Monday, February 2, 2009

Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon Report

The tune-up race is in the books and I have to be pleased with the results. My goal for this race was to go under 1:40, and with a 1:39:20 I met that. In terms of what I had hoped to accomplish, I am definitely on track; at the same time, I am am wondering just how predictive this race will be on my Napa marathon. I'm running as well as I'd expected, and hope to really take advantage of my current training base at Napa.

I met up with my friend Kalei in the morning and we got to the line with plenty of time to spare. It was an uneventful morning which is always good: had a good breakfast, slept well enough and felt ready. It took us both about one and a half minutes from race start to cross the line, and from there we ran together for awhile. He went up the road aways and I stayed relaxed, choosing not to spend energy winding around the runners - the course was quite tight in the beginning.

My first mile was my slowest, which is always good sign - I like to stay relaxed in the beginning and not let the adrenaline take over. It took me over 8 minutes to get past mile 1. As we wound through the park I clicked off a series of 7:30 to 7:40 miles, and then tried to pick up some time on the downhills as we headed to Ocean Beach (mile 7). Mile 6 was sub 7:20, and mile 7 was 7:26.

Running along the ocean is a bit of a mental challenge as the course is straight out on Ocean beach for nearly 3 miles, and then back along the same course. I tried to quiet my mind and keep pace. Things went well here as I maintained a 7:25 to 7:35 pace along this stretch and felt really strong. I think the hammer gel and caffeine were working together to overcome the fatigue. At the turn I saw Kalei on his way back, and used that as motivation to keep working. I caught up with him at mile 11, a bit surprising as he had expected to run 1:46 and actually went 1:41. Mile 12 was 7:24, so pace was strong. The last two miles I simply shut my mind off and worked. There is a climb at the end of the course for about 1/3 of a mile, and I was able to push past a bunch of folks on this stretch which was a nice surprise. Then like that it was done, 1:40: 50 on the gun, 1:39:19 start-to-finish.

From now to Napa, on the training side I will keep up the weekly track sessions along with a 23 miler next Saturday. I would like to be lighter than I am, but haven't had any weight-loss success and am still tipping 180.

I have to admit to coming to a conclusion during the first couple of miles of this race: headphones and races DO NO MIX and I am now in favor of banning them, as Napa is doing. In the beginning of this race, too many runners were not able to hear me coming from behind and it made passing quite difficult. In addition, I'm convinced that there is some cocooning effect that the iPod has on the runner. The headsetted runners just didn't run straight, didn't look back to merge, and basically were a nuisance. I felt like a grumpy old man for awhile and though I held my tongue I am now venting...

One more nit I have to pick: my time is not recorded in the official results. Don't worry, I have witnesses, but still a bit of a disappointment.

Other notes:
+ even though I ran with a 10 oz watter bottle I still didn't even drink that whole thing. I will need to do better at the marathon. On a long run I drink at least 40 oz...
+ I loved not having to deal with the water stops. that in itself made the belt worthwhile
+ My favorite piece of the belt is the gel bottle. So much better to take a shot of gel out of a bottle than dealing with the little pouch
+ Per Hawk's advice I didn't wear a hat for the first time in a long while. I think that definitely kept some heat off
+ re-connected with Arbin, my old Intel running partner, at the finish. Will hook up with him at Napa
+ I have to confess to a bit of wistfulness when comparing my times to a few friends: Chloe's former teach Monique Tobbagi continues to tear it up, running a 1:34; Luca Fasoli, a guy who's first marathon was 4:20, went 1:28 and is working towards another sub 3 hour effort this year. He really preaches the track work...
+ this week's track session will be interesting: 10 x 400 at 1:35. Short, intense pain, here it comes!


  1. Your whole post sounds a little wishful and so I verily I say unto you: there is always, but always, someone faster than you. Always was and always will be. Monique and Luca? They both have runners faster than them too. Consider it constant motivation to do your own best, and it sounds like you did. You trained for sub 1:40 and you got it, great job! In every race you run lately, your times have been trending down and that shows your training is paying off. Celebrate! It’s too easy, and common, to train for sub x but hope/wish for sub x-a few minutes. As in, train for sub 1:40 and then wish/hope for sub 1:36. Pause and appreciate that you met your time goal, you finished feeling strong, you’re not injured, you’ve put a lot of time and effort to get where you are, go ahead and feel happy with yourself.

  2. You'd feel much better about your race time if you drank a 40 during the race.

  3. well, just as I feel a tinge bashful telling my time to someone I know i ran faster than, I feel a tinge of envy at the one who went faster. I feel great about the race though, and had a nice follow up 7-miler today