Tuesday, January 1, 2013

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

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