Monday, February 8, 2010

Race Report: Kaiser Half Marathon San Francisco

For the first time in a very long time I am disappointed in how I ran.  I don't usually try to dwell on the negative of my running - after all, I run because it makes me happy.  I run because it makes me feel good.  But yesterday's race did none of that for me.  It was a difficult race for me and it showed in my performance.

This was a very high mileage week for me.  I have been staying in the 40-48 miles per week range for a while.  But by the time Sunday rolled around I was already at 50.  This was my plan though.  I wanted to race on tired legs in preparation for Boston and Big Sur.  Saturday I got in an easy 6.2 with my cousin Sarah who is preparing for her first half in April and then when I got home from our run, I set out for another 6 hard on my own.  That was 12 miles the day before a half.  This is something I had never done before.  I have always taken it pretty easy the day before any race and so this was new territory for me.

Sunday I woke up feeling pretty good but for the first time I could feel how tired my legs were.  My left groin muscle had decided to rear it's ugly head on Friday night in a soreness I had never felt before.  All I was thinking was, "great, an injury I just don't need right now."  But surprisingly it didn't bother me at all on Saturday's runs or on Sunday.  First and foremost for this race though was the logistics.  They have you start in the middle of Golden Gate park and you finish quite a bit farther away.  Under normal circumstances this would be okay, but this is San Francisco where parking is a bitch even on normal days.  So the hubbs dropped me off at the start and went and parked the car closer to the finish and raced back on his bike to meet up with me during the race.  I hadn't planned on him really assisting me that day, but it turned out I needed him.  The weather was awesome, from start to finish I think the temp hovered around 50-55 degrees with hardly any wind.
The start line

The start was a little late and I should have know this was going to be a preview for the whole race.  It was the most disorganized race I have ever been to.  It was put on mainly by Kaiser Permanente, a health foundation in California that I actually belong to.  When the gun went off we went up a slight uphill, rounded around the middle of Golden Gate park and then down through an area known as the "Avenues."  It's quite pretty, lots of older homes.  After a slight down hill around mile two they dumped us back into the heart of GG park and we were passing the Academy of Sciences.  This is where my legs just didn't want to move anymore.  I felt like they were lead and I was doing everything I could to keep going.  I found Ari around this point and gave him my arm warmers and gloves.  I was hoping that would help me as I was already getting quite warm.  But my mile 3, after another slight downhill, my legs and knees were screaming.  I hit mile 3 at about 23:50 or so and I was done.  I looked at Ari and just started walking.  Yes, walking.  I haven't walked in a race in forever but I felt done.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to leave.  It was a packed race and I was right in the middle of it.  There were lots of fast runners and I never felt like I got away from the pack.  I walked for about .10 and then started running again.  I looked at my watch and I was pacing 8:30's and I freaked.  I saw my whole day get away from me.  I think Ari saw this to and he started to talk to me.  He reminded me I could do it, gave me some Gatorade and sent me off.  The next miles were a blur.  I took a Gu around mile 6 or about 50 mins in.  I knew I was already off my pace.  That seemed to help me. 

Out on the GH

I got to mile 7 where we hit the Great Highway.  This is a gorgeous part of the race.  The GH runs along the Pacific Ocean and the weather was just perfect.  I soon got really hot and took off my shirt and passed it off to Ari.  This seemed to help a bit but I then realized this was an out and back!  I hate out and back's during a race.  They are a mental nightmare for me.  I was feeling defeated again.  By the time I hit mile 9, I didn't think I had four miles in me.  I looked at my watch and saw I was still clicking off 8:10's so I knew it wasn't all bad but mentally I was drained.  I hit the turn around at mile 9.5 and was immediately hit with a strong headwind.  Oh man!  Wind!  A runner's nightmare!  I had just gathered myself by telling me it was only 3.5 miles left, 26 mins max!  I was slowed down right away.  I was hot, too.  I passed mile 11 and looked at Ari and was done!  I wanted to walk so bad.  My legs were cramping, my knees hurt with every foot fall and I was hot. 

The crowd support for this race was bad.  Even those that had come out to the GH to cheer didn't even cheer!  No signs, no horns - nothing.  They also only gave out water on the course until mile 10 where they finally gave out some power ade.  The water stops were a cluster fu*k and poorly organized, too.  Every water stop slowed me down as I dodged people to get around.  Finally, I hit the mile 12 marker and I knew that I could get the last 1.1 miles done. I kicked it into over drive and ran that last 1.1 miles in less than 8 mins.  I had looked down at my watch and it had said 1:39:xx and I hit it. 

