Preparation/Anticipation: I ate well, slept well, did all the right things. I cannot figure out the cause of my intestinal issues, I think it was just bad luck. I was reading books about running to get geared up and since they were all new to me ended up reading the one I found most inspirational first. Oddly I think I peaked in excitement about a week beforehand, and then spent the days before the race getting less excited and more concerned.
Race day: got there plenty early, ate well, just made it into my corral before they closed. The weather wasn’t ideal, a little sticky, especially for SF, and I never found the pacers at the start.
Split @ mile 2.1 = 21:21 or 10:10/mile
Too fast!!! SF starts out so flat and it’s exciting and even with my original goal time of 4:35 in my head this was too fast. I caught up with the 2:20 paces for the half around mile 1.5 and pulled back to stay with them, which was smart.
Split @ mile 5.5 = 56:53 or 10:27/mile (for this leg)
Nearly perfect, had my gu at mile 5, this is just before the bridge. I stuck with the pacers throughout, and fell behind just a bit on the hill to the bridge.
Split @ mile 7.4 = 1:18:29 or 11:22/mile (for this leg)
I had forgotten what a bottleneck the bridge is. This is at the turnaround of the out and back over Golden Gate and I was running with the speed of traffic, even gaining a bit where I could. For future reference add four minutes to whatever time you think you can do to allow for the bridge slowdown. I could see the pacers in front of me, and stayed an even distance behind them.
Split @ mile 13.1 = 2:22:16 or 11:11/mile (for this leg)***without 3min bathroom stop 10:40/mile
So this split still has the back on the bridge which slows things down, and I had forgotten how nasty the hills are just after the bridge. I also had to stop at mile 11 to use the bathroom. It managed to be a super quick stop, but it meant I ran down a long hill, stopped dead for 3min, and then had to restart up a hill. I took my gu at 11 and had some water, and without the bathroom stop this time is beautifully on goal – I was even making up some bridge time.
Split @ mile 17.1 = 3:08:05 or 11:27/mile (for this leg)
Here’s where things start to fall apart, mentally. By now things hurt because of course they do, and the park is rarely flat so there’s a lot of up and down. It’s still early and there aren’t many spectators, and in this section the 1st halfers veer off to finish and the 2nd halfers join in (all of them had started before I got there) so you’ve got people surging to finish and people running next to you on fresh legs. I knew the park was tough, and knew it was the middle miles where you have to not let your body dictate things. I knew all of that, and I lost focus anyway. Ugh. Took gu at 16.
Split @ mile 23.5 = 4:31:12 or 12:59/mile***without 6min bathroom stop 12:03/mile
Yup. At 18.5 I stopped to use the bathroom, again. It wasn’t negotiable, again. Oh and the aid stop ran out of electrolyte drink just before I got there, which by the way is also about the time that the cloud cover burned off completely and the temperature started going up. And having had to stop twice I’m now running with people who are really not running my hoped for pace so motivating gets that much harder. At mile 20 (out of the park, finally) I made a decision; what I had left was a 10k and I know I can run a 10k. So screw this, of course it hurts, I am not walking to the finish, and I can do better than this. At 21 I had my final gu, and every aid stop to the end of the race was out of electrolyte, so lots of water. At mile 23 I briefly thought about the fact that every step I took to the finish was further than I had ever run, and then I passed the halfers 10mile sign and thought now it was just a 5k left and I can do that. I’m not sure how much I actually managed to pick up my pace at 20, but I’m certain it was faster than the average per mile pace for this leg, which means that 17-20 was simply awful.
Finish@ mile 26.2 = 5:01:08 or 11:05/mile
See what I mean? I still wasn’t going as fast as I had hoped, but this was reasonable. I didn’t stop at the final water stop because I realized I had to just keep going, it was the re-starting after stopping that was awful. But I finished well, and bounced back from whatever happened in 13-20. I was chilled in the final mile which isn’t ideal, and after the finish was a little nauseous for about ten minutes.
My overall average pace for the race was 11:29. If you take out the nine minutes of bathroom stoppage time, it drops to 11:09. I had been aiming for a 10:30, but 1st marathon + hills + bottleneck on bridge + a muggy day means that was always a bit ambitious. I certainly thought I could break five hours and well, I did and I didn’t.
The advantage of having not run at my peak the whole way is I didn’t trash my body as badly so I am feeling nearly back to normal already.
And after this of course I'm going to need to run another one. Probably not SF next year, the plan is to pick a slightly easier course. But I think I'm going to want to do SF again at some point, just to prove I can.
They've sent out the link to the race day photos and there is one really nice one of me, framed against the conservatory of flowers in the park. There are also a few where the look on my face is a nearly perfect distillation of what miles 17-20 felt like, and it's kind of awesome in its sheer awfulness. I've never ordered a race day photo but I'm kind of tempted by these.