Tag Archives: Half-Marathon

2013 Kaiser Half-Marathon Race Recap

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.

Kaiser Half-Marathon Start Line

Kaiser Half-Marathon Start Line

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.



What’s Next {aka Fear the Race}

I made it all of eight days without being registered for a marathon.

The truth is, within hours after NYCM being cancelled I knew what I wanted to do next.

But in that moment I was so emotional about the race being cancelled that I had a “West Coast Bias full court press” going on. So I forced myself to take some time to mull over it and make sure it was not just a reactive decision, but one that I truly wanted.

A week later, I haven’t changed my mind. So this afternoon this officially happened:

Yep, I’m taking the plunge to run 26.2 in San Francisco.
{now please excuse me while I puke}

I have run both halves, the 2nd Half twice even, but I have never attempted the Full.

I have wanted to for so long but have always been afraid.

Afraid because of…well, because of this:

Okay, this maybe a slight exaggeration. While this is an actual street in San Francisco it’s not on the race course.

But there are many, many, MANY other hills on the course. It’s why so many runners fear SFM.

It’s why I fear SFM.

But the time has come for me to conquer my fear of hills and there is no better place to do than in the City I love most in this entire world.

But SFM isn’t until June and I’m not spending the next seven months focusing on it.

Well I am, but you know what I mean; I have other goals in the interim.

Like focusing on strength and mobility. Five months of physical therapy taught me where I need to build strength – thus the TRX Bootcamp classes that provide a full body workout of cardio, strength, agility and flexibility.

I could also use more conditioning so for right now I asked my coach to plan shorter interval running workouts with more emphasis intensity and less focus on volume.

I’m also planning to run the Kaiser Half-Marathon in February.

I PR’d at this race earlier this year
so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do at next year’s race.

So, who’s joining me?

SFM 2nd Half Marathon 2012 Race Report

Having run very limited miles in June and July I went into this race with managed expectations.

For me it was not a “race” but a supported long run to gauge where my fitness level is at coming back from injury.

The most stressful part of this race wasn’t the race itself, but managing the logistics of it. After the race I was going to the SF Giants game so most of my race preparation was spent figuring out where to park, how to get cleaned up after the race, when to meet my cousins at the ballpark, etc.

Although my wave of the Second Half Marathon didn’t start until 8:30 am, the buses that shuttled runners from downtown San Francisco to the Start Line in Golden Gate Park ran between 6:30 – 7:00 am. I am like my Dad and prefer to be super early for such things. I parked near AT&T Park at 5:45 am and walked 1.13 miles down the Embarcadero to the buses. The last waves of the First Half and Full Marathons were just being sent off.

The bus transport to GGP went off without a hitch and as soon as I got to the park I hopped in the port-a-potty lines (twice!) then huddled under the heaters that the race had set-up for runners. Only in San Francisco do you need heaters in July.

My coach told me to run the first mile, then stop and stretch out my legs; run to Mile 6 and then take 30-second walk breaks at every mile to the Finish. Apparently this is what you do when your longest training run was only 8.35 miles.

Like my past few races, I ran without my Garmin. At Mile 1 I felt surprisingly good so I didn’t stop and stretch. I also already felt overheated and couldn’t wait to get rid of my arm warmers. I knew Sandra and Audrey were spectating somewhere in the early miles and when I saw them, I ripped off my arm warmers and threw it at them.

Despite not running anywhere near a PR pace, the first half of the race flew by. The miles seemed to be going by so fast.

As if on cue, my foot started to get numb just as I left the park, near the Mile 6 sign. So I took my walk break and then tried to enjoy my favorite part of the course – running down Haight Street. After grinding through the hills of GGP, the downhill in this area usually feels so good. But not wanting to mess up my recovering IT Band, I decided to be conservative and took my time running down it. It was about this time that I ran into Courtney and was so happy to see a familiar face!

The rest of the miles just clicked by and for the most part, I stayed with my 1-mile run/30-second walk plan. However, I did improvise a bit to time the walk breaks so that they would be on the downhill. Call me paranoid, but I did not want to ruin 8 weeks of physical therapy.

I kept waiting for the “wall” to hit me, but it never did.

I was shocked and giddy happy that I didn’t feel tired until Mile 11-ish. And even then, I never felt “like death.” Before I knew it, I was at the Finish Line collecting my 20th Half Marathon medal! My official time was 2:19:21.

This race turned out to be so much more than I expected!

Given the circumstances, I couldn’t have been happier with how the race went. It wasn’t even close to a PR, but that wasn’t the goal of the day. I finished the race without feeling any pain on the course. I was also surprised with my endurance level especially since a 6-mile run seemed daunting just a week before the race.

I am even more pleased with how my body has recovered.

After the race I got some ice from the Medical Tent and met up with friends who also raced. I iced my knee, then went to the 24-Hr Fitness that is located in the Embarcadero to stretch, shower and get cleaned up. Post-race soreness started to set-in and by the time I walked down the ballpark stairs after the ballgame my knee (and entire body!) was all kinds of stiff and sore. That evening I kept icing + stretching it. On Monday I took a full rest day and also got a Thai massage which really helped to flush out the DOMS. By Tuesday I felt back to normal with no further damage done.

Now I am feeling optimistic and excited for the next few months of training.

I am accepting the mindset that training is a gradual process that takes time. I know its common sense and something that I already knew, but I am more realistic about this now.

SFM was once again proved what a top-notch (and underrated) race it is.

The course is tough and it will beat you up, but there is no greater satisfaction than crossing its Finish Line. It is such a well-executed race that I hope everyone gets a chance to run! Thank you SFM for another great experience!