I love the Kaiser Half Marathon. In my opinion, its one of the best half-marathon courses in the Bay Area (it also holds my PR for this distance so I’m biased that way). I signed up for this race when registration opened last Fall but ended up dropping down to the 5K. This was my first time running this distance.
A Week Before the Race
A week before race day I went out for an 8-mile run. Unfortunately I developed a “hot spot” on my foot, right where I tie my laces. It was painful but I was stubborn and completed the distance. It bruised my foot and had me limping for a few days.
I was still hopeful to run the half, but I wanted to see what my options. I emailed the race organizers to ask if I would be able to drop down to the 5k.
They responded immediately with this note:
"No problem! You still wear your white Half Marathon bib, listen to the announcements so that you will be in the correct place to take the 5K cut-off. You will be scored in the 5K and receive your medal. You will notice that there are many other white bibs doing the 5K with you (many don't even decide until race morning that they are not in the mood for the longer distance. See you on Feb 1."
This race has 10,000 runners. If only more races could be so accommodating.
Day Before Race Day
I had to skip Tuesday’s run because it hurt just to put on socks. But I managed to get in some miles on Thursday. I tried to go out for my shake out run on Saturday but I couldn’t even walk to the end of my street without limping. At this point I was questioning even being able to run the 5k. But I really wanted the race medal of Kezar Stadium. So I scrapped the shakeout run and hoped for the best on Sunday.
My foot still hurt on Sunday morning. So I wrapped my foot in athletic tape and put on some knee high socks (ankle socks were still painful). I had to rig my left shoe so that it was only laced halfway down. That seemed to relieve some of the pressure on the bruise.
I drove to the City and parked in my friend’s neighborhood in the Sunset. The beauty of having runner friends who have babies is that they are up early! My friend was kind enough to drop me off near the start.
The weather was perfect, in the low 50s. I ate half a banana, used the port-a-potties, then lined up with the 5kers.
So. Much. Weaving. This race doesn’t have any corrals. In fact, the only instructions given at the Start were “half marathoners on the left, 5kers on the right.” I thought I had positioned myself closer to the front to avoid the walkers. But that first mile was all about maneuvering myself around walkers - people who should have been further back.
I have no idea how to run a 5k. I rarely run them. I had my Garmin set to display only the distance so I didn’t know what pace I was running. Was it too fast or a 5k? Too slow? No clue. I felt like I was working hard but not at puke level. My half-tied shoe also felt like it was going to fly off at any moment. So it was surprising to see 8:51 when my Garmin beeped at Mile 2 . The last time I ran a mile that started with 8:xx during a race was five years ago.
By now I switched my Garmin to show lap pace and distance. I had less than a mile left but couldn’t hang. My foot was on fire so I walked a bit and tugged on the tongue. I had been holding the same pace as Mile 2 but lost about 20 seconds doing that.
Official Finish Time was 29:10. Not close to a PR but much better than I expected. With the way my foot felt that morning I thought I would have to walk most of it and hoped to finish in under 40 min. Seriously.
This is my favorite race. Its a hometown race. Both courses are PR-friendly. Its has a larger-ish race feel with 10,000 runners (though given this size they should have corrals at the start).
Besides the start, the rest of it is so well-organized. They give you the option of having your bib mailed to you so you don’t have to waste time going to an expo the day before the race. The finish area/expo is spacious enough so that so no one is crushing into each other. There are useful vendors at the Finish Line expo. I learned about two new races in the area! Its also spectator-friendly.
RhodyCo Productions does a great job putting on a fun and simple community event. I hope to run this every year.
On a personal note, I surprised myself and enjoyed the 5k experience. I’m revamping my race plans for the year and plan to spend more time on this distance for the next few months.