Monday, August 11, 2014

SF 2nd half marathon PR race report

Shoutouts:
  • 50 After 40 - who set a PR in 1:27:52 at Urban Wildland half marathon!

SF 2nd half marathon race recap:
I last did a SF marathon event in 2010, when I did the full marathon.  I also did the SF 1st half marathon in 2009.  I've been intending on doing the 2nd half marathon for the past 3 years, but due to on and off injuries I couldn't do it until now.  Training for the race generally went okay, I was kind of following the Run Less Run Faster plan and the Hal Higdon plan.  Based on my training, it seemed like I was capable of somewhere around 1:35 or so.  But I wasn't totally sure what to expect.

Elevation profile:
The 2nd half marathon is way easier than the 1st half - with the main hill coming on miles 2-4.  The rest of the course is fairly flat ish overall.

Expo:
The last time I did SF marathon in 2010, the expo was held at SF Concourse Design Center, which I really liked since it was easy to get to off the freeway and parking wasn't too bad.  The expo this year was held at Fort Mason - which while awesome for the tourist runners, wasn't as good for local runners to get to, since it is hard to park around there, and there is no close public transit to there.  Besides the location being tough, it was a nice view once we got there.



expo was pretty packed, the usual stuff



shirt was long sleeved - which I probably won't wear except for the winter around here


Prerace:
My friend who was driving me dropped me off at the start of the 2nd half marathon in Golden Gate Park, which was super nice so we didn't have to take the shuttle from the 1st half start line.  Spreckel's Lake was packed with runners warming up and such prior to the race.  I was starting to get a little nervous, but realized that I wanted to try to follow the 1:35 pace team - which is a 7:12 mile.

Fueling plan:
My last post talked about my hesitations about fueling during SF marathon, in the end I decided to wear my fuel belt with 1 water bottle and 1 cytomax bottle, and drink these during the race.  I also was going to have 2 gels - 1 at mile 5, and 1 at mile 10.  Though I really wished that SF marathon water stops had calories in them, since then I would have stopped at every water stop (and alternated water and cytomax every water stop), and I wouldn't have had to wear a fuel belt.

Mile 1 - 6:50 (168 heartrate)
Apparently I was in wave 2, which took off 2 minutes after the first wave and the national anthem was played.  I found the 1:35 pacer and just asked him a few questions about his race plan.  I was also running with one of my friends, which was nice to be around someone else.  The initial mile was faster than I thought it was going to be - I was expecting the pacer to ease into the race a little bit.  Though it is downhill, so that is okay.

Mile 2 - 7:01 (184 heartrate)
We came across Ronnie Goodman on the course - he is a homeless runner whose dream was to run the SF half marathon.  A great story.  I wished him good luck, and told him his story was inspiring.  I also just donated more money to his cause recently (Hospitality House).  During these early miles our pace group was simply flying by the full marathoners, it was kind of dangerous since we were running so fast in comparison to what they were doing.  Could SF start the 2nd halfers earlier so that the pace matches up better?  This is where the uphill starts, and I started working harder.

One of the best parts about the race was that race photos were free, a really cool service.
seems like my right foot is splaying out a bit here?

Mile 3 - 7:15 (185 heartrate)
This mile is more uphill within Golden Gate Park, with gradual uphills and steep downhills - ugh.  We continued to fly by more people on the course.  Somewhere around this point I somehow accidentally locked my garmin watch, so I couldn't get it to display any race data.  I tried unlocking it by pressing the 2 buttons at the same time, but it didn't seem to work, ugh.  So I was basically running blind in terms of data the rest of the race.

Mile 4 - 7:12 (182 heartrate)
Finally the last mile of uphill in Golden Gate Park.  I was still working hard to get up the hills.  When the water stops would come along, I would take a drink from my water belt stuff - but I noticed that I wasn't able to drink as much as I wanted due to my body working really hard, so it couldn't process what I was drinking.  I really should have slowed down or walked for a second every water stop to allow my body to process what I was drinking.

Mile 5 - 6:57 (181 heartrate)
This mile is basically flat within Golden Gate Park - don't remember much from this mile

I like my form in this photo - left foot flush with the ground, right foot loading up - one of my favorite run photos

I love air time pics


more right foot splaying out apparently?  

Mile 6 - 7:01 (183 heartrate)
Finally the last mile within Golden Gate Park - again basically a flat mile.  Around this mile I started to drift ahead of the 1:35 pacer, which I would discover later was not a good idea.  I also should have been drinking more fluids from my water belt.  I also didn't stop to have a gel, which was also a terrible idea.  Oh the things you'll discover later in this race report...

I definitely look more tired here, maybe because the hills are almost over?

This is a weird stride photo - shouldn't my left foot be more flush with the ground?  Because it seems like my right foot is loading up for the next stride (maybe I was forefoot striking too much which caused my right foot blood blister)

Mile 7 - 7:02 (185 heartrate)
Now the race starts going down Haight Street, and there were tons of spectators here.  The first half of mile 7 is flat, then it's a steep downhill.  I was getting further ahead of the 1:35 pacer lol.

Mile 8 - 6:43 (171 heartrate)
This mile is basically all downhill, and ended up being my fastest mile of the race - despite attempts to slow my legs a bit to save my quads for later in the race.

