On Sunday, I ran the San Francisco Kaiser Half Marathon. It feels weird to be writing this recap because I hadn’t planned on doing it until 4 days before the race, and that’s because I didn’t officially register. The story is: I inherited a bib from a registered runner, who decided to go to Tahoe instead. I don’t think the race officially allows bib transfers, but we did it anyway. I’m not advocating this kind of thing (I’m usually an adamant rule follower)- so please don’t judge me!
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, I haven’t been running very much since CIM. My weekly total has ranged from 3-16 miles per week for the last 2 months. However, I’ve been meaning to jump start my training, with the goal of running the Badger Cove Half Marathon in March. So what better way than to jump into a half marathon with only a few days notice? Some people Run Less, Run Faster, so I joked that I had been using the “Barely Run, Gain 5 lbs” half marathon training plan.
Given my total lack of preparation and general uncertainty about how much fitness I had from CIM training, my race strategy was to start conservatively and ramp up my effort as the race progressed. I didn’t have a time goal, though if hard pressed, I would’ve said 2:10 for best case scenario and 2:20 if I really fell apart. I was even envisioning some walk-run intervals if need be. The one thing I had going for me was experience – I’ve run Kaiser twice previously. So, I knew what to expect on the course – when to hold back and when to push.
One of the main motivating factors for running Kaiser was to be able to have post-race brunch with Cathryn and her family – plus it was Cat’s birthday the next day! So, regardless of what happened, I knew I’d eat some good food with a few of my favorite people after the race.
Pre-race logistics didn’t go as well as I had hoped but eventually things got sorted. I found Team Ramsden and wished them well for the 5K. I ran into Sesa and her friend E, both of whom were running the half, and chatted with them for a bit before we went our separate ways.
Since this was my third time running Kaiser, I won’t go into much detail. Here were my main impressions:
- The first mile is always a crowded mess due to self-seeding, but luckily, things spread out by the time I left Golden Gate Park (GGP).
- I LOVE the first 7 miles of this course! It’s basically a lap around GGP including the panhandle. This time, since I wasn’t all-out racing, I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.
- The weather this year was the most ideal out of the 3 years I’ve run it. It was 50 degrees and overcast for most of the race, with a very slight headwind on the Great Highway.
- The volunteers were amazing! Many were friendly and enthusiastically cheering on the runners.
- The last 6 miles are brutal. The out and back on the Great Highway is mind-numbing, and the last little hill before the finish line can be demoralizing.
- My half marathon pacing skills have improved tremendously. Yes, I could’ve paced better (it’s good to negative split, but I was maybe a tad too conservative at the start). However, given my lack of training and how unsure I was about my fitness, I think I did pretty well!
OK, so what happened? I followed my game plan and started off going by heart rate. I wouldn’t let myself get above 150 for the first 7 miles. Then, if I felt good, I’d push a little more with each mile. I did just that and finished in 2:05:xx. It’s almost 9 minutes slower than when I ran Summer Breeze last August, but it far exceeded my expectations. I was also pleased with my race execution. I know it’s obvious, but it’s so much more satisfying to pass people at the end instead of the other way around (e.g., what happened at CIM).
As promised, there was a fun post-race brunch at the Beach Chalet with Team Ramsden. Cat got a surprise PR following her own “Wine and Cake” fueling plan (trademark pending). You can read her recap here. It was a great morning all around!
p.s. Did you run Kaiser? If so, post your review on RaceRaves by 2/19 for a chance to win a free entry into next year’s race!