The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half-Marathon is held annually on Super Bowl Sunday. If I was into eating buffalo chicken dip and drinking beer and watching football, it would be a perfect way to at least balance out the junk the Super Bowl usually introduces into people’s bodies. I’m not into watching football but I am into the idea of running a race instead of my typical long run.
I’ve kept my fitness level at the point where I am running at least 12 miles one day a week for the past two years. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo runs since the beginning of October (and I have ran one race, the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon, since then) so I didn’t expect to go out and get a PR… I thought at best I would run in the mid 1:50s.
Sunday morning I woke up, made some oatmeal and coffee and headed out. I have been eating toast with peanut butter and banana pre-long run but I always eat oatmeal before a race so I thought it would be good to stick with what works. I add a little honey for added sugar on race days as well. The night before I always eat pizza and a salad.
I didn’t expect parking to be such an issue. I wanted to park by the finish line so I could leave things in my car and not worry about taking a shuttle back after the race. I was a little later than I wanted to be (is anyone surprised?) and the good parking on Ocean Beach was gone and I ended up parking at least a mile and a half from the finish line. I took a shuttle to the start then realized in panic I was at the end by all the strollers and walkers.
I nudged my way up towards the 8:00-8:59 minute mile corral and instantly ran into one of the women I run with a lot at the San Francisco Road Runners group runs, Rosemarie. She asked what I wanted to run and I said 1:50-something, as long as I was under two hours I was fine. I decided that I would just run with her and her friend and not go out and try to actually race. I’d never run a race with people before (I mean, I’ve started with my friends but not finished with them because one of us is faster than the other), I’d felt slow the past couple long runs I had done and I thought I would just rather enjoy it then push myself and be disappointed when I didn’t run a time I wanted (aka the 2014 Montour Trail Half-Marathon).
The course runs through Golden Gate Park, to Ocean Beach, 2.5 miles down the Great Highway and then back and finishes in Golden Gate Park. Mile one was a little slow weaving through people and it was around 9:25. By mile four I had finally started warming up and we settled into around an 8:35 pace.
The course really is flat. I didn’t think I believed people when they said it was flat, but it really is. I actually ran through the park on my own a few weekends ago when I skipped the group run. Did you know there are buffalo in Golden Gate Park?
Miles 7-12 are on the Great Highway, which is the western edge of the city along the Pacific Ocean. I thought it would be SO FUN to run by the ocean but you really can’t even see it because of the sand dunes and also running five miles on a high way is super boring. Everyone warned me it would be boring and I ignored them. Miles 7-9.5 literally felt like they would never end.
My feet randomly started hurting but I didn’t want to say it out loud and actualize the pain. I am running in Mizuno Wave Riders 18 but the shoelaces are super short. I bought A lace locks at Fleet Feet when I bought Gu but then realized I actually needed them for my Mizunos.
I ended up running a 1:57, which I can’t be disappointed in for running with friends and chatting the entire time. I think it’s a good reminder for me that not every race can be a PR, even if the past few (minus the epic failure that was Montour) have been.
This race was super well-organized. There wasn’t a race expo and they send you your bib which I honestly kind of liked. It’s nice to not have to plan your Friday or Saturday around picking up a race packet. I thought the shuttles to the start were efficient and even though it was a bit of a hike from that drop off to the start, it was fine. (It’s my own fault for not being any earlier.) Water and Gatorade were at great spots and they had both at most stops. They also have people telling you pace times at each mile which I really like. (This is also the first time I’ve ran a race without music for a while.)
I thought the food after the race was a little lackluster, if that’s something you look for in a race. They had bananas, milk and chocolate milk and weird twinkie-like things. I had a Picky Bar in my bag (rather than a protein shake, which I’ve been doing, after A reminded me of the importance of a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio after a hard workout) so I ate that as I drove home.
I then spent an hour texting back and forth with Kay trying to decide where we could find waffles in San Francisco (more difficult than you would expect) before finally settling on Straw. (Most waffle places here are like holes in the wall or coffee shops where all you do is order a waffle and brunch isn’t involved.) I proceeded to eat an entire waffle and a bunch of eggs.
Overall, I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I ran it. It was really nice to have a pressure-less race.
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to this race but all thoughts and opinions are my own!
Chat with me:
Do you have any upcoming races? Have you ever ran the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half-Marathon? What did you do for the Super Bowl?