Mile 9 - 7:03 (158 heartrate)
note that I think around this mile is where my heart rate monitor strap started getting loose on my chest, so I pushed it down to my waist (probably should have taken this as a sign that I was losing too much fluids and likely losing weight because of it.  The heartrate numbers seem accurate after this mile though)
At this point in the race it was getting hotter out and less shady, as the race goes into the Mission District/Potrero Hill District - and the race generally flattens out.  I started to realize that even though I was still running fast, my body was starting to die a bit.  I started to try to take in more fluids, even finally stopping at a water stop around this mile.

Mile 10 - 7:12 (170 heartrate)
The sun seemed to be beating down, and I was definitely struggling to keep pace now, and was really wishing the race was only 11 miles lol.

Mile 11 - 7:13 (175 heartrate)
Mile 11 contains a very small hill, but with how hot it was becoming and how out of it my body was becoming - it might as well have been Everest lol.  There were a lot of spectators at this hill, which did actually help - the cheering was probably the loudest here besides the finish line, which was awesome.  Maybe all of us were dying here too.  At the end of this mile I started to realize that I was in real trouble, and tried to start taking in more fluids both on my fuel belt and at water stops.  Though I started taking in more fluids too late, and my body was already in trouble.

Mile 12 - 7:30 (175 heartrate)
The wheels started to fall off a bit during this mile, but I still kept it together despite starting to feel awful.  My body just felt like it couldn't go much further.  I think at this point I finally ate one of my gels, but it was too late to have much effect.  I was run/walking some in here for sure.

lol!  no idea what mile this is from, but yea lol

Mile 13 - 8:48 (179 heartrate)
Mile 13.1 - 2:27 (179 heartrate)
Note that I forgot to stop my watch as I crossed the finish line, so I didn't know how long I had the course as being.  I think that I lost 4 minutes over the last 4 miles or so.  I had to do some math to come up with how long the last .1 took (adding up all the time recorded on my garmin until I made it through mile 13 per my garmin, and then minusing this off my total race time).  Being on 7:05 pace would mean 43 seconds over .10 miles, so I needed to add 104 seconds to this to get a total time loss of 4 minutes over 4 miles.  So this works out to 2:27 to go .10 miles lol.

My body was getting into real trouble now, and I started to doubt if I was going to make it to the finish line - I was full on run/walking at this point.  There wasn't a water stop in sight, with very few race personnel around, and it was hot.  It seemed like the stretch down the Embarcadero wouldn't end.  I remember seeing a barrier that I thought was the finish line, but it was a false barrier - that shouldn't be allowed to have something like that at a race lol.  At about mile 12.9 I realized that I wasn't going to make the finish line unless I walked it in - so I got over to the left side of the course and simply walked the last .2.  The 1:35 pacer zoomed by me at this point.  Spectators were all yelling/cheering for me - but I was so out of it that all I could focus on was the finish line and making it there without collapsing.  I did cross the line, and immediately went for the medical tent for help.

walking down the home stretch -  note the guys in the background gunning it by me

walking down the home stretch -  note the guys in the background gunning it by me


Medical tent:
I felt awful immediately when I got there, and started taking in fluids ASAP - nuun, water, bananas mainly.  I also had ice on my head, and they said to elevate my feet to get blood flow to the rest of my body.  I felt nauseous, dizzy, dehydrated, etc.  In the first aid tent I also realized that I had a blood blister on my right foot (toe next to the big toe) - no idea how that happened.  I'll spare you the picture lol.  It is healing now, but still not healed yet.  In the end I spent 40 minutes in the first aid tent getting rehydrated and refueled, when I left I still didn't feel good, but good enough to walk at least to the car.  There were people in the first aid tent who were in worse shape than I was - completely passed out, etc.  Cheers to the first aid volunteers, they did a great job.  I totally forgot that I hadn't even got my medal yet, so I got that, and got a few snacks (wasn't really feeling like eating anything at that moment).  I spent the rest of the day rehydrating and refueling, I didn't really feel okay until the next day maybe. (even throwing up once about 3 hours later).

And as I was walking out of the medical tent I was thinking - how do people run a marathon?  The thought of running that far is nauseating.  The amount of training required, and the race itself doesn't sound appealing to me at all.  I think half marathons may be the farthest that I run from now on lol.

coming out of the medical tent - the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat lol

coming out of the medical tent - the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat lol

Results:
SF 2nd half marathon
13.1 miles
1:36:57
7:23 mile pace
176 average heartrate
208/4502 overall (4.6%)
167/2064 gender (8.1%)
66/715 age group (9.2%)
Age graded time: 61.32%

With everything going on, I had no idea what my time was, I honestly guessed it was somewhere around 1:50 with how much walking I did late in the race.  When I was told I got 1:36:57 I couldn't believe it.  I guess I only lost about 4 minutes the last 2 miles, which is surprising.  My best half marathon was 1:41, so this technically is a PR lol.  The most bizarre PR I've ever gotten.  I also beat my 14K PR as well.  So that now makes 6 PRs among 4 races done in 2014 (5K, 5 mile, 5K, 12K, 14K, half marathon).  And very likely the half marathon and 14K PRs will go down again at SJ half marathon in Oct.  Eventually I should run a mile and 10K race to beat those PRs too.

