Posted by: Travis | February 10, 2008

Half marathon and then some

Its been about 10 days since i last posted so i guess we’ll start with the last significant thing that happened after my last post: the half marathon.

Rachel and i decided it would be fun to run the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon after we found out about in december. The course is supposed to be pretty flat and snake through golden gate park. In early january we went on a long run just to make sure it was doable and then decided to commit, before the price jumped up.

Fast forward to race day: it rained everyday for a week leading up to the race. Rachel and i wake up at 4:00am so that we can drive up to the city, park at ocean beach, then take the shuttle to the start line and do a little bit of warm up. We get up to find that its like 40 degrees and raining outside. We make the miserable drive up to the city and park at Ocean Beach where its still raining and cold, and the wind is howling. We leave our sweats in the car because we didn’t want to run in them, then make a b-line for the shuttles. Rachel was adamant about leaving early so that our relying on shuttles or a lack of traffic didn’t keep us from running the race. We found ourselves at the start line, under dressed and freezing cold with an hour until the gun went off. Great. Luckily we packed ponchos so at least we were dry. People slowly fill in and we go on several short jogs just to stay warm. 10 minutes till the gun so we make our way up to the 9 minute pace sign.

The gun goes off 15 minutes late as usual, the rain stops, the clouds part, and we actually see the sun. Running in a poncho is no fun so we ditch them, assuming that the bad weather is gone. First mile is slow: 10 minutes 30 seconds, mostly spent controlling a poncho blowing in the wind and dodging people who are content to walk the half marathon but for some reason lined up at the 5 minute pace sign. I don’t know if they thought they could walk a 5 minute mile or what, but they should keep people from doing this. Second mile is an improvement; that one passed in about 9 minutes flat. Not a bad pace.

For the first five or six miles our mile times oscillated between 8 minutes and 10 minutes, a combination of pacing ourselves and going for it that i wasn’t happy with. Normally im much better at holding a pace than this.

Last january Rachel and i ran a half marathon in Houston and finished with a time of 2:04, pretty solid for our first go around. However, the training that we did leading up to it was a bunch of 4 and 5 mile runs, only breaking 6 miles once. This time was different. While we didn’t do as many runs in training, we started in better shape and did fewer runs, but generally of longer distances, breaking 10 miles twice. At the start of this race we decided that we probably wouldn’t be able to beat our old time today. The weather was crappy, Rachel had ankle problems on our last long run the week before, and my lower back problems had returned in the last week or so. Breaking 2:30 would be enough for us to be satisfied.

Back to the race. At mile 6 Rachel and i do a quick calculation of our time and realize that we are holding a killer pace. We’ve done the last couple miles at about 8:40 pace, and it feels good. We continue at this pace assuming we’ll get tired. We keep trucking and as we exit golden gate park to do an out and back on ocean beach we realize that the 2 hour mark might just be within reach.

End of mile 9. We’ve got 4.1 miles to go and we’ve been running for 1:20. If we can keep a pace of less than 10 minutes per mile until the end of the race we will break 2 hours. We get pumped and probably jack our pace up even further. People around us are struggling and its starting to rain but i feel great. Rachel and i continue to pass people.

We hit the turn around at about mile 10.5 and i hit at wall. We now have a serious headwind contesting our moving forward thats blowing hard off the ocean. Not only that but its raining, and the wind is blowing the rain sideways like in Forest Gump. My hat almost gets blown off several times so eventually i turn it around, however this means that rain is hitting me in the face and really stinging. I’ve run through a few deep puddles now and my shoes are soaking wet and getting heavy. My feet are going to be a mess after this, i know it. Our pace slows considerably. People around us are starting to talk to themselves, thats a bad sign. We pass the 11 mile mark and my morale is shot. My legs are starting to give out. I try to figure out what our last mile time was but im having trouble. I think we picked up a minute, but there’s no way that happened. In retrospect i think we lost 2 or 3.

