Weekly training recap: SF2HM Week 1

What’s “SF2HM” you ask? It’s my personal abbreviation for the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon, which is quite a mouthful, hence the acronym. It’s my next big race — my 2nd and perhaps last chance in 2013 to PR in the half marathon distance. So, I’m dedicating a whole training cycle to it, with its own abbreviation and everything. One more point of clarification: the “2nd Half” refers to the second of two half marathons that are run on the same day as the full San Francisco Marathon. It’s the only race that does this that I know of. (Please comment if you know of others!)

Being the nerd that I am, I like to research races as much as I can… and that means reading race recaps! T.G.F.I. (Thank God For the Internet)! This is what I’ve gathered from my research about the SF2HM:

– Expo: go on Friday if you can. It is mayhem on Saturday.
– Pre-race parking might take a while – up to 45 minutes if you’re showing up late due to the early start for the full marathon and 1st half.
– Get on a shuttle early and be prepared to sit out in the cold at Golden Gate Park for a while.
– There was a really long porta potty line last year, but it seemed to go fast (5-10 minute wait).
– It is very congested in the first few miles. Try to get in a faster corral if you can.
– Do not run the wrong way to the 1st half finish (the course intersects in the first few miles).
– Beware of going the wrong way period. There are a few places where there are alternate routes, potential for wrong turns, etc. One person ended up accidentally running 15 miles last year!
– Beware of potholes, curbs, etc.
– There are rolling hills in the first 6 miles (mostly uphill), followed by a major downhill in miles 7-8 that sounds like it could be a knee/IT band killer.
– Flat, but boring in miles 10-11
– Mile markers: only the marathon miles are marked, so you’ll have to do the math.
– Water stops are congested and spaced far in between (might be good to bring a handheld?)
– Post-race: some reports that they ran out of food, medals, and beer last year.
– There were a couple of reports of having to stop due to traffic. (WTF? I thought the whole point of paying so much for registration is so they close down the streets??)
– Re: distance. Not as bad as the Oakland half, but there are many reports of the 2nd half being longer than 13.1. I think it’s probably difficult to run tangents with the congestion at the beginning of the race.
– PR potential? Despite the slightly longer distance, congestion, and hills, a number of people PR’ed on the 2nd half course. It helps that there is a total elevation loss of 100 feet.

With that knowledge, here are my keys to training for the 2013 SF2HM:
Hills, hills, and more hills. I will do at least one hill run a week. Running stairs will be a 2nd choice alternative.
Better quality long runs. It’s time to get serious about building some solid endurance so I don’t bonk at mile 10, like I did at Oakland. I’m aiming for progression runs and finish each long run at 20-30 seconds slower than race pace (9:00/mile).
Weekly interval and track workouts. I feel like I was just getting the hang of these a few weeks before Oakland. With continued efforts, I’m hopeful that I will continue to progress in this area.
Core! This is one major area where I just plain suck. My goal is to do planks every day and do the P90X ab ripper workout 1-2x a week. I know I need to schedule a definite time for the exercises, or else I won’t do it.

So, here’s my recap of last week’s workouts:

Mon: 10 min planks and back exercises.

Tues: Easy run around the Lake.
Stats: 5.2 miles @ 10:30/mile + 30 min stretching/rolling

Wed: 60 min PT exercises, planks, stretching, rolling

Thurs: Inspired by the book I was reading (Running with the Kenyans, which BTW, is not particularly good, but has some interesting insights and is a quick read), I did a modified fartlek run – 1 minute sprint, followed by 1 minute jog. So, basically, high intensity interval training (HIIT). In the book, they did 25 repeats; I thought I should start with 12. It was tough, especially with the headwind. I’m going to rename these intervals “calf killers” — my calves were really feeling it during the cool-down! My splits for the 12 repeats (pace per mile):
1- 8:09
2 – 8:16
3 – 8:20
4 – 8:21
5 – 8:20
6 – 8:09
7 – 8:19
8 – 8:31 (hello headwind!)
9 – 8:37 (yep, more headwind)
10 – 8:22
11 – 8:17
12 – 7:33 (saved too much for last, apparently)

I noticed that my first 5-6 recovery jogs were on the fast side (9:45-10:20), which probably didn’t grant me as much recovery as I could have had. The other thing I noticed is that my sprinting form went from fairly awkward in the beginning to a lot less awkward toward the end. Progress!

I also took my new Lululemon Bang Buster headband out for a spin. I’ve never had very good luck with headbands, but I was desperate to get one (long story). I’m happy to report that I’ve worn it twice now, through 2 tough runs, and it stayed on the whole time. It was pricey ($18), but I’m hopeful that it’ll be worth every penny.
Stats: 4.5 miles @ 9:44/mile + 30 min stretching/rolling

Modeling the Bang Buster headband. I realized later that all the cool kids wear it more scrunched up and closer to the front of the head, but this seemed to work ok too.

Modeling the Bang Buster headband. I realized later that all the cool kids wear it more scrunched up and closer to the front of the head, but this seemed to work ok too.

After my first outing with the Bang Buster. Flushed, sweaty face sold separately!

After my first outing with the Bang Buster. Flushed, sweaty face sold separately!

Fri: 90 min indoor rock climbing

Sat: I went out to run the 8+ mile bike loop at Redwood Regional Park. I got there at noon and was surprised to see lots of empty spaces in the parking lot (usually, it’s packed and I have to park down the road). The first mile on East Ridge was great — foggy and quiet. Then I came upon entire sections of mud — which was especially treacherous on the hills. No wonder it wasn’t crowded! I jog/walked about 2 miles through the mud, and was so happy to see a relatively dry Canyon Trail, leading down to the stream. What goes down, though, must come up. I’ve never been at this tail end of West Ridge but man, was it steep! My Garmin shows a 500′ elevation gain over 0.5 miles in this section! It was so steep that there are bike pull outs to prevent loss of control. Once it leveled off, it took me a while to recover. I was never more happy to reach familiar territory about 2 miles from the end. Tough run for sure!
Stats: 8.2 miles @ 13:35/mile, 1140′ elevation gain + 20 min stretching/rolling

Muddy shoes! You should've seen the back of my legs...

