This was a great tune up race for Chicago. It was my 7th half marathon! Oddly, it feels like I have run so many more than that. Maybe because with marathon training, you are running a half marathon every weekend haha!!
The morning of the race I got up at 5am to get ready. I had a Gu Salty’s Caramel Stoopwafel, a banana with Nuttzo, and Beet Elite mixed with Amino Energy. After stretching & taking Bennie The Dog out for a quick walk, I got in an Uber about 6:00 am to head to the course. The race started at 7:00 am, and I like to have time to stand in line for the porta potties and do drills.
John wins the boyfriend medal because he had an old t-shirt that I could wear and throw away right before the gun went off. Last year when I did this race, it was in August and much warmer. I also had my mom and dad with me, so they waited right by my start corral to take my sweatshirt.
My only complaint about this race this time was that gear check was far away. It was all the way by the parking lot. If I had brought a car, I would have just left my stuff in the car. The point of gear check to me is that you have your stuff closer by than your car. I don’t want to stand in the cold without a sweatshirt for that long. That said, that was really my only complaint. The race was really well run and well attended.
After the porta potty usage, I walked around to confirm gear check was really as far away as I had thought. I ran into a someone I know via KatiesFitscript and we chatted for a while. Then I did about a 3/4 mile jog to get warm. I followed that up with drills along the Embarcadero. I was in corral 1, so we lined up and off we went!
Here is my mile blow by blow:
Mile 1 – Too fast. Too fast. Slow down. These people are all going to pass you now, and you will pass them later. Conserve. Slow down more. MORE.
Mile 2 – My feet hurt. PANIC. No, don’t panic. It’s fine. Feet are just cold and stiff. They will warm up. Wait, why did the 1:30 pace team just go by? Don’t worry about them, hold your pace.
Mile 3 – Maybe I should get ice cream tonight. John’s sister, Sevy, told me about this amazing Ben & Jerry’s flavor – apparenty the dairy free peanut butter & cookies is the BOMB.
Mile 4 – There is a hill?! Do I remember this from last year? Ok – engage glutes, pick a spot at the top of the hill and RUN IT DOWN. Good job. Did it. Oh wait, another hill! Ok – do it again, glutes, spot at the top – GO.
Mile 5 – What goes up must come down. Hang in there.
Mile 6 – There is a headwind? A girl runs up next to me and points to a group of men in front of us. She tells me that we need to draft off the group of guys in front of us. Like the slip steam thing swimmers do! Ok! That seems like a great idea. I surge up behind the men, they scatter. Look for the girl, she’s behind me, drafting off me. Now I have used unnecessary energy. This, my friends, is why i don’t play team sports. Stick to your plan, Jennifer!!
Mile 7 – This is an out and back course, so we did a hair pin turn around & I took a gel. Did not really feel like I needed the gel, but want to train my gut for Chicago. How is there still a head wind? Why does it feel like the wind is still blowing at my face? Shouldn’t it be at my back now?
Mile 8 – And now passing the people who passed me mile 1! Ha! See? This is why we stick to the plan.
Mile 9 – Ok – another small hill, but it comes with a good downhill after. Fire up and go.
Mile 10 – The moment I start to get fatigued, my chin comes forward and my arms and shoulders come up. Chin back & arms low. Slow the breathing down.
Mile 11 – My mind starts churning about pace. Math is hard. It is really hard while you are trying to run fast. I start worrying that I won’t be fast enough in this race and that means I won’t be fast enough for Chicago. I recognize that downward spiral of evil and SHUT IT DOWN. Stay in it. Run the mile you are in.
Mile 12 – The average pace on my watch says I am slowing down, but I feel like I am running just as fast. Decide to stop looking at the watch and run by effort. There are a lot of 10k runners who have turned around and are walking back to the stadium now. They are pushing strollers and it is a bit hard to get around them, but the volunteers do a great job of helping keep everyone moving. I make a game of picking a person and running to them and pass them.
Mile 13 – I realize I’ve added about a full .1 of a mile dodging people. At the 13 mile marker, my watch shows 13.1. I had initially done a great job of running the tangents, but apparently that didn’t hold up so well in the last mile. Please let there be chocolate milk at the finish line.
13.1 – final chip time 1:38:47. An average of 7:32 for the course, per my 13.2 Garmin time, that was 7:29 average. Initially, I felt a bit crushed. I felt as though I should have been able to run faster, and not worked as hard. I reeled that in pretty quickly though – this is, after all, a new PR.
Last year when I ran this race, I couldn’t run the entire week before due to a cranky IT band. I ran a 1:43 last year and couldn’t walk normally for several days after. This year I felt pretty good post race. I might be getting in marathon shape after all!
Sometimes, when there are hills throughout the course, I start using the momentum of the ups and downs to get my speed up, then I struggle to maintain pace on a flat stretch after the hills. It will be really interesting to run in Chicago on the flat course!
More importantly – guess what? There was chocolate milk!!!
I got in an uber to head back to John’s house and get brunch. I shared a ride with another girl who had just run the half. She, her roommate and I chatted about our races and that we are both training for a fall marathon. I explained that I am working towards qualifying for Boston a second time. She asked what that meant in terms of qualifying times. I told her 3:30-3:35 minimum, to which she exclaimed, “Girl you are sending it!” Haha! I have never heard that saying before, but it made me smile and appreciate my race time a little more. My uber receipt says her name was Carol. Thank you Carol, wherever you are! And good luck in your fall marathon! I hope you send it! 🙂
When I got back, I fed Bennie breakfast and we took him with us on our walk to brunch. Being typical San Francisco, it was about 65 degrees, and I couldn’t stand the sight of him tied up outside. So we got our food to go.
John got a bagel & egg sandwich and I got avocado toast. This time, I’m going to say that John made the better choice. Only because this avocado toast came with honey on it, which was not my favorite combo.
We finished off the evening by sampling some of the ice cream I thought about at mile 3! It was DELICIOUS!
- 10th in my age group out of 301
- 30th out of all the women in the half
- Personal best half marathon time
The goal of this race was to use it as a training run for Chicago and to help me test out my fitness. I did not taper, rest extra, or carb load. I was hoping this race would give me a better idea of how I will feel on race day in Chicago. But you know what? It didn’t at all. I know that I am pretty darn fit, but there are so many more elements that go into it than that. I do know that I love racing. I love running. I am so grateful I get to do this.