Race: Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon
Date & Time: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 @ 8:00 a.m.
Where: San Francisco, CA
– Course map
– The course starts in Golden Gate Park and heads east for an out-and-back on the Panhandle. Then it comes back through GGP, and finishes along the ocean with a 6 mile out-and-back along the Great Highway.
– The course is unusual in that it’s not a closed loop – the start and finish are ~ 2.5 miles apart, which allows for a net elevation loss. (I’ve heard the net loss is ~100-150′.) Besides that downhill, it’s fairly flat with some small undulations in the first half — basically, it’s a PR-friendly course.
– From everything that I’ve read and heard, the first half of the course is beautiful but can be crowded, while the 2nd half is be brutal mentally, if not physically. Even though it’s flat, the last 6 miles cover a straight stretch of seemingly never-ending out-and-back, which will be a huge mental challenge, especially since it’s at the end of the race.
– I’ve heard it’s easy to go out too fast on this course. Good thing to keep in mind on race day.
– AEW warned me that the pavement on the Great Highway was quite uneven when she ran the race in 2012, and suggested that I wear more cushioned, protective shoes. Anyone else have feelings/thoughts on this?
– Worth noting because this can really make or break the PR-ability of this race. For now (Wednesday night), the forecast is high of 55/ low of 38F. Cloudy, with rain and drizzle possible (30% probability). Winds at 3-6 MPH. Pretty ideal!
For the 4th (road) half marathon in a row, my goal will be to go sub-2 hours. (You can see my half marathon progression here.) Based on my Foster City 10-miler time from 3 weeks ago, the McMillan Calculator thinks I should be able to run a half marathon in 1:57:17. I don’t usually put a lot of faith in those calculators, but I would certainly love to solidly go under 2 hours. We shall see!
– As with the Foster City race, I plan on running with my Garmin covered. Don’t mess with success!
– Try to pace an even/negative split.
As I mentioned above, this will be my 4th attempt at breaking 2 hours. The major difference this time around is that I feel way more confident. Having completed many more race-specific speed and tempo workouts, in addition to running a great race at Foster City 3 weeks ago, has made me feel more comfortable with the idea of holding race pace for 13.1 miles. In contrast, I was very freaked out and anxious at the very same thought for the previous half marathons, and just hoped that “race day magic” would carry me through. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel fairly confident that I’ll break 2 hours on Sunday, barring anything crazy happening on race day — which of course is always possible.
Anyway, I’m excited to race on Sunday! Will I see any of you there? Also, if you’ve run this race before — any tips or advice?
I’m also running Sunday! The toughest part for me last year was the (slight … yet annoying) uphill slope as you’re heading back into the park on the final mile or so.
Been following your training and I’m sure you’ll break 2 hours with NO problem on this course! If a random red-haired chick says hi it might be me!
Hi Cheryl! Thanks for the comment and I hope to see you on Sunday! Have a great race!
That course sounds amazing! I firmly believe that confidence is the make it or break it in these types of situations, and I’m so happy that you are totally ready for this. I’ll be sending some serious sub-2 vibes your way on Sunday.
Thanks Amy – serious vibes much appreciated!
I ran KP in 2010 & also run The Panhandle & GG Park all the freaking time, so here is the dirt on the course:
Mile 1 – Ever so slightly uphill, which you will probably barely notice, but I would certainly pay attention to your effort level & make sure it feels VERY easy.
Mile 2 – Slight but definitely noticeable downhill; I always run The Panhandle 20-30 seconds per mile faster going east than west.
Mile 3 – Slight but noticeable uphill (see above)
Mile 4 – Slight downhill (with a kind of steep downhill as you turn off of Kezar).
Mile 5 – Gently rolling, net uphill, but still pretty slight. Again pay attention to effort level.
Miles 6-7 – Down, down down! Take advantage of it, but also be sure not to wreck your quads.
Miles 8-13 – Just basically sucks untold levels of ass (but at least it’s basically flat). I’ve never had any footing problems on this road.
Good luck!! I will look out for you!!
This is amazing – thank you so much! Currently LOL’ing at “sucks untold levels of ass”, though I’m sure I’ll be in complete agreement on Sunday morning.
It is a fast course, particularly at the beginning. You can definitely go out too fast. You are in great shape, for sure, but I’d guess you should try to reign yourself in around the panhandle to 8:50 or so. I’m also very confident that you should break 2 hours. It will be great to see you after you do so!
Good to know, thanks for the heads-up about the Panhandle and for the vote of confidence. I’m excited to see you on Sunday!
I ran in 2011 and definitely had problems with my footing on the Great Highway, especially coming back inbound. (Not enough that I’d change to shoes you don’t normally run in, though — it was just rutted and I had to watch where I was landing more than I wanted to have to think about from miles 10-12.) That said, there was a big Great Highway improvement project last winter, and a stretch got repaved. I know they went to Lincoln last year, and per this, it looks like they went all the way to Sloat! http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs144/1102363540785/archive/1113885714394.html
Nice insider info! I just did a quick Google maps streetview search, which is outdated (2011) and showing uneven pavement. So then I looked on Bing streetview, and it looks like that stretch of Great Highway has been paved over. Thanks for the tip!
I would agree with Angela…on those downhill miles in the middle, just flipping go for it. These are the miles where I think you can bank the sub-two. I also agree that the ocean road is badly paved, i would definitely retwist my ankle there at the moment. But I had no trouble when I ran it with a strong ankle. I didn’t mind the ocean road section really…I think you just have to get into a mindset that it’s three miles out and three miles back. It might be a good time to plug in the music as there won’t be much else to distract you.
You have this. I feel it in my gut. It’s yours, this time! 🙂
Thanks, Cathryn. I hope your gut is right! I just looked up the pavement issue (see my response to Kimra), and it looks as though they’ve repaved that section of road, so hopefully I won’t have to worry about potholes and such.
Dear Jen, I’ve been following your training closely. My advice would be to start fast, pick up the pace and then finish faster… do whatever you must to break 2 hours. And I’ll be there to help you celebrate when you do. Love, the monster big-as-your-head post-race burrito that awaits your attention
Hm, interesting… I’ve never had food of the future speak to me before, especially on my blog! I shall take this as a very good omen indeed.
Hi Jen and friends, I just interviewed a bunch of Kaiser experts for their race-day tips! Check them out here: http://halfmarathoncountdown.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/top-race-day-tips-from-our-experts/
Hope they’re helpful!
You will rock that course tomorrow!!! Just keep pushing yourself at a steady pace and be confident in your training! Take advantage of all downhills and you will fly across the finish under 2 hours. Will be sending speedy vibes your way all morning! Have fun and race with a smile 🙂
Thanks D! Appreciate the advice and the encouragement!
[…] Goals: – Time goal: come in under 2 hours (9:09/mile) – Run with my Garmin covered so I can concentrate on running by feel. – Try to pace an even/negative split. – Enjoy! […]