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Berkeley Half Marathon Race Report & Review

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Berkeley, California

February 27, 2022

Race Report by Iris Yellum

Photo Credit: Michael Lindsey

This was my first half marathon race with other runners. I did my first two half marathons in 2020, just running around Santa Cruz with my partner Michael supporting me on his bike. In 2020, I did the Berkeley virtual half marathon, which was good motivation for me then to get a PR. Since I had never participated in such a big race or traveled for a race, I was nervous about the race logistics. To save time, I got my bib in the mail, so I didn't have to head to packet pick up the day before. I had a small portion of oats with a couple of dates for breakfast 1.5 hours before, giving me plenty of time to digest. I got to the finish area with plenty of time for a warmup run and to check a bag with my warmup clothes. I was assigned to Corral C based on my EFT, but I only saw signs for Waves at the start. I tried to locate an appropriate spot to place myself based on the pacer signs. The goal was somewhere around 2:00-2:05. When I signed up for the race, I estimated I could improve 6 minutes from my last time of 2:26:36, but my coach, Martin, suggested I could do around 2:00-2:05.

Since I had done this distance before, I wasn't as nervous, but I was excited to try and PR after having a year of triathlon training. The race started with each wave heading off with a countdown, and we headed through neighborhoods of Berkeley, Telegraph Ave, UC Berkeley's campus (including through the main gate), and through more neighborhoods. After doing this distance at threshold by myself, it was magical to get to do this with so many other runners. The course had a great local feel, and it was delightful to see so many people coming out to cheer everyone on. The race does allow headphones, and some runners were pulling out their phones to take pictures during the race.

For nutrition I slowly chewed a few shot blocks around mile 6 to make sure I wouldn’t bonk, the rest at mile 7 and 8. The electrolyte drink the race provided was great, so there was plenty of hydration every couple miles. The hardest part of the course was around mile 9 and 10, when the view was of the SF skyline on one side, and the freeway on the other. This was pretty brutal, as my feet were starting to hurt and I didn't know how long it would be until the turnaround back over the highway overpass. I was happy to see a coworker who was also participating in the race at this point, and gave her a high five! This briefly raised my spirits.

I was excited to see that this is a big race with pacers, who somehow have the strength to hold up a paper sign the whole time with a pace and finish time. The aid stations were excellent (every two miles), with so many enthusiastic volunteers and an electrolyte drink that really helped me through. Though I didn't know the course, everything was well marked and there were so many runners you couldn't get lost. I paced the first 6 or so miles well, and felt great until I got to the hills, and took those slow. The last three miles were a slog, and I was working to push through my toes starting to complain. I didn't pay attention to my watch too much and just focused on how I was doing subjectively, knowing I could get through the distance. It was just a question of how fast I could do it and how much my feet could take. I was so grateful to all the spectators throughout, especially at the last few blocks. I didn't have anything more in me to sprint to the finish, so I know I did this the fastest I could. An 18 min improvement from my last time seems pretty good to me! I finished just two and a half minutes slower than my coach predicted. My Strava time was 2:07:26, while my chip time was 2:08:19.

Iris's gear:

Runners: Brooks Ghost 14 GPS Watch: Garmin 735XT

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