I crossed the finish line with my garmin saying 1:47:55.  I was so defeated at this point.  The finish shoot was really bad, too.  No MEDAL!  Just some water and your cotton shirt waiting for you.  No bananas, no bagels - nothing but water, your shirt and a crappy goody bag.  And it was packed with non-runners and the 5K people.  I quickly gathered myself and found Ari.  I remember telling him that I don't know how I finished.  I wanted to cry.  I felt so defeated and I couldn't tell you what I did wrong other than I was tired.  My legs were cramping, so I threw on my sweats, got changed out of my sweaty bra and we walked to the car.  The walk was a good thing - he had parked 6 hilly blocks away but it was good to walk.  I didn't even want a picture. 
Race stats:
Garmin: 13.22 miles  1:47:55  8:09/mi
Official: 13.10 miles 1:48:07  8:15/mi  overall 1324, division 94th.

I don't think I will ever run this race again.  Not because of my own poor performance, but because of how unorganized it was.  It was just a mess.  The course could be really fast, which I probably would like on fresher legs, but the organizers just did the whole race on the cheap.  It was nice to be in the city for the beautiful weather, and we both really appreciated that.  If you don't know this, the best time of year to visit SF is the winter, and the worst is July and August where they sometimes never see the sun for days with all the fog.  So the weather was not lost on us.

My hips are sore and my legs are tired.  And although this wasn't a PR or even a PW, it was a very lesson filled race for me.  I learned that high mileage weeks are not going to get the job done for me.  I learned what it feels like to race on very tired legs which will be good for Big Sur and the Relay.  I learned how to try to cope with the mental defeat on the race course - something I hadn't had to feel in a while.  I learned what I need to work on and where to tweak my training plan.  Although I felt very defeated yesterday, today I am much more positive and know what I need to do.  I finished the week off with 63 miles, one of the highest I have ever hit - and something I don't need to do for a while again.  Yes, a 1:48 half is respectable time, I know this especially with 63 miles on my legs.  But I know that I am capable of more and this makes me want to work harder.  I am excited about my next half, I know what I need to do.  I know that not every race can be a PR, and I know that not every race I am going to feel like a million bucks.  But I definitely wasn't counting on feeling the way I did on Sunday.  It's a lesson though that isn't lost on me.
 
Along the GH - see how clear it was!

I had a busy weekend of running, racing and partying.  I ended up hosting the Super Bowl Party at my house and it was a blast.  Sad my Colts didn't win, but glad the Saints came out the victor - they deserved it, too.

Today is a rest day, whoo hooo!  I am going to do some cross training and re-vamp my training program.  Plus, it's Monday, my favorite day of the week and I am busy at work!  Congrats to all the peeps who raced this weekend, including Aron, Danica and LB!  You guys did awesome!
And don't forget to check out Tall Mom's Recovery Sock Giveaway - just don't enter, I wanna win!!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!

26 comments:

Ewa said...

Sorry to hear you did not enjoy the race.
Enjoy your rest day and recover. I am sure tomorrow you will feel like a brand new person.

elaine said...

Thanks for a great race report. I did a half a week ago, and I tapered. I was very excited to hit 1:49 (that is a calculation bssed on my average mile of 8:20, because the "organized" course was short). Anyway, I had a very crashed week last week because my legs were so tired!
Elaine

Sarah said...

I'm sorry the race was so crappy for you, but I'm proud you muscled through and did it! You are amazing!!

Thanks so much for the run on Saturday. I had a great time with you! I hope we can do it again soon. :) BTW my legs felt GREAT yesterday, no shin splints!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Way to TOUGH it out. Amazing the things you learn on a rough day. Hugs to you for making it through and that is a GREAT time.. Jeepers!

I am sooo curious what my legs would feel liek with that many miles, I bet Jello. I know I need my rest.

So glad your hubby could be there for you. I am sooo tempted to get my hubs a bike for Eugene.

Staci Dombroski said...

I am so sorry the race was that bad! Way to continue on the run and do a great job! I would kill for that pace. I hope you have a wonderful week!

TMB @ RACING WITH BABES said...

Even with a bad race you are still my idol! Good job toughing it out and taking away the lessons you did! Plus, you ran 63 miles last week and still ran a 1:47 half ... not too shabby!

Jill said...

