One week ago I was in San Francisco, having a ball, recovering from my second Half Marathon race.
Way back in June we signed up for the U.S. Half in San Francisco and started our training in the middle of August. Three weeks ago we ran the Duke City Half Marathon as a training race, and both of us did pretty well. We had a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Half, and we were ready to put our Duke City times to shame at sea level.
Last Saturday we flew out to San Francisco. Turns out, preparing for a race is a lot different on the road than it is at home. We were traveling all day, so water wasn’t exactly the easiest to come by. We had a hard time finding bland, carby food, so we ate too much garlic at The Stinking Rose, leaving us feeling quite ill, not to mention smelly. We also walked a lot on a lot of big hills, which probably wasn’t the best idea.
Despite all this, we headed to the start line bright and early and ready to run. In August I set a goal of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which at the time I thought was pretty impossible. When I ran that for Duke City, I decided to lower my goal to 1 hour and 40 minutes since we’d be at sea level with 2 additional weeks of training.
The first 3 miles were great for both of us. I was pacing 7:30 and feeling strong. Then hill number 1 appeared. We’ve done a lot of hill training, but when I’m racing, I like as little uphill as possible. It really slows down my pace, and uses up a lot of energy. This hill wasn’t so bad, but still more than I wanted. This led us across the Golden Gate, which felt kind of epic, though looking down isn’t recommended!
Due to construction, the course had to be changed, adding a mile long 400 foot climb. I knew it was coming. Yet, when I crossed the bridge and saw the hill, it was HUGE. I was running a 12 minute mile and going nowhere fast. Luckily I was able to make up time going back downhill with the most gorgeous view of the city.
The rest of the race was flat. I wasn’t quite on pace to make 1 hour and 40 minutes, but with just a little more than 1 mile left, I was ready to come in at about 1:43. Then, right there at mile 12.5 was another hill. In retrospect, it was tiny. But, when I saw it, my mental state changed from ready to rock to ready to fall down and cry. I couldn’t power through it. Even at the top, I couldn’t make my legs go. My Garmin read 1:45, and I couldn’t spot the finish line. I didn’t have the energy nor the mental state to go any faster. After the longest 2 minutes of my life, I crossed the finish line feeling defeated. Also, according to my Garmin I ran 13.31 miles, which means I picked up an extra .2 miles (equal to about 1 minute and 30 seconds) somewhere.
I finished in 1:47:25, almost 2 minutes slower than I ran Duke City 2 weeks before. The course was too hilly for my level of training. I know that everyone has their bad races, and really, for the elevation gain in this race compared to Duke City, 2 minutes slower isn’t all that bad. It is just too bad that this was the race I was planning for since June, and I fizzled. I still finished 350 out of 3,542, and 67 out of 1960 females which isn’t too shabby, but I could have done better if I had just pushed myself a little harder that last half mile.
Aaron also had a bad race, combating a terrible side stitch that developed at mile 3, but still finished 71 out of 3,542 which is pretty awesome.
Aside from my performance, the race course was AMAZING! We ran along the marina, through the Presidio National Park, across the Golden Gate and back, and down the beach to Fisherman’s Wharf. The race itself had some little fiascos (we didn’t get t-shirts because they ran out, we didn’t get finishers medals because the wrong ones got delivered, construction caused some MAJOR bottlenecks on the bridge, which luckily I was ahead of and not affected by) but it wasn’t a bad experience. The weather was beyond perfect, and running through San Francisco was nothing short of a dream come true. Plus, each bib came with a little bar code that could be scanned with a smartphone, so we got our official results minutes after crossing the finish line instead of waiting for them for days. We also got water bottles, beer, and breakfast at the finish festival.
We’ve already signed up for our next half marathon in January, so focus will be on maintaining our training and on shaving minutes off our times during the next 2 months. I’m amazed at how addicting racing can be, and how much I’m enjoying them!