Sunday, February 7, 2010

Half Marathon Count: 1

I just finished the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon today! It was intense. I finished in 2 hrs 20 mins. I was aiming for 2 hrs 10 mins but my knee was not feeling well at the end. But I think this was a good race to start out with. It was relatively flat and a lot of it was actually downhill. Anyway, let me start from the beginning.

I went up to San Francisco on Saturday night. I could not concentrate the entire day on Saturday in anticipation for this. I brought a couple of bananas, granola bars, and nuts with me so I was well prepared. I got up at 6am on Sunday morning and got to the race area at around 7am. The race started at 8am so this was actually just in time. It took a while to walk through the start area to get my sweats checked (they had a pretty nice setup) and use the porta potties (long lines). I lined up pretty far behind the start line since it was really crowded and I didn't think it would be worth it to go fight my way through the crowds. And I wanted to start out slow.

I spent the first two miles warming up at a 10 min mile pace. People were really chatty and there were many groups so it was not bad. The course started near the De Young museum which I had recently heard a presentation from a structural company about. So it was nice to get a chance to see it. But then the course took us on a small loop that came back to the start line and back to the museum. That was a little disappointing because you realized you haven't traversed the length of the Golden Gate Park yet. But there was a lot of change in the scenery as we went along one side of the park, which helped. Not that I paid very much attention. I was just on the lookout for mile markers and water stations!

At miles 6 and 7, I was feeling really great. I had managed to speed up to a less-than-9-minute-mile pace. I had allotted 10 minutes for each mile and at one point, I was 6 minutes ahead of this goal. But then at around mile 8, we hit the Great Highway. Approaching the Great Highway, we saw the ocean and big waves breaking, which was nice. But then for the last 4-5 miles of the race, we had to go down the Great Highway and come back. Which meant that we saw all the runners coming back on the other side. That was really depressing. I think I was well in the middle of "the mob" when we hit this part. There was no shade but a nice breeze from the ocean. And even though we were right next to the ocean, we couldn't see it. So around miles 10 or 11, I started feeling really tired (mostly mental) and started walking. Big mistake. My knees had been doing fine up until then (I was surprised). But as soon as I started walking, my left knee started hurting. I managed to walk/run the last 3 miles but it seemed like it took forever! The finish line was also on top of the only substantial hill in the race. Who thought of that?!!

I managed to run the last 100 meters or so across the finish line. After the finish line, there was a pretty big post-race expo with sponsors handing out drinks and snacks. I got the goodie bag and immediately consumed the mini-Cliff bar. I was really hungry. I was disappointed that they didn't have any bananas or apples. Only snacks from sponsors. I got my bag at the end of this expo and went back for more snacks.

It took me a while to get back to the Caltrain station. I was kind of slow since I was amazingly tired. I was also not feeling so well because I took some joint medicine in order to expedite healing of my knee. But the medicine is supposed to be taken with food and I guess energy bars and nuts don't count. When I finally got back to Market St, I realized I could change and use the bathroom in the SF shopping mall. This was key because I had brought a change of clothes but didn't wanted to change in a porta potty and couldn't find anywhere else to change. It was nice to be in clean clothes and had the chance to wash my face. I really should've used the bathroom that was in the Bloomingdales instead of the food court. I knew that was is much nicer but didn't have the energy to search for it.

On the Caltrain, I set an alarm for myself in case I fell asleep. I even called one of my friends to come pick me up from the train station because taking the shopping express back would've taken a long time. So now I'm recovering. I'm totally wearing the race t-shirt to class tomorrow!

Other tidbits. There were a lot more girls running than guys. I think it's because a lot more women like to run for charities and in groups. It was surprising kind of surprising at first to see all these women coming in groups. The men either came alone or with their girlfriends and wives. We got these tiny sample size bottles of olive oil and vinegar in our goodie bags. It's from STAR, the expensive brand. I thought it was some sort of energy shot at first. But I guess I have olive oil and vinegar next time I make bread... FRS, an energy drink company, that uses this antioxidant called quercetin instead of caffeine was giving out bottles of their drinks. They were giving out their low-calorie version which really bothered me. I mean, after a race, I think we need as much calories as possible!

Anyway, it was a good experience overall. I think I need to build up more muscles if I'm ever going to run a marathon. I think my cardio health is very good. I can also recover very quickly cardio-wise after an uphill stretch. But I don't seem to have very much going in terms of muscles... So now I guess I'm halfway there in terms of achieving my new year's resolution to run a marathon. But now I'm intimidated by the thought of doing a full marathon. I mean it's like doing 2 half-marathons back to back.... hm....

Time to go brag about this! haha.

1 comment:

yalu said...

Man, I think my cardio is terrible...not sure how to improve on that. My lungs always feel really hard-worked though, whenever I run.