Analysis:
After the race was over, I mainly was just disappointed in how I let myself down by not fueling.  I really needed to slow down at every water stop to ensure that I'm able to take down enough fluids at every water stop, and make sure I take in gels during the race.  I basically got what I deserved for not fueling properly.  I had a plan, and didn't follow that plan - so I paid the price.  I put myself at risk, and others had to worry about me being okay on race day.  And I didn't do as well as I could have if I had simply fueled correctly.  Likely if I had fueled correctly, I could have gotten a 1:34 or so, and felt okay at the finish line.  I'm almost scared now of this happening again in the future - though if I fuel correctly I think I should be fine.  I maybe need to dial down my intensity during races by 1-2% and run at 98% instead of 100% or something.  I'm signed up for San Jose RNR in Oct, and my plan already is to follow the 1:35 pacer even if I am feeling okay to go faster, and actually enjoy the race.  I've only ran twice since race day - 3 miles and 6 miles, so far, with plans to run today again, to see how the legs feel after basically 2 weeks off.  

I put the blame on my implosion on 25% SF marathon (by having zero calorie water stops you force people to carry something on them to fuel), and a reason I do races is to be able to race without a water belt.  75% of blame goes to me, for not simply following my pre-race fueling plan.  

After the race I also started to question why I run in the first place.  Generally it is for the fun of it, and to achieve things.  Though running as hard as I did and running my body into the ground is not a good thing.  I did enjoy the first 7-8 miles of the race, but the last 5 miles or so were torture.  Races should be enjoyable, so I may dial back my intensity by 1-2% or so to allow myself to enjoy races more.  I like to try to remember spectator's faces during races, and I honestly remember almost zero faces since I was so focused on running fast.  And simply from a nutrition science perspective - if I fuel correctly my glycogen levels should stay topped off, and I likely won't implode at the finish line next time.  And the main PSA of this race report is to fuel - because or else somewhere down the line you will pay the price.  

SF race feedback:
Overall I wasn't a big fan of how the SF marathon was run this year.  The main huge positive is the free race photos, which is a massive perk. (and the first aid volunteers).  Though some other things didn't go as well:
  • To me they should start the 2nd half marathoners such that the pace they are running matches up to the pace of the full marathoners, so it's not unsafe out there (this would also space out the waves a bit more too)
  • Having water stops that don't consist of any calories is simply irresponsible of SFM. (Nuun).  This makes people consider carrying their own fluids, which can backfire like what happened to me.  Also, why is Nuun so popular?  The Nuun ingredients are fairly similar to Hammer Endurolytes, and Endurolytes are way cheaper than Nuun.  Does Nuun simply have a better marketing plan?  (main difference I saw in ingredients is sodium is higher in Nuun)
  • It almost seemed like the race forgot about the 2nd half marathoners and the slower marathoners - there were aid stations that ran out of nuun, and just seemed unstaffed in general.  Where does my $130 entry fee go?  
  • So most likely I'm done with running the SF marathon events unless they change to water stops that have calories in them.  Who knows, I may change my mind when the race comes around next year, but for now I'm out.  Maybe I'll look into Wharf to Wharf or another race.  

Anyone ever had an implosion like I did during a race?  
What was your take on the SF marathon water stops?  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SF fueling plan - suggestions needed

With SF half marathon (2nd half) quickly coming up on Sunday, I was checking the SF marathon website to see what they were doing in regards to water stops for fueling planning purposes.  Apparently Nuun is now the sponsor (electrolyte and gu chomps heading), with water and tri-berry electrolyte being provided at every water stop.  I have never had Nuun before, so I looked up the ingredients online, apparently it is a zero calorie drink?  So basically the water stops at SF marathon are zero calorie stops - ugh.  I though the whole point of having water and something else at a water stop during a race is to include calories in the drinks, such that you don't have to find another way to ingest calories during a race?  Back when I ran the race in 2010, cytomax was the sponsor, who I really like (and still use their stuff occasionally on runs).

Now I'm not sure what to do on fueling for the race.  Should I simply carry my own fluids via my water belt and say forget it to stopping at the water stops?  Should I go sans water belt and alternate drinking water and nuun every water stop, and supplement this with 3 gels?

Options:
Run with fuel belt:
1 bottle cytomax mix, 1 bottle water
likely supplement this with 2 gels
maybe swallow 1 or 2 endurolyte tablets as well
pros of this is I can run through water stops and not lose any time
cons of this is I will have more weight on my waist - I was looking forward to running without a water belt

Run without fuel belt:
stop at every water stop - get water 1 stop, Nuun the next one
supplement this with 3 gels
no endurolyte tablets needed since Nuun has electrolytes
pros of this is I can run with less weight on my waist
cons is having to stop at every water stop for time wasted, and having to ingest 3 gels instead of 2

I honestly am not sure what to do, I'm leaning towards the water belt option since I run with one normally anyways, and it would save me some time on race day.  I mainly hope that there aren't people that completely bonk out there counting on some calories being in the Nuun that they are drinking.  Side note, but why is nuun so popular?  Isn't it easier to simply drink water and supplement it with endurolyte tablets if necessary? (and likely way cheaper this way too)

Any thoughts out there?  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Newtons, SF half training, biker crash, World Cup

Shoutouts:

Newtons:
An update on my running shoes - apparently my Newtons were long overdue to be replaced (likely 100 miles overdo the running shoe guy said lol).  I bought another pair of Newton Distance, and also bought a pair of Newton Boco AT (trail shoes).  I really should work in the Newton marketing department lol

I bought the older model of Newton distance - I still like the shoe (I use this one for mainly road or easy trails)

