I haven’t “raced” in about 2 years. Do I miss it? I am torn for the nostalgia of new PRs (and glory of small town age group winnings) but not the smells of humanity and beeping of Garmans or worse, that smell of Gatorade. None the less, nothing pushes you out of your comfort than the adrenaline rush of a horn on a race. And when it comes down to it, despite the struggles of the race or the early wake ups, I am always glowing in happiness and deliria afterwards.
While I planned to visit a friend out in San Francisco to escape from the Poler Arctic that is now Boston every winter (thanks climate change), I got the idea that maybe I should sign up for a race.
The old me would never fall short of a marathon when doing a vacation race, but this is the new, slower, fasciitis modified, climbing out of a rut to start running again me. She’s content with a 2 mile jog so a half marathon might as well had been 100000 miler. I haven’t seen double digits in a while but before I knew it, I handed my good money to some website that said it was secure and signed up for the 35th Annual Kaiser Permanente’s Half Marathon.
The good news, the course had a net decline in elevation and it was a on course I was familiar after running Bay to Breakers (coincidentally enough this was the last race I ran two years ago in San Fransisco!).
So I was ready to go! Training for the 6 weeks I had went great! I hit two double digit runs before race day. I was ready! Sure I ate and walked tons the few days before (post to come) but I am a pro at burning out my legs walking the 7 bumps of SF as my taper.
Morning of the race, I was still on east coast time and woke up about half an hour early before my alarm. Ate some bread and cashew butter and ubered my way to the Golden Gate Park, the start of the race!
The 5k and half marathon both start at the lovely (but huge) Gold Gate Park. I knew the area, but the issue with the park is that it’s a hill and has these lane paths that can wind you out to the buffalos instead of the race start. After a little turning around and following/stalking behind people that looked like they might be running a race, the starting line was found in time.
The race had a little under 5,000 runners, but It never felt cramped or obnoxious and I barely smelled at menthol gels at the start. I was hoping for a little delayed started so I can procrastinate and figure out my music (my spotify didn’t download the albums I wanted to!!!! bad juju right there) but within 30 seconds, the horn went off and with the only music on my phone being an Eve 6 album, I worked with that I had.
The first 7 miles loop around the park in a few little rolling bumps (not really hills). Within about 30 second, i definitely regretted that long sleeve I had on, and I probably could have taken it off right away, but there’s something stubborn in me that tries to test out how long I can run while feeling hot and miserable. Just like that part of me that wants to see how many water stations can I pass before my lips chap from dryness and thirst.
I have a Garmin but I didn’t bring it, nor used in in years besides for when I bike outside (literally once a year). So I had no clue my pace and just went with my feeling of feeling too fab at the first miles of the race. The first mile marker I saw was around 4 and I guessed I was running about sub 8 minutes and gave myself an invisible dusting of the shoulder (most of my miles are in the 8:30-9 min range).
I tried to take a selfie, but the salt of my sweat was burning my eyes and my running selfie game is also not what it used to be. Plus there’s all these kids running with selfie sticks and shit. I can’t compete, esp not when I don’t have glasses or contacts on. We ran past some buffalos in the park too, but I didn’t even attempt to photo after failing at the water fountain.
After mile 7ish, the second half of the course is and out and back on ocean drive. Now, while I love me a good ocean view on a run, there’s some about a long, flat view of a path that makes it seem sooo infinite and never ending.
Somewhere between mile 7-9, I was starting to feel the burn. If you told me by mile 10, that it was the end of the line, there probably would be no complaints from this sweaty beast. I would have given you one big, sweat hug.
The first 3 miles of the ocean drive run also had a slight incline that made the endless open room in front of me seem even more daunting, but I definitely enjoyed the swing of it on the final 3 miles. Did I reward myself with a walking stretch at each mile marker I made to without vomit? Yes I did. Did the mile markers turn into stretches at every .25 miles after mile 12? I will never tell.
And then there’s the final .1 mile that always seems longer than .1 of a mile as you tell yourself what blast you had suffering for the past two hours.
And when all else fails, there’s always the join of collecting this gold medal (hey, we can’t all win the Olympics) that has a moving whale!
And I am glad to say that my skill of running positive splits has not diminished
||1239 of 4972
||328 of 2404
||72 of 360
||31 (shit I am getting old)
||00:36:47 07:49 min/mi
||01:20:48 08:14 min/mi
And now I go look for more races.