Monday, July 30, 2012

Race Report: San Francisco Marathon

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco on Saturday, clear and cool, and not very windy. The impending race early on Sunday, coupled with being in a different city, made it difficult to get to bed at a time befitting our early start. 

We woke up at 3:30 to get ready for the race- a bit earlier than needed- and went down to the Embarcadero a few minutes after five to get into Corral 3. We passed the long port-a-potty line, and were glad we stayed across the street at the race hotel. We went into our corral and admired the bay in the dark morning, balloons with lights on them stretching across the water.

The first and second waves started, and we worked out way into the crowd to get ready. At 5:42, we started the San Francisco Marathon, working our way down the Embarcadero, up into the Presidio, with the sun rising as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge.

What an exciting landmark to run across! The bridge was clouded in fog, but the bright red of the enormous structure, the water below, and the shores on the Marin side were visible. It was a bit crowded, but not too bad at all. It was fun to see the faster runners doubling back toward San Francisco on the way over, morphing into mid-packers like us as we got closer to Marin. A short loop in Marin, and we headed back across a clearer, brighter bridge.

After the bridge, we continued on through the Presidio. The course thus far had been a challenge, with many steep uphills as well as some steeper downhills, We approached Golden Gate Park, and embarked on a nice tour of the park from a rare vantage point. The rolling hills, this far into the race, felt more and more challenging.

John and I had not planned initially to run together, due to our wildly different training over the past few months. He had been injured prior to running Rome, and has been doing more on the bike and at the gym since then. On the opposite end, I've trained like I've never trained before. But at the start, John said he'd keep up as long as he could. He actually did a fantastic job, staying with me and even helping me get up the hills over the first half of the course. It was great to run together, talk, and enjoy the sights with him.

Right before the mile 18 aid station, John told me that he would likely be slowing a bit, and I should keep going on my goal pace. He stopped for water at the aid station, and I waved goodbye. As I left the park, now alone for the last 8.2 miles, I continued on the pace we'd been going, anticipating the end of the rolling hills in my immediate future.

Out of the park and into the Haight, we did have some significant downhills. But, contrary to what John saw on the course elevation profile, there were uphills! Since I'd thought those were over, I felt it a bit more challenging to keep pace. I also felt my knees and hips tightening, and even started to struggle on the flats and downhills. I slowed from my goal pace for several miles, even topping 9:00 per mile for the first time since our bathroom stop in the park. Eventually, I got close to back on pace, and calculated that I'd still achieve my goal of finishing under 4:00.

I hot some more downhills after 20 miles, and picked it back up a bit. I saw Rachelle and her kids around 21 or so, and it was nice to see a friendly face. As I approached 24, my knees were screaming, but I realized that not only was I likely to beat 4:00, but a PR might be possible as well.

From mile 24 on, I really gave it everything. This was the first race that I actually passed a significant number of people in the last three miles instead of getting passed. I was hurting, but I wanted that PR! As I got to the waterfront, I sped up. It helped that through that stretch, the lead 2nd Half Marathoners started to pass me (about 15 men and one woman), giving me some added motivation. I passed Chris from the Chips shortly before AT&T Park, and was sorry to see that he was suffering from cramping.

From mile 25 on, I sprinted. I left everything out there. Mile 26 was my fastest since mile 11, and my 6th fastest of the race. I screamed past people, even causing some close calls. I had to maneuver around the walking wounded, and several times had to warn people to watch out. In the finishing chute, I nearly got clotheslined and had to get around an idiot who decided to cut me off to high-five spectators, and I nearly slammed into two guys posing for a finish photo before actually crossing the mat! I couldn't believe it.

What I really couldn't believe was that not only did I break 4:00, not only did I PR, but I almost broke 3:50! I came in at 3:50:25, a PR by over six minutes! The PR, on such a significant, meaningful, and challenging course, means so much. Suffice it to say that I really needed this victory, and I am so elated that I achieved everything I wanted to during this race.

John finished in a PR also, in 4:10:29. I unfortunately had marathon brain, went to somewhere other than where we said we'd meet, and didn't see him until I got back to the hotel.

We celebrated our finish with beer and burgers at Rogue Public House in North Beach, overlooking Washington Square Park.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Moment I've Been Waiting For Is Here...

...well, not quite yet.

The San Francisco Marathon is less than two days away. I am so excited about this race, maybe more so than the other marathons I've done, and I'm not exactly sure why.

Maybe it is the fact that I've trained harder and smarter for this race. I did more mileage, faster, and even overcame injury. I've certainly put in the effort on this one.

Maybe it is the excitement of running in San Francisco for the first time. I haven't even gone running by myself in San Francisco, a city that means so much to me. I was born there, I got married there, and I just love it there.

Maybe it is the fact that this is Marathon Number 5 for me. It just sounds significant. I've learned a lot from past races, and I feel more relaxed, even though the course will be more challenging.

Whatever the reason, I'm so excited to get to the expo tomorrow, pick up my bib, and do the race bright and early at 5:42 AM.

I'm approaching this race a bit casually. I'm better trained, but the course is hillier than I've done in the past. I'm hoping my training will allow me to finish in under 4 hours, my usual finish time. With the more challenging course, that would be an accomplishment.

Above all else, I'm going to enjoy the sights, the crowds, and the two days in San Francisco. It is going to be a great weekend, and I am so ready for my fifth marathon to start!

