Archive for July, 2009

San Francisco Marathon with Prez Steve Yee (Marathon Maniac # 1)

San Francisco Marathon with Prez Steve Yee (Marathon Maniac # 1)


Chip time: 3:29:27 OA 406/5036 Gender 353/3326 AG 45/470 (Unofficial)

I ran well, and got a good time! The end.



I was a little concerned about running this race after the crazy running I did two days out on the hills of SF. Turned out the concern was for nothing. My legs were fine.

My goal for this race was a time close to my SFM PR which was 3:36 two years ago. SFM is a hilly course, and is really not a good place to try to PR unless you are a hill runner. Temps were about 55 from start to end, but the sun did warm things up at the finish line afterwards. Great food after the race.

I wore a new Zoot tech T (dark/light blue combo), my usual white Maniacs hat, arm warmers, and black running shorts. I wore my Asics Kayano-15 for this race.

Race day:

Since I stayed at a hotel one block from the start, it took me forever to get out. Had to rush to get to my wave corral (one fool was blocking me for no reason. I had 4 minutes to get in and didn’t have time to argue.)

Positioned myself near the front of my corral. I decided that I’d be happy with sub-8s for this race. I didn’t know if it was possible because there are some hills.

Since I was running a slower pace, the 3:30 group caught me early (around mile 1). The pacer was a bit talkative, and the steady drumbeat of foot strikes from such a big group was hard to ignore. I heard that he would wait for his wards at the aid stations, but for some reason I saw him bolt on the first climb right after the first station. I kinda laughed–not all pacers are created alike.

I ran next to a good-looking girl listening to her ipod. Her pace was good, but then I lost her at the climb to the bridge near mile 5. Shame. At this climb, I resolved to be more opportunistic on the downhills because it was going to be rare to run up hills at 8:30 or less.

Seemed to be running through a lot of people today. I was in Wave 2, so Wave 1 probably had 300+ people. Had to be conscious about keeping pace, so it was necessary to weave through as much as possible. It thinned out in the second half though.

Only one guy would run around me the entire race. I didn’t see him again after mile 20, but it is conceivable that I passed him because SFM does this crazy thing about using alternate roads on the same course. Must be something to do with allowing the locals to sleep.

I felt great the entire race. My Garmin was on the wrong display again, but it was okay–used it mostly to check my pace. Just used wall time to check against mile markers.

Did put the SF hills running experience to good use. I used the modified running form and got up the hills much faster than most. Still slow, but my HR never red-lined midway like it usually does.

Tried something different with nutrition. I gulped Gu at miles 6, 12, 18, and 22. The interesting thing is that the feedings at miles 18 and 22 was like a bolus injection of energy–I was surprised that I felt like the Energizer bunny late in the race.

I knew I might come in sub-3:30 because I passed the 3:30 pacer with only two guys in tow at mile 25. The announcer did do a countdown to the 3:30 wall-time. I wasn’t concerned because I was only about .2 miles away. I had 33 seconds to spare when I crossed!

The Marathon Maniacs president finished 3 seconds in front of me. It struck me weird to be calling his name in the finish line chute. We had our photo taken together (official photographer). The Prez did remark that I’m definitely getting faster.

Here are my splits (turned my GPS on a bit early):

mile 1: 8:29 (warming up, but not too slow)
mile 2: 7:53
mile 3: 8:04
mile 4: 8:01
mile 5: 7:54
mile 6: 8:34 (climb from Crissy Field to Golden Gate Bridge)
mile 7: 7:37
mile 8: 7:54
mile 9: 7:42
mile 10: 7:49
mile 11: 7:06 (fast downhill)
mile 12: 8:03
mile 13: 8:06
mile 14: 7:25
mile 15: 7:47
mile 16: 8:06
mile 17: 8:26 (got really confused with the GPS signal under the trees)
mile 18: 7:45
mile 19: 8:02
mile 20: 8:05
mile 21: 7:48 (the course starts to flatten down to sea level at 26.2)
mile 22: 7:39
mile 23: 7:48
mile 24: 7:44
mile 25: 7:37
mile 26: 7:47
mile 26.2 average 7:41 (was a bit surprised by the low numbers since mile 21)


This race was a thing of beauty. Everything worked. Listened to the course, listened to my body, and just worked on pacing as best I could given the race profile.

