11/4/12

Half Marathon Report



I'm somewhat surprised --and thrilled-- to report that WE DID IT! My friend Cristina and I finished the Half Marathon this morning in San Francisco, a course that led along the waterfront and across the golden gate bridge, and then back again. Thirteen point one miles in all.

Our two goals were to 1) cross the finish line, no matter how long it took us, and 2) to feel good enough at the finish that we'd want to do another one. 

Check.

Me, moments after crossing the finish line

We also achieved a third goal which was added four days before the race, when I discovered in the fine print of the FAQs that the course closed three hours from the starting bell. A new and unexpected constraint, encountered just 4 days before the big day! Yeiks! We weren't sure we could make it in three hours, having not trained for nor thought about any time limits.

But knowing our approximate training pace, with a little math, we figured that the 3 hours was right about at the edge of what was possible for us, depending on the state of our joints during the race. But we really weren't sure we could do it, given that our longest training run was only 8 miles. Anything beyond 8 miles was unchartered territory. Would my knee seize up? Would our backs give out? Would we collapse in gasping sobs? Anything was possible.

So we tried to keep our expectations low, but we really really wanted to cross that finish line in under 3 hours to qualify for a finishing time and get the finisher's medal.

So we made a plan to settle into a walk/run alternating pace that would keep us at a speed that would get us in under the 3 hour time limit, but not a minute faster. We wanted to use the minimum amount of effort necessary to achieve the goal and keep the risk of injury and pain at bay as much as possible.  

And the plan worked, incredibly well. We alternated five minutes of running with two minutes of walking, and we walked every hill (both up and down.) We kept that pace through mile 11 or so, when we really started feeling the fatigue and the pounding, and then we took a few running segments down to 4 minutes. 

And I'm very excited to report our official finishing time:

2:59:13 (two hours, fifty nine minutes, thirteen seconds)

We finished with 47 seconds to spare. We'd done it in under three hours. Whew!

Check.
Cristina on the bridge

Some reflections, looking back on it:

Thirteen miles is far. It was hard. Especially those last 2 miles. But it wasn't as hard as I was expecting it to be.

Having a plan, with the alternating run/walk, was key to our endurance, and to staving off the leg pain as much as possible.

Our legs were the constraining factor on our speed. Our heart/lung fitness was fine (we were sailing from the waist up), but our legs could have benefited from a more rigorous training plan, and some more cross training.

Talking was super helpful. We talked a lot, throughout the race. Some of it was chit chat, but mostly we talked about the race and our surroundings. We marveled at the views (over and over again), and the weather (which could not have been more beautiful.) We checked in with each other constantly to see how the other was feeling. We frequently reminded ourselves to focus on our posture, to stay light on our feet, to focus on the rhythm of the breathing with our steps, and to feel the balloon lifting us up from the string attached to our spine.

Having a partner was key. I would have never attempted this without Cristina, and could have never finished it without her by my side.  

It was a great race, with a ton of high points. Crossing the bridge was a huge high. Passing mile 9, realizing I had gone farther than ever before, was a huge high. Finding that we finished in under three hours was a huge high.

I'm definitely doing this again. And if I can do it, you can do it. Want to run it with me next time?



6 comments:

  1. Super proud of you both!! I ran the US Half about 6 years ago (!!) and I still remember how punishing it is to run over the Golden Gate (twice!). Sign me up for the next race!

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    1. Yes!!! So excited you want to do the next one. Lets make a plan.

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  2. Congratulations on many fronts Laurel. You are courageous, methodical, game, and now and achiever!

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  3. I am in next time!!! Name the race. So scary, but so exciting.

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    1. Awesome!!! Would LOVE to have you join us!

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