A San Francisco Half Marathon

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.

Pre Race

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. 

Yay! We Finished!

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. 

Bib with bar code for results

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!

13.1 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

WOO HOO! Made it to Friday! In these crazy times, the prospect of 2 full days of complete freedom from obligation is pretty exciting!

Last night, Aaron, Giuseppe, and I decided to frolic in the rare rain storm, and took a walk down the street to get frozen yogurt.  During that walk, Aaron mentioned something about how 2 HOUR long runs were in our near future.  YIKES!

Our half marathon training kicks off this weekend.  Both Aaron and I have pretty ambitious goals: He wants to average a 7 minute mile, and I want to finish in under 1:45.  Because we both have a long way to go to get there (I have a much longer way than Aaron), we are doing the “advanced” training plan…in other words, we aren’t training just to finish, we’re training to beat a lot of people. Needless to say, I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for what I’m about to put myself through.

I came across this list yesterday on facebook, and thought it was the perfect way to kick off the weekend, AND the Lavender Half Marathon Training.  Thanks to the US Half Marathon, and Active.com for thinking up a list after my own  heart!



1. It’s a challenging, but manageable distance. The marathon has the appeal of scaling Mount Everest, but just as in preparing to scale Mount Everest, preparing to run 26.2 miles is no walk in the park. If you’re brand new to the sport, you’re likely looking at six to nine months of consistent marathon training including long runs of 3 hours or more.

The half marathon may lack the “sexiness” of the full marathon, but most new runners with three months of training can conquer a half marathon. Long runs likely won’t exceed two hours. There is some commitment involved with half marathon training, but it doesn’t have to consume your life.

2. You’re not ready for a full marathon. There could be a variety of reasons why this is the case. Maybe you didn’t allow enough time to train. Maybe it seems too daunting. Perhaps a slight injury compromised your training. Your work schedule is too demanding. Whatever the reason, the half marathon is still a challenging distance and 13.1 miles is nothing to sneeze at.

3. There are countless races to choose from.  The number of half marathons taking place throughout the year has simply exploded the past few years. It’s the fastest growing race distance out there and unquestionably the most popular race distance. Virtually every weekend you can count on one or multiple half marathons taking place within driving distance of your home.  So, you’ve got no shortage of options when it comes to a half marathon race.

Just a small selection of races to choose from. halfmarathons.net

4. You have a thing for bling. Many races include all kinds of perks and amenities to draw runners to the starting line. One such amenity is the ubiquitous race medal. The bigger the race, the bigger (and gaudier) the medal you’ll typically receive at the finish line. Medals now double as coasters, bottle openers and more. If you complete more than one half marathon in a particular race series (for example, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series), it’s likely you’ll get a special medal for your multiple efforts. So, if you’ve got a penchant for the bling, half marathons will hook you up.

I like this one! running.about.com

5. You’re contemplating ramping up for a full marathon. Before signing up for a full marathon, you should probably have at least one half marathon under your belt. You can run most of the 13.1 miles at your target marathon pace and gauge how far you are from swinging this pace for 26.2 miles. An alternative approach is to go for broke and use your race result to project a theoretical marathon time. If you’ve never participated in a race, and a marathon is on the calendar, a half marathon can be a nice dress rehearsal for the full.

6. You want to recover quickly. It can literally take weeks to fully recover from a marathon. It’s not uncommon to feel a bit flat, fatigued, and a bit off long after you’ve completed 26.2 miles. The half marathon is taxing, but even if you run a hard half marathon, the recovery window for 13.1 miles is much shorter than that of the full.

7. There is less injury risk with a half marathon versus a full marathon. Injuries are the bane of any runner’s existence. One of the big factors that contribute to running related injuries is training. To be more specific, overtraining increases the risk of running related aggravations and injuries. The higher the weekly mileage generally the higher the risk of running related. Needless to say, you’re not going to log nearly as many miles gearing up for a half marathon versus a full marathon.

8. You like to party. As mentioned earlier, the perks and amenities at races today are staggering. Aside from the gaudy ‘bling’ one typically receives, there is almost always some kind of post-race party or celebration. Destination Races sells out all practically all of its wine country-themed events to some degree because of the post-race wine tastings following the race.  The anti-oxidants can speed recovery and augment the runner’s high. Live music often accompanies the imbibing of said anti-oxidants. If you like to party, the half marathon may be your distance.