I completed the race feeling like I just went for a morning run. Guess I didn’t expend the energy that I should have. Ehh, leave the time goal for later.

I’m glad I went. I ran well, and got a good time!

Thanks for reading!

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My teammate came by so we could go to the expo together.  We had lunch first, since she hasn’t had anything to eat.  Stopped over at Momo’s across from the AT&T Park.  Had great food and good conversation.

Right around noon, we headed out to the expo at 622 7th Street.  We took Bryant going west, which put us right smack into that exhibition hall.  Plenty of pedestrians and cars.

After my teammate got her bib, we went looking for Dean Karnazes.  She wanted her bib signed by the Ultramarathon Man.  We saw a line for DK and right away queued up.  I said Hi to Dean first, since we are old acquaintances.  He will likely pass me tomorrow, and we usually say Hi to each other on the course.  My teammate got her bib signed and was all happy.

We didn’t stay at the expo very long.  It’s bigger this year, but once you’ve seen one you pretty much seen it all.  My teammate took me on an hour-long drive around some communities in San Francisco.  We visited the Polk District, Nob Hill, checked out Danielle Steele’s “little” house, and then swung by the Getty’s mansion.  We drove by Union west of Hyde.  It was a quick romp, but got to see where the locals spend most of their time.  Plenty of people out in the sun today.

Oh yeah, my teammate drove up Jones Street Hill to go to Nob Hill.  Yep, it was a total climb on her jeep so it confirmed how steep that hill was.  She (being once a SF resident) confirmed that I had hit the well-known hills in my workout last Friday.

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So I came searching for hills to climb and sure enough–San Francisco served them up.

I found Hill Boulevard in a convoluted way via Stockton. Checked out Coit Tower at Telegraph Hill. That was cool. I then went down and started searching for some more hills to climb. So let me just list these:

  1. Climb Stockton into Hill Boulevard to Coit Tower, at Telegraph Hill (1)
  2. East end of Filbert Street climb (2)
  3. East end of Union Street climb and then follow Union until it hit Hyde Street (3, 4)
  4. Descend to Bay Street and then climb Hyde Street (5)
  5. Descend Filbert Street and climb Taylor Street to the park (6)
  6. Descend Taylor and down Broadway. Come back and climb Broadway Street incline (7)
  7. Descend Broadway and go up on Taylor Street to the park (8 )
  8. Descend Taylor, go west on Filbert, ascend Jones Street climb (9)
  9. Descend Jones, make a left on Filbert. Complete the Filbert Street west climb (10)
  10. Descend to Bay Street, repeat the Hyde Street climb (11)

I completed the workout by running down Lombard Street into Leavenworth. By the time I got back to Ferry Terminal, it was just around 9 miles for 2+ hours of running the hills of San Francisco. Well, had to consult my map a lot.

Guess what? I figured out how to climb these crazy hills/inclines! I completed the climbs non-stop, but the more interesting thing was coming down! OMG–I had a great time!

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My running spirit is just plainly irrepressible.

I headed out for a planned short run on the Embarcadero. I headed south to AT&T Park and went further to the UCSF campus. So 2.25 miles one way makes it 4.5 miles back to the Ferry Terminal. I thought, ehh–let me go ahead and run the mile+ to Aquatic Park and then come back. That should give me a round 7 miles. While I was running north of Fisherman’s Wharf, I spotted the temptation presented by Hyde Street hill. Hmmm, don’t look. Oh yeah, to the right is the Aquatic Park so maybe I’ll forget about Hyde if I go further.

I ran to the edge of the pier that encloses AP. Talked to a woman who was swimming near the opening. A current kept her in the AP, and she was making little progress coming out. She said the water was 61 degrees. Mentioned I might take a dip in it tomorrow. After that short chat, I started running again.

Okay, so I spotted the road that climbs up Fort Mason. Should I run it? I did. Found myself in the Marina district and then Crissy Field. You know where this is heading? I tried to run on the east beach at Crissy Field but the sand was too soft. I kept heading west. Plenty of good looking runners today; SF has a young population.

Oh wait–there’s the Golden Gate Bridge. Now you got to run to it–you’re too close! Okay, stop twisting my arm. I ran by the rows of warehouses at the Presidio, and then up the access road up to Fort Point.

