Running in the 'Meda: See Jane Run

Running in the 'Meda: See Jane Run

Marty Beene

This Sunday, thousands of women will convene at Crab Cove/Crown Beach for the annual See Jane Run Half Marathon and 5k race. This is a terrific event for both women and men, as it turns out. The benefits for women are obvious: It's an opportunity to participate in a race almost entirely run by other women (they do allow men to run, but guys, really?), so there's not all that excess testosterone around to muck things up.

Seriously, it's always fun to do something with just all men or all women once in a while, like guys' night out or girls' night out. This also applies to running. The women runners I know really enjoy the sisterhood vibe of these all-women races, and when I've gone to watch the event, you can tell that this is going on. You could probably find some grumpy old man who would find some way to criticize the focus of the event on women only, but if you spend just two minutes down there, you'll see that it's an entirely positive scene, with women celebrating fitness together.

So why is it so terrific for men? Because we're usually racing, too, and never get a chance to actually watch other runners. It turns out that watching a race is almost as much fun as running in one. Plus, unless you're one of a tiny, tiny fraction of runners in any given locale, you never get a chance to see the winners finish, so here's your chance!

Another way that it's a great opportunity for men is that you can give back to the running community by volunteering. I used to do this way back in the '80s when there was a racing series for women sponsored by the Bonne Bell makeup company. They had 10k races all around the country, and I volunteered a couple of times at the San Francisco one. (Trivia note: My wife and I went on our first date in 1988 - a matinee performance of HMS Pinafore - after I volunteered at the Bonne Bell 10k in the morning.) One year, the job they gave me was to tear off the bottom part of the bib numbers after the runners finished - I got pretty good at dodging vomit while tearing off those tags. If I wasn't already committed to another volunteer effort, I'd be volunteering this Sunday, too.

Whether you're a man, woman or child, you should get out and watch the races - the half marathon starts at 8 a.m., and the 5k follows at 8:30. The course for the 5k is simple. It starts right by Washington Park, heads down Shoreline Drive, then turns around, goes back, and finishes at Crab Cove. The half marathon course starts the same way, but continues over the bike bridge to Bay Farm, skirts Mount Trashmore, circles the entire Island in a clockwise direction, then comes back to Crab Cove. These routes provide many opportunities for cheering on the runners, and, having run a few half marathons myself, the cheering will be much appreciated late in the race. The 10-mile mark is on the path right next to the Harbor Bay Club, and the 11- and 12-mile points are along Shoreline Drive. Alameda's own "heartbreak hill" is the bike bridge at a little past 10 miles. The runners may not notice the grade too much heading over to Bay Farm, but it may feel like a mountain on the way back.

The best part about watching a race is that it's inspiring. Whether you're a fast or slow runner, or maybe even not a runner at all, watching and cheering on the runners will make you feel like getting out there yourself.

In other news, I did indeed run the 10,000-meter race (25 laps on the track) last Saturday at the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field's Masters Track Championships at the College of San Mateo. My goal was to run a time of about 42:30, and I beat that by about nine seconds! It was my fastest time for that distance in almost 10 years (since the Run for the Parks race in Alameda on August 1, 2004). I finished fourth out of 12 runners, and second among the seven men. That time has me currently ranked second in the U.S. in my age group (the guy with the best time was in the same race - he beat me by more than six and a half minutes!), and 13th in the world. I wrote a detailed race report that few people would be interested in, but if you are, you can read it here.

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. Marty can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.