I ran the Kaiser Permanente Half-Marathon for the first time last year (recap here), and liked it so much I decided to run it again. (Well, okay -- I found another super-cheap plane ticket, and coerced my friend into running this together again.) After my double-PR at Chicago, I decided that this would be a good chance to shoot for a sub-1:30 half and cross that off of my bucket list.
A couple weeks before the race, I received my bib and D-Tag in the mail (yes, KP mails these out rather than organizing an expo), and got really excited when I saw that my bib number would be "2222." (I took having such a cool bib number as a good sign.)
I'll admit to having pre-race jitters, but Erin, Jason, and some other great running friends helped remind me that they were feasible. (Key point: "If you can do 1:31 for the first half of a full-marathon, you can break 1:30 in a half that's only a half.") With that, I went ahead and wrote out the mile splits I'd need to hit to meet my goal (6:50/mi), because I'm a nerd like that.
Race morning consisted of a banana, a Starbucks run for some oatmeal (with dried fruit, nuts, and honey), and a cab ride to Golden Gate Park. After warming up, I went and positioned myself somewhere in the 7 min/mi group of the starting area. The race kicked off, and I spent the first mile weaving through people. I hit the mile 1 marker about 3 seconds off of my target pace, but made up for it in the next few miles.
Thoughts that went through my head while on the course:
1. The Ke$ha song "Die Young." (Up until about mile 7, I had "Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young" running through my head.)
2. "Use the downhill while you have it." (Some woman said this around mile 4 or 5, and I used it to help me along.)
3. "Back straight, eyes forward, and fly." (I need reminders to keep good posture and relax my arms when I run, and this mantra became the simplest way to remind myself of that."
4. "You got this!" (Erin told me that a few days before the race as encouragement."
5. "You're xx seconds ahead/behind of your goal." (At every mile, I compared my actual mile split to the one I planned out pre-race to see how much faster/slower I was than that.")
At mile 7, the downhill ended and we were running on flat ground along the ocean. The race became a bit tougher here, but not terrible. I reached the mile 9 marker in 1:00:03 (87 seconds ahead of schedule), and started feeling good about my prospects then. Around mile 10 or 11, it got even more difficult. After mile 11, I was only 30 seconds ahead of schedule (by my math that I later realized was erroneous -- note to self: don't try doing math after that much running). I told myself that I had two miles, and that I couldn't eat through all of my lead here because I had no room for error. Once I hit mile 12 and saw that I had just over 9 minutes to run 1.1 miles, I felt pretty good and picked it up a bit. I also started saying "Almost there!" to everyone I passed. With a half-mile left to go (approximately), I hit the biggest hill along the course and just told myself to push through it because I was almost there. Eventually, I saw the finish line, and it still had "1:2x:xx" on the clock, so I went for it. I definitely got a bit emotional after finishing because even though I didn't know my official time (according to Garmin, my finish time was 1:28:31), I knew that I broke 1:30 based on the gun time.
On the train ride home, my friend checked the race results on his phone (it wouldn't work on mine for some reason), and saw that my official time agreed with what my Garmin said. This meant that I had a 3 minute improvement from my previous PR, which was also cause for celebrating! We decided on a post-race meal of veggie burgers, milkshakes, and fries. I don't know if it were the place, my state of hunger, and/or my state of mind, but that type of food never tasted so good.
Pictures to come, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my visit in SF (and try to get homework done). And just in case anyone was wondering, my legs are rather sore (though that didn't stop me from walking about six miles today to do some sightseeing).