My First "Official" Marathon - San Francisco
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My last blog was about the Big Sur Marathon 3 months ago where I was registered for the Relay, but went on to finish the entire 26.2 as a training run for the "real thing" in San Francisco. Well, I did it!! I ran the SF Marathon with a 28 minute improvement over my Big Sur time. My training over the past 3 months went really well without any interruptions. I wasn't incorporating speedwork, but I was running lots of hills and continuing to increase my monthly mileage (ending at 130 miles). My plan for SF was to run by feel and take a 45 sec. walk break after every 4 minutes to conserve energy and put off fatigue Galloway style. I was pretty sure I would beat my Big Sur time (4:54) and I wondered if I would break 4:30. But at the same time I didn't want to set the bar too high because I'm signed up for yet another marathon in 3 months and, of course, I'd like to PR there too.
Race morning I got up at 3:15 AM to drive to SF an hour away and get there an hour before our 6:18 start time. My friend from Florida who was also running her first marathon spent the night at my house and we drove together. This race is so big it started in waves so as we were walking to the start line at 5:30, we could hear the National Anthem already being sung. I was unusually calm all morning. The port-a-potty lines were nice and short. I thought my nerves would help me use the bathroom (good) and take away my appetite (bad), but I guess I wasn't nervous because I never got that "urge" for the bathroom and I had an appetite. (I didn't end up needing to use the bathroom at all on the course so it worked out just fine.) For breakfast I had toast with peanut butter, half a banana, and some orange juice. On the course I ate 5 GU's (w/caffeine), 8 Endurolyte caps, and half a banana. I wore two 8 oz. bottles of water on my belt and drank a little every half mile or so and refilled at the water stops. I also drank a little Cytomax at about 8 of the aid stations.
The hills were more than I expected. I did look at the elevation profile, but everyone around here says Big Sur is the toughest road marathon around and you don't hear that about SF. According to my Garmin SF was 4900 ft. total ascent compared to Big Sur's 4000 ft. total. I'm convinced SF is hillier. And the dowhills at Big Sur were wonderful, gradual and runable. There were a couple in SF that were too steep to run. The weather was perfect, nice and cool until the last 5 miles or so when the fog cleared and the sun came out. The course took us across the Golden Gate Bridge and back which was crazy. The bridge was wet from all the fog and there were mats over all the grates to keep it safe. The first 8 miles went by so fast I forgot to take my first GU. Everything else went pretty much according to plan. My Garmin read 26.5 which is only a .3 mile or 3 minute difference. I'm getting used to the Garmin reading long. It's so much nicer when the opposite happens, which is rare in my case. The Garmin recorded an average pace of 10:04/mi. so if all goes well again, maybe I could run the next one just under 10.
Here are my splits from the timing mats on the course.
7.6 Mi: 1:15:22 Pace: 9:55
Half: 2:11:48 Pace: 10:04
20 mi: 3:23:27 Pace: 10:11
Finish: 4:26:59 Pace: 10:11
I was really proud of myself when I saw that my average pace didn't slow down at all in those last 6 miles. I kept telling myself the race starts in the last 6 miles. The first 20 is just a warmup. The "wall" never showed up, but it was a very emotional last 6 miles, tough but good. I kept thanking God and getting choked up. I finished the last mile strong and crossed the finish line feeling great, holding my arms up high, and shouting for joy through my tears.