The Newton Boco AT trail shoe feels very similar to their road shoe, but just a little more tread on the bottom, and is a bit heavier - nice to have an actual trail shoe to run in (I use this one for trails only)

Biker crash story:
Apparently trouble seems to follow me occasionally (like in Melbourne last year), as while I was out on a run last week before the World Cup ARG-NED semifinal, I noticed a biker standing by a fence with a road rash mark on his arm, and something looked wrong to me.  It seemed like there were other people around, but I stopped to ask him what is wrong - apparently he had just crashed on his bike.  He had road rash on his shoulder, arm and leg.  When I approached his arms were shaking a bit while holding onto the fence, and was definitely not all there.  He said that he couldn't see at the time, and was starting to freak me out a bit, when I looked into his eyes and saw no activity.  He seemed to start to come around a bit right then, or else I was going to call the paramedics shortly.  I guided him to sit down for a bit, and gave him some water.  When I asked him whether he was wearing a helmet - he said no.  And I asked him whether he hit his head - he said no, but his symptoms seemed to suggest that he may have had a minor concussion since he lost his vision briefly, and he was very dizzy.  I forgot to ask him whether his head actually hurt or not.  After maybe 10 minutes it seemed like he was good enough for me to leave, though I told him that he should likely walk his bike home or be really careful.  And a PSA to bikers out there - wear a helmet.  The incident happened at mile 5 of my 7 mile run, and it definitely threw me for a loop - I guess you never know when you'll be called upon to help out someone else.  Would you have done anything differently?  

SF half/SJ half training:
Training for the SF half on 7/27 is going pretty well - my long runs seem to be coming along well.  I've sort of been half following the Hal Higdon plan, and the Run Less Run Faster plan.  Though I realize that I am likely doing my shorter runs too slow, and my longer runs too fast.  For instance, my approximate half marathon race pace in 2 weeks is 7:20, and I did a 13 mile training run at about 7:50 average pace, which likely is a little too fast for my race. (I was only trying to do 12 miles, but over estimated a loop, and ended up doing an extra mile)  I should amp up my pace during the week to run faster than race pace, and keep the longer runs a little bit slower.  After SF half marathon I'm going to try to diligently follow the RLRF plan for SJ half on 10/5.  

There is 10 weeks from SF half to SJ half, I was considering allowing 1.5 weeks of recovery before starting the RLRF plan - does this sound about right?  I was likely simply going to count backwards from race day to see what week to start on for the plan.  And likely will reduce any training runs that are longer than the actual race down to either 12 or 13 miles.  

World Cup:
Like most people, I was glued to watching the World Cup daily for the last month - I'm going to miss it now that it's gone.  I loved to run in the AM, and then watch the WC later in the day.  The US had a great tourney - they came oh so close to beating Belgium, Tim Howard was amazing in that game.  Lots of drama across all games during the tourney, definitely the best World Cup that I can remember.  Seems like the best team won in the end, Germany played a little more aggressively/courageously than Argentina in the final, and deserved to win it in the end.  What a goal to win the Cup.  

What would you have done in my situation regarding the crashed biker? 
Any suggestions on how to train/what to do for the San Jose half marathon in October?  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

SF half, beep test, heartrate, Run Less Run Faster

Shoutouts:

SF half marathon:
Pulled the trigger on the SF half marathon (2nd half), cost was pretty insane to me - $130 after a $10 convenience fee lol.  What is with convenience fees on races?  Why aren't these just built into the final cost?   I haven't done a half marathon in forever (SJ RNR 2010 was last one), but do they always cost this much?  Side note, but after my rant last post about how much Sportphoto was charging for photos, SF marathon announced that they were offering free race photos!  This is what I'm talking about - and the arrangement is exactly what Coach Dion was suggesting, that a sponsor of the photos get's their logo on the photos in return for them being free.  I hope that every major marathon follows along with what SF marathon is doing.  And no response from Sportphoto about my rant, which is not surprising at all.  I wish that someone from that company had stepped up and responded back to me.  I would respect them a lot if they responded.

Impalas:
Every time I do Bay to Breakers, I always seem to be fascinated by the elites and the centipedes.  I guess because I love seeing elites run.  Seems like the Impalas are one of the squads that fascinates me, they are just super fast.  Runners World had an article about them, and Roserunner did a post about them a while back too.  The club has sent a member to the marathon Olympic trials every time the trails have been held, which is really impressive.

Beep test:
While watching the US men's national team's training on ESPN, the team did an interesting test - the beep test.  Anyone ever heard of it out there?  Apparently it is done by setting up 2 cones 20 meters apart, and then basically running in between them when you hear beeps.  And you keep going until you can't keep up with the beeps (the beeps get closer and closer together).  It looked like awful punishment seeing the men's national team do it, and I thought it looked like a great workout to try.  So sometime I'm going to give it a shot.  I downloaded an app for the test, anyone have a suggested app to run it from your phone?

Mileage:
In looking at my recent mileage, I realized that somehow I ran a PR at Bay to Breakers despite only running about 10-15 miles a week - this seems kind of odd to me.  This is partly due to tax season happening, which cut my mileage down since I simply didn't have time to run as often - I was only running twice a week then.  Now that tax season is over, I am back up to running 3 times a week, and around 20 miles a week or so.  I guess it showed me that I'm probably still not running at my peak, since I should probably be doing more mileage for the races that I do.  Something to shoot for.

