CIM Week 3 of 12 & Pacing the Tiburon Half Marathon

Howdy! The nice thing about a 12-week training cycle is that I can say that I’m already a quarter done at the end of Week 3. Hooray!

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Long midweek run (80-90 minutes). This was a comedy of errors. I started the run listening to a super sad episode of This American Life. It was so heartbreaking that I had to stop it 20 minutes in because I was fighting back tears (seriously, keep the tissues handy). Then, 5 minutes after resuming my run, I realized I never restarted my Garmin. D’OH! Five minutes after that (and probably at the furthest point away from my house – of course- I suddenly had to use the bathroom urgently. Luckily, after the pit stop, everything was fine. 8 miles @ 10:42/mile

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. Third time’s the charm — I finally managed to run for a full hour, albeit slowly. 5.3 miles @ 11:03/mile

Thursday: Cruise Intervals – 6 x 1000 m with 200 m jog recovery. I was a bit nervous about this one. My target time for the 1000 m segments was 5:03-5:13, or 8:09-8:25/mile, according to the McMillan calculator. However, I never hit my target paces during Summer Breeze Half training, and that ended up being a good race, so I wasn’t too stressed about hitting goal times. The short recovery interval ended up being the toughest portion of this workout. My times: 5:24, 5:10, 5:16, 5:18, 5:18, 5:18. Well, at least I’m consistent. 6.8 miles @ 9:48/mile

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 50-60 minutes easy. I used this run to practice 10:40/mile pacing. 5 miles @ 10:40

Sunday: Long slow distance – 18 miles. I ended up pacing the 2:20 group at the Tiburon Half Marathon! (Report below.) I warmed up with one mile before the race and cooled down with 4 miles after for a total of 18. I felt great! 18 miles @ 10:40

Total mileage: 43.1 miles
How I’m feeling: My first 40+ mile week of 2016! I felt pretty slow all week, but I’m chalking it up to the mileage.
Looking ahead to next week: 3 speed sessions! Fartleks on Tuesday, tempo intervals on Thursday (eek), and a progression long run on Sunday at the Healdsburg Half. The exciting part is that Jess, Cat, Angela, and I are all running Healdsburg! I have such great memories from when I ran it in 2012. It will also be my “birthday race” – and the last before I move up to a new age group. Woot!


Pacing Report: Tiburon Half Marathon

So, a few months ago, I joined the TriValley Runners on Facebook. I saw that they were the pacing team at a local half marathon and decided to check them out. It turns out that they’re very active around the Bay Area, pacing at many local races. I was also hoping to join them on weekend long runs and meet new runner friends.

Even though I wanted to join their pacing team, I couldn’t really figure out how. Then, this past Monday, one of the organizers posted that they still needed to fill two pacing spots for Sunday’s Tiburon Half Marathon. I requested the 2:20 spot and quickly received confirmation that I was in! Yay!

Pacing is one of those things that I’ve always been curious about, so I was excited to try it out. Even though I’ve never paced, I knew what *not* to do, which includes: going out too fast and losing the group, or conversely, going out too slow and then having to speed up to make up time. I also knew that pacing was more than just running at the right speed, it was about encouraging the people around you and being positive.

As excited as I was, I was also nervous. I was fairly confident about running the average pace (10:41/mile), but I also saw from the elevation profile that there were lots of steep hills. I prayed that the weather would stay cool, as we had a nasty heatwave last weekend. Then there were the random anxious thoughts: what if I had to go to the bathroom? Or if my Garmin died? What if the course is too long and we come in over 2:20? What if my legs were too tired from marathon training?

When I practiced pacing during the week, I found it difficult to run a 10:40/mile pace consistently. I typically warm up around that pace, but then naturally get faster. I practiced pulling back and taking smaller steps.

Race day morning, I awoke to a 4:30 a.m. alarm. The race started at 7 a.m, and the pacers were meeting up at 6:00. I’m glad I got there early because I secured a sweet parking spot right across the street from the finish line. I met up with the other pacers and got our bibs. We took some group photos, then I went to do a warm-up mile. Originally, I wanted to run 2 miles before the race, but then decided that I should save my legs. And anyway, I didn’t end up having time to run more than a mile.

