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Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon - Run

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San Francisco, California
United States
Kaiser Permanente / Pamakid Runners
43F / 6C
Total Time = 1h 44m 55s
Overall Rank = 1012/4370
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 70/201
Pre-race routine:

"If you're going to San Francisco... be sure to wear some flowers in your hair."
- Scott McKenzie, May, 1967

Except for wearing flowers in my hair, I thought I'd brought along everything I needed for the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon this past Sunday. Running shoes? Check. Shorts and a shirt? Check. iPod? Check. About halfway through my drive to SF, however, I noticed some strange liquid droplets forming on my windshield: Rain! For those of us who live in drought-stricken California, rain is an odd sight indeed. During the past 12 months, we had accumulated less than an inch of rain in the SF Bay Area. But today was the day the weather gods decided to bless us with some liquid sunshine. Cool! Or so I thought...

The wet stuff continued to get stronger as I drove north on I-280, entered The City, and reached Golden Gate Park. I found a spot to park near the Cliff House on Ocean Beach and noticed some nice 4-5 foot waves crashing offshore. Maybe I should have brought a surfboard instead? When I opened my car door and stepped outside, I realized I should have brought a wetsuit or at least a pair of galoshes. It was about 40 degrees, windy, and raining. Of course, rain and wind and cold is no big deal if you live anywhere else but California. I kept reminding myself of that as I locked my car and promptly stepped into a crater-sized puddle. I sorta slog-jogged about a half-mile toward a shuttle bus stop and got in line with a group of fellow shivering runners.

The shuttle bus worked out great. It dropped us off near the starting line in the middle of Golden Gate Park. I then followed a parade of bodies marching toward the only dry spot in sight -- a nearby overpass. I huddled with the masses under the bridge for a few minutes, stretched, and tried to warm up. Eventually, I stripped down to my running shorts and tank top, stowed my sweats in a plastic bag, and trotted off towards the starting line.

Event warmup:

Fortunately, the rain tempered a bit just before the 8 AM starting time. In fact, I hardly noticed it after I got to the start area. My warmup was abbreviated. I basically jogged about a 1/4 mile and found a spot in the start corral (well actually I also took quick potty break in a nearby grove of eucalyptus trees -- but TMI...).
  • 1h 44m 55s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 01s  min/mile

So the plan was to take it easy at a 7:50-8:00 pace for the first 5 miles, then drop down to 7:45 or so for the next 5 miles, and blast the last 5K to the finish. Ahem -- right. It wasn't quite so simple. My initial pace went up and down like a yo-yo as I dodged puddles, runners, homeless people, dogs, and climbed up and down some moderate hills. The weather wasn't much of a factor at this point, and I somehow managed to hit the 5-mile marker at just under 40 minutes. So far so good...

Miles 6 and 7 were the easiest of the day -- pretty much straight downhill through the meadows of Golden Gate Park and onto the Great Highway along the Pacific Ocean. I rolled along at a 7:15-7:30 pace. But as soon as I turned south, the road flattened and the wind hit like a shotgun blast. Whoa. It felt like I suddenly went into slow motion. My pace slowed down to the 8:10 range. I chugged an electrolyte drink at about 8 1/2 miles, but it made my stomach very unhappy. Still, I hit the 10-mile marker just a minute or so behind plan (~1:19 or so).

The final 5K hurt, as expected. But at least the wind was no longer in my face. I picked up the pace to about 7:52 for the next two miles -- still much slower than the 7:30 pace my coach sketched out for me. My legs didn't seem to care much about the plan. I actually couldn't feel much in my upper right leg -- it was numb from the cold. So I just put my head down and ran as fast I could. The last 500 yards up MLK Drive to the finish line was just as tough as I remembered it from the last time I did this race in 2011.

After the race, the organizers were kind enough to hand out a bunch of those reflective aluminum foil heat blankets. That blanket felt really good. I saw a guy I knew from grammar school at the finish and we hung out and chatted for a while. He's a year older than me and crazy fast -- he ran a 1:29. Suddenly my 1:44 (a PR) didn't seem very fast. There will always be plenty of speedsters out there to keep a guy humble...

What would you do differently?:

I wasn't ready for the wind to hit me in the face starting at the mile 7 marker. I expected to hit the wind near the turnaround at mile 10. In hindsight, it was probably best to deal with the wind earlier rather than later. But it caught me by surprise. Overall, though, I felt I dealt well with the conditions.
Post race
Warm down:

I quickly walked through the exhibit area, grabbed my race T-shirt, picked up my bag of sweats, and headed into the bushes to change into some semi-dry clothes. I've never been so cold after a race. Usually it's the exact opposite for me.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

This is an ongoing saga: I need to lose some weight so I can get up the hills faster. I also need to find a way to squeeze some more speed out of my legs for the last 5K.

Event comments:

Despite the stormy conditions, I really had a good time. It was sort of an adventure race at times. San Francisco is still a beautiful place to run. This is definitely a race worth doing -- even in the rain.

Last updated: 2014-01-03 12:00 AM
01:44:55 | 13.1 miles | 08m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 70/201
Overall: 1012/4370
Performance: Good
Course: The course starts in the middle of Golden Gate Park heading east on John F. Kennedy Drive, then swings past the DeYoung Museum and the Conservatory of Flowers, and out and around the Panhandle on Fell Street and Oak Street. Then it's back into Golden Gate Park, past Kezar Stadium, and onto John F. Kennedy Drive again -- this time heading west towards the Pacific Ocean. We pass through several huge meadows in the park before reaching the Great Highway and turning left. Then there's a long 2 1/2 mile straightaway south along the beach towards the SF Zoo, and a turnaround at the water treatment plant. The last 5K heads back north, then turns right on Martin Luther King Drive, with a very unkind hill on the last 500 yards heading to the finish.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2014-02-04 2:30 AM

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Morgan Hill, CA
Subject: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon

2014-02-04 7:24 AM
in reply to: #4943837

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ann arbor, michigan
Subject: RE: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon
Great race and report. I felt like I was running right along with you.

I like that you had a plan an stuck to it while being able to adjust to the conditions.

Even though I am from a cold weather state, I would rather deal with heat than cold. I can totally understand your dismay at the weather conditions.
2014-02-04 9:07 AM
in reply to: wannabefaster

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South Alabama
Subject: RE: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon

Steve-excellent race report. PR in those conditions is worth "double points" in my book! Well done!

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