Race heartrate:
I was just curious about what my heartrate was for various races, so I looked up the numbers for every race that I could track down with a heartrate monitor:
Not sure what correlations if any there are here- it would help if I did a race for the 3rd time to see any sort of pattern - so next years Bay to Breakers and 408K might provide some clues.  I may also need to replace my HRM based on this post from Page, since mine is now like 3 years old lol.  I guess the main thing that surprises me is that my Bay to Breakers 2010 heartrate is lower than my 2014 heartrate - I'm thinking that is because during 2010 I was in marathon training, and was mainly doing all runs at slow ish pace, and I was probably in better overall shape.  This year I've generally done all runs at medium pace ish (7 miles max), and so was specifically training for B2B.  I didn't have any more effort to give in either race, so a little surprising that my heartrate is so much higher this year than it was 4 years ago.  My max heartrate must still be close 200, since I've seen numbers as high as 193 or so during Bay to Breakers while on course.  Not sure what that means - that I have a high tolerance for pain or heart capacity or what.

Pace bands:
Not sure if that many people use pace bands for races, but I saw this site on the internet for custom pace bands for every marathon out there.  Apparently the site even adjusts for the course elevation and the like.  Something to consider.

Run Less, Run Faster plan:
A while ago I bought the Run Less, Run Faster book - which mainly preaches that you only need to run 3 days a week in order to train up for a race (including 2 days of cross training), which sounds like my kind of training plan.  The half marathon training plan is 18 weeks, so I definitely don't have time to follow this plan for the SF half marathon, but maybe I'll try to follow it for the San Jose Rock N Roll half on 10/5 though.  So for now, I'll likely just follow the Hal Higdon intermediate plan for SF half on 7/27.

In looking in detail at the Run Less, Run Faster plan, the paces are intimidating.  Based on my recent San Jose 5K time of 20:16, the training paces seem really fast.

Some pace examples for me based on the charts in the book:
400m training pace: 1:28
800m training pace: 3:00
1600m training pace: 6:17
Short tempo: 6:50
Mid tempo: 7:05
Long tempo: 7:20
Easy: 8:25
half marathon pace: 7:12
half marahton pace +20: 7:32
half marathon pace +30: 7:42

For example, here is the first week of the 18 week plan broken out:
  • Track - 10-20 min warmup, 12 x 400m (90 sec RI) at 1:28, 10 min cooldown
  • Tempo - 2 miles easy, 3 miles @ short tempo pace (6:50), 1 mile easy
  • Long - 8 miles - HMP + 20 sec/mile (7:32)
All 3 of those runs sound way too hard for me.  If/when I start doing this training program, I'll likely add a minute to my 5K time to get some somewhat easier training paces that seem more attainable.  Because the last thing I want to do is to get injured during this plan.  Anyone have experience following the Run Less, Run Faster training plans?  Should it feel this intimidating?

Side note - but I played with the Runners World race time converter based on some recent race times, interesting what it came out with:
  • Based on 5K time of 20:16 - half marathon prediction of 1:33:14
  • Based on 5 mile time of 33:18 -  half marathon prediction of 1:32:30
  • Based on 10K time of 42:43 (note that this time is from 2009, but I think I can beat this time now) - half marathon prediction of 1:34:15
  • Though all of the races above are flat, so maybe I have to add a couple minutes to their guesses since SF half is certainly not flat lol. (though this works for SJ half marathon, which is totally flat)
SF 2nd half marathon elevation profile is actually somewhat similar to Bay to Breakers, with basically 1 big hill at the beginning (inside Golden Gate Park), then mainly flat or downhill the rest of the way.  It looks like the main hill goes from 100 feet at mile 1 to 300 feet at mile 4.  Which is way easier than B2B in terms of distance - B2B goes up 200 feet in less than 1 mile.  I remember running this during SF marathon in 2010 and thinking, when will this hill end? lol.  At least the hill is gradual, unlike Bay to Breakers.  It looks like the course is basically the Bay to Breakers course backwards, with a bit of Stow Lake mixed in there as well.  

Anyone have experience following the Run Less, Run Faster training plans?  Should it feel this intimidating?  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bay to Breakers 12K PR race recap

I realize that I'm losing readers by not being as active on this blog, and also on not commenting on as many blogs as I was before.  If you want to be my personal facebook friend, email me at nellyontherun(at)gmail(dot)com for my facebook link.  I spelled out my email to try to cut down on spam emails lol.  

Bay to Breakers 12K race recap:
Bay to Breakers 12K race was this Sunday, this has always been my favorite race of the year - maybe because of how unique and chaotic the race is, and also because I've now done it 13 times (more than any other race by far).  My 2012 race recap is probably the best for some background on the race, and other useful info.  2011 race recap is here too.  This year I was finally fully healthy (or healthy enough) to race it full out for the first time since 2010, so I was really excited for this race.  

Elevation profile:
Bay to Breakers has a weird elevation profile, with it basically being flat for the first 2 miles, then a huge hill, then flat, then downhill.  My 2010 PR was 54:55 (7:22 pace), and so my basic goal was to have the average pace be 7:22 or lower when I got to the downhill portion at mile 5.2 (because then I would pick up time on the downhill).  I think I had a shot at my PR for sure, but wasn't 100% sure by any means.  