As a group, we walked over to the start “corral” – really an alley between two buildings. I have to say that this was a super awkward set up. The sound system and finish arch was behind us, and there was no start arch. It was really hard to hear the announcers. A runner named Matt introduced himself to me, and we agreed to run together for as long as possible (his PR was 2:19). After a nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (where people were turned in all different directions because we couldn’t see the singer), there was a count down and we were off!

For the race, I toggled between two different displays on my Garmin – the “Estimated Finish Time” function and the normal display with time elapsed, lap pace, and distance. This was the second time I’ve used the Estimated Finish Time function (the first being yesterday, when I practiced with it). Anyway, the way it works is that you put in the distance that you’re running, and it will display remaining distance, estimated finish time, and average pace (for the whole race). I thought that it was useful, but only in conjunction with the other display, because I liked to see lap pace and time elapsed (to check against my pace band).

The first few miles passed very quickly. It was relatively flat, with slight undulations, and mostly along the water with some nice views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. I chatted easily with Matt and made sure to keep my pace in check.


Matt and me in the early miles. (Photo credit: Tiburon Half)

If you squint, you can make out the SF skyline on the left and the Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

Soon, we made our way into the the neighborhood roads, where the hilly section started. My Garmin data shows a total elevation gain of 488 feet – pretty decent for a road half marathon! I’d say most of the hills were moderate, but some were quite steep. I incorporated some power hiking up two of the steepest grades. Fortunately, none of the hills were particularly lengthy, and there was always a nice downhill stretch to make up for it. (Though, one descent stands out as being so steep that I thought about walking down.)

During one of these downhill stretches (around mile 8.5?), I lost Matt because I noticed our pace had slowed tremendously due to all of the climbing. I decided to make up a little bit of time on the descent. I ran about 2 miles solo before Matt caught back up with me. We ran together again and picked up another runner, Abby from Davis, who was glad to have some company. At mile 11, I asked Matt what his PR was (I thought it was 2:19, but I wanted to make sure). He said 2:19, and I encouraged him to go for it – we were very close! He agreed and said he would take off in the last mile if he had the energy.

Matt ended up taking off earlier than that, but I was happy for him because I didn’t see him again until after I finished. He ended up setting a new PR on a tough course! I was also glad to have Abby’s company for the last couple of miles. I started speeding up ever so slightly because it wasn’t obvious to me that anyone was targeting 2:20, so I just went with the flow. We were moving at easy, conversational pace and it was fun. To my surprise, the finish line approached quite suddenly, and I finished with a chip time of 2:18:57! My Garmin (and all of the other pacers’ GPS watches) consistently showed a slightly short course. My data indicated that I ran 13.06 miles at 10:38/mile.


Bringing it in strong in the last 1-1.5 miles. (Photo credit: Tiburon Half)


Happy finishers!

After crossing the finish line, I said bye to Abby and thanked her for her company. Then, I ran into Matt, who thanked and credited me with his new PR — which is something that’s still making me buzz with a lot of positive emotions! I debriefed with a couple of the other pacers, then made my way back to my car before the 4 mile cool-down. As I was walking, a runner yelled out, “Hey 2:20 pacer!” I turned around and she thanked me for helping her finish the race. I kinda recognized her from the course, but I hadn’t been aware that she was using me as motivation, so that was really cool.

I ran another 4 miles to make it 18 for the day, then stopped at the nearby market for a breakfast burrito, banana, and cold-brewed coffee. YUM. What a great end to fantastic morning! Obviously, I had a really great and rewarding experience, but I wonder what would’ve happened had I not had anyone in my pace group – which happens a lot. I think then the goal of running a consistent pace is still a good challenge, just not as fulfilling. Still, it was a great way to run a new-to-me race, meet other runners, help people achieve their goals, and add some variety to my long runs. I hope to pace with the TriValley Runners again soon!

