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
Up at 5am for an 8am start. Bagel and orange down 2 hours before start…check. 3 packets of Gu…check. Sweat jacket…check. Plastic bag with dry clothes for after…check. Timing chip…check. Garmin…check. Will arrive way too early as always…check. Ready to go…check.
I’m tapering this week for the Kaiser Half in Golden Gate park on Sunday. In total this will be my 6th Half Marathon and I’m very much looking forward to it. With each race I gain a much better understanding of both the mental and physical aspects of running the distance. I rarely run in Golden Gate park but I think I have a sense of how I *should* feel at mile 3, mile 7 and mile 10 and I seriously hope mile 10 does not feel the same as it did in Big Sur last November. I recently learned the official term for it - I “bonked”. What kind of word is “bonked”? All that hard work pushing the first 10 miles to the point my body felt like a 600 pound rock and my will was reduced to shreds and the word to describe has zero gravitas
My training for the year thus far has been fairly good so I think Sunday should go reasonably well. Having just registered this week for the 26.2 miles in July has put a new spin on it however. 13.1 miles has always felt extremely far to me and a year ago it was a tremendous achievement - indeed one I wasn’t sure I could achieve at the outset. Now I look at my training calendar and see planned runs of 15,17,19,21 miles… and it’s changing my perspective. Makes me wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. I do look forward to Sunday though and the shared experience of thousands of people anticipating the start, pushing through the miles and enjoying the satisfaction of finishing. I hope at the end of it it’ll seem reasonable that I could run double the distance in a few months but something tells me that may not be the case.
My name is Michael and I’m a 41 year old back of the packer training for my first marathon in San Francisco on July 29th, 2012. I started running about a year and a half ago and up until that time I can’t remember running more than 3 miles at a time. I’m definitely far out on the slow end of the bell curve and I wouldn’t say running comes naturally to me but somehow in the past 18 months as I’ve stuck with it I’ve come to love it for all the reasons many others state more eloquently than I can. I wasn’t really planning to do a full marathon this year, it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution or a personal dare but somehow for a variety of reasons now is the time. The SF Marathon has a reputation as a severely hilly and difficult course that uses the tagline, “The race even Marathoners fear”. They have a good marketing agency because oddly, I find that both frightening and compelling.
I’ve never done a blog and it makes me extremely self-conscious even setting it up but it seems silly to be nervous about it. It’s mostly for my own reflection of course and if someone out there in the great expanse of the internet spends time with it and gets something out of it I’ll be humbly flattered so what the hell, let’s see what happens. Don’t know at the outset if I’ll stick to postings about my journey with running or veer into other areas of my life but I definitely know I’m in for a ride. So….Here we go.