Oakland Marathon Training Recap: Week 14

oakland marathon training recap week 14

I’ve written before about how you need to be prepared for the unexpected on race day. It has never occurred to me (before this week) to be prepared for the unexpected a month before race day.

Marathon training takes a long time. For me, (at least) 18 weeks. You pick a race. Pick a goal. You switch up your training to reflect the needs of the course you will be running and the race you want to have.

But then…

The race director says, ‘you know that course we’ve run for 7 years? That course we told you you’d run? That course you’ve trained for and trained on for 14 weeks? Yeah… Not so much with that.’

My mom always says: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Sorry mom, I write a blog and I have thoughts.

And very few of them are nice.

Read Prior Recaps

oakland marathon training recap week 14

Oakland Marathon Training Recap

Training Goals

  • I am a pace group leader for Saturday group long runs, so my main goal is to hit my pace – 11:00 (+/- 10 seconds) on training runs
  • 1 strength workout a week
  • Run 1 new route each week
  • 1 Yoga/Stretching/Pilates workout a week
  • Regular Foam Rolling – I won’t define ‘regular’ but I’ll know it when I do it (or not)

The Plan v. Reality: Week 14

Planstretch or strength5 miles8 miles5 milesstretch or strength15 miles @ 11:00 min/mile pacecross-training
ActualSworkit5 miles8 miles5 milesSworkit - Stretch and Strength15 miles @ 10:57 min/mile paceSworkit

Area of Focus This Week


The Week That Was


While I am not continuing with the Sworkit February Challenge, and won’t be doing their workouts every day, I am going to try a few more of their workouts – both to get a better sense of what the app offers, and because I don’t want to start a new strength training program while I am in the peak weeks of training.

So I’m in for a few weeks of random workouts.

Today I did the Sworkit ‘Increased Flexibility’ workout. Say it with me kids: it was fine.

Pretty standard combination of stretching moves. I don’t know that it will do me any benefit in the flexibility department, but 20 minutes of stretching can really only be a good thing, right?


Our heat wave of a few weeks ago for sure has passed – it has been down-right chilly the past few days.

Did my new go-to 5-mile route today in the Piedmont hills. My new favorite spot to film bits for YouTube is the Japanese Tea House in Piedmont Park, which is tucked away in a little, quiet corner of the park. I didn’t even know this thing existed until last week!

In the past weeks, stopping to film mid-run hasn’t been much of an issue. But with the cool weather today I got seriously chilled standing around filming – even though I was only stopped for 5(ish) minutes.


Back to Jack London Square. It feels like I haven’t run there in forever, but it’s only been 2 weeks.

I’m shocked at how different my paces are when running in the hills. My 4 and 5-mile routes in the Piedmont Hills (climbing 465 feet) average around 11:00 min/miles.

Over to Jack London (mostly flat, but does climb 114 feet – which is more than I would have guessed), my pace is under 10:00.

I know I’m slow on the uphills, but that is way more than I would have expected.


Not so much with the happy today as the Oakland Marathon announced course changes.

MAJOR course changes.

Now, for the moment, I’ll put aside the fact they changed a good 90% of the course less than a month out from race day (so if you love the new course it’s too late to start training, if you hate the new course you’ve already registered and there are no refunds).

My first impression of the new course: Yuck.

My favorite part of the ‘old’ course was running through all the different neighborhoods of Oakland. Seeing the variety and everything the town has to offer. My least favorite part of the course was the last few miles, running through random industrial and unincorporated neighborhoods in West Oakland.

The ‘new’ course did away with pretty much all running in neighborhoods and doubled down on running through random, industrial neighborhoods with nothing but concrete and warehouses.

My prediction is there will be zero on-course support (I doubt the people of Oakland will drive to the concrete canyons by the port to cheer us on), and Oakland has always been light on on-course entertainment (at least entertainment that is still playing by the time the 5-hour pace group comes through). Amusing ourselves for 5 hours it is!

