Race Report: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon…downhills and perfect weather result in surprise PR

Windmill at the mile 8 and 12 of the KP Half
Windmill in Golden Gate Park. Miles 8 and 12.

Look Ma…I PR’d!

Downhills-a-plenty, picture perfect weather, solid training, and inspiring friends all coalesced this morning at the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon.

After running 21-miles yesterday during an ultra-marathon training session, I was surprised to pull out a time of 1:41:59, beating my PR by over three minutes! I placed top 5% for all females and for females in my age group.  Needless to say, I was totally stoked!

I have to admit, the course is ideal for a half-marathon PR.  From the start to mile eight,  you travel through sections of San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate park, over easy rolling hills.  At mile eight you turn down the Great Highway and run along the beach until about mile 12.5. This is flat, straight and frankly, mentally a bit tough from miles 10-12.  We really lucked out this morning as the sky was cloudless and ocean winds almost non-existent.

Having completed such a long run yesterday, I had no expectations for today.  I was running for fun.  I told my partner, “I am just going to run comfortably.  No lolly-gagging, but no pushing it either.”  That was my plan, and I stuck to it.  I was expecting an 8:20 pace or so.

My first mile was easy, around 8:25, as I found my groove and swerved around slower runners.  Mile two came in at 7:42 and mile three at 7:41.  I started to think that this could be a good race.  When I paced mile 6 at 7:05 I thought, “I am either about to have one of the best races of my life or I am going to bonk hard.”  I knew if I could hold it together until mile 10, I’d have it in the bag.  Sure enough, the next four miles were around 7:30.  I saw one of my best friends at mile 9.5 coming the other direction and I was able to shout, “I am running a PR!”  That gave me the boost I needed to bring it home.  

To be fair, I was starting to fade by mile 12, which was my second slowest at 7:55. Had this been any longer,  I probably would have dropped to 8:00 or slower.  But it wasn’t any longer!  Woo-hoo!

Beach along Great Highway.  Miles 9-12.5
Beach along Great Highway. Miles 9-12.5.

There are three reasons I think I ran well today.

1) Training – “Well, duh” you might say.  As mentioned in this blog, I have increased my base mileage significantly over the past four months and I have been consistent with my hill/tempo weekly speed work outs.  It must be paying off.

2) Good advice – Two days, two pieces of good advice.

My running partner yesterday was relaying war stories, as we runners do.  She told me of back-to-back marathons she ran and how she had no idea what her body would do. She decided not to let up as long as she was running strong.  I kept hearing her words and decided to stick with it as long as I felt strong… to not put self-imposed limits on myself just because I ran far yesterday.  It worked.

Today, before the race, a friend said, “Maybe we should run the first half faster because of all the hills.”  Had he not said that, I wouldn’t have even thought about it. It paid off.  

3) The course and weather – I know this course.  I ran it last year.  The hills provide a tremendous advantage.  Last year, there was wind and rain.  This year it was picture perfect. You can’t underestimate the value of that.

I have to add one more thing.  My favorite partner PR’d three times in three events in eight days, including this morning.   That alone was enough to inspire me to give it my all.  In fact, four of us ran today, and all four PR’d!  

What a great day!  



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Cynthia says:

    Congratulations! You’ve earned it. I can only imagine how well you’d have done if rested.

    I am so jealous though. I can barely run these days (stubborn injury). Anything faster than 10 min pace and it starts to hurt. And I can only run uphill now (downhill is where it starts to hurt)! It didnt stop me from a fat ass 50K last week, but that may not have been a great idea. There’s another fat ass run (“just” a marathon) coming up- I see you have it in your links. Are you planning to join?

  2. runrunrunrun says:

    Thanks, Cynthia! It was fun. I didn’t realize I had a Fat Ass marathon on my list. Ha ha. Which race is it?

  3. Cynthia says:

    It’s Adam Blum’s Overgrown Fat Ass Marathon, this saturday. We’ll be there, but I don’t know what condition I’ll be in- still in pain and whining a lot! I’ve got your mantra about hills now- I love hills- because that’s the only time it doesn’t hurt! But you’re so fast I don’t think you’d have trouble finding anyone to run with.

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