12 mile mark. Only 1.1 miles to go, i feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but there’s still 3 or 4 left dragging me back. My brain has completely turned off at this point. I don’t care about time splits anymore, i just want to get to my car so i can change clothes and go home. My body cries to stop like a little kid at the doctors office but my heart says to shut the hell up, we’re not quitting now. The crowd on the side of the road is getting heavier, must be getting close. We turn back into the park and no longer have to run into the wind and rain. Now we have a totally different beast: a hill. Why? Why is the most significant hill of the whole course the last 1/2 mile? This is terrible. Rachel realizes that we can narrowly beat our previous time and yells back at me. I don’t really hear her and there’s no way i can go any faster than i am. Im cold, wet, exhausted, and currently in a lot of pain. We pass the finish line with a final mile time of 12:30. Thats terrible. We finish the race in 2:03:30, beating our last time by 30 seconds. Im happy, but also sad. We were on pace for 1:57 at one point. Im positive that without the headwind and the rain we would have cracked 2 hours. Next time im sure we will. We go through the expo and pick up mylar blankets, which don’t really help, they just turn us into human sails in the wind. We get some fruit, a recovery drink and slowly walk back to the car in the wind and rain. We’re both shivering uncontrollably. To be honest, all i want at this point are some dry clothes, a bowl of beef stew, and a beer.

After we got home we got a chicago style pizza, watched the superbowl, and laid around all day. I felt like the tin man until Wedensday. We tried to go for a run on thursday but Rachel’s body just wasn’t up to it yet, so it ended up being a spirited walk.

Friday we went down to the SOFA district in San Jose which is near San Jose State and supposed to a revitalized down town area much like what happened in downtown Houston after the ball park was built. We went to a great Hawaiian place called Hally K Ono that was fantastic. After that we walked around for a while and checked out the area. It was pretty fun.

Saturday morning we got up and did a nice little neandering bike ride of about 20 miles or so and just enjoyed what a gorgeous day it was. Saturday eveing we were able to snag tickets to the Stanford basketball game through Rachel’s office and had a lot of fun watching the Cardinal beat up on Oregon State. While neither of us regret going to a small school like Trinity, we both agree that we wish we could have gone to a D-1 school and gotten really excited about that school’s sports. Kind of a have your cake and eat it too scenario. It was fun to be at the game, but the enthusiasm of the least involved kid in the student section was 10 times that of the most involved person not in the student section. I promise if they let us into the student section that we’ll hold our own. Somehow i don’t see that happening though. The more experience i get with Stanford, though the more it reminds me of Rice. Lots of little quirky traditions that obviously have had some thought put into them. Some of the basketball chants were damn clever.

Sunday we got up and went to church, then went to lunch at Buck’s, a pretty famous place in the town of Woodside that is wildly eccentric and a favorite among Silicon Valley types. The food was good but a little bit over priced. The restaurant itself was pretty wild though. There was weird paraphernalia all over the place. Example: next to our table was a framed collection of controversial ballots and ‘hanging’ chads from the 2000 election in Florida. Im glad we went. People at my office have been telling me had to go there since i started last June.

The rest of the day we spent doing the sunday hussle, prepping for the upcoming week and enjoying the second day in a row of perfect weather with temperatures in the 70’s and sunny skies. It felt more like may than february.

Back to the political side of things for a bit. I’ve been reading Barack Obama’s book Dreams of my Father for a while now and i have to recommend it. It definitely has helped me to understand who he is and what he’s all about. I like the fact that it was written by someone who wasn’t thinking that they would ever have a shot at being President, which allows him to say some things that you may not hear him say on the campaign trail. Anyway, Obama’s been picking up some steam since Super Tuesday. He’s raised more money than Hillary and cleaned up in all the primaries and caucuses this weekend. Hillary keeps denying that her campaign is in trouble despite her inability to deliver the knock out punch on super tuesday and the news coming out this week that she had to loan her campaign $5 million. She keeps saying that she’s not really going to contest anything and sit tight until Ohio, Texas, and PA later on in the spring, but firing her campaign manager this weekend sure sends a mixed message. Makes me wonder if they’re panicking over there. It seems like the more people get to know Obama the more they like him, so im not sure that allowing him to get all this face time and build momentum killing her in primaries for a month is that great of a strategy, especially when he’s got more cash. I realize that around the time of my birthday (March 7) i may be eating my words, but there’s no doubt that its risky. Im beginning to suspect that Edwards isn’t going to endorse anyone. I think if he does, just before March 4 is his last chance to do so. The next month or so should be very interesting.

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