31 July 2011

2011 San Francisco Marathon: 1st Half Marathon Race Report

BACKGROUND: I had a coupon for ten dollars off registration AND I really needed a race to motivate me to train through the summer. My summer training went okay in that I put in quite a few miles and really introduced interval training. I did have illness, vacation, injury, and what not to contend with. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give my training a 7-. (Ha! I'm such a teacher. I can't help but put that minus mark in there!)

I did NOT train for hills. I have this uncanny ability to be UNABLE to properly read an elevation chart. Plus after Big Sur I didn't think it would be a big deal at all. I also never believed that I would ever set a PR on this course. Hills are my mental kryptonite. I really should work on that.

RACE DAY: I was honest about my anticipated finishing time and was put in the proper wave. Even though the race started at 5:30, my wave didn't start until 6:12. The race organizers were strict about wave assignments, which I appreciated after the madness that was the Nike Women's Half Marathon last October. However, it appears that many others were not honest about their anticipated finishing times or they were deluded. I've concluded that this must just be a part of race culture.

Bart Yasso was there with his shtick. Yasso seems to be everywhere. This morning he interrupted the announcer discussion of the 41 flags to represent the 41 fallen family members of a group of runners to tell a group of women that he didn't get the memo about the socks. Knee high bright colored compression socks are so IN! Fastinistas! Blah! Yasso'd!

Crossed the start line and found myself immediately behind some chick fast-walking. This course has a three hour limit so this surprised me. Weave, weave, weave. Lots of runners. Thick! Congested. I'm happy to report that I remembered that my husband said to move to the city side of the street so he could get a picture of me. He did around the one mile mark.

When I hit the first hill at Fort Mason, I took a little walk break because I told myself that I wanted to have fun. I think I'm still suffering from Post Big Sur Hill Stress Syndrome. I continued running fairly quickly. The initial miles sort of blurred together. I rarely looked at my watch. I was just in the flow I guess. I didn't try very hard; I know that I could have pushed myself faster, but I wasn't sure about what would come next on the course. I didn't do a drive through of the course. I was just cautious. Again I was certain that I couldn't get a PR, so I didn't try.

I really like bridges. I'm not sure that I am a tattoo person, but if I were I could see myself commemorating my running with bridge tattoos. So far I have Bixby and the Golden Gate. I was quite looking forward to running the GG, but I didn't realize that the best part of running the bridge was reaching the other side for the turnaround and seeing the city far off in the distance. I live for that stuff. I actually mentally lost track of my mileage on the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought I was on mile 8 when I was really on mile 9. How awesome is that? That has never happened to me before. I could have run faster on the bridge had there been more than one lane of space for me to run.

Coming off the bridge I knew I had about 5k to go. Huge downhill portion led to my fastest mile. While running downhill all I could think about how much this downhill running was going to hurt, but I followed that thought with the fact that it would hurt tomorrow. So I had this little mantra, "This will hurt. But it won't hurt until tomorrow." After the downhill came the hell of 26th street. Up, flat, up, flat, up flat. Yikes! I backed down too often and slowed down. Boo on me! I should have done better.

Made it to the end and finished in 2:25:27. This was two minutes faster than the Nike Women's Half Marathon which was less hilly than this one in my opinion. I know that I could run this faster if I did it again. My mental game is off. I dread the unknown and am too cautious.

AFTERWARD: My husband commented on the odd waves. Apparently four women running slowly abreast in tutus preceded me by like two waves. He wondered how that happened. I swooned at his critical anti-tutu stance. I also love that he believes that I must always be faster than anyone clad in a tutu.

AFTERMATH: Leg pain and headache. I blame the hills and not eating and drinking enough afterwards.

29 July 2011

Homemade Arm Warmer Time!

If I am cutting up a perfectly decent pair of over-the-knee socks, it must be race time. Last time, I chose a pink, purple, gray, and black striped pair. This year I opted for the more classic argyle.

Sunday morning around 6:12 am, I'll cross the start line of my fifth half-marathon; my second in San Francisco. I'm downright giddy about running the Golden Gate. I guess I like bridges.