Muddy shoes! You should’ve seen the back of my legs…

Sun: I thought about exacting revenge on Saturday’s trail “run”, but I was having little aches and pains, so I thought I’d better rest. I walked to the library, which I wouldn’t normally include in my weekly mileage, but since I could’ve easily driven my car instead, I’m totally counting it!
Stats: 2 miles walking + 30 min stretching/rolling (yet to do)

WEEKLY TOTAL: 20 miles + ~5 hours climbing/PT/stretching
How I felt about it: Some decent running efforts and ok non-running workouts too. B-


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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17 comments on “Weekly training recap: SF2HM Week 1
  1. Yay for hills! Not really – hills suck. And I, too, never EVER focus on my core and need to amp it up. How do you like ab ripper (sounds a bit scary) ?

    Oh and those stupid lululemon headbands are the only ones I’ve ever found that don’t slip. I say stupid because they are stupid expensive, but I don’t really mean it. I would pay double that to have a no-slip headband. Those suckers are worth their weight in gold.

    • Jen says:

      The ab ripper *is* a bit scary, and pretty hardcore — I can only do about 50% of each exercise. The nice part is that it’s only 15 minutes long, and I can do it in the privacy of my own home… which makes the whole thing a lot less shameful than if I had to go to a class or something.

      Yes – I totally agree about the headbands! I would buy more of them except that I’m not a huge fan of the other colors. Wah-wan.

  2. Hillary says:

    I’d love to run around San Francisco — I’ve never been and it’s on my list! I’ve heard of the split SFM options and I think that’s really fun. One of these days…

    I’m also terrible about core/strength work generally. I really just need someone to say “Do this, this, and this on these days.” I possess a special blend of inertia and laziness. 🙂

    • Jen says:

      OMG. You must come to SF! Truth be told, I’ve only ever run once in SF, in all of the 8 years I’ve lived in the Bay Area. (Big shame, I know.) But that one time included running across the Golden Gate Bridge, so there’s that. Reading the recaps made me want to do the “Half It All” challenge, where you run the 2 halves in consecutive years and get a really nice spinning medal. If I then also run the full marathon the 3rd year, then I get to be in the 52 mile club and get a free sweatshirt. I don’t normally go for swag, but the kind where you really have to earn it makes it super cool in my book.

      • Hillary says:

        Yes! Truth be told, I emailed my boyfriend after reading this post and said “Let’s go to SF.” He was out there for a trail marathon late last year and I was really jealous of the Golden Gate Park pics he took on his shake-out run!

  3. Beth says:

    I have not run either the 1st or 2cd half courses as halfs, but have run the full twice. The first time we did have to stop once during the last half….i think towards the end of Haight street (??) for traffic, but did not have to stop the second year we ran it.
    One thing that caught us off guard was that they divert the course according to traffic needs on the second half of the course where most the traffic is. So, you could see the Harley motorcycle guys that volunteer along the course walking across the street with a yellow string of tape directing you to turn down a different street. Alarming if you have no idea what is happening, but it’s ok, just turn and keep running. They say it doesn’t change the course distance, just moves you over a block to allow traffic flow. We had it happen both years we ran.
    Happy running!

    • Jen says:

      Ah, that makes sense! Thanks for the info Beth! Will you be running the marathon again this year?

      • Beth says:

        Not this year, we’ve been running a lot more trails this year, so we went with Coastal Trail Runs Big Basin 26.2 June 9th, and Brazen Racings 12 hour July 6th. Had to cut San Fran this year, but I’d love to run it again in the future!

        • Jen says:

          Good luck with those races! My boyfriend and I volunteered at the Brazen Dirty Dozen last year. Manning the aid station for 6 hours was an endurance event in itself! Enjoy!!

  4. Cathryn says:

    Thanks for all this information – you are the queen of pre-race swotting up and I am the lucky beneficiary. I am really excited about it already…and I was so very easily influenced by the extra Half It All medal as well.

    Nice work on the trail run – I love muddy shoes. My shoes were muddy after Friday’s trail run…I let the mud dry but forgot to bash the mud off…so I’ve been sweeping bits of dried mud off my floor for the past day or so!

    • Jen says:

      I just have to say — I love British slang (e.g., “swotting up”)! I also really like the word “gutted.” 🙂

      I’ve been running into bits of mud as well, near the front door where we keep our shoes. Every time I step on a piece, I get a little scared, thinking that our cat left us an special “surprise” and then I remember that it’s the mud. What a relief!

      • Cathryn says:

        I love ‘gutted’ too. And ‘rubbish’. And ‘minging’ (the first G is hard, like ming-ing) which means really ugly/dirty. Not overly rude but not nice either. But it’s one of my favourites.

        • Jen says:

          Agreed! I also think it helps to have a British accent to go along with the words. They just wouldn’t sound as good coming out of my mouth!

  5. Amy says:

    Less awkward running is always something to strive for! Incidentally…where is the “first” half of the half? Or am I complicating things too much?

  6. […] Back to good ol’ speed work. I decided to do high intensity interval training (HIIT). Last time, I did 10 x [1 min sprint + 1 min jog], which was REALLY tiring. This time, I decided to do 10 x [1 […]

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