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 Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon Race Report
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon Race Report Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:21 pm 

I ran a half-marathon in San Francisco this morning-- my first long race since the Napa Valley Marathon last March. I've now raced this particular half marathon four times, and it's one of my favorites. It's a beautiful course in and around San Francisco, with well-organized staff, lots of good runners, and a route set up to make for fast times.

I ran this race last year in 1:32:44, my half-marathon PR and probably my best ever race performance at any distance. I knew I wouldn't come close to matching that today, since I don't have nearly the training base that I did 12 months ago. I decided a 1:36 should be do-able, and 1:35 or better would be a stretch goal.

In case of poor performance, I had my list of excuses ready:

- I've only been back in "training mode" for 8 weeks.
- I've been battling a cold this week.
- I had a nasty fall during a training run yesterday.
- I didn't taper at all for the race: ran 14 on Wednesday and 6 each on Friday and Saturday.

It was a beatiful morning in Golden Gate Park for the start, with the sun coming up, blue skies, and temperatures about 50 degrees. The place was packed. 7000 people registered for the half-marathon and 5K, compared to 5000 last year and even less in previous years. That's considerably bigger than the field for the San Francisco Marathon.

The race started at the sound of a cable car bell. The crowding during the first mile wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared, and I eased through in 7:35. After that it opened up a little, and I did the next two miles in 7:05 and 7:03. Hmm, I thought, either I'm going to do much better than I expected, or flame out midway through. I tried to ease off a bit, but the next four miles were a long gradual downhill, and I ran them all sub-7:00.

At the 7 mile marker, the course exits the park and joins the Great Highway, right on the sands of the Pacific Ocean. From there it's a long, grinding out-and-back of about 5.5 miles with nothing much to see but the waves. Fortunately the breeze was pretty mild through this section today. In previous years, the wind off the ocean has been fairly stiff. I slowed a little during the out-and-back, averaging something like a 7:15 pace, trying to push it while still leaving a little something left for the finish.

The last half mile turns uphill, back into the park. I didn't feel I had the energy for much of a finishing kick, but I did my best to at least maintain my pace and not fade out. I came up on another runner who tried like hell to stick with me and not let me pass him. He was grunting and pushing like he was bench-pressing 300 pounds, and every time I'd come up even with him, he'd give it one more effort and surge ahead again. I felt bad for him, but eventually I did pass him by just keeping a strong, even pace. One last turn and a brief downhill sprint to the finish chute, and I was done.

My start-to-finish time was about 1:33:04, give or take. I forgot to press the stop button on my watch at the finish... doh! I think that's a pretty good estimate, though, and if anything my true time was a few seconds faster than that.

After the finish, I was feeling pumped and huge. My time was much better than I'd been hoping for, and in fact was only 20 seconds off my PR. What a confidence boost! And I didn't really feel like I pushed myself to the limit, either. It was a good hard run, but not really an all-out effort. After a few minutes of recovery at the finish, I felt fine. Last year my heart rate reached 200 during the final mile, but this time it never got higher than the low 190's and averaged in the low 180's for the whole race.

Here are the splits:

1: 7:35 (get out of the way, jogging strollers!)
2: 7:05
3: 7:03
4: 6:53 (starting downhill now)
5: 6:46
6: 6:34
7: 6:52
8: 7:05 (now on the flat beachfront out-and-back)
9: 7:19
10: 7:16
11: 7:09
12: 7:16
13.1: 8:03 (aughh, uphill to the finish)
TOTAL: 1:33:04

There were a ton of fast runners on the course today, since it was some regional championship race, so I probably finished in something like 500th place. I'll see how it looks when the official results come out.

For now, I'm resting happy and ready for a nap. :-)


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon Race Report Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:35 pm 

Follow up: after looking closely at the data from my pace meter, I'm revising my time estimate to 1:33:00 even. Woo, four more seconds!

Upon closer examination, my HR data also tells a different story than I'd thought initially. I did peak at 199 a couple of times during miles 12 and 13, so that's basically the same as last year's race. Also, my HR dropped by a small but noticeable amount after the end of the park section, from a consistent average of 180 in the park to 176 during the out-and-back. I probably eased off a little bit too much once I hit the flats. Mental note for next year...


Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon Race Report Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:33 pm 

Holy crap, Rickshaw - what an amazing finishing time! You blow me away, ya speedster, plus to come off of a shorter training period and having not competed since your last marathon?

*golf claps* all around!


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