Now you’ve done it. You might as well cross the bridge since you are here anyhow. I just love running this span–slight incline and then a nice long descent. Plenty of cyclists, a number of tour walking groups, and few runners. The bridge was all mine most of the time!

I spent a few minutes at the Vista Point in Sausalito. Noticed a bunch of buildings down there, that you can access via this road with a nasty grade. I was almost tempted to go there but I just didn’t have the time. Turned around and looked forward to the run back.

Spied my GPS saying I have traveled 12 miles since I started. Was thinking I might get to 19 by the time I get back to Ferry Terminal. You can tell that the runners on the road were mostly visitors now; the locals have to go to work you know. I couldn’t wait to get back as well; I do have to work also.

When I passed Aquatic Park again, I spotted Hyde Street one more time. I made myself tired enough that the thought of going up was no longer palatable. I ran through the crowd of people getting off the cruise ships. There were many more tourists on the Embarcadero than earlier this morning.

I got to Ferry Terminal at 19.84 miles, so I ran south a bit more to make it an even 20 miler. Another example of letting my legs take me as far as it likes to go. Went to a cafe on Market and ordered an omelet, OJ, and strong coffee. Ahh, what a fun morning. 2 days in a row.

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Hey all, I ran the hills of San Francisco today!!!

Ran from the Ferry Terminal at Embarcadero to the Aquatic Park (enclosed cove for swimmers!). I then ran up Hyde and then ran down the snaky portion of Lombard. I followed Leavenworth into Market, made a right to Duboce and up to Buena Vista Park near Twin Peaks. That was my turnaround. I then ran back on Market to finish at the Ferry Terminal.

I hit three big hills amidst the undulation (Hyde, middle of Leavenworth, Duboce at Buena Vista). Would have loved to hit more, but I was limited to 2 hours. From Market, so many hills dot the landscape that it would take a longer time to hit them all! Who’s got 2 weeks?

I did have a map, but I just ran wherever my legs took me. I’ve been to downtown SF many times, so I probably can’t get lost here. Covered maybe 10 miles in 2 hours.

I thought about hitting the Golden Gate bridge but I’m holding off until SFM this weekend. I might do more hills before this week is done. Stay tuned!!!

So much fun! I just got my fix for the day…

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First–you got to have a goal buddy!

Second–I looked at the results to see how much faster I could have done the race if I was the least bit motivated.  I figure -6 minutes in transitions, -5 in the swim, -10 in the bike, and definitely -20 in the run. 

Third–Respect the elements and come into a race trained.  I’ve only had one month of good TRI training to make a go of it.  Present fitness says 5:30, but the future may bring it lower especially if the swim and bike continue to improve.

Fourth–Train for the heat anyway.  This was a different kind of micro-climate hot.  Think valley floor.  Even for an island guy like me, the heat managed to make itself felt in the end.

Fifth–if you go 10% faster than your plan, it’s okay.  Chances are your fitness can handle it.

Sixth–stop messing with the gadgets and go minimal.  Fix your equipment before the race also. 

Seventh–focus!  Don’t get distracted. 

More later…

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Short Version:

Swim + T1 0:49:22.6
56M Bike 2:55:45.4
T2 0:04:19.9
13.1M Run 2:00:43.6
Race 5:50:11.9  114/320 AG 577/1517 MEN 742/2286 OA


In theory, this could have been a 5:30, but my late race goal became to finish under 6:00. Had no solid goal for this race. Spent 10 minutes(!) at T1/T2. My run time is a result of figuring out the minimal effort to get in under 6:00. My swim was faster (43 minutes 1.2M), but it involved wasting time in the shallows twice plus just getting distracted by the fun of it. I passed plenty on the bike, but my pacing at around 20mph held to the end (slow up the hills).

The final time is not bad at all. Especially for a race with no goals to start. A lot of my teammates come back to Vineman, so I won’t say I have no plans to. But got to admit, this wasn’t exactly an easy course (compared to Buckeye). It’s a lovely way to see this wine region though.

I’m improving on both the swim and bike. Haven’t really spent much time looking for improvements in either skill, since I spent a lot of hours in run training early this year. But the build-up is showing, so things are looking good for my IM!

