London Marathon: Weeks 4-8 (Kaiser Half Recap)

Hello! I can’t believe I’m 8 weeks into a 18 week marathon training cycle and still haven’t cracked 13 miles for my longest run. But that’s the Hal Higdon novice plan for you. Hopefully my body will hold up to the increasing mileage in the second half of the training plan.

Here’s a quick run down of what’s been happening, followed by a short recap of the Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon:

Week 4 (Jan 14): 12 miles run/19 on the plan. Only two runs and one Orangetheory (OTF) session this week because I left on Thursday for Germany. The long run was 9 miles on the treadmill.

Week 5 (Jan 21): 0 miles/21 planned. What happened? Germany happened. Whomp whomp.

Week 6 (Jan 28): 19 miles/18 planned! 3 runs, including the Kaiser Half, plus one OTF session.

Week 7 (Feb 4): 23.5 miles/24 planned. 4 runs (including an 11.5 mile long run on the treadmill!!) plus one OTF session. My right knee felt pretty beat up after back to back runs on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll have to be more diligent about prehab (rolling and stretching).

Week 8 (Feb 11): 18.3 miles/25 planned. I changed the schedule so that this was a step back week, knowing that I would be in Las Vegas for 5 days for our national sales meeting. Last year, I packed 3 sets of running clothes and only ran once. This year, I managed to go twice (yay me!) — they were short runs, but something is better than nothing, amiright?

It’s pretty clear that when I’m traveling for work, my mileage takes a nosedive. I have very little control over my schedule, and even when I do have time to run, sometimes there’s no practical way for me to do it (e.g., when I was in Germany). Unfortunately, I have three more weeks of travel coming up (L.A., Hawaii, San Diego), but I’m hopeful that my schedule will be more forgiving for those trips!

2019 Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon – Race Recap

I’ve run Kaiser 5 times. It was my 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 and have brunch with friends. And this year, I thought it would be good to build in a couple of half marathons leading up to London.

Because I’ve run this race so many times, I’m extremely familiar with the logistics and the course. I got to the lot by Ocean Beach (near the finish line) by 7am, just in time to get a parking space. The weather forecast wasn’t great – rainy and windy – but it held off for quite a while (*foreshadowing*). I wore a dollar store poncho anyway, just in case it started pouring down rain before the race started, since I still had more than an hour to wait. I took a yellow school bus to the start (thinking about Cat all the while), walked to the toilets, then went back toward the bag drop. Along the way, I ran into bt, who was signed up for the 10K. I dropped off my extra layers – including the poncho – so of course that’s when it started raining!


I enjoyed my dollar store poncho

I met up with bt again and we made our way to the front-middle of the crowd. Since I hadn’t been doing any significant running in ages, my very humble goal was to: (1) finish, (2) hopefully finish under 2:20, (3) negative split if possible.

At 8:10, the race started. I took my time and stayed at an easy effort, saving my energy for the second half of the race, which is a mind-numbing out-and-back 6 miles along the water. This was the first race ever where I decided to listen to an audiobook, because I knew I wasn’t going to be racing-racing, and because I really needed to get through Michelle Obama’s Becoming before I returned it to the library! (BTW, I loved it. 5 stars.)

The weather was OK for the first half of the race. There was intermittent drizzle but nothing too terrible. I took my first gel at 4 miles. I took in Golden Gate Park as we ran towards the ocean – this is always my favorite stretch of the race. It’s so serene and also downhill, which always helps!

After getting to the ocean, I mentally prepared myself for the out and back. I know this sounds odd to a lot of people – and it did to me as well before I ran Kaiser – like, what’s so bad about running by the ocean? First of all, it’s extremely straight for 3 miles out and 3 miles back. It feels like it goes on forever. Second, this is the most exposed area on the course is and even if it’s not raining, it’s usually fairly windy. Third, if it’s raining, then it really sucks. I’ve been lucky that only once have I run in terrible weather at Kaiser (2014), but unfortunately, my luck was up again this year. As I got to the ocean, a heavy mist was hitting us. It felt like sea spray directly from the ocean, except that we were a good distance away from the water.

The rain came in spurts – it was miserable. I kept telling myself, “The faster I run, the sooner I can get out of this.” I took another gel at 8 miles. I broke down the out-and-back into manageable chunks and kept pushing towards the finish line. Thankfully, the headwind on the way out became a nice tailwind on the way back.

Finally, the last turn up into GGP arrived, and with it the mile 13 marker. I picked up the pace in the final tenth of a mile and finished in 2:16:44. Yes, it was my slowest Kaiser Half by quite a lot, but I had met my goal of finishing under 2:20 (significant only because I’m pacing a 2:20 half on Saturday 2/23), and I had managed to negative split.


Happy to be back in my warm, dry car

I took my wet, tired self over to Angela’s for brunch. Angela also ran the 10K – you can read her report here, and bt’s report here. I’m a big fan of this race for a lot of reasons – they mail your bib to you, so there’s no extra trip for bib pickup. The registration is quite reasonable compared to other races in the area. All proceeds go to charity, and the volunteers are great. The race organization and logistics are solid. The course isn’t too difficult, nor is it easy, and the timing of the event makes it perfect for an annual “rust buster” race.

This year’s shirt is very thin, but I really like the colors and the design. I may wear it as a layer as opposed to a running shirt. G1LU4Vw7SM6PJvmSaXDxjA


Mile splits

Official Results:
2:16:44 (10:26/mile)
Garmin – 13.24 miles (10:19/mile), 249′ gain, 617′ loss
2238/4043 overall, 861/1820 F, 104/247 AG (F 40-44)


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, Training
4 comments on “London Marathon: Weeks 4-8 (Kaiser Half Recap)
  1. Cathryn says:

    I love that both you and BT thought about me on those yellow buses 🙂 Miss you, lovely. Can’t wait to see you in April. xxx

  2. Cynthia says:

    I didn’t realise you were doing a run in London! I’ll have a newborn by then otherwise I would have gone down to cheer you on. Good luck and let me know if you need any London eating recs!

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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon

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