Let’s start with the important stuff. I missed my goal by a minute. I missed a PR by 20 seconds. But it’s okay.
Race Day started oh so early. I was pumped with adrenaline from the start. The Husband was a little less enthusiastic. The Dude initially was most resistant to waking up but when I reminded him that it was race day, he was instantly awake. We piled into the car and drove into San Francisco. I’d allowed waaay too much time so we got there early and found great parking next to the ocean at the end of Golden Gate Park. I left the boys in the warm car and hit up the still clean portaloos and then we got ourselves ready and headed for the shuttle busses to the start line. On the way, we bumped into Jen and Jess and so everything was good! We got to ride school busses (always a treat for Brits) and got to the staging area in good time.
First up was registering the Dude. We only decided he’d run two days ago and we were officially too late, but I emailed the organisers and they very kindly let him register on the day, not something they do often. They made a real exception for him and we were so grateful. He was very excited to pin on his bib and even more excited to put on his shoe tag, his first one. I love seeing him excited about running. We milled around for a bit, used the loos and bumped into Brianna (who would go on to CRUSH the 5k) and then we went to line up at the start. We found Kristen who was running the 5k pushing her gorgeous baby and stood chatting. As we listened to someone murder the national anthem, I saw a girl heading for us. It was Cate, whose blog I used to LOVE and who I’ve followed on social media for ages. It was so nice to finally get to meet her. And then somehow, it was time to line up.
Here, I discovered a grave error. Today’s race included a 5k AND a 1/2 marathon. Everyone started together and the road was absolutely jam packed. I snuck into the crowd but I was further back than I should have been. The klaxon went off and I took several minutes to get over the start line and then spent about half a mile dodging people and trying to get into my groove. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing, stopping me go out too early. My first mile was 8.48, only 8 seconds slower than my goal for that mile so it wasn’t too bad.
The race wound its way round the Panhandle. I tried to run faster on the downhills and maintain a decent pace on the flats and the slight uphills. I felt decent. I passed Jess, waved at someone in pink who yelled my name from the pavement (a friend of BT‘s who I met last week) and felt strong. We wound back into the park. I was feeling good. My first check came at Mile 3 when I was bang on my goal pace. From there we hit the wonderful, 2 mile downhill in the park and I just went for it. My strategy on this race was to use the downhills for all they were worth and then hang on for the ocean part, so I stretched out my stride and hurtled through the park. I felt really good. I tried to be sensible and check in with my body but I really didn’t think I was working too hard.
Eventually we left the park and turned left onto the ocean road. I always knew this section would be a mental battle. Three miles south, turnaround and then three miles north. Beautiful, but monotonous. I saw Layla, who had come out specifically to cheer and she had made the most amazing sign in the world. I have never had my own cheering sign before and it honestly made my day. This girl rocks.
I was starting to work hard now. It was pretty warm so I stripped off my vest/tank top and ran in my bra. Shameless. I plugged in my music for the first time in the race and ran on. The southbound section of the race is deceiving. It looked to be slightly downhill and I found it much harder than I thought I should be finding it. I kept chanting ‘This Girl Can’ in my head and ‘Keep Fighting’. I got to the 9 mile marker. I knew I should hit this at 1.16 so checked my watch with trepidation. 1.16 on the dot. This race was mine to lose.
Can you see where this is going?
I lost the race. It became a death march. By the time I reached the turnaround at about 9.5, I was struggling. By Mile 10, I was digging in. I felt slower and slower, and weaker and weaker. At about Mile 11, Jess came up to me, she’d caught me. She looked SO strong and I could see she wanted to tow me to a PR but I was deep in the pain cave (oh so dramatic) so waved her away. (I apologized later). I watched her awesome bottom get further and further away from me and I just plodded on. I wanted to walk SO badly but kept telling myself I could walk in two miles and then one mile. It was pretty grim. I saw the boys just before Mile 13. The Husband later told me I didn’t look very happy.
We turned off the Great Highway for the final half mile to the finish line. It’s uphill and it basically destroyed me. Head down. No strength to pump my arms. I just kept going, wanting to stop. I saw the finish line and I knew I’d missed my goal. I crossed the line and basically sat down at the side. I was done.
1.52.56. A minute off my goal and 20 seconds off my PR. I’d run 13.2 miles instead of 13.1 (poor tangents) and I’d run an average pace of 8.32 instead of the 8.31 I needed to do. So close.
I sat there for a good ten minutes. The marshall kept eyeing me and came over twice to ask if I was okay. I was fine but I was literally empty. I was also pretty gutted. I just sat there dazed for a while as people crossed the line. The marshall brought me water and eventually I got up and wandered to find my people. I considered having a cry but didn’t have the energy.
Eventually I found Kristen and then Jess and Jen. No-one PRd, but we all came close. I saw Cate again with her husband who just crushed the 1/2 and finally got to meet Alyssa, another ex-blogger who I’ve been online friends with for ages but not met. We found the Husband and the Dude. Layla found us and then BT, who ran a solid race, and we slowly, sorely headed back to the cars to go for brunch. And on the way, we got to meet Kimra, another Twitterer I should really have met before.
The Dude ran a great race in 36.29, coming first in the 2 – 5 age-group. I was so incredibly proud of him.
Forgive me if I’ve gone on too much about all the bloggers and twitterers that I hung out with or met today. I don’t mean to be obnoxious but that was really something that made today special. I ran Kaiser three years ago and didn’t know anyone racing it. Today, I had lovely running friends and got to finally meet loads of new people I’ve ‘known’ online for ages. It was the nicest feeling, to be part of a community. Social media has its problems but it’s a wonderful way to meet fantastic people and it made my day today.
And then 7 of the fantastic people came for brunch with me and I got to eat a lot of food, drink some delicious bourbon coffee and some nice wine and snuggle with the world’s second loveliest baby ever for a while! So whilst I’m disappointed with my time, I still feel really lucky.
I’d like to do a separate post reflecting on my training and my race, but I can honestly say that I ran my socks off today. I couldn’t have run any faster and so I don’t really have any regrets. It was a good day.
A few notes on the race.
- It’s a great race. REALLY well organized with fantastic volunteers. Plenty of loos.
- The course is really PR friendly. Honestly.
- This year, the fee went up $10 to fund a medal. I will always pay more for a medal. Great move, Kaiser. We also got really nice cotton sweatshirts.
- Their one error really was starting the 5k and the 1/2 marathon together. This resulted in a very crowded start line and difficult first mile. Hopefully next year they’ll start the 5k a few minutes later.
- Also, the Dude didn’t win anything for winning his age-group. Prizes started at 6 upwards. We are not complaining -as I said we’re really grateful he got a late entry. But it would be a nice touch for next year.
- If they could flatten the hill for the last half mile, that would be perfect!
Thank you ALL for your lovely messages of support before the race. I was so touched. You’re all pretty awesome.
Okay. Enough. The End.