KP Half Marathon Race Report - Sunday, Feb 3rd, 2008
10:56 (Includes 1:20 to cross the start line)
1:47:27 Official Time
As I was putting my things together the night before the race the wind was howling and the sky was dumping rain. I really didn’t mind if I had to run in the rain but running in a headwind was not something I was looking forward to. When my alarm went off on Sunday morning the first thing I did was listen for the wind; once I determined it was not windy I started listening for the rain – no rain either. I got up and got dressed, heated up my oatmeal square, then checked my stuff to be sure I had everything I would need for the race. We headed into the city and noticed that there was a bit of blue trying to peak through the layer of grey which was nice to see. Jen dropped me off at the bus pickup down by the beach and wished me good luck and I walked over to get in line with all the other people. The wind was really blowing and it was cold so I jumped in the first line I came across and was able to get one of the last seats. The drive to the start was only about ten minutes long but it was a very warm and wind free ten minutes which was great.
The bus dropped us off in the middle of Golden Gate Park and we had to walk about a half mile to the starting area which was a nice thing since it was pretty chilly. There was no rain falling at this point, just an overcast sky. I walked to the start line to be sure I knew where it was then I spent about a half hour walking around to loosen up my legs and keep warm. The lines for the bathrooms was really long but fortunately there was a permanent facility tucked back in the trees by the starting line that no one seemed to notice – I would say there were three hundred or more people in line for the temporary bathrooms but not a single person standing in line for what came to be known as the “secret bathrooms”.
About 20 minutes before the start a light drizzle started but it only lasted a few minutes and by the time everyone was lining up it had stopped. I lined up at the eight minute mile sign and waited for all of the speakers to say what they had to say before I pulled off my throw away shirt and got ready to go. The race started about five minutes late but it seemed like 20 minutes standing there in the cold. Once the bell rang (trolley car bell) everyone started moving but it was in a jerky manner – I would run three or four steps then have to walk again for a few steps. This went on until we crossed the starting line then finally everyone was running (well, of course there were those folks that line up at the very front not understanding that 5:00 means your per mile time, not the time of day you plan in finishing) – it took me 1:20 to cross the start line and get on the course. When I crossed the start and looked up I had to shake my head to keep from getting dizzy because everyone’s head was bobbing up and down as they ran and it looked like a bunch of bb’s bouncing on a drum.
For the first three miles I really tried to focus on keeping my pace slow to avoid any shin pain which wasn’t too difficult given the large number of people that were around me; to pick up the pace I would have had to weave in and out of them. Once I started mile four I decided to pick up the pace a bit which was a bit difficult for the reason just mentioned. This was by far the largest race I have run in and I was amazed by the consistent crowd of runners. I picked up the pace a bit for this mile and still felt good so I knew I could really kick it into gear at this point and start running some faster miles. At this point I just felt like I was out for a run and not really in a race which was sort of strange; once I picked up the pace I definitely got the race feeling.
The course exits the park at approx mile 7.5 and goes along the Great Highway for the majority of the second half (the last .25 mile is in the park again) – I saw Jen cheering on all the runners and then she saw me and ran along with me for a little bit. It was perfect timing because I was just eating my cliff blox and didn’t want to throw the plastic baggie on the ground so I just handed it off to her. After a few minutes on the highway it started raining again but it didn’t really bother me because I was in a groove and was passing people left and right. The road was split down the middle for the out and back so I ran right in the middle to avoid getting bogged down in the crowd.
We turned around at mile 9.6ish and WHAM, we were nailed by a strong headwind. I had planned on trying to pick up the pace a bit for the last three miles but decided instead to just maintain the pace I had given the headwind. I was getting a bit tired at this point but knew that the finish was coming up so I just kept on going and pushed through the wind. I saw Jen again at around mile 12.5 and she screamed some encouragement at me and took a couple of quick pictures as I ran by. At this point I just tried to dig deep and maintain since the last .25 or so is uphill to the finish. I looked at my watch and saw my PR time tick by but I knew I had run a good race, especially considering my slow start due to my shin, so I was happy. I crossed the line in 1:47:27, tore off my bib stub (no chip timing), and got my medal.
After walking through the expo area I found Jen and we walked a few blocks over to the Sea Breeze Café, one of our favorite breakfast spots in the area. I had my usual, the Chorizo Scramble, and a nice big cup of coffee. I kept thinking if it had only been chip timed I would have a new PR but I was not disappointed at all, I had ran a good race. Well, once we got home I was looking back at my running journal from the Napa to Sonoma Half last summer and it turns out my time was 1:47:48, so I did get a PR!!! We spent the afternoon relaxing before heading to Yoshi's in Oakland to see Chris Botti - if you like jazz and you like the trumpet, then check him out (The new CD Italia is great).
Overall I am very happy with the run, my time, and am now looking forward to a few relaxing days before I start training for the upcoming tri season.