Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Delightful 2nd Annual Oakland Marathon

I got a day pass from Christi (and 3-week old baby Quinn) to get my running fix this weekend, and joined a sold out crowd of 7,000 at the 2nd Annual Oakland Marathon in Oakland, CA. Mother Nature took a break from a week of torrential rain to give us a perfect overcast day, and we had a blast! Frankly, it was just so nice to make it to the starting line of a race, I would have been happy with any result.

I pulled into the parking lot on three hours sleep - not bad for a sleep-deprived, new parent zombie - with baby formula still on my unshaven cheek. Sexy! Not that it mattered. I was so happy to make the starting line of any race after two unexpected DNS's in the last month. Fate has a way of reminding you to appreciate the little things.

I ran the inaugural Oakland Marathon last year, and loved the hilly course that wound through so many fun districts of the East Bay. Some new course modifications promised to add even more hills plus a twisting section along the lake near the end. Score! I had zero expectations on pace, and lined up with my camera in hand.

(Geting ready at the start)

(Arlington's Devin Jones gets a hug from his biggest supporters)

(Ultra-God Ian Sharman, out for a training run)
I chatted a bit with Ian Sharman, now a known quantity among the front runners after a series of fast marathons (including a new world record for marathon in a Spiderman outfit, which only lasted one week before Michael Wardian got into the game) and a stunning 12:44 at the Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. He let me know there were three elites here (sub-2:35), including last years winner, Tony Torres, and the always-fast Jesus Campos. As the gun went off, I paced along with Oakland's Tim Stahler, back into marathoning after a 10-year hiatus (and hoping for sub-3!). We took it easy, passing under the Paramount Theater before heading towards the hills.

(And we're off!)

(The famous Paramount Theater)

(All smiles in the early miles)
We hit the first set of hills, and then onto Telegraph Avenue where Oaklanders cheered us on. It's so fun to run right down the middle of the street! I ran with Greg Rolfes, and when I asked where he was from, he said "right down that street". The local advantage!

(Tegenu Beru well out in front at mile 5)
Onto College Ave (mile 5), we had our first out and back section and a chance to see how the race was playing out. San Jose's Tegenu Beru was setting a wicked pace up front by himself, with Jesus Campos, Ian Sharman, and Tony Torres in the chase pack already 45 seconds back. The top three women were all pretty close too.

(Out and back on College Ave)
As we turned up into the hills, Payam Saljoughian hollared out "here comes the fun part!" and kicked down to his Moraga-tested climbing gear. I eased up to save a little for the backside, remembering that the downhills were the killer on this course. We had made it through the first six miles in a speedy 37 minutes, so there was plenty in the bank.

(Climbing alongside hwy 24)
Ian Sharman was crushing the hills, and I didn't see any remnant of him spending the last 14 hours moving out of his third story apartment. He should trade in his Spiderman costume for Wolverine - he can heal from anything! The rolling hills of Montclair and Rockridge were lots of fun, and the new course allowed us to see a few new neighborhoods. Every time I see "Rockridge", I can't help but think of Blazing Saddles..am I the only one?

(The swiss horns back for more!)
I got a course marshal escort on the downhill, just as Tim Stahler and Women's front runner Anna Bretan caught up to me. This was Anna's first marathon, and she said she was just hoping for a Boston qualifying time....um, we're running about a 2:50 pace, so I think she's safe! As we got down to Fruitvale, my strides were short and turning over quickly, as opposed to Anna's long and elegant leaps, and the two of us made our way down the long stretch towards Jack London Square. Barefoot Efrem, spectating today thanks to an injury, zoomed up aside us on his roller blades and captured some great footage. Geez, I thought I was hauling ass but I look slow!

(Video provided by Barefoot Efrem on roller blades! If you need a prescription, Fruitvale has MORE COWBELL)
(High fives from the Gummi Bear!)
West Oakland showed serious community spirit with their 9am DJ-infused jams, and we joined the rabbits from the half marathon around mile 19. Anna got on the tail of of some fast female half marathoners, and passed me by, soon followed by her brother in the half marathon, who couldn't have been more excited for her. She was on course record pace!
(You could hear these drummers from miles away)

(Under the flaming bridge!)

(Gorillas take over the underpass)
My pace eased up to a 6:50 min/mile as we approached the lake, and I chuckled that I found myself missing my little Quinn. Sheesh, we spend every minute with her! You would think a break would be nice. But there is no love as pure as that for a newborn child, and I didn't mind my heart swelling into a huge lump in my throat. I want to enjoy every minute of the yearning.

(The new course hugged the lake trail)

(Half Marathoner Dane Rauschenberg flies along the lake)

(You knew somebody would bring this sign!)

