Less than 10 days left to go before the San Francisco (2nd) Half Marathon! You know what that means: time to talk strategy and start getting my mind right for race day! Before I dive into that, let me give you a brief description of the course. The 2nd half marathon starts at the western end of picturesque Golden Gate Park, winds its way through the park, then goes through the Haight-Ashbury, Mission, and Dogpatch neighborhoods before finishing along the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building (and passing AT&T Park along the way). It’s considered the faster of the 2 half marathon courses, with a net loss of 100′, but don’t let that fool you: it’s not a cakewalk. Here’s the elevation profile:
OK, so it’s no Woodmonster, but still a little bit hilly for a road race, dontcha think? I’m just happy that the hills are early and then it gets flatter — hills at the end of a race are just plain brutal. I had talked myself into thinking that the hills weren’t too bad, when I got a wake-up call of sorts. You see, Cathryn made a reconnaissance trip yesterday to scope out the course and it was tougher than she had imagined. It definitely signaled to me that a PR will be hard-earned.
Still, I’m surprisingly unfazed, because as much as I want to run a sub-2 half marathon, that is not my #1 goal for this race. Instead, my main objective is to run a well-executed race, i.e., not blow up like I did for the Oakland Half Marathon. This should be aided by the crowds (this is my first race with wave starts) and by the steady incline in the first 4.5 miles. I want to transfer what I’ve been doing during my effort progression runs to the race. My strategy is run moderately hard in the first 7 miles, then harder in the next 5, and finally running full-out in the last 1.1 miles. This strategy should result in a negative split, which just so happens to be another goal of mine, and something that’s always eluded me in the half marathon distance.
Of course, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to PR… I just don’t want to force anything like I did at the Oakland Half. One thing that helps fuel my PR dreams is knowing that I’m in much better shape than I was 2.5 months ago (for Oakland), so it should be interesting to see how my increased fitness plays out on a different course. Regardless, it’s comforting to know that I’ll be running another half marathon later this year (in preparation for MCM), which relieves some of the pressure about “having to” run a sub-2 half next Sunday. If it happens, great! If not, I’ll live to run another race. And that’s how it should always be, right?