I should have goals for this race, but I just don't. I always intended for this half to be a way to keep me in training through the summer months.

Quickly set goals:

A: Sub 2:15
B: Sub 2:17:xx
C: Sub 2:27:xx
D: Have fun!
E: Don't get hurt!


I want to believe that I have a 2:15 in me, but I'm not sure with the hills. I did ZERO hill training this cycle. Not one bit! Oopsy! But the weather will be cool and there will be many people there, so who knows.

I hope the Marathonfoto gods are kind.

26 July 2011

Street Abuse

Today I went out for a quick little run with my son bicycling by my side and I was catcalled twice.

I was with my son. Is nothing sacred?

It is so easy for these cowardly nimwitted cretinous lamebrains to shout out these comments from the comfort of their cars, isn't it?

I hate people.

16 July 2011

Interpret and Evaluate

This is my year so far. I'll close the week off tomorrow with a 12 or 13 mile run, putting the final bar on the graph up around 33 or 34 miles--just a wee bit shy of my best week.

My half-marathon training (the bars to the right of the red) is so much better than my marathon training (the bars to the left). Even with the stomach flu, calf strains, and rest time needed to recover from rock climbing, I put in a variety of workouts. When I was healthy, I ran more miles and more variety of workouts.

I may be most proud of the fact that only one week is without miles.

The training for the SF Half doesn't feel like I am training. I have no idea what has led to this feeling. It just doesn't feel like work. It could be because I am not training for a marathon. It could be because I essentially registered for this race because I wanted to force myself to continue running through the hot summer months. I'm often surprised when I remind myself that I have a race in two weeks.

I think that I am going to register for the California International Marathon.

What the hell is wrong with me?

12 July 2011

10 July 2011


Summer training has proved to be challenging. Teaching, traveling, and participating in the fellowship of the word processor has eaten up my time and my energy. Spending all day in a classroom at UC Merced seems to be affecting my fluid intake. I just don't think that I am getting enough water for what I need. I'm spending quite a bit of mental energy writing. I have a five page paper due tomorrow, and I'm not sure that the two pages I've already composed are going in the right direction.

I took too many rest days this week. Or perhaps, I was wise to take them. I'll never really know for sure. My weekly mileage this week was only 18 miles. Eleven of those miles I ran this morning.


My overalls goal was to increase my weekly miles because I felt like I ran too few miles for my marathon training. I wanted to make 30 mpw my new normal. I still do. I just find the heat to be a formidable opponent.

Instead of wallowing in the mire, I thought that I would see how many miles I ran last summer. I wanted a bit of perspective.

From June to this time in July last year, I ran a total of 21.87 miles.
During the same time period this year, I ran a total of 94.12 miles.

Clear progress.

I may not be hitting the 30 mpw that I want, but I am getting there.

04 July 2011

Cross-Training: Rock Climbing

I've tried resistance training with little success in sticking to the program. Doing reps for the sake of doing reps was never enough motivation for me. It was all very abstract.

At least with running, I cover a concrete distance.

This is partially one reason why I loved rock climbing. Resistance training and covering a concrete distance! Progress is palpable! And like running you can sort of get in a zone and not realize how much you have ascended until you pause to look down/look back.

Here I am ascending a climb called Bake Sale; it earned this name because the rock just bakes in the sunshine and burns up your hands. I happened to take my rock climbing class on a Yosemite day that reached temps in the 90s. This is the sort of day most recreational rock climbers won't climb because the rock heats up to uncomfortable levels.

As rock climbing was new to me, I encountered struggles. As a runner, I should be no stranger to this. My instructor in trying to comfort me told me that climbing is like a hybrid of ballet and chess.

I'm comfortable with the idea of being a ballerina. I was even an adorable ballerina one Halloween in elementary school. But I lack the patience to be a decent chess player. I had to slow down and read the rock.

That is probably a metaphor for a lot in my life.

As a bonus: I aggravated/reinjured (maybe) my calf strain in my left calf. This does not dissuade me from future climbing opportunities!