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San Francisco Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon

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San Francisco, California
United States
The San Francisco Marathon
Total Time = 1h 54m 18s
Overall Rank = 1000/4131
Age Group = F30-39
Age Group Rank = 103/728
Pre-race routine:

I went to bed too late, of course, and got only about three and a half hours of sleep. I ended up parking at my office because of crazy traffic near the finish line, where I'd be catching a shuttle to the start. That meant I had to walk a mile to the bus, which worked out fine. I ate a Kind bar on the drive into SF and a banana on the walk, and had enough time to grab a cup of coffee too. The shuttles ended up running way behind -- they were supposed to run from 6:30 to 7 a.m., but I didn't get on a bus until after 7:30 and didn't get to the start until 8 a.m., which was just 20 minutes before my wave was scheduled to start. Since I still needed to make a bathroom stop and check in my sweat bag, and allegedly they were closing off the corrals 15 minutes before each wave's start time, I decided to skip my wave and start with the next one. That worked out fine anyway because Shizu was in the next wave so we got to hang out for a while and even start together.

Between the bus being late and chatting with Shizu and just the chaos of the start area, there wasn't any time to be nervous. Yay!
Event warmup:

The walk from my office to the shuttle area was good. Otherwise, no warmup.
  • 1h 54m 18s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 44s  min/mile

There are two half marathons that run with the San Francisco Marathon -- the first half covers the first 13 miles of the full, and the second half (mostly) covers the last 13 miles. I've done the first half before and it's fun but tough -- very hilly, and I'm not keen on the 5:30 a.m. start time. The second half has some mild hills but is overall much faster. I was doing the second half this time.

My goal for this race was...iffy. I *knew* I had a PR in me. But I knew that six weeks ago too, and I knew that three years ago when I was marathon training, and both times I'd failed to beat the 2008 time. So I also knew there were no guarantees. Plus, I'd been feeling kind of "off" all week (sluggish, headachy, some minor cold symptoms, etc.) and I'd had a terrible last long run the week before. Those issues, combined with my rush to get to the start line, made me start this race with a very "what happens, happens" attitude.

I was supposed to start with the 1:45-2:00 wave, but I ended up in the next wave back, and yeesh, did I do A LOT of weaving for the first three miles. Plus, we joined the marathon course immediately, which meant I was weaving around slower half marathoners along with full marathoners running a 10-min-mile pace. It was so crowded in places that I was forced to walk three or four times and even came to a full stop once or twice. Early on I decided to ignore my Garmin because it just wasn't going to matter -- I wasn't going to "sprint" through the crowds to try to reach some goal pace. Instead, I ran what felt like a good half marathon pace effort when I could, and slowed down when there was too much traffic. I still don't know what my pace was for those first few miles.

The first five or so miles went by SO FAST. It was actually a ton of fun. The park was beautiful and the course wove all over the place, which I enjoyed -- I much prefer a lot of twisting and turning to some long straight slog. The course was mostly an easy uphill but I barely noticed that. I loved the general excitement of running with all of the marathoners. There were two spots where our course ran parallel to the first half marathon course, and that was a blast -- so many runners! There was just a lot of good energy in the park.

Then we ran through a tunnel and up a short, steep hill and were on city streets. Again, the next four or five miles went by super fast. There were two or three short, steep climbs, but I used the downhills to collect some speed and recover. I was ignoring my Garmin, mostly, and just enjoying myself. Every now and then I'd glance at my Garmin when I heard a mile beep -- sometimes I was "too fast" and sometimes I was "too slow" but I never adjusted my pace.

At about mile 10 I passed by a dude holding a 2:30 pace group sign. Ha! I'm thinking that guy was either lost, or his strategy was to haul ass for 10 miles and walk in the last three. He didn't seem to have a group of runners with him, anyway.

I honestly didn't start hurting until about mile 11. That was when I finally put my head down and focused on keeping up a good, hard effort. The last mile was brutal (as it should be!) and the best/worst moment was when I finally checked my time and saw 1:46, and knew I only had about three-quarters of a mile to go. I felt confident that I could make the PR but I knew I was going to have to keep going hard, and I felt like shit. That last stretch was tough, man. I didn't even smile or look around in the finisher's chute, just kept my eyes on the timing mats.

And I had my PR! It was a bit closer than I'd expected but whatever, I'll happily take those 31 seconds.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing! I'm thrilled with this race. Sure, I should have started with my wave and skipped all of the weaving in the first three miles, but I think that section helped relax me and got me off to a great start. It also took my mind off my Garmin and my pace-watching, which was a very good lesson for me -- I need to trust my body to do what I've trained it to do.
Post race
Warm down:

I found a relatively calm spot in the finisher's chute to wait for Shizu, who was about five minutes behind me. There was a huge line for the bag check for my group so it took me probably 20 minutes to get my stuff. Then I walked the mile back to my car, which turned out to be a great move -- my legs were very happy to shake out some of the post-run tightness.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm sure that all of the traffic in the first three miles slowed me down, but I think that might've been a good thing overall.

Event comments:

I really enjoyed this half marathon! The first half is worth doing because of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I actually thought the second half was a lot more fun. There are more runners on the course, there's more crowd support, and you get to finish at the main marathon finish line, so there's lots of excitement. And the course itself wasn't as boring as I'd expected -- there are only about two miles toward the end that wind through industrial areas, and at that point you're in the get-this-over-with zone, so scenery isn't so important. Anyway, I'd definitely recommend this race.

Last updated: 2012-06-08 12:00 AM
01:54:18 | 13.1 miles | 08m 44s  min/mile
Age Group: 103/728
Overall: 1000/4131
Performance: Good
Splits: 8:40, 8:59, 8:53, 8:45, 8:20, 8:39, 8:22, 8:16, 8:41, 8:32, 8:23, 8:33, 8:32, 8:14
Course: The first five or six miles wind through Golden Gate Park, mostly on an incline although it's a very gentle uphill. After that it's all through the city, with a few short but steep uphills and a few very fast downhills. The last three miles are flat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-07-30 6:13 PM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: San Francisco Half Marathon
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