My Dad came to town to run the San Francisco Kaiser Half Marathon, so he, John & myself all went out for pasta the night before. I have a glass of wine the night before a race lol. I do it every Friday night before my Saturday long run. So…Nothing new on race day, as the saying goes.
The morning of the race, I had the Can’t Beet Chocolate Picky oats with banana, berries & peanut butter. Then my Dad and I drove into the city and parked on the Great Highway, near where we would finish the race.
As soon as we parked the car, you could tell the wind was really howling! We sort of laughed to ourselves and sat in the car for a bit before taking a shuttle into Golden Gate Park. As soon as we were in the park, the trees blocked the wind and rain, and it was pretty pleasant. The only thing that was quite unpleasant was the mud pit that was created outside the porta-johns lined up in the grass.
We saw friends and ditched our warm things to go get in the start corrals. My plan was to go out at 7:20s and see how I felt from there. I really had NO idea how that would go, because I didn’t exactly light it up in my workout on Wednesday.
The course starts off in Golden Gate Park, then goes out in the pan handle, back through golden gate park, and miles 7-12.5 are on the Great Highway, before turning back into Golden Gate Park and up a small hill that feels like a mountain at that point lol.
The course is a “fast” course in that it isn’t hilly for San Francisco, and you have a big net drop in elevation. In my opinion it is a tricky course, or at least it has been for me in the past. You start off running in the park where you are protected from the elements, you then have a nice drop downhill out to the Great Highway. So you start to get rolling pretty good and then have to sustain that effort once out on the highway and out in the elements (read: WIND). So you have to be mentally ready to go out and hang in there while running out to the turn around point, which you can’t see due to the fog. It’s hard for me to just run hard without knowing where I’ll turn and head back towards the finish line.
The last time I did this race, I spent the whole time beating myself up, and I ran a minute slower than I ran my first half marathon ever, which was on a much hillier course. I was so mad about that, which is so not productive to obsess over WHILE you are running. My biggest goal for this race was to not get in a bad head space and have fun!
I went out nice and easy at 7:20s, just like I planned. I felt safe enough to drop down to low 7s after mile 4. I did struggle a bit on the Great Highway with a headwind headed out toward the zoo, and had a couple of slow miles there. I took a Huma gel at mile 7.
I saw some lots of friends out on the Great Highway, which was a lot of fun. And while there was a headwind headed out towards the zoo, that meant we got a tail wind on the way back. I was glad for that as opposed to a cross wind!
My friend Lucas ran with me for a bit and snapped this pic at around mile 12. I look way too happy to be on PR pace, but I was! LOL. I didn’t know it at the time, because I change my watch screen to only show the mile I am running. But having Lucas run next to me for a bit and give me some encouragement really really helped. We were going at a 6:35 pace there for about half a mile! Lucas is ridiculously fast and ran an awesome 10k at the same event.
I got to see my Dad on the Great Highway as well. He was heading into the headwind at that moment and I shouted and waved that he was looking strong.
When I look at my splits, I’m really really happy with how I raced. While I did have a couple slow miles on the Great Highway, I didn’t let them derail the rest of the race, and was able to bring my pace back to low 7s, and even got a couple sub 7 min miles at the end.
There was a little uphill stretch at the very end of the race, maybe from 12.8 to the finish if I remember correctly. That made it TOUGH (for me) to kick.
I ran through the finish line and got to see my dad come through. I was texting my mom that I couldn’t find him on the tracker and stressing out lol. Of course he was doing great and came through just a minute or too later. I maintain that spectating is harder than racing.
We got our bags just as the rain started coming down. We decided that we were too wet and cold to go wait in lines for San Francisco brunch, so we headed back to Marin and got good old Shoreline Coffee shop for breakfast.
I had the Tennessee toast – which is sourdough with avocado, kale, eggs & spices, a cafe au lait + a side of bacon. It was fast and hot and perfect.
I screen shot this story post from the Impala Racing Team’s Instagram because it made my complaints about the headwind feel very validated LOL.
The final details:
I’m so happy I got to have the good experience I was hoping for with this race, and am always grateful when I can squeak out a PR!