2013 Kaiser Half-Marathon Race Recap

Kaiser Half-Marathon Start Line
Kaiser Half-Marathon Start Line

This past Sunday I ran the Kaiser Half-Marathon in San Francisco. It was the 30th anniversary of the race, and my second time running it.

It's one of my favorite races to run. It's a nice sized race (about 5500, plus 5K runners), very well organized, and they mail you your bib and chip - no need to make an extra trip to an expo. It's also the race where last year I shockingly beat my half-marathon PR.

My friend Yvette signed up to run the half too so we made plans to carpool together. She picked me up at a little after 6 am on Sunday morning and we got to Golden Gate Park in no time. We parked on the Transverse then walked to the start area, which was just around the corner. Since the car was close by we didn't need to leave anything at bag check.

We arrived a full 90-minutes before the start of the race. The sun had not even risen yet. We took advantage of the no lines at the port-a-potties, then just wandered around the start area. We wanted to keep moving just to stay warm. While it wasn't super cold, it was cool enough for me to wear my Oiselle arm warmers.

Me and Yvette
Me and Yvette

{Pro tip: When asking a stranger to take your photo, first ask if they know how to use an iPhone so your photos don't turn out blurry...}

I also wore my Vernon Davis jersey, breaking the rule of wearing something I hadn't run in before. (Spoiler #1 - it was a non-issue, a little warm but zero chafing. Spoiler #2 - the 49ers should have used Vernon a lot more in the game plan...IMO)

It's no secret (at least not to me) that I have a lot of mental hang-ups that hold me back. Last year I ran this race without my Garmin. It was the first time I had raced without it and was completely blind-sided by my time. As happy as I was with the results, I wished that I had my splits to see how I ran the course. I struggled about what to do about it this year then decided to wear my Garmin - like this:

I used electrical tape and covered the screen so I couldn't see it.

About 30-min before the start we warmed-up a little bit, then lined up in the Start area. As far as I knew, there weren't any corrals, nor did I see pace grouping signs. We were kinda far back and couldn't really hear the announcer, so we just started moving forward with the rest of the crowd.

Miles 1-2

Yvette and I started running together. We had to do a considerable amount of weaving but managed to still run side-by-side.

I had made the last minute decision not to carry my little handheld with Nuun. The problem was that I didn't pay attention to how the aid stations were spaced along the course (nor could I remember from last year), so I stopped at every one. I lost Yvette at the first aid station and didn't see her again till the Finish line.

Miles 3-5

I liked these miles on the course because I never run in this area of the park. It has little rolling inclines that kept it interesting.

At this point I was still weaving through people. I was also fully over my arm sleeves. I clumsily tried to ripped them off but my Garmin was over my left arm warmer. I am not coordinated enough to remove it while running so I had to walk to remove my Garmin, shove my arm sleeves in my pockets, then put my Garmin back on.

Miles 6-7

These miles had us running down JFK Drive to Ocean Beach. My stomach started growling with hunger so I ate a Hammer gel to make it go away.

Miles 8-12

Once we hit Ocean Beach it was an out and back. I hate this part of the race. It's windy, the roads are very broken up and the monotony of the out-and-back is mind numbing. Last year was excruciating because I didn't know where the turnaround was. This year wasn't as bad but it still killed me. My legs felt really tired and I fell into the conundrum of counting the alphabets (the streets are named in alphabetical order backwards).

Oh, I also got accidentally punched in the face by another runner. This guy was running in front of me to my right and flexed out his arms and whacked me. A little further down another guy turned to spit and yes, spit on me.

Needless to say I walked a lot during these miles. Although my legs were tired, my lungs had felt fine - not overworked - for the entire race. I just could not get my act together. During one of my many walk breaks a lady tapped me on my shoulder and said, "Come on, you got this." It perked me up and got me running again. Later I saw her after the race and thanked her for picking me up.

Another thing that perked me up was knowing that my friend Renee was going to be at Mile 12. She was volunteering and was calling out gun times. I find that having someone out on the course supporting you is a huge boost. It gives me something to look forward to. And just a simple high-five from Renee gave me energy to push a little harder on the last mile.

Mile 13

Like last year's race the top of my foot started to hurt at the end of the race. I honestly believe it's from the uneven asphalt along Ocean Beach. I ignored it until the last mile when it really started to throb. So on the 13th mile I played fartleks. I would pick a tree or stoplight to run to, walk for a few seconds, then run to the next target.

When the Finish Line came into sight I just ran on through to the end. The gun time read 2:11 flat. I stopped my Garmin and peeled off the tape to see that it read 2:7:53. Because I weaved so much the distance read 13.30. My official time was 2:7:55 - just 2 seconds off my Garmin time.

While I was disappointed to finish 4.5 min behind last year's PR, I'm still pleased with the results. Out of 21 half-marathons that I've finished, this one was my second fastest one. And to be honest, it was still a lot better than I thought I'd run considering that this was only my second double-digit run since October 28th.

Post Race

Yvette found me at the Finish area. She had run a great race - and with minimal training! We collected our race shirts - long sleeve cotton - then our medals. This race does not usually have Finishers Medals, but they did for it's 30th anniversary. I hope they continue to have it every year because this is a race I hope to make an annual tradition.