2012 Oakland Running Festival

"There's nothing like going to bed listening to the rain that you'll be running 13.1 miles in tomorrow."

Those were my thoughts before going to bed the night before the Oakland Running Festival (ORF). The Bay Area had been drenched with rain that day and it was also forecasted for race morning. But as awful as the conditions were predicted to be, I had no intention of skipping it.

This marked the 3rd year of the ORF. Having volunteered at the Finish Line in Year One, and ran the half-marathon in Year Two I knew what a well-organized event it was. Plus, I was all set to run the race with my cousin Michi, who flew home from New York to run it...

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...as well as with a bunch of Bay Area running friends

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{we <3 compression socks!}

After coming off an almost 12-minute PR at the Kaiser Half-Marathon in early February, I went through a period of what I call, "Runners Blues." It could be attributed to a variety of things, but the bottom line was, I struggled through February and March. And before I knew it, it was time for this race. I felt unprepared but decided to make the most of it anyway.

The weather turned out to be ideal running weather, overcast and cool, which meant I had overdressed. Within the first mile I found myself pulling to the side to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. After that, the next 4 miles were a struggle. My feet felt like it was slapping the ground. I couldn't stand the feeling and did the run/walk thing a few times to try and "reset" myself but still struggled to find a comfortable pace. At one point I even sat down on a curb and took my shoes off and put them back on to see if that would help.

It was shortly after this, just at the start of Mile 5 that I ran into Kerry. She and I seem destined to run into each other at random times during races. We ran into each other at the San Francisco Marathon 2nd Half, the Petaluma Half, then again at the Nike Half. I automatically feel better every time I see her and this time was no different.

We ran with each other off/on for the next couple of miles during which time I finally found my groove. We got separated just before Mile 7, but from that point on I felt much better. Although I ran Garmin-free again, I knew that this would be no PR race (nor did I expect it to be) so I just kept an easy pace and cruised through to the end.

Along the way, like the previous 2 years, the City of Oakland was out in full force cheering us on. If you are familiar with Oakland's reputation, this is probably not something you would expect, but the community really does come out and show its spirited support to all the runners. This is one of my most favorite things about the ORF.

Incidentally, although I never saw Michi after the first mile, we finished within 20 seconds of each other. And, Aunty Mary and Toni, her grandma and mom also completed the 5K! It was their first race and from what I hear, won't be their last!

That evening, as I was looking for movies to watch during my flight to Hawai'i, I came across a running documentary called "Runners High" about a bunch of high school kids in Oakland who train for the LA Marathon. It depicts what life in Oakland is like for these teenagers and the volunteers who try to teach them values such as commitment, discipline, perseverance and realizing their potential, through running.

It's quite good; I highly recommend it.