Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Big Sur Half Marathon - 11/18/12

The Big Sur half marathon was one of our favorite races last year, so it was a given we'd run it again. We made a weekend of it this time. The race was on Sunday and we came up Friday night. This allowed us time to try a couple of restaurants, drive along the coast, and go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (something I hadn't done for years). It was a rainy weekend and there was a good chance it would be raining during the race. However, just like last year, the weather cleared up just in time for the race and the sun was shining.

Neither of us had any time goals for this race. I was swamped with school work and hadn't been putting in the training needed to set a PR. Annelyse had just set a huge PR so there was no pressure to do so for this race. It was just going to be a beautiful run along the coast for both of us. I even decided to bring my phone so that I could stop and take pictures along the course. 

It was the same course as last year. Running through Cannery Row was one of my favorite parts again. Just the day before we were there going to the Aquarium. It was packed with cars and pedestrians. Running down it during the race was a completely different experience. The street was closed off so there were no cars. Aside from a few spectators, it was just us runners. It was quiet and peaceful. 

The scenery while running along the coast was once again amazing. I'm always so thankful of where I live and the incredible places I get to run. It helped to make the race less painful than it could have been. With school taking up so much of my time, my training isn't what it used to be. I didn't have the base I usually do so the last few miles were tough. It didn't help that my bursitis in my hip was acting up. I actually almost stopped before hitting mile 1. It would have been my first DNF (did not finish). I suspect I'll have one eventually, but it wasn't this race. I pushed on. The hip loosened up considerably, but was definitely aching towards the end. 

I finished the race with a respectable time for one I didn't train for. Annelyse came in shortly after I did and we walked the mile home. On the walk home we talked about how lucky we are that each of us loves to travel to run races. It's such a fun excuse to get away for the weekend. I'm sure we'll be back next year. 

Race stats:
Overall female:  406 of 4398
Age Group:  79 of 724
Chip Time:  1:54:14
GPS Time:  1:53:42

The Giant Race Half Marathon - 9/16/12

We ran the Giant Race last year, but that was before we were Giants fans. We moved across the street from AT&T park right before the start of the baseball season. We didn't know if the constant crowds from the games would annoy us or if we could ever become baseball fans. To me, baseball was always boring. Too much dead time. However, since we were right across the street from the park we decided that we should give it a chance. Buying tickets off of stubhub couldn't be easier. All the season ticket holders start dropping the prices of their seats as game time gets closer so they can unload them. Being able to wait until five minutes before game time definitely had its advantages. Not only did we not have to commit to games way in advance, but we got some amazing seats for really cheap.

After going to a few games and becoming familiar with the players, we were hooked. Watching them through the season and then getting to go to two playoff games, including a World Series game, has made us Giants fans for life. Being a fan made getting ready for this years Giant race even more fun. The previous year a number of runners had dressed in Giants gear and we knew we had to do the same this year. We bought Romo socks along with Giant visors and wristbands to complement our black shorts and tanks. We were head to toe orange and black. 

Preparing for the race wasn't all fun and games though. Annelyse was trying to PR and break her ever elusive 2:10 goal so there was some serious training going on. We decided that I would pace her during the race. We had never run together before, let alone run a race together. Before the race, I took her on a 14 miler. It was our first run together and the longest run she'd done to date. We needed the practice. We weren't even sure if we'd be able to handle running together. In my opinion, she needed to do a training run longer than the race and I needed to learn how to pace someone. The run went great and we didn't end up killing each other, though I still had some work to do on learning how to pace. Luckily, I had some time before the race to figure that out.

The morning of the race was filled with nervous excitement. The race started across the street from our apartment so getting there couldn't have been easier. There were a ton of people dressed in orange and black. It was fun to be a part of it this year. The race got underway and was pretty congested for the first couple of miles. Thankfully, it didn't slow us down that much. As the miles ticked by we were actually building up a little time buffer in case we needed to drop the pace in the last few miles. Annelyse was looking good and it wasn't until the turnaround point at Fort Point (about 7 miles in) that I started to signs of fatigue. She refueled though and was good for another couple of miles. So much so that I had to continually slow her down. I finally told her that she had to run behind me so that I could set the pace. This worked much better. As it was, we were easily on target to beat a 2:10, but I knew we had a lot of race left. 

This was a flat course with the exception of the hills taking you up and over Fort Mason. The course of the race is essentially what we run every weekend so we were very familiar with them. They aren't killer hills, but when you're running at a pace faster than you ever have, they can get you. It wasn't until we came of those hills that I started to worry. Our pace dropped considerably while Annelyse was recovering. However, after a quick water break she was back on track much sooner than I expected. 

