The Giant Race – Half Marathon

IMG_3409Last Sunday I ran the The Giant Race Half Marathon.  This is the second year I have run the Giant Race in SF.  Last year I ran the race because it sounded fun to finish a race at AT&T park.  Being from Boston I’m not a huge Giants Fan but I do love AT&T park and have gone to quite a few games since moving here two years ago. This year I decided to run again because the course is flat, easy and pretty and the race was for the most part, well-organized.

At the race last year I set my new Half Marathon PR for 2012.  I ran a 1:49:14.  I had been trying really hard to break the 1:50 barrier and I finally did!  It was really fun but I definitely really struggled at the end to keep my pace and set that PR.  As I approached the race this year I did not want to try to set another PR.  I’m in the height of marathon training for Portland right now and really had not had a good week of runs.  I ran 18 miles the weekend before and it took me a lot longer to recover from that then I expected.  My legs felt like lead all week!  I decided to treat this run for what it was, a training run until the gun went off…

The race started at 7am this year.  I think it was much earlier than last year because it felt really early!  I parked and headed over to meet people from my running club around 6:40am.  I never ended up finding them because I tried to find a bathroom to use before the race but the lines were ridiculous.  I ended up in my corral just before the start with a running club friend that I had found.  We were towards the front of the race and shortly after 7am we were off.

Mile 1 was as usual, dodgey.  I spent most of the mile trying to get in front of the slower runners but was still just planning on an 8:45ish pace to keep it more like a training run.  My Garmin was messed up the first mile, maybe because of the all the other runners?  It was telling me I was running a 6:16 pace at one point.  Haha, I don’t think I could run that fast if I tried.  It then hit Mile 1 about 2 tenths before the Mile Marker so I reset the lap when I hit the marker to get a more accurate read on my pace.  I ran about an 8:20 first mile, FAST.

I kept going and trying not to look at my pace, I was trying to run where I felt comfortable.  I had a great day because “comfortable” at Mile 2 was an 8:07 then an 8:18.  I was shocked, I just kept telling myself to keep it up as long as I could.  I kept thinking I’d crash on the second half.  I hit Mile 6,7, and 8 and still felt good!  At Mile 9 we hit a hill that I run pretty consistently, sometimes it’s really hard, and sometimes it’s easy.  Well it felt easy that day and I managed to keep an 8:19 pace for that mile and PASS the 1:50 pace group that had started before me!  I was right behind a friend from running club but I didn’t want to use up energy trying to catch up to her so I just stayed right behind her the last 4 miles.  I couldn’t believe when I hit Mile 11 in 8:06 and Mile 12 in 8:03!  I knew at that point I was well on my way to a PR so I stuck with it and ran an 8:09 last mile and crossed the finish line at 1:48:16!  I PR’d but just shy I was 1 minute!  I was thrilled.  I was even more excited that while I felt like I had pushed really hard, I felt strong at the finish.  I usually go out to fast and end up really slow the last few miles, not this race, I pushed hard and strong and never missed a beat!

I found my friend Susan at the finish line, she had run a 1:48 as well and it was her best Half time over 6 years!  She was also really excited.  The race finishes in AT&T park in the outfield.  We got our medals, water and snacks and walked up around Home plate while waiting for some of our friends.  We found a few more friends, took pictures, stretched and headed out for a celebration lunch at one of the Road Runners apartments!

The Giant Race Half Marathon Finishers

Members of SFRRC at the Finish!

The Giant Race Finish Line

The Giant Race Finish Line

The medal is awesome, it looks like the World Series Ring!  It’s definitely one of my favorites, if only it was had a “B” and Blue/Red ribbon! 😉

The Giant Race Half Marathon Medal - 2013

The Giant Race Half Marathon Medal – 2013

My only complaint about the race was that Packet Pick-up was awful. I  waited over a half hour in line to get my bib.  It was a bit ridiculous.  Aside from that I love the Giant Race and will be back again next year!

Ridiculous Packet Pick-up Line.  At least it's a pretty view!

Ridiculous Packet Pick-up Line. At least it’s a pretty view!

Over the river and through the woods to Tommy’s house we go…

So I have definitely been slacking on my blog writing. I’m actually surprised I haven’t gotten a text from my sister informing that I haven’t written in a while. It’s been a busy month and I actually have 2 half marathon’s I need to post reviews for!

I may or may not have mentioned that I am training to run the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th with my Dad and cousin. I’m really looking forward to the run and completing my 3rd marathon! I just completed my 10th Half Marathon last weekend and that felt like a pretty monumental number! My medal rack is almost full and has just enough room left for my the Mickey Marathon Medal (pending my completion of course). My dad and cousin are running their first Marathon and I actually may be more excited for them because they are about to earn the title “Marathoner”.

The tile of this post was inspired by my 20 mile run last weekend with my Dad. We decided to do our 20 miler one week earlier so we could each have a running buddy, and when I trained for Boston we did our 20 miler and had two weeks of “short” runs to recover before the 22. I liked that strategy so I adopted it for this training. On Saturday night we were trying to decide where to run and my brother suggested we run to his house in Candia. (I was in NH for Thanksgiving) So we got out the computer and started mapping. Funny – it was exactly 10 miles to my Bro’s house – so that’s what we did. It was definitely through the woods and to Tommy’s house we go although we may not have crossed a river….

How cute is this doggie?

My brother said the run would be pretty flat with some rolling hills. However, my brother is certainly not a runner and when you don’t run you don’t notice the slight inclines when driving. I would say that 8 of the 10 miles to his house were uphill. Not serious San Francisco hills but challenging. I had a horrible first half of the run. I was really struggling. My dad on the other hand was doing great and keeping a nice strong pace for the first half. I think my body was still on PST because I was just completely exhausted when I started. All I wanted to do was go back to bed. Regardless, we made it to my brother’s house and were halfway done. It was nice to go inside, use the bathroom, drink some water, have a GU and refill our water belts. We also got to visit with my bro, Hannah and their little dog Artie! (So cute)

The second half of the run we so much better for me. I finally felt awake and was ready to go. My Dad started to struggle a bit. He was having issues with his IT Band and hip flexor. (Did I mention my Dad ran 18 and 19 miles the two weeks prior? Training was for 17 and 18….) I think his body was just done. He pushed through and made it to Mile 20 though! That’s the thing about Marathons – it’s half a mental a game. I felt pretty good at the end of 20. I certainly had a few more miles in me which felt good. I was tired and my legs were certainly hurting but that’s all a part of the game.

My two favorite east coast beverages

We met my Mom at Dunkin Donuts where we ended our run and I treated myself to a nice hot Dunkin Donuts Coffee. I didn’t realize how much I missed Dunkins until I got back East. After that it was showers and out to breakfast with my parents. I sat around on the couch all day which is exactly how I like to spend a day after running 20 miles.

I’ll close with my favorite quote…

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” – John Hanc