Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kaiser Half Marathon Recap

First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy running races that take place in San Francisco. It makes the whole experience so easy and stress-free. Much nicer than having to travel. And even better when it’s a race in San Francisco that doesn’t include killer hills!

Amanda got to my place at about 6:45, and we headed to the bus. We rode partway to the race start, and then did about a mile warm-up run to the start of the race. We were supposed to meet up with a bunch of our fellow SFRRC members, but somehow missed all of them, so we opted to use the port-a-potties and go line up for the start. Unlike most large races, this one was run strictly on gun time (or in this case cable car bell time?), so we made sure to get close to the front to avoid adding too much unnecessary time to our race results.

After the typical national anthem, etc., we were off and running. Much to our surprise, we still had to dodge super slow runners and WALKERS. Keep in mind, we were lined up at the back of the 7-minute mile group. HELLO??? Do you know anyone who can walk a mile in 7 minutes? How difficult is it to read the little signs and line up where you’re SUPPOSED to be? There is absolutely no reason we should been dodging slower runners. Slight pet peeve of mine, can you tell? Alright, enough ranting about that. :) On to the race:

For the first mile or so, we really weren’t sure about our pace. We’d done our warmup almost an hour before the start, so by the time we actually got going, we were fairly cold again. Fortunately, we were pretty much on pace with an 8:24 mile to start. That’s exactly our Boston qualifying pace, so we were happy with it. A good portion of the race through Golden Gate Park was downhill, so that allowed us to make up some of the time we lost dodging slow runners, and it gave us a little bit of a cushion for the hill at the very end of the race (EVIL – why, WHY must they always put a hill at the end of a race?). It was a nice morning, and we felt pretty good through the park, so we talked through most of the first half.

The second half was a different story altogether. A long out-and-back on the Great Highway had us wishing it would just be over. It’s straight, it’s flat, and you can’t see the end, just a sea of runners that seems to go on forever. The only good thing about that part of the race is that we got to see the elites (many of whom finished in about 1:10 or less), and we also got to see a lot of our fellow SFRRC members. Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 I started telling myself that “I didn’t really need a PR,” and that “I could still finish in under 2 hours even if I just ran 10-minute miles for the rest of the race.” But I quickly came to my senses, told myself to shut the hell up, and dug in. When we finally got to the far end of the Great Highway, I felt much better mentally, knowing that we just had to get back to the park, but physically, I was starting to lose it. I ate my second GU at about mile 11, and by the time I hit mile 12, I just wanted to be done. I picked up the pace and made it over the hill (which actually, by SF standards, was nothing!) with no problem. The last .25 or so totally made up for it too, because it’s a nice downhill straight into the finish chutes.

Final time: 1:47:09 (by my watch), official time 1:48:23.

Somehow this race felt even easier than San Jose, and I feel better now than I did after that race too. I think this was a net downhill course, but I honestly didn’t expect to cut almost 5 minutes off of my previous PR (1:51:59)! I haven’t been super motivated lately, and I kind of felt like I was dragging throughout most of January. I was surprised to see that we also had a few sub-8 miles (Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would run sub-8s!!!). Here are my splits:

mile 1 - 8:23
mile 2 - 7:43 (whoa...oops! Little bit fast there!)
mile 3 - 8:06
mile 4 - 8:07
mile 5 - 7:53 (I love running downhill!)
mile 6 - 8:01
mile 7 - 7:56 (more downhill...)
mile 8 - 8:07
mile 9 - 8:16 (here's where the torturous flat section started)
mile 10 - 8:14
mile 11 - 8:25 (this is where I seriously considered quitting...)
mile 12 - 8:35 (...and I was still thinking it!)
mile 13 - 8:28 (but with one mile left, I had to kick it back up a notch!)
mile 13.1 - 0:48

That’s an 8:10 average pace. Holy crap! :) Shave a few more minutes off, and I’ll have a sub-8 race! Woo hoo!

So anyway, my friend Melisse ran into me (literally) in the chute...she happened to come in right behind me, and couldn’t stop with the momentum from the last little downhill! Amanda finished about 30 seconds ahead of me with a 1:46, and lots of our other runners had a really good race too. Big John made his 1:50-something goal, Kevin, who was just looking for a sub-2 came in at around 1:53, Kate (who, at 61, is my inspiration!!!) came in around 2, and I think Joe Carboni came in with a 1:23 (crazy fast!)! Kirk and Leslie (who were both super proud of us!) were manning the SFRRC tent, so they congratulated us and then offered us bagels, fruit and coffee, which we gladly accepted. We hung around for awhile and talked to the others, congratulated everyone on a great race, and then headed home. What a great way to start the day!

P.S. Fun little tidbit for the day...the Queen Mary II came to San Francisco today. It's the biggest ship ever to dock in the Bay, clearing the Golden Gate Bridge by just 30 feet!

It was quite a sight, and lots of people were out to watch, even though it meant missing the Super Bowl. All kinds of boats helped usher her in, and hundreds of onlookers camped out the shore and on the Golden Gate to watch it pass under. I hadn't actually planned to be there, but I got lucky and caught a glimpse of the entire ship just before it docked.

Look how small Alcatraz looks in comparison!