Monday, August 15, 2011


As you begin to take action toward the fulfillment of your goals and dreams, you must realize that not every action will be perfect. Not every action will produce the desired result. Not every action will work. Making mistakes, getting it almost right, and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right. Jack Caufield

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's Next?

One of the reasons that I signed up for the San Francisco Half Marathon is that I am tossing around the idea of doing a Full Marathon... and the one that speaks to me is the Bizz Johnson (put on by Coastal Trail Runs)... I look at the photos and I just want to be there!

So I decided to schedule a half right at the halfway point in training... and then make the decision depending on how I felt after the race. So that has been the big question on my mind the last week and a half. At first I was pretty pumped up, I know my time was slow, but I did it. I know I can't imagine going twice the distance, but one year ago I could not imagine going 13.1. I believe in the training programs. I think I could do it. I know I could try.

Then my boyfriend gave me his advise. Why not improve my strength and time over 13 miles before attempting 26.2 It sounded reasonable. I decided yes, that would be my plan. I made a training program. Then I felt sad. A little deflated. That would mean the Bizz Full would be 14 months away... such a long time. The last few days I have felt in a bit of a funk, and there has been some stressful life stuff happening and car troubles. I felt down, overwhelmed and out of control. I decided to go to my happy place... looking at the photos of the Bizz Johnson ... that's when it hit me I WANT TO DO THE FULL BIZZ JOHNSON THIS YEAR.... The idea made me high... happy... so I whipped out a training plan. I realize that this won't make the 'life stuff' go away or the car trouble cost me any less... but it makes me feel good. It's what I want. I want to try. I happened to read someone's blog report of the race and she was affected by the altitude.. she had to walk it.. but she had a great time!... and with a finish of 6hours 45minutes she was NOT the last person to cross. So this takes of the pressure. I can train my best. I can try.

So for now, this is the plan. Maybe it's not practical. Maybe it's premature.

But it is the plan.

Recap - San Francisco Half Marathon

Before too much time passes I think I should give a recap of this race...

One interesting thing to me was training for my second half marathon. I knew I could do it so I did not have that pressure to prove it hanging over me... or rather motivating me! It was different. I decided to toss the stopwatch and just go with it... A big difference was I did my long training runs with my dog, Lola. She certainly handled the distance well, but I felt it was only fair to keep the long runs at a slow pace. She came with me all the way up to 11 miles, then the runs were too long to keep us in the cool morning air. I enjoyed running with her, but since the long runs were on a paved rail to trail she had to be on leash (rather than off leash like on the trails). This meant I had to be more 'aware' of her... so all in all, it was nice to be able to go into the 'zone' on the longer runs.

I will also admit to doing only the minimum training - two short runs and one long run per week. Last time I also had a hiking day (five miles in the hills).

The result? I expected a slow time and was correct. I just barely made it under the 3 hour cutoff time! Yikes! My Big Sur Half time was 2:41 my SF Half time was 2:56 (I can't subtract the 10 minute porta-potty line... and it could not be avoided either!)...

I went into the SF Half knowing I could cover the distance (a 13 mile training run had me confident) and I knew I could handle hills (did that 10k in the Presidio and I train in hills), however, I knew the combination would be tough. I felt ready. Another advantage was that I expected the pain... this sounds silly but that first half really hurt, but I did it. So I knew I could push through the pain. Also, in my long training runs I learned that when I stopped - at all, for any length of time - pain soaked into my body and when I started running again it stayed with me. It accumulated. The more I stopped, the more it would hurt. Thinking back to the Big Sur I realize that the pain really did get worse each time I stopped to stretch. So in my long training runs I decided not to stop, at all (another reason to not bring the dog on leash) and I discovered that it worked - yes, I still felt inflamed and sensitive and 'in pain' but it was better than when I had stopped. Lesson learned. Good thing too, the last two miles of the SF were rolling hills but not so much on the down, they progressed up... it was tough and I heard many people comment on it. The hills affected most runners.

I love the pre-race buzz... everyone mingling, stretching, chatting. Around mile 4 I ran briefly with a man I would guess to be in his 60's - we passed someone with a sign that said "congratulations" and he commented it was a little too early for congratulations... I commented to him 'well, we did do all that training that got us here'... turns out he did not do his first marathon until he was in his 40's, he didn't race again for 17 years and in the last few years he's done 4 or 5 Full Marathons... now THAT is inspiring. The hills hurt, not gonna lie. But I felt good and I decided that I want to train to be a wee bit faster for future Halfs. It might be nice to be ahead of the run-walkers... no diss to them, it's just discouraging when I keep my steady (albeit slow) pace and keep ping ponging by the same folks.

As I approached mid mile 12 I think adrenaline started pumping... the pain seemed to disappear and without conscious effort my pace picked up slightly... 13 is coming... yes!... reserves kicked in from I don't know where and off I went... sprinting the last .1.. feels so good!... Crossed the line and broke down emotionally (which constricted my airway! thankfully I didn't have anyone at the finish line to meet and I calmed myself down... but man, it was emotional. I guess because I did it... again... it wasn't a one time, to prove it, event... it was good...

Marcelo, my boyfriend, met me back at the main festivities... again, I love the feeling of the groups... the 'buzz' may be different than pre-race but there is a camaraderie for sure! We found a lunch spot on an outside deck right across from the finish line and ate BURGERS while watching the full marathoners cross the finish... then we took the ferry across the Bay to Oakland, celebrated at a favorite Jack London Square watering hole (Heinhold's) and headed home.

I felt great.