Aaron at the Will Run For Beer post race party

9. You want to take your running fitness to the next level. The 5K and 10K are wonderful entry-level distances for new runners. But, stepping up to the half marathon distance from the 5K or 10K distance will result in a veritable quantum leap in running fitness due to increases in mileage and the likely addition of one (or more) days of running.

10. You want to burn some extra calories. A mile generally burns about 100 calories. If you’re currently logging mileage consistent with running 5Ks and/or 10Ks, you’re burning some decent calories. But, upping your mileage will not only take your running fitness to the next level, it will also boost your caloric burn.

11. You want new kicks.  If you are stepping up from the 5K or 10K distance, logging a few extra miles each week will undoubtedly necessitate the purchasing of an additional pair or shoes or two. So, if you’ve been eyeing the hot new pair of Nikes at your local running specialty store, sign up for a half and pull the trigger as you’ll likely need them soon.

Newton Running Shoes runningshoeslondon.co.uk

12. Your wardrobe needs upgrading. If you’re going to be logging more miles, that may very well mean you’re running more days per week than you have previously.  These extra days of running will make it easy to rationalize upgrading your running wardrobe.

New lululomon outfit! freakyeahyoga.tumblr.com

13. You like to travel. Given the range of half marathons out there, there are ample opportunities to parlay a half marathon into a running-infused vacation. Do you want to see what New Orleans has to offer? The New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in early March is only a flight away.  Want to explore a more tropical location? The ING Miami Half Marathon in late January might be right up your alley.


13.1. It’s there. Runners are explorers at the end of the day. As soon as we conquer one running goal, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll look toward the next one. Once you’ve logged a 5K, a 10K, and/or a 12K, it’s almost inevitable the half marathon will beckon you to the starting line. Then, it may very well be on to the marathon.

My Quest to Run a Half Marathon (and not die)

For anyone who doesn’t know, Aaron asked me to run a half marathon in the same sentence that he asked me to be his girlfriends three years ago (“yeah!……SURE” was my response).  In the meantime I managed to marry him and celebrate 1.5 anniversaries without actually having to run one.  I’ve run a pretty impressive 5-K, and a pretty impressive 10-K, but at this point in my life, 6.2 miles is the farthest I’ve ever run at one time.

Running a 7 minute, 45 second mile at Will Run For Beer

But a deal is a deal, and I did give my word.  I am officially a registered participant in my first half marathon.  But, if I have to torture myself with running 13.1 miles, at least I will have the San Francisco Bay as a beautiful backdrop to distract me!

I am CRAZY about San Francisco.  I was introduced the this spectacular and foggy city at the age of 7 and immediately feel in love with the tall buildings and the Japanese Tea Garden and the Golden Gate Bridge.  I loved it so much that when it came to college selection time, I chose a school only a short 30 minute drive away from the city.  For 4 wonderful years I had the ability to spend the afternoon browsing Union Square and birthday dinners usually involved a restaurant in North Beach.  And then I graduated in 2007, at the start of California’s economic downfall, and had to return home in order to actually get a job.

Alas, I am 4 years removed from the Bay Area and close to 2 years removed from my last visit.  I am long overdue for a fresh piece of sour dough bread.  So, when it came time to decide on a half marathon to run, even though we looked at several options in several states including Florida, Oregon, and Louisiana, we stumbled upon a race in San Francisco in November and we knew that was the one we wanted to do.  PLUS, at a much lower elevation than Albuquerque, it should be far easier to run.



The US Half Marathon (http://www.ushalf.com/) is a 13.1 mile course along the San  Francisco Bay, and over the Golden Gate Bridge.  According to the website, my relatively inexpensive fee includes a t-shirt (yes!), a finisher’s medal to prove I actually went though with the crazy adventure, and a post race festival that best be including some mimosas and donuts (I think running a half marathon at least warrants a nice fatty cheat meal).

Jessica R. on yelp.com


I don’t officially have to start distance training until August when temperatures start cooling down from the 99 degrees that we’ve been seeing, but I’m planning on  doing some local races ahead of time including the Duke City Half Marathon in October (so the US Half won’t technically be my first official half marathon, but at least I get a practice run in).



Do I even have to mention that without any training Aaron will be able to run that race and STILL probably place in the top 10%?  If only I were so talented.  I’ll be lucky if I can make it through the race without passing out on the side of the road (or having the speed police come and pick me up because I’m going too slow).  Either way, come mid-November I hope to add a 13.1 bumper sticker to my car, having officially fulfilled my relationship obligations!