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I ran SFM yesterday at a pedestrian pace.  Wanted to see the course and examine it more thoroughly.  Back when I ran it in 3:30, it was an exercise in expediency.  I mostly looked at it as to where I could run up hills and then recover or speed up in the downhills.

My latest observations:

1) It is not necessary to run that big hill at Fort Mason in one shot.  You can walk mid-way through to recover your heart rate, and still get to the top at the same time as most people running slowly going up. 

2) The gradual incline in both directions on the SF Bridge is negligible.  Run it as fast as you are able, and then use the long decline for recovery or make up time.

3) If you can run that hill in the back of the entrance of SF Bridge in one shot, do so.  You can probably run it up to just before the water station–walk to recover your heart rate, and then continue to the top.  There is a very long downhill afterwards (1.4 miles?) so use it to your advantage.

4) The undulation from miles 11-13 are best managed by trading a little suffering going a gradual incline and recovering on the decline.  It doesn’t last long.

5) Once you enter the park, miles 13-16 is downhill.  Either recover for time or use it to catch your breath.

7) Miles 17-20 is mostly downhill.  Again, have fun here.

8) Once you enter the Castro district, you will see long undulations.  Work yourself up those inclines slowly, and use the downhills.  Running through the streets isn’t bad and you get plenty of crowd support.

9) At mile 24, it flattens.  If it is warm, this is where you won’t get much cover.  Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of the course so that your legs aren’t fried.

10) The SFM mile markers are off by 0.65 miles.  You can use their markers or just use your trusty GPS.  It’s a little maddening to know you ran 26.2 already and have 0.65 to go!

Summary:

This is a fun course if you train properly.  I ran a 10:18 pace for a leisurely romp in 4:30.  I never tried to go less than 9 minute pace, especially because I had not trained for the hills this time.  What surprised me this time is noticing how many downhills the course offers. 

I had to keep backing off my natural tendency to run faster.  It was like that from beginning to end.  But the cool thing this time is that my legs never experience any subtle cramping, or my body losing energy except for mile 16 when my energy stores were low.  I ingested GU at miles 6, 12, 16, 20, 24 and sipped water at most stations.  I mostly dunked water on my head which cooled me off well.

My legs were good to go at any flat or downhill at any point in the course.  So it is logical that I could have gone faster.  But my cardio isn’t too good this time.  Had so few training sessions that my endurance is not too good.  I’d love to bump it up a bit more to make my endurance count in the late stages.  Much planning moving forward. 

 

Nice workout.  Started out at 4mph for 5 minutes, went to 5mph until 2mi, went to 5.3 until 3mi, went to 6.0 until 4.7 miles or 55 minutes, went back to 5/4/3 at 60 minutes.  Total is 5.19 miles.

Feet are holding out well, even my socks!  I guess my running form doesn’t suffer from running sans shoes.  I did notice that faster running tends to push the impact point nearer to the heel, so I had to adjust it forward.

Good stuff.

Course: 

This is a course which offers PRs if you are prepared for it.  Mostly flat with few overpasses and underpasses serving as uphills/downhills.  Started out at 42 deg F and ended at 70 deg F.  Good crowd support and ample drink stations.  No gel stations though.  Some bands on the course.  The police detail were very enthusiastic and supportive.

Summary:

I wasn’t prepared for this race given the slow nature of my runs in 2011.  Was surprised I was able to maintain 8-8:30 in the first 14 miles.  I backed off a lot, because it was natural for me to run sub-8s.

On the back-end, I backed off to slow running at 9-9:15 pace.  Still plenty left in the tank, but wasn’t prepared to push my cardio against a pace that I did not prepare for.  Yes, I’m no spring chicken.

I did fuel before the race and then after every 4 miles.  It worked out well.  Of course I ran out of gel after mile 16 and I refused to drink any Gatorade at the stations.  Was a little light-headed after mile 19 or so.

The course was mostly on surface streets with one section lined with tree cover.  Plenty of buildings and views of the concrete jungle, but it’s not something you care about on this course.  Yes, think PR and you can care less.

Anyway, I finished in 4:13 or so and happy for that effort.  I like the finish line setup; reminds me of Boston.  I know I will come back trained next time.

Final thoughts:

Very well-organized marathon.  HEB provided breakfast and snacks after.  Only thing I can pick on is that they ran out of biscuit for the biscuit and gravy meal.🙂 Oh yeah, should hand out bottles of water at the finish instead of water in paper cups.

Thinking about how to train for next year so I bust out a new PR.  Stay tuned…

Catching a connecting flight in Dallas to Houston tomorrow.  Not too narrow a gap, but all things could go to hell pretty quickly.  I’ll relax when I’m on the plane to IAH.  Anyway, meeting my brother there.  It’s going to be fun–54 degrees and overcast.  Perfect marathon weather!  Now to get some ZZZs to get to the airport in time…

After many adjustments, I think I found the optimal settings for the spin bike.  Did one hour and did not have any issues.  The seat and pedals are working great.  I think I will mount a simple shelf on the aero bar so I can do some reading or have a place for my phone.

Spinning is actually good for running.  Makes the muscles more toned, and it adds to your endurance as well.

Spin: 15 minutes

Getting used to the aero position

Tried to do it slowly.  4 miles at 4mph.  So I finished in 1 hour.  My feet are fine.  Ran in Injinji socks which I think will not survive if I do this again.  Last 3 minutes I bumped it up to 5mph; it was easy.

I will get one of those Vibram shoes one of these days.  I guess it doesn’t matter much what I get.

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