Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Kaiser Half - A PR on a Perfect Day

Keeping to my new format has been harder than I thought so I figured I would go out first with a tried and true method of a race review.

THIS GUY. (with a heel strike like whoa)
But this review has to start a few years back in Brooklyn. On May 21, 2011 I raced my last half-marathon. I crossed the finish on that kind of warm day in 1:46:59.

This was a great race for me, at the time.  I went out too fast by a few seconds per mile and after I was tired I was only about 25 seconds off per mile at my worst.  It was about 75 degrees when I finished the race and the middle miles were through an Orthodox Jewish community on Saturday morning, so there wasn't much in the way of support on the course.

However, I did get to run a significant portion of the race with a my running chum Ali and I nailed a really solid PR, by over three minutes, if memory serves me correctly.

Fast forward a year and move-cross-country later, I was all set to help my lovely wife pack our house, say good-bye to our friends in New York, and for me to run one last race as a New Yorker.  I was going to PR in Brooklyn.

Then I put down a dust buster and threw out my back.

This was a pretty big bummer.  I was in killer shape and ready to hit my long-awaited 1:45 half-marathoner status. But it was for not. And that is alright. Everything happens for a reason blah blah blah.

After moving to San Francisco permanently in May, I was dedicated to the full training. And I trained really hard. All the track work, all the hills, all the tempo.  But I didn't get a chance to use my new found fitness for a half.

A year went by between attempts at 1:45.  Last year I tried to knock it out in Davis at the Stampede but I wasn't near ready.

Come December of 2012 and signed up for the Kaiser Half and I was sure it was time for the 1:45.  I was going in carefully.  I was extremely confident going into my marathons and that never worked out, so I figured I would aim for a conservative negative pacing plan and hope the down-ish hill course would yield the elusive 1:45.

So now you are up to date.

On February 3, 2013 I was set to run the Kaiser. The weather was perfect for the race: clear skies and about 48 degrees. I got my warm-up in and found the three J(G)ens and Anna, all SFRRC running chums.  As we were heading to the start we saw Luke and Stan, other chums. In short, SFRRC was out in force, because we are cool like that.

Anna and I had made tentative plans to run together at about 8 minute miles...however after all of us took off, it was clear Anna was going to run faster that we were interested in running.  Swedish Jen took off a bit faster and Michigan Jen wasn't going mess with her race plan, so Gen and I went out evenly together.  In about three miles we caught back up Swedish Jen.  Anna was never to be seen again. (That isn't true, she ran a killer race, but it sounded more dramatic.)

The first four miles are up JFK and around the pan handle and back into park and it is slightly up and rolling hills.  We hit our stride and just were having a good time talking trash about the people we were sure we would pass later in our race. (7:55, 7:38, 7:40, 7:44)

The next four miles were down hill and fast.  I saw some buffalo and my lovely wife and sister-in-law...and then we were on The Great Highway, which is a mentally challenging space.  It was comforting that we were this deep into the race and we only started to see the leaders on the way back of the out and back. (7:40, 7:30, 7:33, 7:37)

Final point 4ish
During the next few miles I took off on my own.  We got separated at a water stop and it was time to put down the peddle anyway.  I had a lot left in the tank and knew I could gun it to the end. I was feeling great, besides a slight tingle in my left ankle.  As I came to the turn around just after mile 10 and on the back stretch toward Golden Gate Park I really started pushing it.  I played tag with this guy and couldn't shake him in this stretch.  (7:28, 7:21, 7:12, 7:09)

In the final mile I passed that guy and pushed as hard as I could. It was at this point that I did the math and knew there was no way I couldn't PR, and in fact I might break 1:40.  This mile point one was fast.  As I took the turn back into the park I saw Abby and Becca again, flashing my pearly whites because I still was feeling great. I have been told that right before I smiled big, I wasn't looking so great.

After the turn, I saw Chinh, who was running people in and he told me that I was solidly under a 1:40 and I took off as hard as I could.  I turned the last corner and saw the finish. It still said 1:38:something and I couldn't have been more pleased.

I crossed the line in 1:39:03. (7:04, 6:55 for .22 so says the watch)

My times were as close as I will ever get to a perfectly negative split race and that was great. After the finish I hung out with my chums and we smiled and ate good foods at the SFRRC tent. Then I went home and worked for the rest of the day before the Super Bowl...which was a bummer for San Francisco.
Like a Boss.

Some closing thoughts:
  • This course is fantastic as long as the wind isn't blowing.  The miles on Great Highway would have been a lot harder with a steady head/side wind. It is solidly down hill and well staffed.  There was plenty of water and nice volunteers. 
  • It is cool being on the faster side of things, especially on an out and back course. 
  • Ending a mostly downhill race on an uphill isn't cool but I still liked the course. 
  • My racing bug has been revived.


PavementRunner said...

BRO! That is rock star status. I'm attempting 1:45 for the first time this weekend. Great recap...

Donald C. Cutler said...

Thanks Pavey. You got 1:45 no problem.