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)
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)
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)
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!