Half Marathon #24
CA Half Marathon #3
San Francisco Second Half Marathon #2
Before I get to the race recap I want to list two big takeaways from this race. First, I (and pretty much everyone else) do not run well in the heat. Two, I need a lot more hill training.
Back to the race…
Mom and I both woke plenty early this morning. That’s what happens when you go to bed on east coast time. (Both of us were asleep by 8:30 PST aka 11:30 EST.) I felt more rested before this this race than I expected.
We took our time heading down to the shuttles and even dashed back up to the hotel room to grab the drop bag and our shirts. (This turned out to be an excellent decision. We were able to put everything in the bag after the race and go pretty much hands free.) I did manage to leave my half-eaten Luna bar back in the room but at least I’d put something in my belly.
I loved riding the shuttle with someone. It helped so much being experienced and not alone.
Once we got to the second half start we had just enough time (with a little leftover) to drop off the sweats bag and make a portopotty stop.
I made my way up to corral 2 and once again noticed the lack of corral monitoring in the second half. The guy standing next to me was wearing a corral 4 bib. That minor complaint aside, I couldn’t believe that I was in the corral right behind the elites and sub-seeded athletes.
When we walked down to the start, things got real. Before I knew it, the starter was counting down and we were off.
I settled into a 7:30ish pace quickly and easily and felt really strong. In fact, except for the miles where I stopped to get water (more on that later) all of my mile splits were below 7:35. The mental battle was another story.
I ran without my handheld since I haven’t needed it in a San Francisco half before but today was the exception. For the first time in 4 years, the weather actually felt like summer, not South Carolina summer, but definitely summer. Just my luck.
I realized this early on and decided to take water at every water stop. Definitely the right decision.
I don’t know how I forgot but the hills in Golden Gate Park started messing with my mind. Miles 2-5 of a half marathon are pretty early for that to start happening. I wondered why on earth I was doing this to myself and what I was thinking for trying to push for a BQ in the fall. I didn’t even feel bad at this point which is why all the negative thoughts perplexed me.
This time I won the mental battle. I told myself to shut up and keep running.
Around this time I took my first Gatorade Chews. It took me almost a half mile to finally get them chewed and swallowed. It’s a fact. Chewing is next to impossible at that pace. I decided to forego the rest of the chews. I probably should have taken a couple more or grabbed a gel on Haight but the effort of chewing outweighed the benefits.
By the time I got to Haight and the major downhill I could tell that the heat and hills were getting to me. (I am so thankful for California’s “dry” heat though.) That’s when I started double fisting the water and wishing I had my handheld. (It probably would have been empty by that point though.)
It was also after the downhill at Haight that every little incline felt like a mountain and made me wonder how I could possibly keep pushing.
At the water stop just before mile 10 the 1:40 paces passed me. I’d been in front of them for the whole race. I had already decided to try to stay ahead of them or keep up with them if they did end up passing me so I tried to keep up with them.
I’m not sure why they were running so fast. When I looked down at my Garmin I saw that they were maintaining a 7 minute pace and I was still behind them. There was no way I could keep up that pace for even a 5k at that point. I decided to drop back to my goal pace and let them go.
The heat was really getting to me and I could feel my pace slacking and my effort level increasing. Shortly after I lost sight of the 1:40 pacers I let go of my sub 1:40 goal. I cannot describe the weight that lifted off my shoulders at that point. My legs protested the pace so much that I slowed to a walk. I needed that minute. It gave me a chance to collect myself and make a new game plan.
I kept pushing looking forward to the next water stop and a chance to walk a little take in some liquids.
I gave myself permission to run at a comfortable pace even if that pace was on the 9 side of 8:30. Turns out…I’m stronger than I think. My slowest split (the mile with the minute of walking) was just 8:17, less than a minute off my goal pace.
We got to AT&T Park (oh how I wish I had a later flight so I could see the Giants play the Dodgers this afternoon!) and I knew we were close to the end. I could keep pushing for 2.2 miles, for 2 miles for 1.5 miles and etc.
I have to admit though, I almost gave myself permission to walk in the last mile. When I got to the mile 12 marker though I scoffed and the idea and kept plugging away.
The cruelest part of the course? The few tenths of a mile on Embarcadero before you can see the finish line. You know that you’re almost there but it’s still so far away.
I didn’t know if I was going to throw a sprint on or not. I didn’t know if I had it in me.
I’m too competitive though. I had to go for it. After all, it was less than a tenth of a mile. I had so much more to gain than lose.
I threw on a sprint and finished strong.
Unofficially, that’s a 42 second PR on a race where I ran almost 3 tenths more.
If I had walked during that last mile, I would not have that PR. There’s something to be said for mental toughness.
This PR was hard but so worth it. (I have way too many thoughts about what this race has taught me to fit here. I’ll definitely be writing another post this week.)
Mom came through about 20 minutes later looking strong.
Though the heat kept her from another sub 2 hour she still did great!
On towards Boston!