Bay to Breakers used to pass out these timing chips in the older races (07, 08, 09) - I wish they still did this, instead this year your timer thing was embedded into foam with your race number (which was kind of annoying since you sort of felt it against your chest)

it was a gorgeous day for running - not too hot, not too cold - maybe 57 to 58?  Luckily the heat wave that we had on Wed and Thurs went away by Sunday (side note, but San Diego has simply on fire, with infernos near lots of houses, and even firenadoes being seen - and no, this is not the movie Sharknado lol)

I was in Corral A

Corral A was very empty when I first got there at 715 ish - Corral B was jammed

lol on these guys - ostriches?

perfect day out



this were centipede runners - SF Road Warrior cofirmed they are the Impalas.  They were wearing flannel like shirts or something fashionable - the shirts looked good, I have no idea if they could run okay in them lol.  Though I guess that is sort of the costume they were wearing as a centipede?

after stepping out of Corral A to warm up a bit - I saw that the security guarding the elite corral was very weak - so I decided to jump in lol.  I realize that I probably shouldn't have since that should be reserved for the elite, but I tried to stay off to the side, and I guess I just couldn't resist jumping in there.  Really cool to be so close to the elites! (side note, but I did have an sub seeded number in 2011, but I was injured and so couldn't make use of this perk unfortunately.  So maybe this was me making up for that now? lol)

the race was heavily delayed due to something happening on course at Hayes Street Hill (apparently it was due to a metal arch not being stabilized or something, weird) - so I was able to get a shot of the start line - anyone recognize anyone?  I didn't see Ryan Hall.  I also saw an article saying that the start was delayed due to security removing people from the elite starting area, likely the people that were right around me that got hauled out with beers in their hands haha (1 guy did call me out for not having a sub-seeded bib, but he was nice about it and didn't have me tossed - maybe because I looked like a serious runner?)

and the mascot of the race - Ape Hasbury - who actually is a great runner underneath the costume (beating me handily every year) - can't imagine how good he would be running without a costume! lol

the mass of humanity behind me

the race was so delayed that they let the runners warmup again (the race finally started at 825) I've never been to a race that started that far behind schedule (should have started at 8)


a centipede coming into view - finally the gun sounded shortly after this pic was taken

Mile 1 - 6:57 (178 heartrate)
When the gun went off, I immediately tried to get out of people's way on the right side, since technically I was starting up too close to the starting line.  After maybe 20 feet I heard someone from behind me telling me that a centipede was coming through, apparently they have a fast runner clearing traffic up ahead which is a great idea lol.  Random people also seemed to be crossing across the race course, I almost collided with a couple of them - I wanted to say - get the F off the course!  But I didn't say anything other than to be annoyed, because there was no time to react to what they were doing.  I also saw tons of police on bikes on the left and right side of the course - no idea what was happening - maybe they were just riding up ahead to help with crowd control.  It was one of the most chaotic miles of a race that I can ever remember.  I was glad that it was over.  As for my pace, I was trying to settle into a reasonable pace, and apparently that reasonable pace was 6:57 - I'll take it!

Mile 2 - 7:00 (185 heartrate)
The crowds were absolutely massive on both sides of the course - and since I was at the very front of the start, almost no one was on course at this point.  I guess this was what people running Boston feel like?  It was an awesome feeling to see a massive road and almost no one on it.  Mile 2 was way calmer than mile 1, though I still saw people cutting across the course dangerously close to runners (and me).  How hard is it for people to stay on 1 side of the street and wait?  Not saying that I wanted them to get taken out (since that would injure a runner most likely, but hope some karma got them later on).  Mile 2 is just a little bit uphill, and that means Hayes Street Hill is up next.  Like I stated a couple weeks ago, my top speed is clearly better than 2010 (when I set my B2B PR), but my hill work is worse.  Mile 2 felt okay, I maybe could have backed off a little bit, but kept going.  Turned out to be a 7 min pace 2nd mile, I'll take it again.  

Mile 3 - 7:36 (189 heartrate) (Hayes Street Hill)
This is the hill of Bay to Breakers - I'm not sure about the actual grade, but based on the elevation profile, it goes from 70 feet to 270 feet in only 0.80 of a mile.  So the hill is steep.  It does have a flat landing at every block - so it goes flat landing, then steep part, repeat 7-8 times.  The hill hurt a lot, my lack of real hill work cost me some here.  The crowd did help pump me up here - some nice DJ tunes were being pumped in.  I didn't walk, but I wasn't making as good of progress as I thought I would.  Though I looked down and saw 7:36 for that mile, and was pleasantly surprised - I was at 7:58 in 2010 - which seems really weird (since I was in great hill shape that year).  Maybe it is because my pace and cadence is higher now, that it makes up for some lack of hill work.  

Hayes Street Hill time:
One other cool thing - apparently the race also times your Hayes Street Hill time too, and I did better on the hill than I did on the race itself (442 rank on hill, 507 rank on race overall).  So maybe my hill work isn't that bad compared to everyone else.  
Hayes Street Hill time 4:16 - 442/28228 overall rank, 88/2174 division rank

Mile 4 - 7:14 (186 heartrate)
This mile is somewhat deceiving, because after the Hayes Street Hill the course drops down some, then you gradually climb back up again.  So your body is already gassed after the hill, and welcome to a more gradual uphill.  I was hurting here, and my stomach seemed to be feeling weird - I had decided to mix in cytomax into both of my water bottles (for races I normally just have 1 cytomax, 1 water).  So I think my stomach was overloaded with cytomax - luckily I got a bit of water at a water stop and felt okay from there on out.  I didn't drink much the rest of the race because I didn't want to upset my stomach.  I did survive this mile - I was looking forward to mile 5.2, because this is where the race drops down or is flat the rest of the race.  