Weekly Summary: San Francisco Marathon Week 12

In my final week before the race, here is what I've done:

Monday: (Rest) Rest
Tuesday: (Recovery 6) 4 easy
Wednesday: (Dress rehearsal- 7 mi w/2 at MP) 6 mi with 2 at MP (8:30)
Thursday: (Rest) Rest
Friday: (Recovery + speed 5 mi w/ 6 strides) 5 mi with 6 strides
Saturday: (Recovery 4) Rest/Expo!

Miles this week before the race:15
Miles in 2012: 822

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekly Update: San Francisco Marathon Training Week 11

Monday: (Rest/cross) Rest
Tuesday: (General Aerobic + speed 7mi w/8x100 strides) 6 with Chips- strides, 4x 1200 w/600 recovery
Wednesday: (VO2 Max 8 mi w/3x 1600 at 5k pace) 4 easy in morning
Thursday: (Rest/cross) Cross
Friday: (Recovery + speed 5 mi w/ 6 strides) 3 slow in the morning
Saturday: (Rest/cross) 13 from Folsom Grind at 8:30 average
Sunday: (MLR 12) Rest

Miles this week: 26
Miles in 2012: 807

Ack! One week to go!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Summary: San Francisco Marathon Training Program Week 10

Update on time... yes!

Monday: (Rest/cross) Yoga at Pipeworks
Tuesday: (VO2 Max 8mi w/ 5x600m at 5k) 7 mi [600 w/400 cool x 4 increasing speed] x2
Wednesday: (Recovery 6) 4 easy in morning
Thursday: (Rest/cross) 4 easy w/6 strides
Friday: (Recovery + speed 4 w/6 strides)  Rest
Saturday: (8-10K tune up race) 15 miles at 8:40 average
Sunday: (LR 16) Hike

Miles this week:  30
Miles in 2012: 781

Just two weeks to go!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long Overdue Update

I have been woefully absent from any real commentary on training, racing, or running news for the past few months. While I enjoy using this blog for those things, I have been caught up in other things that have drained my ability to be as creative. I thought that now, less than three weeks out from the San Francisco Marathon, would be a good time to try to make up for this absence.

My training started out great. I was getting more miles in than before, and doing long runs faster. I did my longest training week ever- 47 miles- with an 18 miler on Saturday and a 10 miler on Sunday that week. I felt great.

Then, I got in a car accident. My coworkers and I were T-Boned by a truck who either California stopped or just plain didn't stop for a stop sign. Luckily, the impact was in front of the driver door. Unluckily, I saw the truck coming, tensed up, and have experienced neck and back pain and tightness ever sense. We were very lucky, and the injury is more annoying than anything else, but it certainly has impacted my running performance (as well as my ability to sit at work for long periods).

I took it easy the week after the accident, which was my second easy week (the week of the accident was a scale back week). The next week (two weeks after), I did an 18 miler and was in so much pain I didn't know how I would finish. My left hip, then knee, then all the way to the ankle, tightened up and hurt sharply. Unfortunately, we were on a loop course far removed from the road, so I had to finish. I could barely walk the following few days.

I went to Kaiser's physical therapy the Monday following, and they were not helpful. The session opened with the "therapist" telling me my range of motion was very good. Apparently, being in good shape makes real treatment from that institution hard to come by. Shrug my shoulders was their cure, and not running if it hurt. I explained that I needed a more aggressive program, and the "therapist" scoffed at me.

Thanks to my friends at the Chips, I got in to see the fantastic Mits Motoyoshi at Primary Therapies in Folsom. My left leg had shortened due to the accident (bracing the foot), and I was generally all out of alignment from the neck and back pain. I've been going weekly, and while I still have some pain, I can get through my runs without sharp pain. He really is a miracle worker!

I scaled back my training due to the injury, which was really disappointing after starting out so well. I always want this race to be the one where I'm trained perfectly and I do my best, and it never seems to work out.

Despite my challenges, I am excited to run the San Francisco Marathon. I am better trained than I have been for past marathons, and smarter about nutrition and hydration. The course will be beautiful, and it will likely be cool out, a welcome thing after our hot July so far.

Weekly Summary: San Francisco Marathon Training Week 9

How did I manage to forget to update for last week's training... until Thursday??? Here it is...

Monday: (Rest/cross) Walk in Tennessee Valley
Tuesday: (Recovery/Speed 7mi w/6x strides) 3 miles w/ 4x strides
Wednesday: (VO2 Max 10mi w/4x 1200 m at 5k) Free 5 Miler in 37:23 w/1 mi warm up
Thursday: (Rest/cross) 4 easy on Stonegate in morning
Friday: (MLR 11mi) Rest
Saturday: (Recovery 4) 20 miles (average 2:47) finishing in 95 degree heat!
Sunday: (LR 20mi) 9 from Fleet Feet

Miles this week: 42
Miles in 2012: 751

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weekly Summary: San Francisco Marathon Training Week 8

Week eight was great! I got a few good runs in, did my first speed workout in weeks, and didn't feel as sore as normal. My neck is still a bit stiff and sore, but I'm on the mend.

Monday: (Rest/cross) Rest
Tuesday: (VO2 Max 8 mi w/5x600 at 5k) 7 with Chips- 1600/1200/1000/800/400/200/100 with half recovery
Wednesday: (MLR 11 mi) 5 miles easy in the morning, physical therapy in afternoon
Thursday: (Rest/cross) Yoga and abs
Friday: (Recovery + speed- 4 mi w/6x strides) 4 miles with 6 x strides
Saturday: (Tune Up Race 8-15K) 18 miles with Chips
Sunday: (LR 17) 7 with Fleet Feet group

Miles this week: 41
Miles in 2012: 709