Kaiser Recap 2017

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.


    Utter gorgeousness. (I’m surprised that this turned out so well – I took it while I was running!)

  • 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!

Excited to see Team Ramsden at ~ Mile 8 (photo credit: Cat)

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).


Gotta love negative splits (thanks Strava for the bar graph)

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!


We’ve earned our French toast!

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!


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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16 comments on “Kaiser Recap 2017
  1. Mike says:

    Let’s hear it for Team “Two Feet off the Ground”! (not a team I join much). And Team “Negative Split” as well, those are nice numbers and it looks like you’ve retained a lot of your fitness from CIM. Glad your impromptu training session went well, no better course for it in a hilly city like San Francisco. Glad you scored a windless day too, that helps bigly. And I’ll just reiterate here how much I like your GGP photo, not sure how you managed that while on the run. Congrats on a solid outing, and hope this jump starts your 2017 training!

  2. gracechua31 says:

    Nicely done! Hooray for a well-executed race. You definitely still have that CIM fitness in play. Hope this sets the tone for Badger Cove!!

  3. I love Beach Chalet. I feel like a broken record whining about how much I miss the Bay Area, but I DO!

    I wish more races would allow bib transfers. People do it and it’s not going away.

    • Jen says:

      Come back to the Bay! As for bib transfers – I can see why races don’t like to do it, it’s annoying from a logistical standpoint, but then they should just charge a processing fee.

  4. Jia-Shieu OuYang says:

    Glad that the race went well and you got “rewarded” with delicious brunch! (as for me, I would have skip the run and go for the food! Haha). Nice action shot of you!

  5. Angela says:

    Huzzah! Sometimes no real expectations is a good thing. 🙂

  6. Cathryn says:

    So glad you were there and got to eat French Toast with me 🙂

  7. […] the lack of any paces faster than 10:00/mile in the past 9 months (with the exception of the Kaiser Half Marathon in February). Based on my short tempo run, I thought maybe it would be reasonable to run ~9:00/mile […]

  8. […] Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon […]

  9. […] 3 times previously, and my finishing times have been 1:58:51 (2014), 2:00:23 (2015), 2:05:13 (2017). I don’t think I’m in shape to finish under 2 hours or even beat 2:00:23, but […]

  10. […] first sub-2 hour half marathon in 2014. In 2015, I ran it to celebrate Cathryn’s birthday. In 2017, I received a free bib (shh, don’t tell anyone). In 2018, I mostly ran it to test my fitness […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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