Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Square Peg Running- SF marathon!

Can you successfully complete a half marathon if you've missed some of your
training? That is the question I asked myself over and over the last few
weeks. I've heard your body develops a certain level of fitness and that
as long as you maintain it at a certain level you can accomplish more than
you realize. Fortunately, for me that was this case in this weekend's San
Francisco marathon (first half).

Although I was looking forward to a weekend in San Francisco and all the
things a big race has to offer, (the Expo, carbo loading, free goodies) I
was very anxious about the actual race. I've successfully completed six
half marathons in the last two years but have always felt well prepared
going into the race. This time, I did not! I've struggled with a minor
hip injury the last month or so and between that and the heat did not get
in the mileage that I wanted to or needed to prepare for the big day. I
came up with about 82 different contingency plans if I didn't or couldn't
finish. Fortunately for me, the race gods were watching over me!

We started Saturday off with a trip to "The Expo." Although the Expo was
crowded the swag was great!! Perhaps the highlight was being about three
feet away from Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man, as he gave away samples of
his joint juice. A close second was getting samples from "The Erin" of
Erin Baker's breakfast cookies. The race shirts have a great design and
are a beautiful turquoise blue. This year, they also gave away fabric
drawstring drop bags that can be re-used instead of the usual plastic bags
that get tossed! The finishers medals are equally nice with the half
marathon medal doubling as a key chain and the full marathon medal as a
coaster. I think I ate my way through the Expo again. Who doesn't love
free samples of Lara Bars and Bare Naked granola! We all finished the day
with a great carbo loading dinner in North Beach!

The weather for Sunday's race was perfect. It was cool and overcast...
ideal running/walking weather. In fact, I wore my jacket to mile 10 and
only took it off because between the mist and sweat it was actually making
me cold. The race started in front of the San Francisco ferry building
with a view of the Bay and the Bay Bridge. The course went several miles
along the wharf and the famous Pier 39 with the first big hill at Ft.
Mason. I've learned from hiking that the key to those big hills is do not
stop. After crossing the Fort Mason hill, the course continued along the
water front through Crissy Field. The view at Crissy field is beautiful
but unfortunately it allowed us to be able to see the steep climb up to the
Golden Gate bridge from at least a mile away. I could see these tiny
little people running, walking or in some cases crawling (maybe a little
exaggerated) up the hills! But, once you got to the top the view from the
bridge and accomplishing the climb made it all worth while. While almost
25,000 people ran and walked across the bridge it was amazing how personal
and individual the experience was. After the bridge, we faced one more
climb before a nice one mile downhill jaunt on the highway/cliff
overlooking Baker Beach and the ocean. You could actually hear the waves
despite the distance and the volume of people. A quick dart by the Sea
Cliffe (amazing neighborhood) and two more miles to the first half finish
at Golden Gate Park. At least for those continuing on to pursue, the
marathon the second half of the course was hill free "relatively speaking." I finished the first half with a time of about four minutes longer than the Parkway half, which to me was success, considering all the hills and that when I woke up that morning I wasn't even sure I could finish. After the finish it was off to the post race festivities with more food sampling and swag. You gotta love a sport where "nutrition" includes
chocolate milk after your workout!

As I look ahead to the next few months, I will treasure what an amazing
race this was. I've never felt better mentally or physically during or
after a race, which is amazing considering my pre-race state of mind. I
think it is because for the first time I truly ran my own race and enjoyed
every moment whatever the outcome. Although I already have the SF
marathon on my calendar for next year, I look forward to taking the rest of
the summer and really enjoying my workouts without stressing over how fast
and how far!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Square Peg Running is back!

I am sorry it has been so long, but again "real life" just sometimes gets in the way. We have been back to SacFit for about a month, and it is a great group this year. I agreed to serve as an "emergency/backup" pace coach to help out when I can. I've been able to take out two great groups out so far this season and I have to admit although it is fun it is a bit stressful. I want to make sure everyone learns all they can and has a great time but I don't want to be overpowering or annoying!

I can't believe we are only two weeks out from the SF marathon. I have never been this undertrained for a half marathon before. Six weeks ago, the eight week "boot camp training" program I was putting myself on sounded great in theory but in reality is a completely different thing. I've been able to get a few mid-week workouts in here and there and an occasional Zumba class but in my attempt to run some intervals to make sure I made it to the Golden Gate bridge in time, I think I've injured my hip. I've only been able to get in up to 8 painful miles so far... not sure how many I will get in next Saturday. My hope is I've built up a certain fitness level where I can get through the race.... and then go to the doctor if needed. I guess I really am meant to be a walker!

It seems like there must be lots of big news to share along with a few square peg running moments... but my brain is full! I need to trust in my training, enjoy the race, and then look forward to a summer of just enjoying my training without "that big race" to train for. I love training for those big half marathons and getting another one under my belt but I long to return to the simplicity of walking for the mere fun of it. That is my goal for the rest of the summer and then truly I will be running my own race!