Giant Race Half Marathon – 8/27/11
This is a half marathon run in San Francisco, and also my new PR time so far for a half marathon distance.
Selecting this race: Â I registered for this race, because my staff of 1 (from work) told me about it and she wanted to run the 5k of this race. Â She just started running, and so to motivate her, I said I would sign up. Â When I saw there was a half marathon, I told her I would rather do the half marathon because 5k races are just too short for me. Â She was ok with it since her boyfriend will also run the 5k with her.
Training for the race: Â I did not specifically train for this race, however I just kept up with my regular workouts, running up to 10 miles on the weekends, swimming, spinning, TRX, and a few short runs during the week. Â Basically, my fitness level was at the right level (so technically I trained well).
Race day: Â I lucked out on the weather. Â It was perfect running weather for an August summer day in San Francisco. Â It started out cloudy and 56F, a little drizzle, and absolutely no sun the whole time I was running. Â I didn’t know anyone else running the half marathon, so I was basically on my own. Â For me this was like a local race since I only had to drive up to the city – so no big deal.
The half marathon and 10K started at the same time, at 8 am (well, this morning it was late, gun start was really 8:10 am). Â The 5k did not start until 9:30 am. Â The route went along the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, Marina Blvd to Presidio, Aquatic Park (somewhere there we turned around), then back to finish in AT&T Park, finishing on the field. Â I was used to this route, since almost every San Francisco race that I have ran goes through this path.
At the start line, Â I stood behind the 1:50 pace group, thinking I can start with their pace then do my own pace. Â So I ran with them and up to mile 4 or 5, where I could still see the pace group sign, but started to lose them because I stopped at the water station to have a gu chomp and water. Â I just maintained an easy pace after that (I didn’t know at that time that my pace was 8:45 and I was fine with it – I checked my Garmin after the race).
Everything went well, I was enjoying the run, the scenery, it really felt like a nice and easy training run. Â I was working but not breathing hard. Â I think around mile 6-ish or around Marina Blvd maybe, I saw Brian Wilson, the SF Giants player with the beard. Â He was hi-fiving people, and so I did too! Â I should have stopped for a picture but I was going a good pace.
After our turn-around point, probably around mile 8, I started to feel slight cramp on my right calf, so I slowed down my pace but not totally stopping. Â When I try to pick up the pace again, the pain comes back. Â I looked at my time, I knew I can still make 2 hours even at a 10 minute pace, so I settled for 10 min pace. Â The pain was off and on, at one point near Fort Mason (heading back), I really had to stop to stretch out my calf. Â I wasn’t upset yet, since I was still on time to finish at 2 hours, and I could still make that a 1:59:59 time by just sprinting to the finish. Â With 2.5 miles left, I saw the 2 hour pace group so I thought I’d just stay with them till the finish. Â I kept up with their pace. Â With about a mile left, the half marathon merged with the 5k, and that is when all hell broke lose. Â I cant believe I was this close, got my second wind and no more paid, and then there is no room to run fast. Â The 5kers were all over the place! Â I couldn’t blame them either, Â so I just kept yelling “on your LEFT!” so they would move. Â I know other half marathoners were upset too because we were all yelling, LEFT! Â I left the 2 hour pace team and went ahead because IÂ really wanted to do under 2 hours and felt like I can still do it, but it would be very close. Â It was hard to run around the 5kers, and as we entered the field, to got a bit narrow and again there was no room to sprint.
I crossed the finish line at 2:00:17, 18 seconds too long to get the under 2 hours that I really wanted. Â Although I didn’t get the under 2 that I wanted, this is still a PR time since my last fastest half marathon was 2:05 in Orange County in 2006.
After finishing, it was also difficult to get out of the park – this race had a LOT of runners/walkers, plus their families are all waiting at the bleachers. Â In addition, there were only two exits. Â It took me 45 minutes to get out of the park. Â This is only the 3rd year for this race so I think they could do better. Â I will be writing my suggestions to them; it is a good race to run if they can fix some of the few things that could make it a better running experience for allÂ runners.