Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kaiser Half-Marathon 2012 Race Report: My Optimal Plan Realized (with 2 seconds to spare)

The last few days have been a blur.  It's like my life was on fast-forward and it hasn't slowed down.   I am looking forward to tomorrow when I will get a chance to relax.

On Friday morning Miguel, the kids and I flew down to southern California.  We spent the day getting ready for the funeral and I had a bit of respite while getting a pedicure.  I was supposed to go with my mom but we were too late so I went solo.  There was food everywhere I ate like a starving girl.  I just didn't care.  Friday evening was the viewing; I went first and then Miguel went - I didn't think it was a good idea to take the kids.  Come bedtime I was exhausted.

Saturday was the funeral.  My family does not mess around when it comes to saying goodbye.  It was a beautiful service for a truly amazing man and I shed more than a few tears.  Marek said goodbye to Grandad, despite being a bit confused and asking to see him.  Military honors, with Taps played, were delivered graveside and again the tears flowed.  What an emotional day.  We had a whirlwind late lunch with the family (and I just kept eating like it was my last meal) and then left late for the airport - we weren't sure we'd make our flight.  Thank goodness we did.

We walked in our front door at 7:30pm and all of us were cranky and tired.  I got all my stuff together in the midst of feeding the kids dinner and getting them ready for bed.  I had my fingers crossed that I wasn't forgetting anything.  My water intake and sleep had been really bad the days prior so I wanted to get to bed early to try and make up some lost time. 

I got up at 5:30am today.  I am on day 3 (I think) of my period and thankfully it's already slowed down so I was pretty confident I'd get by without a changing of the guard.  Anyway, I got my gear together while I ate a bowl of cereal and had some coffee.  I left at 6:10am to meet my friends, Jackie and Laurie, two mommy friends that did the race with me.  Here we are pre-race, Laurie on my right and Jackie on my left.  They are so awesome and supportive.  Sheesh, I look tired.

After killing some time in line for the porta-potty and then standing around stretching for a while, it was finally time to start!  I was maybe an 1/8th of a mile behind the starting line and good thing because as soon as I started jogging my laces came untied!  I never double knotted them because I wasn't sure how to put on the timing thing and I figured I'd re-tie them later.  I ran to the side and tied them.  I would have been VERY annoyed with myself if that had happened after I crossed the timing mat.

I've read so much about going out too fast so I really took an easy pace.  I was mostly running between a 12 and 13 minute pace.  The run is an out/back in Golden Gate Park followed by an out/back along the ocean before finishing back in the park.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect, a beautiful mid-60's day with almost no wind to speak of.

Very early on I felt like I had to pee again.  Darned coffee!   Around mile 5 the course passed back by the starting line and I had a big debate with myself if I should hit the porta-potty again.  Ultimately I decided that 1, I had a long way to go and if I feel the urge to pee now, it might be painful later and 2, I'd feel a whole lot more relaxed if I peed.  So I ran up to the potty (fortunately no line at all) and ran out when I was done.  Whew, much better.

I carried on and felt really good.  I messed up my shot-blox eating plan and ate 2 every 2 miles instead of every 3 miles.  I realized my mistake at mile 8 when I saw I only had four left.  So I made a new plan to eat 1 at mile 8 and then 1 at miles 10, 11 and 12.  I had an AccelGel for post-race and knew I could eat that if I needed it.  Running along the ocean was beautiful.  I was prepared to start to struggle between mile 9 and 10, where, on my training runs, I usually had to start in with heavy doses of self talk.  But not so today, I think it was the atmosphere.  I definitely had the aches and pains but all the people kept me distracted and kept me going.  Oh, and I also started to feel the need to pee again.  Thank goodness I'd peed at Mile 5 because there were NOT porta-potties to be had.  I knew I had a few miles to go but figured I'd be fine as I hadn't been drinking a ton of water, just a few sips at each water-station while running.

Around mile 10 a speed walker passed me.  Hmm.  I did not want to be passed by a walker.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, I know some of those speed walkers are way faster than my run pace!  This woman had super long legs and I muttered something to myself about her being a gazelle.  So I checked my pace and my heart rate, both could use a nudge so I picked up the pace.  She caught me several more times and each time I sped up.  The fourth time she caught me I said "enough" and really sped up, maybe to an 11:30 pace and didn't see her again.  It was all just fodder to keep me motivated.

I was SO happy when we made the final turn inland and toward the finish line.  The last 1/2 mile or so is a slight uphill and I was happy to engage my quads.  The last 1/4 mile I was feeling good enough to do a sort-of sprint to the finish line. I picked out a few people that I wanted to pass and just used that as motivation to run!  And whew, there I was.  And ouch!  I just ran 13.125 miles and I felt it. Though, according to my Garmin, 13.32 miles.  I guess that means I didn't cut all the corners I should have.  My Garmin average pace says 12:24 and I am super happy with that.

Laurie and Jackie are both speedier than I am so they were waiting there to give me big congratulatory hugs.  And Laurie took finish line pictures!  Thank you Laurie!!

I love this first one because you can see the shadows of people cheering in the bottom left corner.  So cool.  Also, subtract a few minutes from that finish time since I didn't start when the horn went off.

And a close up of my happy self at the big finish!

After the hugs and a few big sighs of relief (and a quick trip to the porta potty) we walked around and took in the scene.  I ate my AccelGel and drank water.  They had some mats and foam rollers so I took the opportunity to roll my thighs a bit, such a good pain.  And we got some good stretching in before heading for the shuttle back to the car.

It was a great day, somewhat surreal and super rewarding.  I ran the entire time and reached my optimal plan.  You might remember I had optimal and bottom line plans.  They were:

My optimal plan:  Finish in less than 2 hours, 45 minutes.
My bottom line plan:  Finish.

Well, take a look at my official chip time!


Thank you to everyone who supported me while I pursued this goal.  Ultimately it was my two legs out there for 13+ miles but I couldn't have gotten to the starting line without you!


  1. Of course I'm not surprised, but that doesn't mean I'm not impressed that you met your optimal goal.
    I think a quote I just read applies,
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."
    You definitely surfed through some tough waves, buddy
    Love you xoxo

  2. Congrats on making your goal in the 1/2 marathon. That is awesome! You are definitely an inspiration.

  3. Congratulations! I hope I can do as well on my first 1/2 which is on March 31st!

  4. Congratulations! I hope I can do as well on my first 1/2 which is on March 31st!

  5. Despite all of the hardships you had (I think a lot of people would have blown off the marathon), you ROCKED IT!! :) Congratulations!

  6. OMG that is just awesome - with minimum prep time too - you are amazing!!! Congratulations!!

  7. Congratulations Michelle! You look fabulous crossing the finish line. I'm so happy for you. You did an incredible job.

  8. Oh man - I missed this post! I'm so excited for you! You did it - what an inspiration! My "ultimate" goal is a half-marathon, so it is fantastic to see you achieving that!

  9. i must say i think we may be kindred spirits. i found your blog via the fitbie article & have spent way more time than i should reading you. our stories/antics sound very similar. i wanted to give you a shout out & say keep up the good work. you are my fav of the 10 listed & i really appreciate the honesty in your words.
    in all things be peaceful, kind and honest,
    mip aka,

  10. @mip: Just checked out your blog and we are a lot alike! Always nice to find another imperfect athlete who's living the dream :)


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