…it’s a short essay (because it’s a short race!)
That being said, without coming off too cocky I still had to remember one of my most important mantras: RESPECT THE DISTANCE.
Thirteen-point-one can, and will, eat you up.
I was psyched to do this race for a few reasons: my buddies Jimmy and Carl were running it AND I hoped to set a new half-marathon PR, having not run a road half since September of 2011; the Lake Merced Half (put on by the indomitable Dolphin South End Runners).
I ran a 1:44:04 all the way back then and figured I could take a good 10+ minutes off that time. I actually set a goal of sub-1:30 with a “reach” goal of 1:25. Based on some great workouts I’ve had in training for the LA Marathon, I thought I could go around 1:27:xx.
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Then, ten days before the race- the flu strikes! Knocked me on my ass for a full week, causing me to miss a pretty decent chunk of training; which, in hindsight, may have actually given me fresher legs for the race (although I feel I do better on higher mileage and for a shorter race like a half, a quick taper).
PRE-RACE: we got there really early, parked about 6/10ths of a mile from the start. I drank some Vitargo about 45 minutes before the gun, and we all warmed up with some slow miles around the DeYoung Museum and adjoining gardens. I felt loose and poppy, my lungs were still coughing up a ton of phlegm and my nose was a little bit runny. I guess that’s to be expected.
THE RACE: we’re off, Carl and Jimmy took off really hot and after about a half mile they were out of sight. I was sticking to my plan of trying to hang just around 6:45 pace, and adjusting that according to how I felt.
I brought 2 gels with me, figured I’d take one at :30 and the other at the hour mark. Probably didn’t need them, but sometimes the taste of sugar puts a smile on my face, and a happy runner is a fast runner.
Plus, they were giving out Gatorade on the course and I wouldn’t let a prisoner of war drink that shit in fear of violating the Geneva Convention’s torture act.
It felt pretty comfortable right up until the two-mile downhill through Lindley Meadow and Golden Gate Park out to the Great Highway, which felt even more comfortable to speed up and crank those miles out at 6:25-ish pace.
I settled into another comfortable rhythm coming out of the park into the turn south, kept looking out at the ocean and forgetting that I was cruising. Coming up on mile 8 I had remembered what Carl had said on the ride over: you’ll know by mile eight how those last five will go…
I saw Carl right after thinking about that, right before the turn around- he was maybe a mile up on me, and right after I saw Jimmy, having a rough time at an aid station, he was probably a half mile up on me.
Hairpin turn, back north. Three miles to go, starting to feel the burn. I was thinking about all those 6:52/mile marathon-paced workouts, 45-minute tempo runs at 6:29/mile pace, 800-meter repeats at sub-2:59 speed, ugh.
Here is where it counts, this is where all that early morning grunt work pays off. Oakland Tech track sessions as the sun is rising, getting uncomfortable at Lake Merritt before work, yeah. All of that is for this, right now.
Those next three miles I tried to stick with the plan, 6:45’s till the finish. I came in at 6:54, 6:52, 6:45 and a 6:37 for the last tenth of a mile. I was wavering a bit but still managed to pass a good 25+ runners in the last few miles, and didn’t get passed by anyone.
1:29:03, a new road half PR by 15 minutes and a second.
Anyway, that’s it for me.
I thought I was going to write more this year but haven’t been able to find the time.
Next up: Chabot 50k on 2/21, then the LA Marathon 3/15 and Miwok 100k on 5/2. Think I’m also going to throw either a 50-miler in there in April (I’m out of town for both American River and Lake Sonoma) or another East Bay Skyline Trail FKT attempt.
Oh, and the East Bay Trail Triple Crown Series. There are some fast runners in the area, so I think a podium would be a stretch, but I’ll give it a shot.
Stay tuned for more, y’all and thanks for reading.