And oh yeah, there are turns. Lots, and lots, and lots of turns, random out and back bits, and re-running sections of the course multiple times. By my very quick count: 5 U-turns, and 60+ turns.

Think of a plate of spaghetti. The route looks something like that.

My guess is that pacing is going to be a nightmare – so many turns. I won’t even start with the chaos that happens when the half and full runners merge. It’s always been bad and will likely be worse this year because of all the looping and doubling back on the course.

I repeat: yuck.

The official story is that they wanted a flat and fast course because people were scared off by the hill on the old course. The gossip is they didn’t want to pay what the city was asking for permits for the old course.

In either case, I’m floored by this. It’s terrible for 3 reasons, any one of which would make me unhappy all by itself:

  1. The course does away with all aspects that made it ‘Oakland’
  2. It’s objectively a bad course. Regardless of course support, the scenic pro/cons and other intangibles, endless turns, u-turns, and double-backing is not a good way to design a course.
  3. The timing/communication from the race. You do this now!? A head’s up would have been nice.

On the upside, it still starts at the park which is a 5-minute walk from my front door.

So there’s that.


Sworkit day ‘Sweat, Strong & Stretch’

As has been the case with nearly all of my Sworkit courses – it was fine.

As you’d guess based on the name it had a few strength moves (push-ups, lunges), cardio moves (jumping jacks and running in place), and stretching.

I do like that Sworkit lets you change the duration of any workout. That’s a nice feature.


I felt off on our long run today.

Physically, I was fine.

Mentally and emotionally, the wind has gone out of my sails on the idea of running Oakland.

I have no (realistic) choice but to see it through, but all the enthusiasm I had for the race and for pacing it is gone in light of the new course.

Today’s run was entirely on autopilot. But kudos to me (if I can toot my own horn) for still hitting my pace while running on autopilot.


Spent the morning volunteering at the race my running club puts on every 4th Sunday. I felt like I needed to put positive running karma vibes back into the universe after this week.

Helping out at a race (that had the courtesy to NOT change 90% of the course immediately before race day), was just what my slightly battered running psyche needed.

My workout of the day was another Sworkit workout: Yoga For Body Toning. Probably the best Sworkit workout I’ve done. It isn’t anything spectacular, but solid yoga moves that actually had some kind of flow to it.

Week Overall

  • Urg.
  • I won’t continue to rant about the new Oakland course and how much I don’t like it
  • OK. I lied. A little more ranting…
  • I have zero interest in running this course. I have less than zero interest in pacing it. But I’m registered and have agreed to pace, so run it and pace it I will. I will fulfill my obligations and commitments, and I’ll even put on a positive face on race day for my pacees.
  • But more than the course changes themselves (terrible as they are), I’m more upset by the way the change was handled by the race directors and race organizers.
    • Making changes that entirely change the character of a race less than a month before race day? That is disrespectful to us runners who have been training for months. A few last-minute minor course tweaks are always to be expected, but a total overhaul? A month out? Really?
    • They said the changes were ‘months in the making.’ A reference, however vague it needed to be, that changes were in the works would have been nice ‘months ago.’ A little heads-up. Something.

I’m more than a little saddened to know I’m likely running my last Oakland Marathon. Even if I end up loving the course (could happen, unlikely as it is), I don’t see myself supporting race organizers that have such little respect for runners.

Oakland is my adopted hometown, and while this race was never perfect, it was a good showcase of the town and all the wonderful little neighborhoods it holds.

It deserves a better marathon than this.

Rant officially over.

Next Week: Week 15


PlanYoga/Stretch5 miles5 miles5 milesStrengthRest20 miles @ 11:00 min/mile pace
Actual3.5 miles5 miles5 miles
Foam roll class
5 milesYogaRest/stretch20 miles @ 10:55 min/mile pace

Area of Focus


I’m not in a good one now. But I need to focus on the task at hand.

Whatever I may think of the new Oakland course, I am running it, so I need to focus for the next month and see this through.

Sara is a runner, running coach, writer, blogger, and a lover of all things written.

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