get 3 medals. They have a 5k medal now, the half-marathon medal, and the We Run the Town Medal. Of course I had to do that so I've been adding a few extra long runs to my training to get ready for the additional half-marathon. Normally, I wouldn't add such long runs to my 5k training, but that's how I should be training for a 5k. The long slow runs (10 minute miles) improve endurance, capillary and mitochondrial development, and increase myoglobin and glycogen storage. Plus, running after a swim at Aquatic Park to Fort Point or through Golden Gate Park is so nice.

Since Kezar Stadium was going under renovation, I adopted the beautiful San Francisco Bay Trail at Marina Green for my weekly speedwork sessions. The long side is 547 meters where I can do VO2 max repeats at 6:30ish pace, the full loop around 1190 meters where I can do threshold intervals at 7:30ish pace, and the short side is about 64 meters where I do short anaerobic strides at 5:30ish pace. I think I need to find a slightly longer area about 100 meters to do the strides. I set up some segments in Garmin and Strava to gauge my progress. VO2 max day is really draining, so I do it every other week and alternate it with Threshold, with rest days after them. The strides are new and fun, a little bit easier than the 400 meter lung busters, and I like having more variety in the paces. I'm curious to see how I'll do on race day which is less than 2 weeks away!

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