Off to Kaiser now. This is the race that I have told myself I have to do every year now since the start is a half mile from my apartment. It is a great measure of early season fitness too and I was feeling good about how I could perform! Not only that, I had to make sure my buddy Dan wouldn't beat me with all the smack he was laying down this week.
Race morning and I'm out the door at 5:50 am to my coffee shop Javaholics and then to packet pickup to get my bib. It was already 60 degrees out on February 6th! Might be a long day, but heat never really effected me so just drank a little more water with nuun. Still a little full from dinner the night before, so half a bagel with my coffee, relax back at my apartment watching the morning news then back out the door for a 20 minute warmup.
|I'm in there with my Grey SF Tri Visor three deep just behind the yellow shirt guy. On another note, if you wear yellow to a race, you'd better win.|
Cruising out of the park on a gentle uphill, trying to hold back in the first few miles with my friends Mark, Brooke and Adam, we get out to the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park and our first slight downhill, and open up my stride while still holding back a bit.
Making the turn on the Panhandle and its a slight uphill again, but this time, all the lightweights decide to take advantage and hold pace, while another 6'5" guy and me are left in their wake for a bit, but once we crest the hill and head back into the park its a 2.5 mile downhill, and we make up time and get back to the pack.
342 feet of elevation gain, but a total loss of 526 feet!
This race is so much fun because you can push well under 6 minute miles down through the park, all the way to the beach. Making the turn at the beach was awesome, with huge crowds, but dead wind and 75/80 degree weather. Things started heating up and half way through the 3 mile out leg on Great Highway. Luckily they added aid stations from last year, and drank some water and dumped cups on my head to keep cool. Was running with triathlon-great Tim Sheeper for most of the race which was exciting and saw my announcer friend Eric Gilsenan who gave a great shout too, thanks!
Seeing Mark and Brooke holding pace and another Track friend Lee blazing back on the Great Highway, I hit the turnaround following a little bit behind. Making the turn, I try to hold back my excitement, because last year there was just amazing headwinds coming back at us, and this year nothing, well until a quarter mile down the road where it turns a little. Not nearly as bad, but with my height, it takes a lot out. Some motivation came as I saw my track coach Tom coming up on my heels pushing is kid in a running stroller! He's fast, but if he ever caught me pushing his kid, I'd never hear the end of it.
Image courtesy Jenni Kirk
Pushing for that 1:20 finish was my motivation, and seeing latching onto whomever was in front of my and trying to reel them in, got a few of them too! I heard a ton of cheers from my SF Tri friends on their way out, so thanks. I was pretty much in a daze at that point, so I'm not sure who they were, but it kept me going strong.
Around a mile left, and the tank started to empty. At about 2 miles left I saw it was going to be close with the quarter mile uphill at the end of the race, so a few of us ramped up the pace to try for it. Making the turn to the uphill, there was not response from the legs and I knew it would be a mind war to keep my legs going. The race clock comes into view and its at 1:20:30 and I willed my body as much as I could to get there before it turns over to 1:21, but sprinting an uphill at mile 13.1 is not fun. Finally get there with 2 seconds to spare-1:20:58-and I get to celebrate my PR with a Payday my girlfriend brought me as a surprise to the finish line!
Going back to my goals post from the New Year, this falls into the "Half Field" improvement metric I created. I finished Kaiser at 105'th place last year, and 52nd place last year was1:20:17. Finishing 41st overall this year would show a better improvement, but the 3% improvement is great considering the hot conditions, so I'll take it.
Hopefully the pace was a little erratic from the GPS bouncing around in the park, but the last part of the race was a mind game with me just trying to hold on.
One very sad note was something I didn't realize happen until I got home. With un-seasonably warm weather, quite a few people had to be treated and someone collapsed near the finish line and passed away. It turns out there wasn't any medical staff around the finish line either which is a tragedy. You always want to feel safe in a race, and that if a catastrophe happens, you will be taken care of. I hope race directors heed this incident and make sure they have all their preparations taken care for future races. My heart sank when I heard this as it was someone who was trying to improve their health, and fell victim to circumstances out of their control.