If a runner runs a race and doesn't show up in the results, did she really run the race? You're going to have to take my word for the fact that I did run the second half of the San Francisco marathon this morning. The results show me finishing the full marathon in 3:25, though this time has been a moving target all day showing 3:23, then 3:25 and later a 3:02. At one point (Dissin' Genius as my witness) the results showed that I spanked the field with my age-graded performance of 369%. Now, it's been changed to show a mere 70%. I really thought I had something on Barbara Miller for a minute there.
How does this happen? I don't know, but I have a message in to the race results company. I'm really kind of curious how they work these things out.
Anyway, I'll get back to the race that I actually ran. DG and I left the house at 5:20 for the race start in Golden Gate Park picking up my friend Kirsten along the way. It was a pleasant morning in the mid-50s with a little bit of drizzle when he dropped us off. During our warm up, we ran in the opposite direction as the marathoners that were running down the same road that our race would start. I started to realize that this might be an issue for those of us running the second half marathon if there wasn't a way to separate us from the marathoners who, from the signs being waved around by pace group leaders, were shooting for 3:50-4:10 finish times. So, we would be running up from behind them constantly for 13 miles going about 3-4 minutes per mile faster than they were running. Who looks at a race like this and thinks, "Wow, wouldn't it be fun to start a group of sub-6:00/mile runners at the same time that the 4-hour marathoners are coming through Golden Gate Park?" This turned out to be a problem.
I knew that the course was going to be hilly, but I thought it would be less hilly than Seattle. I was wrong. This one was pretty darn hilly. I've pasted the output from my Garmin below including the course profile so you can see how hilly it was. I don't trust the overall elevation gain that it shows, but you can see that there was never a break from the undulations. This turned out to be a problem for me mentally. Looking at the elevation profile on line last week, I was planning for some good hills for the first 5 miles, then I would have some nice downhill miles followed by flats. So, I hit mile 6 thinking that I had made it through the tough stuff, but I kept hitting hill after hill, though they were less severe than those in the first 6 miles.
Had I gone out at a reasonable pace in the hills the first 6 miles, I might not have cared at all about those that came later. But, my first 6 miles were not reasonable. I attacked from the gun with a first mile at 5:54 pace. The next one was a 5:59 and the third was finally a reasonable 6:15 up that ridiculous hill. My first 5k was 18:55--in those hills. So, why did I do this? I was tailing Sylvia Mosqueda, one of my Masters heroes, that's why. I had her in my sights for the first 6 miles. Of course she dropped me like a bad habit after that, but it was really inspiring to watch her float up those hills while weaving in and out of the marathoner traffic.
The slower marathon runners on the course made for very difficult fast running. Think about trying to run SPR (shortest possible route) under the following conditions:
- throngs of runners hugging the curb at all of the turns;
- trying to grab water and run through the water station when all of a sudden Joe Bag-o-Donuts decides to stop and walk as you reach for the cup, nearly avoiding a collision but spilling all of your water on your Garmin which starts a disco light show on your wrist for the next mile;
- trying to shoot between runners when suddenly one veers left causing you to jump the curb and run up on the grassy shoulder to avoid a collision;
- weaving constantly in and out of runner traffic to avoid other, slower runners.
I felt for these runners. They had no idea we were coming up from behind and it seemed stupid to say, "on your left" every few seconds as you passed one. Luckily, I didn't hit or trip anyone. Many of the Garmin-clad runners I talked to today showed a long course ranging from 13.3-13.5 miles instead of the standard 13.11 miles. I'm not sure if the course was actually long or if the weaving and bobbing caused the overage. My guess is it was the latter.
I also realized after the race that I was constantly having to change pace during this race with all of this bobbing and weaving and the 3-4 super sharp turns on the course. You can actually see these on the chart as the very tall blue lines showing a major slow down in pace. The three tallest ones were from the sharp turns. All of the rest were collision avoidance and weave-related.
I definitely paid for my hill hammering ways during the first 10 miles when I got to the last 3 miles of this race. I had set a goal of running the last 10 miles in under 1:02 because the last 10 miles looked to be downhill and/or flat on the elevation charts. How was I to know that I would actually exceed that goal in the first 10 miles?
My split for the first 10 miles, as calculated by my fancy GPS computer program, was 1:01:32. That right there was all I needed to see today. I was shocked when I saw this and decided to compare this to my 10-mile split from my PR half marathon back in March which was on a super flat course with great weather conditions and competition. My 10-mile split at Shamrock'n was 1:01:22. Sweet mother. I was on fire today! Who cares if I fell apart in the last 3 miles as a result of my exuberance? I felt like a rock star when I realized what I had done in the first 10 miles.
I was not feeling great in those last 3 miles to be sure. I felt even worse as I headed into the final stretch, saw 13.0 miles on my Garmin, and still could not see the finish line. That's because it was another 0.3 miles away. Major bummer. My finishing time according to my watch was around 1:21:50. I may never know what my official time was. So, I also met my goal of running faster than I did in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, arguably under much tougher conditions.
Kirsten and I both had some extra miles to tack on to the end of this race to get a total of 22 miles in for the day. We enjoyed a nice run along the waterfront with DG, but we were both ready to be done for the day.
The Genius and I decided to have lunch at the Beach Chalet off of the Great Highway. A burger, fries and the beer sampler were my reward for the day's work. When the waitress asked if I wanted 6, 7 or 8 beer samples, DG laughed at the lack of hesitation in my response--8 of course.