Sunday, February 05, 2006

Kaiser Permanente Half-Marathon, 1:27:10

It was a beautiful day this morning in Golden Gate Park. The weather couldn't have been more perfect -- clear blue skies, cool air, and almost no wind. Jenny, Vicky, Michelle and I rendezvoused at 6:30am in Pacifica and made our way over. It was crowded! They announced that this was their biggest race yet. 7500 runners I think. After a 15 minute wait at the porta-potties, I didn't have much time to spare for the 8am start time. Fortunately, I was able to weave up towards the start line without too much difficulty. Let's see, long story short...
  • Michelle turned her ankle at mile 2.5 but it wasn't bad enough to make her stop. Stoic! *gulp*
  • My time was about 1:27:10 -- a new personal record by almost 3 minutes.
  • Vicky came in at 1:47 if I remember correctly.
  • Michelle... 1:52? or 1:53?
  • Jenny... 1:54 I think. I might be off by a minute.
Good racing, everyone. I'm tired and sore, but not Jenny! We dropped her off on Haight to do some shopping and she's got a long busy day planned in S.F.

Here's some more about my experience.
I was really pleased with how it went. My main goal was to not start off too fast and to keep an even 6:43 pace as best I could. My final average pace was 6:39. My first mile was my slowest, 7:02. I also tried a new technique which I think helped a lot -- I used the lap timer on my watch to count each mile so that I could try to stay at the right pace. I know, if only I could remember what my previous mile marker time was, it's not too hard to do the subtraction, but I've found that I can forget what my stopwatch reading was the last time. It's so much more simpler to press the Lap button on my watch. Plus, I'll have a history of the per-mile times for later review. My Polar watch also reports the pace that I'm running at, but I hadn't calibrated it for the shoes / pace / terrain or something, so it was quite a bit off. Typically it was showing about 20 seconds / mile faster than my true speed.Next time, I'll try better to calibrate it because it can be a very useful tool; kind of like having your own pacer to help you keep a steady pace. Anyway, it helped a lot to get accurate feedback on my pace at every mile marker.

Random running diary stuff: This morning, at about 5:35am, I ate a vanilla Power Bar and a banana and drank some sports drink. The race started at 8am. I drank a cup of Gatorade at the first aid station and it felt like it was too much. It felt like it was sloshing around in my stomache. Since I didn't seem to be sweating at all, I skipped all of the remaining aid stations until the last one (mile 10.5? 11?) at which I drank some water. I didn't feel thirsty, but I thought it would be a good idea. During the race I actually felt pretty good. I was getting fatigued, certainly, but it was not an epic battle of will to keep going, so I think it really helped to run evenly and not too fast in the beginning. Except for the very beginning with the walkers and slow runners packed up at the front, I passed the most runners along the Great Highway, which is effectively the 2nd half of the race. I interpreted that as a sign that I was keeping a good steady pace. It was nice that there was this yellow-shirt guy who bumped into me around mile 1 and I kept seeing him and I finally pulled past him when he slowed down at an aid station shortly before I got my last water. Tracking him during the course was a good motivator. It was also great seeing Vicky and Jenny during the race. Thanks for keeping an eye out for me! Towards the turn-around point past Sloat Ave., I was getting anxious and nervous about the uncertainty of how much farther I had to go. I was trying to "keep it all together" and spend my energy reserves as best I could so that I could last the entire race. Because of additional uncertainty about where the finish line was, I probably held back a little too much. As soon as I saw the finish line I was able to really let loose and all-out sprint for it. I think ideally I would've had a slightly better time by picking up the pace more on the last mile or so. Finally, this course has a net elevation drop. Combined with the perfect weather and hard fast surface, this is going to be a personal record that is hard to beat!