As we came within a few miles of the finish, I knew exactly how Annelyse must have been feeling. I've been there many times before. You feel like there's no way you're going to keep up the pace until the finish. However, it's very motivating knowing that if you can just hold it a little while longer you're going to PR. It's what keeps you putting one step in front of the other. And that's exactly what she did.

Our last three miles were actually some of the fastest we'd run. She didn't know that until after though. At one point I told her we could drop the pace if she was worried she wasn't going to have enough steam to get to the finish. I didn't want her to burn out and miss her PR in the last mile or two. She ignored me. After that I didn't say anything and let her set the pace. The faster she could finish the happier she would be. We cruised into the finish with a time of 2:06:12. Accomplishing your time goal by even seconds is extremely gratifying, but doing it by minutes is incredible. We were both thrilled. I really enjoyed being able to pace her to a PR, but ultimately it wouldn't have happened if she hadn't put in so much training beforehand. 

Finishing in AT&T park was a different experience this year. We'd been to so many games in the park over the previous few months that it was really neat to be on the field instead of in the stands. We relaxed in the sun in left field and took it all in before heading home. We're looking forward to next years race and for the start of the 2013 baseball season. Go Giants!

Race stats:
Age Group: 112 of 363
GPS Time: 2:06:19

San Francisco Marathon - 7/29/12

I knew once school started the chances of having the time to train for a marathon was questionable. However, I knew I wanted to do one this year. Since the San Francisco Marathon was right around the corner, I decided that would be it. I've always wanted to do the full marathon, but it's tough course. Since I wasn't setting myself a time goal, it was the perfect time to do it. Plus, the start/finish is located right by our place.

Leading up to the race, I did a good job of getting all the miles in, but didn't do much in the way of speed work. It was kind of nice going into the race not trying to accomplish any goal. I say this, but there's always somewhat of goal. Given the course, I was going to be happy with a sub-4:00 marathon.

The race started very early. Annelyse was running the first half, so we both got up before 4a. We walked to the start and there were these pretty blue lanterns hanging over the corrals. They gave the race a really nice feel. They had a few entertainers along The Embarcadero to give us all something to look at while we waited for our wave starts. For the first time, I wasn't nervous about running the distance. After running four previous ones and putting in lots of training, I knew that I could cover the distance which was a great feeling.

The San Francisco marathon is a beautiful course, but I felt bad for the runners from out of state. Crissy field and the Golden Gate bridge were completely socked in by fog. You could barely make out the bridge. Of all the races I've run in San Francisco, this was the first time I ran on the bed of the Golden Gate bridge so that was a neat experience. 

Miles 13-18 were the toughest for me. The first half of the race was very hilly and took it out of me. The first half ended in Golden Gate Park and I was tempted to go cross their finish line. I knew if I could just make it out of the park and get through the next few miles of uphill, it was all flat from there. When I finally did, I found I got a bit of a second wind with the change of course. The last 8 miles weren't necessarily easy, but I felt much better than expected. 

I made it to mile 25 and passed right by our place.  Throughout the last couple of miles I felt my left calf starting to crap. And sure enough, just after mile 25, it knotted up so bad that it stopped me in my tracks. I could barely even move to the side of the course. I'd never experienced a cramp like that and was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to continue. A nice couple on the side who were watching the race gave me a banana. After eating half of it and rubbing out my calf a bit, it started to loosen up. Luckily I didn't have far to go and I was hopeful that if I took it slow I could make it.

We had left my car near the first half finish at Golden Gate Park the night before with the intent that Annelyse could drive home and make it to my finish. We knew the timing would be close, but sure enough she made it and I was thrilled to see her on the side right before the end of the course. Just after I finished I heard someone call my name. I turned and it was my mom and my aunt Val who had come into SF to surprise me. They'd both run the SF Marathon when they were younger, so it was pretty special that they were able to see me finish. 

My GPS time was 4:00:57 for 26.55 miles. Unofficially, I met my time goal of running a sub-4:00 had the course only been 26.2 miles. My gun time, however, was just over 4:00. Not bad considering a cramp that stopped me for a couple of minutes and bathroom break. After the race we all went to Paragon for a big breakfast. While it wasn't my best time, I didn't care. That wasn't my goal. It just felt great to have had finished a marathon and that everyone was there to celebrate with me. 

Race Stats:
Overall female: 397 of 2146
Age Group: 70 of 303
Chip Time: 4:04:01
GPS Time: 4:00:57