This past Sunday, I ran about 7.5 miles. Consecutively. In training, I thought it might break me. Why such a run, you might ask? For the Oakland Running Festival! What fun it was! There were several different races, from marathon to kids run. I once ran a half-marathon with my sister-in-law and decided that I wasn’t likely to make it 13.1-mi this year. So this time, I called up some friends and signed up for the 4-person relay. Each leg is between 6 and 7.5 miles. Completely manageable. My sister-in-law even came into town for the run! She took on the majestic but grueling 6.2-mi climb through Montclair up past the Mormon Temple, while I drew the flat, tedious 7.5-mi jaunt through Fruitvale to West Oakland.
I’m not a fast runner so I was concerned about my time and about finishing. I hadn’t done a long run since that half-marathon 3 years ago due to injuries from a biking accident. Our first runner is 5-months pregnant and still bested my pace running the 6-mi incline from Snow Park to Rockridge. Our final runner finished her 6.5-mi run in just about an hour. The lead marathoner’s time at about mile 13 was better than the 1hour 22+mins it took me to run my leg of the relay. But it was fun, and I did it! I even had an 8-minute-mile amongst the 12s! But mostly, it was great to feel the energy of the other runners, of the volunteers who came out to keep us energized and hydrated, of the people who came out to cheer us on. I ran with my phone in-hand, and thought about listening to music, but who needs music when you have a DJ waiting for you at along the route? Or a flaming archway near the end of your segment?
I was struck by how organized the festival was; there were cups and rubbish all along the route, but it was gone when I strolled through Downtown later that evening. I was also energized by the enthusiasm of the event–whether participant, volunteer, or onlooker everyone had smiles and cheers to share. Snow Park was abuzz with music, food trucks, and just plain old fun. Maybe that was the 2-beer/wine coupons that each runner received, but I’ll chalk it up to runner’s euphoria.
All told, over 9,100 people took part in various races of the 4th Annual Oakland Running Festival. I’m both proud and happy to have been one of them. I’m even looking forward to the next running festival, my next training run, and my next race.