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San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon

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San Francisco, California
United States
Total Time = 1h 58m 25s
Overall Rank = 1547/7953
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 203/1573
Pre-race routine:

A 5:30 a.m. start meant I had to be up at 3:30 a.m. so, um, I pretty much didn't bother going to bed at all, just napped on my couch for a couple hours. I ate a Lunabar and had some coffee while waiting for Shizu and her gang (husband, coworker, and coworker's husband, who was also running the half) to pick me up. They were running a little late but we made it into the city easy and found parking no problem. It wasn't as cold as I'd feared at the start so I checked in my sweat bag right away and went with Shizu to hit the bathrooms. When we got back to the group it was time for me to get into my corral. I was in the second wave so my start time was pretty much right after the official start (Shizu wouldn't start until 5:50 and the dude we were with wasn't starting until 6:15). I never felt nervous before this race, which was a first for me.
Event warmup:

Nothing. I had a gel and some water about 10 minutes before the start.
  • 1h 58m 25s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 02s  min/mile

The plan was to start this run at 8:30ish miles and see how long I could hang on. I still haven't gotten around to fixing/replacing my Garmin so I was going off of my stopwatch and just checking my mile splits. That worked out pretty well for the first five miles and I was pleased with how things were going. I slowed down on one tough hill, but still was sub-9 without killing myself and I was able to bounce back to my 8:30ish pace pretty easy. The start of the race was beautiful, running right by the bay with the fog rolling in.

Then we hit the incline to the bridge and the bridge itself. I was feeling OK but there were no mile markers on the bridge (no miler markers at all between miles 5 and 10) and I very quickly fell off my pace and had no idea what I was running. The bridge itself is pretty hilly -- nothing terrible, but enough that it sapped my speed quite a bit. It also seems to go on forever, heh. But I was having fun and getting a kick out of the cars honking and going by. About a quarter of the way across the bridge the front-runners passed us coming back and everyone cheered like crazy. That's the only reason I like out-and-backs!

I grabbed some water at the bridge turnaround. For most of the return trip I was keeping my eyes on the runners coming at me, hoping to catch Shizu. I finally spotted her about 3/4 of the way across and she was booking it with the 3:55 marathon pace group. She looked awesome! We passed so fast I only had time to yell her name and catch her eye before she was gone.

From there it was a nice downhill onto Lincoln and I took a gel. And that was when I fell apart. I knew there were some rolling hills for the last three miles of the race but I was not expecting them to be as tough as they were (and I studied elevation charts!). After the bridge there's an underpass and then the course curves into a sharp uphill to mile 10 and I felt completely spent. For a few minutes there I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

I hit the top of the hill, grabbed some water and checked my watch for the first time in a while (no point when I was on the bridge) and saw that I was at 1:29 and change. shot whatsoever at a PR. All of my goals were out the window at that point. I despaired for about three minutes and then said screw it, I'm having fun. Fortunately that coincided with a looooooooooong downhill stretch that I flew down (running my only sub-8 mile).

From there it was a long series of climbs and each one took more out of me. I wasn't in pain so much as I just *could not* work the hills. I had nothing in me. It was disappointing, especially considering all the hills I've run in training, but what are you going to do? I got passed like crazy on every hill and was doing a shuffle like it was the end of a marathon. Yuck.

The last couple miles went by pretty fast, though, and soon enough I was in Golden Gate Park and spectators were yelling that we were "almost there" and for once they were totally right. The finish line really sprang up on me.

On the one hand, I'm disappointed that after some pretty intense training I ran my slowest half mary so far. On the other, this was the most difficult half mary I've done (I'm not counting the trail run a month or two ago, since I didn't race that one) and there's no way I could've pulled off this time in this race last year. I was in the top 13 percent of my age group and the top 20 percent overall, which I think is my strongest overall finish.

That said, I'm definitely doing another race (either a half mary or a 10k, or both) sometime soon -- I have earned a PR!
What would you do differently?:

I think the only thing I'm really bothered by is how thoroughly I fell apart in the last couple miles. I'll admit that I gave up a little when I realized how much time I'd lost on the bridge. I wish I'd kept my mental game on.
Post race
Warm down:

I walked through the finishers' chute and picked up my space blanket and medal and hit the buffet line, then grabbed my sweat bag. I found Paul pretty easily. I got super cold while waiting for Shizu, so I put on all my clothes and bundled up in the space blanket then did quite a bit of stretching, and more stretching after Shizu came in.

Shizu was fantastic -- 2:09 for her first half mary, on a tough course. And she looked SO HAPPY. She was really damned proud of herself, as she should be, and when I told her I was thinking about doing another half mary soon she said to let her know because she thinks she'll want to join me. I've created a monster!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hills. I also did zero speed training for this race, but I'm not sure that was an issue.

Event comments:

San Francisco Marathon is a top-notch event. Considering how much they're doing at once -- a full marathon, two half marathons and a 5k -- everything runs very smoothly and on time. The course for the first half marathon is tough but beautiful and it's fun running with all the marathoners. My friends said the course got pretty crowded on the bridge, but I was in an early wave and didn't have any issues.

Last updated: 2009-05-22 12:00 AM
01:58:25 | 13.1 miles | 09m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 203/1573
Overall: 1547/7953
Performance: Average
Splits: 8:23, 8:33, 8:49, 8:26, 8:35, 46:19 (GGB), 7:56, 10:13, 11:07 (1.1 miles)
Course: Point to point course starting at Ferry Buiding, running up the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, through Crissy Field, across the Golden Gate Bridge, then HELL to Golden Gate Park.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-07-26 7:00 PM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon

2009-07-26 11:21 PM
in reply to: #2308972

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon
Great job Erin! I've got to get up there for this race sometime. 
2009-07-27 6:57 AM
in reply to: #2308972

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon

Super race! 

Love that you created a monster

2009-07-27 1:26 PM
in reply to: #2308972

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Subject: RE: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon
Nice job, Erin! Congrats to Shizu, too!! I know that route well and, yes, it's a hilly SOB.

2009-07-27 4:45 PM
in reply to: #2308972

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Santa Cruz, California
Subject: RE: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon

good job~! you will PR your next 1/2 Mary Entrance! Im doing the San Jose Rock n Roll n October! you can come and whip up on me anyday! great race! hope to meet you some time...Leslie keeps telling me that we need to meet! maybe at the SJ RNR!?!?!

2009-07-28 6:51 PM
in reply to: #2308972

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: San Francisco Marathon - Half Marathon
Hey Erin

Don't be disappointed.  You have to take terrain into consideration when comparing PR's.  You picked this race for its beauty and you had that in the early morning.  Celebrate your sub 2 hour is a great time!


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