Okay, Missy....here goes:
This race was perfect for you in the sense you are now going to know what Big Sur is going to feel like. You are not going to feel great going into that race because you are going to race your heart out in Boston and enter BS with less than perfect legs. BTB is a challenge and you are prepping for that challenge by upping your miles then racing on jello legs. I say, physically you did exactly what needed to be done. Mentally, you were not prepared for how your body was not physically ready to run at the pace you thought you could and this sucked you under a huge cloud of self-doubt. You work on the mental aspects of this puppy and you will nail both Boston and Big Sur. You go into Big Sur knowing that your legs are stale and you are tired and you are there just to perform a task and nothing else and you will be surprised at how well you will knock that out. But if you go into Big Sur thinking you are going to run strong and get your head all tangled the first miles of that race if you don't, then it's going to suck. BS does not have any crowd support. It thins but not very quickly, it's windy, it's hilly, it's hot....yeah, I think this race in S.F. was perfect training for your BTB - physically, emotionally, physiologically, and mentally! You ROCK girl!!!! I am sooo proud of you for sticking with that race and pulling all your guns out to fight and not giving up! That's the spirit and THAT'S what's going to get you to the finishline of BS1! Awesome, Katie, awesome!!!

Jo Lynn said...

One of my pet peeves is a late race start! No excuse for that at all. That happened to me when I did the Santa Cruz half a few years ago. I haven't had a desire to do it again. So unorganized. These races aren't cheap to begin with and when they are a let down, due to RD issues, boooo on them!

Good job on sticking it out and finishing. And you run in a sports bra with no shirt? You rock!

Matt said...

I appreciate how you acknowledged that you did not get the results you wanted and then subsequently did some troubleshooting. Near the end you repeatedly said "I learned...". As long a person is learning it will pay off in the future. I bet you will look on this race later as being responsible for a future better performance.

Morgan said...

Sorry you had such a tough race girl. It was a test to see how things were going to be for Boston/Big Sur so at least you have an idea and now you are armed with the knowlege! Time to start working on logistics and recovery plans!

onelittletrigirl said...

A late start is unacceptable and as far as I am concerned, so is a cotton T-shirt. At least your fought through and made it happen though!!!

Heather said...

Sorry you had a tough race, but way to power through. You had one huge week for running, and a speedy (in my book!) half marathon to top it off. Congrats.

Heidi said...

You are one tough cookie! Sounds like a very mentally difficult race, but you powered through and learned some valuable lessons.

It may not have been your best time, but I can't wait to get to times like that!

Disorganization sucks - plain and simple! GRRRR....

Angela and David Kidd said...

Sounds like you learned some great things from the race, even if it wasn't one of your best performances. It's the crap days that make all the great days so rewarding.

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Sorry to hear you did not enjoy your race. Wow running a race on that many miles already. You are hard core.

Be proud of yourself for not giving up. Finishing (and you had a great pace!) takes a lot of courage. I'm glad you had it!

Jo Lynn said...

I'd say it's worth seeing on the big screen - that John is a HOTTIE!! ;)

Julie said...

Great pictures and race recap:) If it makes you feel any better...your time was faster than mine from a few weeks ago!! Cheer up you did great:)

Jamoosh said...

Rather than running so many miles over the course of the week have you thought of doing a longer run one Saturday, doing one or two easy three milers during the week and then another long run the following Saturday? This could be a better gauge of what you may need to do to complete the Boston-Big Sur Challenge. Remember, miles are one thing; recovery another.

ajh said...

Sorry your race was so bad. It sounds like you have figured out how to change things up. I too hate hate hate disorganized races. My last marathon was very disappointing and I am anxious to change that with my next marathon. I feel I need to change nutrition and the pace of my long runs.

ajh said...

I also meant to ask you, what is a PW?

B.o.B. said...

Tough race kid. I hate those ones myself. But you can chalk it up to tired legs and just one of those days. Hope you are feeling refreshed and ready to go at it again.

HC said...

Sorry to hear your race was so rough. Way to fight through it, especially with so many miles on your legs. It sounds like great preparation for BS.

Teamarcia said...

You went into this tired, no taper, high mileage, etc. to see how it felt. And you 'saw'. Of course it sucked, how could it not? Personally I'd be more than happy with that time but I understand your disappointment/frustration with the race overall. You are getting stronger and faster by the minute and you'll be a force to be reckoned with in April!

Jenn said...

Don't lose any sleep over this race Katie! 63 miles will knock you down but in a few weeks after the Boston taper it will lift you up! If you finished a practice run @ 8:09 after a 50 mile week you would likely feel on top of the world!! That's what this was-a practice run!! I know you know all this! Sounds like you had a great Superbowl. I was driving on crappy roads the whole game!! Cluster f*ck -Ha!!

N.D. said...

You have been running so much - I hate those races where you are done when it isn't even half way. You did a great time in the end, and you'll bounce back!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

every race is a new learning experience for me. I am amazed at your mileage and how many races your are doing. I hope the next one is better!