Mile 5 - 6:56 (186 heartrate)

This mile is sort of flat ish, just tried to keep the legs moving and was just hoping that the downhill would start soon.  You are in the flat part of Golden Gate Park.  I don't remember too much from this mile lol.  There was a skating group that was playing tunes that was pretty entertaining I remember though in Golden Gate Park.  Probably the best race entertainment were these girls.  Also a few punk bands were playing, nice to hear some punk while running.  

Mile 6 - 6:37 (185 heartrate)
Finally got to the downhill at mile 5.2, and fully enjoyed this part of the race course (Golden Gate Park).  The temps were perfect for the race - maybe 58 to 60 with fog.  Can't ask for better running conditions.  I love to talk to people on the course during races, so I started talking to one guy who seemed to be running my exact same pace.  Was nice to get some camaraderie, since I was dying a bit out there. I saw the same President Obama guy this year that I saw in 2011 and 2012, he had a sign that had Monica Lewinsky and Hilary on it lol.  That guy is hilarious.  

when the photographer stand was coming up, I saw that no one was running on the right side, so I figured might as well run on that side lol.  one of my best running pics


Mile 7 - 6:36 (187 heartrate)
The course keeps dropping down, and we were going right through Golden Gate Park - I thought of my run last week there - went past the waterfall, the lakes, Hellman Hollow, Conservancy of Flowers.  Normally I remember seeing vibrant colors from the sun in prior years, but that was not the case today due to the fog.  On this mile a girl in a Boston shirt passed me, I tried to keep up with her - but to no avail.  Just seemed like in this part I was being passed by more people, they seemed to have a gear that I just didn't have.  I've talked about this before, but maybe I need to do some speed workouts or interval workouts to help with getting that extra gear that some people seem to have.  Any thoughts on this?  One side note, but sometimes my legs can't go any faster, but I can still talk to others and not have to slow down - anyone else have this happen to them?  It's like my legs have no more gears in them, but my mouth can yap away lol.  Likely to the annoyance of those runners around me haha.  

Mile 7.45 - 6:23 (189 heartrate)

Since I last did the race in 2012, apparently the course changed.  Because as were getting closer to mile 7.45, we still weren't turning left onto the Great Highway for the final stretch run.  This year they had us make a left turn onto MLK, then a right turn onto MLK to finish right in the park.  (course map)  The right turn into the finish seemed odd, because it was pretty abrupt and tight, and my body didn't want to turn at that point.  There was also a curb there, I bet there were a few accidents at that turn.  I was fully dying at this point, I found my buddy that I seemed to latch onto during the race, and he encouraged me to keep going forward.  I had nothing left coming into the finish, I wish I could have enjoyed the last stretch more, but I just wanted to finish as fast as I could - I knew I had smashed my PR!  It was sort of a mixture of joy at smashing my PR, and also pain because I was running on literal fumes.  The spectators right near the finish must have thought I looked awful lol.  I also thought that in order to run a PR, you need to pay to play, and it is almost hard to fully enjoy the course, since you are so focused on where you are stepping, your pace, and everything else besides the surroundings.  Though at times I tried to look straight ahead to see the course and everything around.  

Finish line area:
As I crossed the line, I saw my running race buddy, and we exchanged high fives and such.  I was just so pumped up and excited about what I just accomplished - the runners high was in full effect.  Moments like that at the finish line make all the miles we put in on the roads and trails worth it.  I also thought about all those early morning tax season miles that I put in while working 75 hours a week - I really worked hard for this.  Days like today are why I love running.  Another reason why I love running is that generally you get back exactly what you put in it - if you work hard, you will see results.  And since I started this blog in Nov 2010, this is exactly the race recap I wanted to write - it only took 3.5 years to get there lol.  I'll also add that this is one of most fun races that I've ever done, and one of my favorite race reports to write as well.  

Results:
Bay to Breakers
12K (7.45 miles)
52:15
7:01 mile pace
185 average heartrate
507/28228 overall (1.8%)
91/2174 age group (4.2%)
431/12946 gender (3.3%)
Hayes Street Hill time 4:16 - 442/28228 overall rank, 88/2174 division rank
2nd fastest race since July 2000 based on % basis (and it may be my best race since 2000, since the 408K race field probably wasn't as stacked as the B2B field).  I likely say this is my best race since 2000 - I definitely feel the most proud about this race than any race since 2000.  (2010 SF marathon is also in the discussion lol)

Even though this was my best time by far, it is still not my best finish based on pure placing - in 2009 I finished 492nd (56:10).  2010 year was 665th (54:55).  2009 was one of the hottest years ever for B2B, so I think that is why I finished so high even though my time wasn't as good as 2010 or 2014.  This year I was 5 seconds from the top 500, that would have been pretty awesome to be there again - but really I didn't have any more to give out there on course.  

dying at this point (far right side of screen)

lol on this pic (both me and the guy in the bottom right lol)

just a little pumped up

the face of pain - me and the guy behind me lol

all smiles at the finish line

they had red bull at the finish line which was cool
and I got talking to another guy that apparently thought he recognized me from another race, though I didn't recognize him lol - maybe from a prior Bay to Breakers?  