About the Race:

  • Race website
  • Cost: $110 – though there was a Groupon deal I saw floating around for $70 (I think?). (Note: my entry was comped, since I was pacing.) There was also a 5K and 10K.
  • Course: Starts and ends in downtown Tiburon. It was more scenic than I expected. About a third of the race is run along the water, and the rest is in residential areas. We ran in front of lots of million dollar homes – not because they’re fancy, but because of their location.
  • Parking: There’s lots of free street parking around the start/finish area (Tiburon Blvd. & Beach Rd.), but also a few paid lots ($5/day).
  • Aid stations: There were a lot of aid stations! They all had water and electrolyte (I think it was lemon lime Gatorade). They were handing out Hammer Gels at several aid stations (I want to say at 3 or 4 of them). However, the spacing of the aid stations was random. Some of them were clustered really close together, and then there would be a longer stretch without one. This wouldn’t be a problem, except there was no information about aid stations on their website.
  • Bathrooms: Two long rows of porta potties at the start/finish area with a some along the way in the first few miles. I didn’t see any bathrooms for a large portion of the race (though, to be fair, I wasn’t looking).
  • Swag: This race was oversold, so the pacers did not get t-shirts (which said “Finisher” on them – kind of bad luck to hand them out pre-race?). The medals were pretty standard. For those finishing the Tri-City Challenge, they got an additional medal and a fleece vest. Each finisher also got a nice Whole Foods tote bag with lots of free samples of decent things, like a Honey Stinger Waffle, an Rx bar, and 2 bottles of water (well, one is actually pHenoOH – “Intelligent Alkaline Hydration Beverage”).

    One medal for all three events.

    Update: the organizers also sent out race photos with two options – free, low-resolution pics for social media sharing, or higher resolution photos for purchase/printing. I went with the low-res versions. I always love free race photos, and these were pretty high quality!

  • Post-race food/drink: there was bottled water and kombucha at the Whole Foods tent, and a TON of samples to try from other tents. Since I still had 4 more miles to run, I just grabbed some water and fruit.
  • Misc.: I really can’t complain about race day execution for the Tiburon Half. The volunteers were great, the finish area was nice, and the course was very well-marked. The one criticism I have about organization is the race website. It has some of the most basic information, but the start/finish location was not obvious. Also, as I mentioned above, the aid station information was no where to be found. I’m also a bit disappointed that the course came up short, and I wasn’t even racing this. If they can fix these things, I think this could be a really great event!

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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Posted in CIM, Training
10 comments on “CIM Week 3 of 12 & Pacing the Tiburon Half Marathon
  1. Good job pacing! It sounds like you were a great pacer. I paced a half once and it was a lot of fun. I hope to do it again in the future.

  2. Angela says:

    Ooh, was the TAL the episode with the people talking on the pay phone with their relatives who died in the tsunami? Super sad.

    I’m becoming a big fan of using races to get the long runs done. Looking forward to Healdsburg! 🙂

  3. bt says:

    Great Job! Sounds like you were the ideal pacer. I’ve definitely used the pacer as motivation to finish/keep pace without engaging directly. I bet you helped many more people than you realized.

  4. Mike says:

    Sounds like you’ve found a new calling! And yes, pacers typically help many more people than they realize… well, except for the 3:40 pacer in Omaha who finished several minutes behind my 3:47. Tiburon is a beautiful area, so hopefully the views helped to counteract the hills. Though glad you weren’t running for the medal, eek. Great start to your pacing career!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Mike! Apparently, I did a good enough job to warrant a return invite to two upcoming half marathons – Oktoberfest in Redwood City (10/29) and the Dream Mile in San Jose (11/6). Both should be substantially flatter than Tiburon!

  5. […] in the hopes joining the pace group. After a successful stint pacing the 2:20 group at the Tiburon Half, TVRC invited me to pace the 2:20 group at both the OktobeRun and the Dream Mile, which I happily […]

  6. […] want to pace and to those who want to run with pace groups. Before my first pacing experience at Tiburon, I looked around the internet and didn’t find much useful information. So hopefully, some of the […]

  7. […] paced the 2:30 group at the Tiburon Half Marathon. This was the first race I paced, so I was happy to pace this again and celebrate my first anniversary with the Trivalley Running […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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