Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New Half Marathon PR at the Kaiser SF Half Marathon

Last Sunday, I joined 10,000+ runners for the 29th running of the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon on a gorgeous sunny day, and somehow managed to shave a few seconds off my half marathon PR. Looks like my training is on track!

The Kaiser SF Half is a mostly downhill course that zigs through Golden Gate Park and ends with an out-and-back along the beach on Hwy 1. It's put on by the fabulous Pamakids Runners Club, is the RRCA Western Region Half Marathon championships, and always attracts a fast crew. It was a perfect place to get a status check on my training for my first "A" race in two weeks, the Austin Marathon.

As I jumped on the bus to the start, I did a quick mental check on how the day might pan out. Training? Going well. Rested and ready? Sort of...a bit jet lagged from flying in from London, but that was offset by the welcome 55 degree day that was far more welcome than the English tundra I had just left. The goal stood as planned - use the hills to beat up my legs for the first eight miles, then tempo run the last five miles at marathon pace minus 10 seconds per mile. Oy, this was going to hurt! But a good kind of hurt, right? ;-)
(No need for fancy sleeves - just cut the toes off some socks and you're good to go!)
(Hanging with Jady Palko at the start)
I met a few new friends, and had a chance to catch up with ultrarunner/Ironman Jady Palko who looks more fit than ever. We did our warm ups, and I squeezed my way into the front line for the half marathon. There were lots of familiar faces there - former Inov-8 teammate Sam Robinson, super-master Verity Breen, Napa Marathon winner Chris Mocko (now famous for gaining 10 lbs in two hours to maximize his prize of "your weight in wine"), Chikara Omine (looking healthy after a tough year of injury), and the ever-present Crosby Freeman who has run as fast as 1:04 here in the past. The gun went off, and we charged down the first hill.

The 5k runners took us out fast, but split off about a half mile in, allowing us to settle into an more conservative tempo. Mile 1 went by in 5:20, and I reminded myself that the downhill is worth about 10 sec/mile. Don't think of it as banked time since we have to turn around!

By mile 3, there were two packs ahead of me containing ~10 runners each and going fast! I hung on with two runners as we crossed the 5k mark in 16:30...super quick. I was tempted to ease up, but that wasn't the goal today...time to dig into that pain cave a bit.

We exchanged cheers with other half marathoners as we doubled back on the course and made our way towards the beach. I made the most of the downhills, quite comfortable in my new Spira Stinger XT running shoes that seemed to suck up the pavement with ease. They have these crazy springs in them that seem to take the edge of the downhill pavement, for sure. We hit mile 6 in 34:50, and picked up the pace a bit more. I heard the encouraging cheers from Will Gotthardt, Caitlin Smith, and Sumi Kim from the sidelines and kept on pushing.

(Cruising down Hwy 1)
The beach came into view at mile 8, and the course flattened out along Hwy 1 for a two mile out-and-back. Losing the gravity boost slowed me to just under a 6 min/mile, and I did my best to focus on my fragile form doing it's best to slow me down. Two runners caught me, and one said "join our pack!", and I hung on through mile 10. My watch said 58:22, a new 10-mile PR! Hang in there!!!

My body (and stomach) gave me the 2-minute warning just as I hit the last hill with a half mile to go, so I pulled my visor down and surged to the finish. I looked up to see a finish time of 1:16:23, a mere 17 seconds faster than my PR here two years ago. Phew! It's so nice to know PR's are in reach even as a Master, and Sophie will love the age group win medal and RRCA Masters plaque (they end up on all the Barbies or part of play houses). But I also felt good and held my pace, meaning there's a chance at a sub-2:40 at Austin as well. The Spira shoes had plenty of spring and will make for a PR-worthy marathon shoe - glad to have found those. The proper ingredients seem to be in place.

(18-year-old Guillaume Hansel decimated the 19-and-under with a 1:15:24, much to the delight of papa, Yves)
(Pamakids coach Andy Chan gets 3rd in 40-44 age group with his 1:18:27)
I caught up with winner Chris Chavez (1:07:15), Crosby Freeman (1:08:25), Sam Robinson (4th, 1:09:48), Chikara Omine (11th, 1:13:58), as we cheered on Tyler Stewart (Women's winner, 1:17:09), 48-year-old Lisbeth Sunshine (4th Woman, 1:18:54, best age-graded performance of the day), and the 250+ runners who made the most of the day to go sub-1:30. Amazing performances! (all results) And best of all, a gorgeous day. After a few days in England and Ireland, I am forever thankful to be able to run a February race on the beach in my singlet and shorts. We are truly blessed!

My thanks to Pamakids, RhodyCo, and all of the amazing volunteers on another successful Kaiser SF Half. You make it easy to strive for a PR!

- SD


  1. 1:16 and 22nd overall out of 10k+ runners. Wow. Inspiring run, Scott!

  2. Completely amazing run!!!!!!!!

  3. How spectacular to push yourself so fast and get a PR! You'll do great in Austin :)

  4. Scott, that is fantastic and 2:40 should be in the bag in Austin.

    Also, those PocketFuels are delicious.

  5. Ha, I got a shout-out in your blog! Seriously, though, was great to see you out there and congrats again on the PR - that's fantastic!

  6. I'm so inspired by your training. It gives me hope that I can regain some zip in my aging trail legs! Nice work.
    I'm glad the event went off well; I recall the tragedy last year of a runner collapsing and dying, and the race co getting blamed for not having an ambulance close enough. I thought it might be the end of the event, or at least of RhodyCo's management of it.

  7. Great photos and race report! Congrats on the PR!


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