Super Bowl Sunday, 13.1 miles, great weather, no PR, but a strong run. In a few short words, that is how my first event of 2009 went. I guess that could be the end of the post, but what fun would that be? So here it is, my race report for the 2009 Kaiser Half-Marathon:
(Note: I have received several requests to post a photo. So, there you are. Above is me at the starting line. Sorry, I'm not smiling in the photo — I was concentrating on holding it still. It is so difficult to take a self photo with the iPhone AND have it in focus. I'll post official race photos once they are up.)
The morning of the race was one to be remembered. It was a beautiful morning in Golden Gate Park and there was some energy and anticipation in the air. I was stretched, loose and ready to attempt a PR on the course where I set my 1:59 Half-Marathon PR.
I started out feeling a little anxious, but finished the first couple miles at a decent pace (8:49, 8:51). Mile 3 was a bit slower than the initial 2, but I was still at my desired pace of 9 min miles. Since I train in Golden Gate Park, I was able to anticipate where the downhill portions of the course were and posted a couple fast mile times at mile 6 and 7 (8:16, 8:32).
With the first half of the race in the books (plus or minus 57 mins.), I was on track to set a PR if I could maintain my desired 9 minute pace. Here is the funny thing: mentally I was so concentrated on doing the Golden Gate section of the course successfully, my brain shut down when I hit the Great Highway. For those of you unfamiliar with Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway, imagine running through a gorgeous park filled with trees, grass, ponds, and a running energy that can be felt. That is Golden Gate Park. Now imagine running along an extremely straight road with houses that all look boringly the same on one side and the beach on the other. Don't get me wrong, I love the beach, but I've run this stretch so many times it feels like watching paint dry and every mile seems to be incredibly long. That is the Great Highway. On the course, it is a 3 mile out and back at the end of the race and here is where I essentially lost all the energy I was hoping to have. I knew this section was the last 6 miles of the course and this was my third time in this event, but Great Highway hit me in the gut and said: "nah, you're done."
After mile 7 where Great Highway began, my minute per mile pace got increasingly worse going from a 9:14 on mile 8 and a mile 13 at 11:23. My right calf started to cramp around mile 11 which caused the jump from a 10 min mile to an 11 min mile. It poked it's head up every once and awhile until the end, but at that point I had realized the PR wasn't a possibility and was simply enjoying being out and running my first event of 2009. I finished at 2:07 and change which is my best Half-Marathon time in a couple years and was fine with it. I had a good time, the weather was great, the finisher's t-shirt was nice (image above), my first 7 miles were fantastic and the last 6.1 were taxing, but still good overall. The way I see it is that this was a gauge for how my training is going in preparation for the Big Sur Full at the end of April. To date, my training has been successful, but I definitely need to kick it up a notch to get ready.
Special Thanks to: All the Facebook friends that sent me well wishes before the race and congratulations afterwards. To Paul and Charlie for coming out and giving me a cheer and "Run Strong" on the course, that was great. To our Pasta Party crew for great conversation paired with good dining and to Tom for organizing it. To Larry for throwing a wonderful party the night before — Happy Birthday, sir. And last, but certainly not least to Lori and Gard for being great hosts and for letting me be lazy and sleep at their lovely home which was walking distance from the starting line.