I had first heard about the Livermore Half Marathon in late February, I contemplated running it as I absolutely love any reason to run in Northern California and the mention of wine at the finish line didn’t hurt either. One big problem, I had just arrived back home after spending a week in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon and my 2014 race budget was all but busted. That’s when I saw that Cookies on the Run was giving away a race entry, you better believe I tweeted and tweeted and tweeted my way to as many entries as I could get before the entry deadline. Long story short I wasn’t the first or second name drawn but one had already registered and the other one was unable to run it…let’s hear it for lucky number three!! Thank you Cookies on the Run!
I received my entry eleven days before the race, I was super excited and then I realized I was registered to run Rock n Roll San Francisco the following week. I had never run two half marathons back to back, let alone two with big elevation changes, I wasn’t sure how I would hold up. I spent the better part of those eleven days debating if I was going to run it. The day before the race I checked the weather for race day and there was almost a 100% chance for rain; if you have read my past posts you know all about my aversion to hills in a course; well my other huge aversion is rain. I knew if I cancelled because of the rain and it didn’t end up raining I would kick myself for months. I took to Facebook and asked for some sage advice from my runner friends. I have to say I was totally reminded one of the biggest reason I love the running community, my wonderful friends flooded me with tried and true advice. Friday morning I still hadn’t decided if I was going to run or not but I packed my bag before work and put it in my car….I figured I had until I got off work to decide if I was going to head up to Livermore that night. I debated most of the morning and finally decided I was as prepared as I could be to run in the rain and I didn’t want to regret passing on the race, I booked myself a room and right after work headed up North.
I arrived in Livermore about 6:30 which gave me plenty of time to get to the Bankhead Theatre Plaza for packet pick up. There was a free parking garage right across the street which made getting to the expo extremely easy, I was in and out of the outdoor expo in a matter of minutes. Tony wasn’t running but he drove down to meet me for dinner, we ended up at Sauced BBQ Spirits AMAZING! After dinner I headed back to the hotel, laid out my race day clothes and called it a night.
When I woke up on race morning it was gloomy but no rain yet. I made a game day decision and changed my outfit up a bit, I changed out my capris for long shorts and replaced the long sleeve shirt under a short sleeve shirt for my usual tank and I brought the long sleeve shirt just in case AND I went with a yellow Sparkle Athletic skirt instead of the purple. My hotel was only about ten minutes from the start, I parked in the garage I had used for the expo it was extremely fast and easy. When I got to the staging area I decided I didn’t need my long sleeve shirt so I checked it at bag check, walked around a bit and chatted with other runners before the start.
The race started right at 8:00 under an extremely overcast sky, I just kept hoping the rain would hold off until I was done running. I felt good starting off, the first few miles went smoothly and were mostly on residential streets. Right before mile four we entered a beautiful park area, I believe it was Sycamore Grove Park and that led right into Veteran’s Park, this was my absolute favorite part of the race! We exited the parks right before the 10k point, right by the restaurant at Wente Vineyards, the grape vines along the course were just stunning, this is what I was running for the beauty on the course….and the bling.
I had started feeling twinges in my right calf somewhere around mile five and by the time I was at mile seven they were full-fledged calf cramps, I spent a bit of time trying to stretch them out and trying to walk through it. From mile seven to mile eleven I was only able to run stretches of .15 before it would cramp up again. I was upset and frustrated but it was during this time I saw the most amazing thing I had ever seen on a course, I was overjoyed to get this photo, you have no idea. Best race photo ever (at least I think so) a wild turkey on the course!!!!
Around mile eleven I also started worrying about the three-hour course limit, I had been on pace to finish well before that but the cramps really slowed me down so I spent those last few miles pushing myself to run as much as I could and checking the time on my Garmin. I pushed myself to run the last 400 meters through the finish line with my calf completely cramped up, it was incredible painful but I was happy to be done and right within the three-hour course limit. I collected my awesome medal, wine glass and sampled a few after run treats from the sponsors. My legs were extremely sore from the cramping so I decided to pass on the post race festival (I heard it was amazing) and opted to grab a quick bloody mary at Sauced before heading back to the hotel to clean up. As soon as I got back to my hotel the sky opened up and the rain came down, thank you Mother Nature for holding out.
I am so happy that I didn’t let my fear of having to run in the rain stop me from a well organized race. So far this race/course are one of my favorites that I’ve run this year. I can’t wait to run the Livermore Half Marathon again in 2015, hopefully minus the cramps. If you’re interested in running next year, early bird registration opened last week you can register here.