Overall I’m very encouraged by how well the Kaiser Half went. I took 30 seconds per mile off my best previous efforts for a strong personal best but even more importantly I felt I could’ve continued on with the pace beyond the 13.1 miles. That leaves me with a feeling of motivation and optimism which is definitely what I needed most from this race as I head into the long grind of upping the miles over the next 5 months.
I don’t know why but the first two miles are always tough for me and I sometimes see spikes in my heart rate that seem odd but then a few minutes in everything settles out. There were very mild ups and downs as we wound our way through Golden Gate park and around the panhandle and very heavy traffic at the beginning as 10,000 runners filtered ourselves by pace. I always get passed a lot in the beginning miles but oddly enough even though I’m quite competitive by nature in other things when it comes to running I really don’t care who passes me or vice versa. I more just observe it and am impressed.
I started feeling stronger at about mile three and by 4 I locked into a very nice groove and was able to focus on the various natural rhythms of my body. The sound of my feet hitting the ground, the cycles of my heart and lungs, the swing of my arms all seemed comfortable and sustainable; enjoyable even. What surprised me the most about this race was that this rhythm lasted all the way through mile 12. I considered speeding up around mile 9 since I could tell I’d be able to hold the pace through to the end but decided that I’m in this for the marathon not the sprint.
That’s both literal and figurative in this case. I’m running not so I can win anything or see how fast I can go, but because it’s a chance to learn that I can do something I earnestly felt I couldn’t. Two years ago if you had asked me if I could run 26.2 miles I would have been absolutely certain that I could not. Running provides me a chance to elevate my body and my mental state and it gives me countless chances to observe how I respond to challenges and analyze my approach to a situation. As I continue doing it more I’m amazed how much can be gained simply by strapping on a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement right outside my front door.
Of course if the race had gone poorly this posting would have a completely different color to it. The next one is the US Half in April and it has gnarly hills all over the place so hopefully by then I’ll still remember this one. Between now and then it’s time to start cranking up the miles.
At the finish of the Kaiser Half Marathon in San Francisco - Feb 5, 2012