Race Recap: 2018 Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon

I’m taking the microblogging format to race recaps, y’all! Let’s keep this brief and to the point. The day before the race, I carb-loaded like a champ, with pancakes, leftover spaghetti, and chicken rice porridge (congee/jook). I woke up around 5:00am on race morning, with the goal of getting to the Great Highway parking lot by 6:30am because I remembered that I waited until closer to 7:00 last year and it was almost full.


All of the post-race drinks ready for consumption. The La Colombe triple latte was AMAZING — flavored with cane sugar and comes with lactase (so it’s lactard-friendly!) #NotAnAd

My strategy was to race by feel, with my Garmin displaying time of day rather than lap pace. I was glad that I didn’t have a time goal because it was going to be warm for February in SF — likely in the 70’s and partly sunny by the time I finished. Pre-race logistics went well, and soon I had managed to spot SP, KH, and Angela just by hanging out by the porta potties. 😉 We chatted for a little bit before getting into the start corral. No pre-race selfies — because I’m a #badblogger.

At about 8:10, we were off! It took me about 2 minutes to actually cross the start line. KPSFHM one of the largest half marathons in California, I think. I noticed that, even before I started running, I was already sweating. Yikes. Anyway, instead of giving you a mile-by-mile recount, here are the snapshots I remember from the race:

  • Mile 0.5-1.5: This race tends to be crowded at the start, so I tucked in behind 3 women running abreast. They were running at a good pace for me, so I kinda let them do the dodging, weaving, and getting people out of the way. I think this might be a good strategy in the future!
  • Mile 3: first Gu of the race (I ate one about 15 minutes before the race started). Salted Caramel, yum.
  • Mile 4.5: mental chatter/whining started – a bit early for negativity, I thought! I pushed those thoughts aside and forced myself to smile and be patient. As we’re always telling my 11 year old nephew, “We’ll get there when we get there.”
  • Mile 5.5: my absolute favorite part of the course! The elevation drops significantly as runners go toward the ocean. I saw a 9 (?) year old girl running with her dad, just chugging along, like it was NBD. I wanted to give her a high-five and tell her how cool she was, but I didn’t want to be patronizing.
  • Mile 6.5: I see and cheer for the first place male coming in to finish the race (the last 6 miles are out and back). As I turn left onto the Great Highway, I take a deep breath and finish the rest of my 2nd Gu.
  • Miles 7-9: I search for Angela and SP, who I expect to see coming back (on the out and back), but I only see SP. I also saw Devon Yanko and yelled out a garbled, “Go, Devon!” (my throat was pretty dry)
  • Mile almost-10: I made it to the turnaround! Woot!
  • Miles 10-13: death march, as usual. I focus on a few runners ahead of me with good form. I promise to try to stay with them. In particular, I stick with 2 guys with blue camo tees, and a woman in a red singlet. The woman and I run side by side for the last mile before we make the final turn into Golden Gate Park.
  • Last bit: That hill into GGP always kills me. As I climb up, I exchange a few cheerful words with an older gentleman, who kindly reminds me to focus on my form and use my arms. This seems like a good idea until I remember how weak my upper body is. Finally, I follow the gentle right turn of the road and see the finish line. I have no gas for a final sprint.
  • After I finish: The red singlet lady sprinted past me at the last minute, then thanked me — she had been using me to pace her at the end. I told her I had been following her too, on the Great Highway, so it was a two-way street. Good feelings all around.

Here are my splits (Garmin):Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 2.58.37 PM


Post-race selfie with SP

A few notable things (at least to me, anyway):

  • I think my splits were pretty even if you take into account elevation changes and weather. I think there was probably a slight tailwind on the “out” portion — miles 7-9, and a headwind on the back portion — miles 11-3… though I could’ve also been getting tired.
  • I finished 4 minutes faster than last year, despite the warmer weather and coming off a smaller fitness base (2016 vs. 2017 as a whole). I think running by feel might be my new thing, y’all.
  • This ranks 3rd out of 4 Kaiser SF Halfs in terms of finishing time, but I’m pretty happy with how I ran the race. I felt like I gave it my all.
  • I might have discovered a solution to my pre-race caffeine issues. It’s complicated and a bit TMI, but I’ve had bathroom problems if I have coffee before a race. Even tea can upset my stomach. But if I don’t have any caffeine, it leaves me feeling deflated and tired. So, I decided to experiment with one shot of espresso with a lot of almond milk (basically a latte). My theory was that the milk would balance out the espresso and hopefully not upset my stomach too much. And it seems to have worked (knock on wood!).
  • This was a productive race in terms of giving me a point of reference for Oakland next month and for practicing pre-race and race day logistics.
  • Post-race recovery has been kind of brutal. I was a little sore, but very, very tired on Monday. I’m still feeling a bit run down (pun intended) 4 days out from the race. I guess this is what being an older runner means??

After the race, Angela kindly hosted bRUNch at their temporary digs. There was great food and even better company. I neglected to take any photos because: #badblogger. But here’s a fun one from bt:


Cheers! (Sweaty lens “filter” LOL)

Official race results:
2:01:19 (9:15/mile)
1862/4971 overall, 634/2404 F, 93/330 (F 40-44)

Logistics can be found on my previous race reports (here and here). They have essentially stayed the same except that the t-shirt and medal have both improved in design and quality.


The little blue whale moves!

p.s. Did you run Kaiser? If so, post your review on RaceRaves by 2/18 for a chance to win a free entry into next year’s race and other cool prizes!


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 Race Recap
9 comments on “Race Recap: 2018 Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon
  1. gracechua31 says:

    Nice work! Yay running by feel – that’s really my favourite way to race a half. Also, I bet that medal is made by the same folks who make the Baystate medals, which also have a little slidey piece that moves; either that or medals with moving bits is A Thing now.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks! I feel like medals are getting more creative. I don’t usually keep them, but this one is fun enough for me to put on my desk for a little while. I also like the ones that double as coasters, magnets, beer openers…

  2. bt says:

    Your quads are ripped in that race photo! Awesome.

  3. Angela says:

    Congrats on a great race! So good to see you at brunch! 🙂

  4. RoadBunner says:

    I agree, your splits are super even considering the elevation changes. Nice job! It was great to finally get to meet you. I haven’t run this race in years and it seems like it has gotten an upgrade in swag and participation. I never would have guessed it was considered to be so huge.

  5. […] 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 and have brunch with friends. And this year, I thought it would […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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