Sunday I raced the San Francisco Kaiser Half Marathon. Beautiful course. Running through Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway was stunning. I certainly enjoyed the views if nothing else.
Now I could easily give you a play-by-play of the race, the course, the post race goodies - and I will in a little bit - but mostly I took away a lot from yesterday's run and hope to keep what I learned at the forefront of my training and racing for 2017.
To backtrack a little, Dave, Asher and I made the trip down on Saturday and got a little sightseeing in, just the 3 of us. The other boys weren't to eager to spectate another race with an early morning wake up call. Can't blame them. Although we missed them, we enjoyed being tourists and reminiscing about our days living in San Francisco. The day started with brunch/lunch with some truly wonderful people and ended with a stroll through Golden Gate Park. The weather was great (both days actually) so I couldn't have asked for anything more.
Back to the race. I registered somewhat late. I had heard rumblings from many people that this is a "PR course". I have run SF before, a much, much hillier course and did pretty well, but I certainly didn't want to do it again. When I heard the words "PR" and "downhill" I thought what the hell, why not. My decision was made for the most part before I ran Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon so initially I was thinking PR city! After obtaining my current PR there at the Star Wars Half, I changed my goals.
1. To race smarter than Star Wars by not speeding up too soon
2. Try to maintain a challenging but not exhausting pace to evaluate my mental and physical endurance.
Well, I cant say I was 100% successful but for the most part I kept paces that pushed me hard for the mile I was running at the time. I was as fast as a 7:25 one mile to as "slow" as 8:05 another, so not really that consistent. Overall a 7:52 average. This pace - on another course - might actually be the challenging pace I need it to be rather than the "ugh this the worst".
Now let all be clear, in order for a race to be downhill, you have to go uphill. Lol. It is San Francisco and there were inclines. Not sure I'd say they were hills in terms of San Francisco but definitely inclines. Last May, I ran Napa and the uphill of this race wasn't as strenuous as those. I had studied the elevation map of the course the night prior. I made mental notes of the steepest parts and the downhills and tried to adjust accordingly. Surprisingly it wasn't the hills that tired me, it was the long turn around stretch of the Great Highway. That was brutal. Yet, it was the best part to have spectators come out and cheer you on. Inside the park, it was kind of lonely to not have any cowbelling going on. If someone was to ask me to describe this course it wouldn't be flat as the online description says, I'd say rolling inclines for the first half with long, flat, tough stretch the second half. The last half mile is an uphill finish, be prepared. Lol.
In all honesty, I mentally gave up around mile 9. I've never "given up" on a race course before. I had to fight and motivate myself, but from mile 9-12, there was no amount of self talk that could get me out of hating it all. When I saw Dave around mile 9 and then again at mile 11, I'll admit I thought about stopping and telling him that I just wanted to go home. Could I have had a stronger finish, maybe even a better finish time? Sure, but again in all honesty my heart wasn't in it, I couldn't make myself go faster or want it more. It just wasn't in me on Sunday. I wasn't excited until mile 12.6 when I turned that corner and knew that damn finish was a half mile away. A race volunteer at that point yelled out, "one more mile!" I yelled back, "Liar! Better not be a mile". Told the guy next to me it was an alternative fact. 😬
First race with the team. Highlight of the entire race!
I wouldn't say this was my strongest race. I'm not even sure I would run it again. Wait, I take that back. This is one of the first half marathons that I saw strollers being allowed. If I ran it again, I would run it with a stroller. Solo, probably not. Despite having mixed emotions from this race, I have spent time reflecting on my performance. I had said in another blog post, I wanted to use this race to test my strength. It did that. I have a ways to go to build my mental strength. I have to be able to push myself forward even when my body isn't cooperating, even when I'm doubting my abilities. If I'm being 100% honest, I walked away from this race disappointed in myself. Not because of my finish time, but really how I let myself get in my own way. I just couldn't will more determination on that course and that is what makes me upset. By mile 10 I told myself it was ok to "give up," essentially. I wasn't pushing myself forward, I just decided to slow down enough to get through. A goal for 2017, work on believing in myself more, pushing myself hard, being my own cheerleader because what I also learned is that having little to no spectators on the course kills my vibe. I need the hi-5s and funny signs to distract me and get me through. It's funny how races teach runners more about mental fortitude than splits and finish times.