(Cloud cover was perfect all day)
Dane Rauschenberg gave me an atta-boy as he cruised by in the half marathon, and Greg Rolfes proved to have a strong finishing kick to get by me at mile 24. We hit the last two mile stretch, and it looked like I was in about 12th place. I hit the finish in 2:53:49, feeling good and tired. What a perfect day of running! Tegenu Beru had set a new course record (2:30:08), as did Anna Bretan (2:53:19), and the finish corral was full of people saying they had set PR's. Fantastic! (all results)

(Cheering into the finish)

(Anna Bretan and son tell the press about her course-record run)

(My masseuse and angel)

(Yukking it up with Sarah Lavender Smith)

(Oakland Mayor Jean Quan presents the massive trophy to Beru)
Two beers per runner (nice!), plus a chance to catch up with a number of folks as the band laid down some funk. But with a yawn and glimpse towards the Woodside hills, I longed to be home again with my sleepy little poop-machine. Ah, the joys of parenthood!

Thank you, volunteers and Oaklanders for a great day of racing, and I hope to see you again next year!

- SD



  1. What a great event by the sounds of it. Nice run, congrats on your time. Not bad for an "ultra" runner!

  2. Scott, your energy is amazing! Not just manifested in how fast you run, but in the love of life that comes through so strongly in your blog. When I was the editor of Running Times, umpty-ump years (OK, decades!) ago, I would have loved to know a guy who could run in a big race with a camera and capture the fun and mojo the way you do. I'm now in my 54th consecutive year of competitive long-distance running and love it as much as ever (still running ultras), but now with a growng interest in what we runners can bring to humanity's ability to cope with a troubled planet. In our culture's preoccupation with ever greater speed and power in all things, I wonder if we aren't losing some of the essential qualities--endurance, patience, connection to the Earth under our feet--that enabled us to survive over the millennia. I'm exploring that subject on my own newly launched blog, http://enduranceandsustainability.blogspot.com, and would like to hear any insights your and your followers (who are legion!)might have.

  3. What an awesome post! I wish I could take pictures going through a race - I'd probably fall over. Fantastic race!

  4. Great race summary, Scott... although it was me who caught back up to you heading down Lincoln w/ Anna -- unfortunately it was also me who fell off the pace when we started heading through Fruitvale ;)

    I was really impressed with the race CSE put on... it was a first class event and extremely well organized. Being new to the West Coast (and living in Oakland) I was very proud to see the best of my new home-city. Hopefully with more events like this one people will stop saying things like "Wow, you're brave" and "I'm sorry" when I say I live in Oakland.

    Hope to see you at other races soon...


  5. Nice write up, Scott. And I love the photos too. Hope you've had some decent sleep since then.

  6. Thanks for this information. Actually I am surfing through Google for spiderman costume designs. Please share some costumes for me.

  7. great blog and great picture of Anna and son,(my son's wife and my grandson, Woohoo Anna)would have loved to have been there

  8. Great job as usual on the write-up. Hope to see you out on the trails soon.


  9. Scott, so I've actually visited your blog numerous times, but believe it or not I didn't realize that was you until I got home and looked up results! Great to finally meet you. Awesome blog and great pictures! Hope to see you around again! - Payam

  10. What a great race report! Fantastic energy and your love for running really shines through. You make me want to hit the roads! Have fun with your poop machine. Amy

  11. Hi Scott. I was the guy on inline skates who shot the video of you. It was a lot of fun and I hope to run Oakland next year. BTW I currently hold the barefoot record at 3:32. That shouldn't be too hard to beat. Ciao!!

  12. Great recap. Having just had my first baby I have no idea how you fit in all that training! Any advice?

  13. Thanks everyone for the comments!

    Tim - sorry about misspelling your name; you were definitely crushing those downhills. Congrats on sub-3 after all these years!

    Efrem - thanks so much for the video and comments! I added the credit above and a sentence about seeing you. I still think you have teleportation capabilities since you were EVERYWHERE. I hope the injury is healing well.

    Matty B - congrats on your little one! Yes, the training plan is basically screwed for a few months. At Chez Dunlap, I take the 4:30am feeding, then go running right afterward while everyone is still sleeping. And I have a change of running clothes in the car at all times and fit it in while I can. That's about the best you can do!


  14. Thanks for the great race report. Congratulations on the birth of baby Quinn.

  15. Amazing run Scott! A 2:53 with a newborn...you realize that there is a degree of difficulty multiplier with a new baby in the house. Add 2, divide by 3, carrying a 1, your 2:53 is actually a 2:13'ish, we're talking Olympic qualifier. Well done!


I LIVE for comments! Please add your thoughts, let me know you stopped by, etc., and be thoughtful of others. Always best if you sign your name, of course.