I think this was Asics Aggies centipede - they are always fast (not sure if they won or not)
side note - but I always seem to notice that the centipede runners almost all look exactly the same.  Is this coincidental?  I guess they have the typical elite women runner look.  I guess I'm always intrigued by what the elites are up to

a bear lol

I have no idea what band was going to play, I think I finished too quick for it lol


red bull was everywhere at the finish line

the course is called Bay to Breakers for a reason lol

the windmill is always fun to run by - we didn't get to run by it this year due to the course change

I bought a beer before boarding the post race shuttle - was an awesome idea to celebrate (and I almost crashed a private event by accident haha)

unfortunately they changed the post race shuttle options - in 2012 you could take a shuttle from the finish line to Daly City BART (where my car was parked)
this year you could only take a shuttle back to the start line (where you then had to take BART back to Daly City BART)

post race spoils - the shirt is awesome, by far the best shirt ever.  It is a cool design, and it is also technical fabric, so I will actually wear it to the gym and on runs - I could see this being one of my favorite shirts to wear on the trails now.  The shirt was designed by Under Armour, I hope they stay around for future races as a sponsor (or even become the title sponsor)

the medal was also great - a really good look

Overall it was a great run Bay to Breakers - one of my favorites.  Besides the slight annoyance at the transportation option changes. (and the delayed start time was not good)

Race analysis:
Very similar to what I said in my 408K race recap, I was shocked at how well I did in this race.  That now makes 4 PRs in 3 races, which is pretty nuts. (During 408K race I beat my 5K and 8K PR).  I think I did so well because this year I almost specifically trained for this race, whereas in 2010 I was in marathon training, and so I did most runs at a slower pace.  I also think Newtons played a part, midfoot striking simply has made me a more efficient runner, and thus a faster runner.  Maybe I should be in a Newton commercial? lol.  Going into it I've had somewhat minor injuries over the past month - small right hip discomfort, small left knee pain, and small right ankle pain.  So I had no idea if was going to be able to actually race it all out and not get injured on race day.  I really don't remember feeling anything during the race, and I don't really feel anything now.  I'm going to make sure to foam roll a ton the next few days to make sure the calves are rolled out.  Also, I need to get back to strength training regularly again, I kind of lost the routine due to tax season and not having enough time.  I think my hip strength has been weak recently, likely contributing to my right hip pain and occasional left knee pain (basically on some of my runs I think my left kneecap doesn't align perfectly due to inadequate hip strength, thus causing some inflamation).  I'm also going to back off the running a bit - maybe only run 2 days a week for a couple weeks, and hit the gym hard with yoga and strength training.  I'll do just enough running to maintain my current fitness, but not overdo it.  

Future race plans:
I decided to register for the SF half marathon (2nd half) on 7/27.  While I completed the SF 1st half in 2009, and then the SF full marathon in 2010, for whatever reason I've always wanted to just do the 2nd half since.  I was injured in 2011, wasn't trained up enough in 2012, and injured in 2013.  So now it's finally time to settle some unfinished business on the course.  I was debating about whether to go to San Diego Comic Con, but after not being able to get an actual ticket to Comic Con, I decided that I would have more fun doing SF half marathon.  I realize that I only have 9 weeks to get trained up for the race, so I probably need to start next week (I've done up to 7 miles in training regularly, so I'm probably right on schedule to get trained up for it).  Anyone have a training plan suggestion?  Hal Higdon intermediate plan looks tempting.  Also, I have the Run Less, Run Faster book at home, I may just follow one of those.  

I may also do the SF Giants Race on 9/7/14.  Though that date is awful for an event, since everything happens on that date (US Open final, NFL football starts).  I guess the next main target run way in the future is San Jose RNR half marathon on 10/5/14.  With how my recent races have gone, I think I have a real shot to go for a 7 min ish pace half marathon, since SJ is basically perfectly flat.  

Bay to Breakers photos cost:
I was actually really excited to get the photos from Bay to breakers, because I actually thought they were going to be awesome, since I ran so near the front of a big race.  The photos turned out great, though I can't justify spending $40 for 1 pic, or $80 for all of them.  So I sent sportphoto a rant about it below lol.  

Email sent to them:
I recently ran Bay to Breakers, and this is just a general comment about Sportphoto's pictures.  I actually really like the photos that were taken of me during the race.  But paying $40 for 1 digital image or $60 for 5 or $50 for 3 is all ridiculous to me.  You do realize that the cost to register for the race is $60, so you might pay more than the actual race itself, or just a little bit less than the race fee to simply get digital pictures?  I just don't understand it.  Why isn't the price maybe 1/3 of the what you guys charge - because the more people like me might actually buy your prints.  I can tell you right now that the vast majority of runners out there simply do a print screen of the screen, and then crop it down so that it's just showing the pic itself.  Maybe business wise for you guys it's better to have the price be so high that some people will buy the photos anyways, but it just seems greedy and ridiculous to me (borderline extortion too, because of the high utility that race photos provide to people).  If you lower the price down to maybe 1/3 many more people would buy the prints I believe, and your company would make more money in the process.  I can say for certain that if the price was $20 or $30 for a digital download of the photos, I would have bought them all.  Now, I likely will not buy any.  

Anyone have any half marathon training plans that they like? (I only have 9 weeks left apparently to SF half) 
Would you have jumped in the elite corral given the chance?
Any thoughts on my sportphoto race photo email rant?  Should I buy them anyways?