You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, just like you can lead me to a marathon, but you can’t stop me from going out too fast. I guess I’ll never learn.

It’s simple, you go out to fast and you’ll fade at the end. I know this. I knew this going in. Heck, I ran the first 20 miles of this course three weeks ago. But like I said, I’ll never learn.

The days leading up to the 2012 Oakland Running Festival were rain soaked and hopes for a dry morning were high, but the weather folks had it at 50% chance of splishy splashy. At the expo, I had a chance to meet some fellow runners at a pre-race tweetup. where we shared in runner chit chat and snapped some photos.

Right to Left: (Top) @4GFarms, @Critizzle, @runningcate, @LaylaBohm, @paulettezf (Bottom) Me, @runrenerun , @JanaC, @xlmic

Left to Right: superstar @LaylaBohm, giveaway winner @PauletteZF, @JanaC with a neato shirt

The following morning when we lined up at the start line, the running gods granted us ideal conditions: overcast and cool temperatures. Perfect for me to fly out and run the first half in 2:06. Typically that would be phenomenal and set me up for a massive PR, but it was over some serious up and down and it hit my quads in the face around mile 15. Way to early in the race to feel the burn.

I was able to keep running strong and simply acknowledged the tightness and focused on running one mile at a time. Forget that I had 11 miles to go, it was simply run to the mile 16 marker. Check. Run to the mile 17 marker. Check.

Doing the mid-run math (which takes much longer than it should), I was figuring that if I kept up my consistent pace for the last 6, I could still come in on goal: between 4:20-25. I ended up crossing the finish line at 4:24:14, a 5-minute PR and 7 minutes faster than when I ran the 2010 event.

I’m happy that I was able to shave some time off my full, but I’m a little frustrated with myself that I didn’t run a smarter race. With a 2:06/2:18 split, I think if I had slowed it down earlier to a 2:10, I could have run the (much flatter) second half in 2:10 or better. But negative splits are always tough and any race where you can PR, you have to be happy with.

Here are some other Oakland Running Festival highlights:

  • The bathroom situation at the start line was phenomenal. There were no lines. Maybe everybody went before they left the house.
  • Jana spotted me at the start and gave me a pre-race hug and well wishes. Then spotted me again at mile 6 with a shout out! Right back at ya J!
  • Thank you to the volunteer that was greeting people with “Welcome to Rockridge” as we were running. It seemed very sweet and genuine.
  • The iron horse that shot out fire was awesome!
  • The Raiders cheering section was full of energy and the runners around me soaked it up. Great job silver and black.
  • The Women’s Marathon winner Anna Bretan (2:57:33) gave birth 6-weeks prior. Wow.
  • The marathon finishers quarter-zip jacket is really cool and comfortable. I wore it all day Sunday after the race.
  • The medal is pretty freakin’ sweet — I love the prominent 26.2 and color palette.
  • Shout out to all the finishers out there. We were the brave ones willing to run, rain or shine.
What was your favorite part of the Oakland Running Festival?