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!
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.