Long Version:


Temps 75 at start, 85 by noon, 50% humidity
Water temp 75 wetsuit legal
T1 and T2 15 miles apart
Race organization and support superb
Race outfit: DeSoto tri-shorts and team orange jersey

The expo was at Windsor High School. We did ride the run route so that was informative. I got my bib number quick, but the chip line was very long. The volunteers had a hard time with the chip rack and the dark corner. I stayed for the pre-race briefing and then headed back to my hotel right after.

Had a good lunch the day prior, and then just had snacks the rest of the night. I’m better at races on an empty stomach.

Found Guerneville okay, and got myself a parking spot close to the venue. I parked it next to a bar, so there was a possibility I wouldn’t find my car when I come back.

The T1 set up process was uneventful. Found a spot close to the swim exit. Talked to a few teammates and then suited up.

Swim + T1: 0:49:22.6 (43 for the swim)

Lined up with the white caps. Blue after. The water was 75 degrees and felt like a big pool. The Russian River is not wide, so it took a while to get clear water. I focused mainly on making my strokes longer and I would pass plenty doing it. I soon got distracted by shallows in two places. Clawing river bottom just isn’t my idea of swimming, so I stood up and had a laugh. Talked to a few who stood up too. (This is in the middle of the swim!) The fast blue caps would pass us just after the half-mile mark. Since I was standing I called out “Go Whitney” to my teammate who was in that pack. When you pass the bridge, it signals that the finish area is near. I was happy for that good swim. I never approached 80% effort, but it was a good start to a long race.

Sand all over, so had to find a carpeted spot to take off my wetsuit. That took a minute. Then had to organize so that my T1 bag is filled for transport and cinched up. And then I had to put on the gadgets before heading out with the bike. A teammate (Richard) was just right behind me in the swim; he was faster at T1 so he headed out on the bike at least 2 minutes ahead. We would have a friendly rivalry the rest of the day.

Bike: 2:55:45.4

Started out easy, and then went for my expected pace around 20-21mph. Passed plenty throughout the day, but their paces were probably in the 18-20 range. I didn’t get passed again by those athletes. But plenty of more serious athletes (those with expensive bikes and race wheels) would pass me all the time. Most were averaging at least 22-23.

Around mile 7, a tree fell on a rider. He was a mess. Bleeding from the head. But the people around him kept him on the ground and still. That was a potential race stoppage there, but I followed a few others through the branches and out the other side. That was 2 minutes.

At mile 20 or so, I would pass my teammate Richard. He is from Scotland, so we always have fun figuring out what he is saying. No problems today. He was going about 19mph average so I expected to pass him at some point.

I ignored the aid stations and kept on. At mile 40, my young teammate Chris (he will go pro next year) passed me. He mentioned that Richard was chasing after me. I was glad that he will have a better time because of it.

There was one climb where I almost slowed to a crawl. I’ve had trouble with my chain ring shifter, and this wouldn’t be any different. Got through it okay and continued on.

The views were great. Hundreds of vineyards, and about a dozen wineries along the way. The bike route takes you around 4 wine-growing regions in that valley. I forget the names.

I passed a teammate who was replacing a flat around mile 50. He had several and was having a rough day. I also pass another coach who was carrying his bike; he had a catastrophic crank failure and would walk 5 miles to T2.

Oh yeah, my Garmin was on the wrong display so I couldn’t tell distances covered easily. And my bike computer bottom display didn’t make sense either. I just went for pace and noted the distances by the number of aids stations passed.

T2: 0:04:19.9

The dismount line was quite far away from the bike. Had trouble walking so that took a while. In the meantime, Richard arrive about 2 minutes after me. He had set up just 1 rack next to mine, so we talked about the coach for a bit. He went out ahead while I took my time checking my stuff. Did I mention I take too much time at transitions?

Run: 2:00:43.6

I’ve seen the course from the day before. The heat was blazing overhead at this point. Plenty of walkers more than runners. I would search for ice and was allowing it to melt on my tongue. It did plenty for lowering my body temps.

I looked at the wall time and compared how much time I had to run in. My late race goal became to come in under 6:00. I think if I had gone after getting close to 5:30, it would have been doable. Unfortunately, I execute my plan really well and there is no changing it once in place.

My coach and Chris would hi-five me along the way. Chris was as happy as can be (finishing the run in 1:35).

The halfway point was at La Crema winery. I was still on very easy pace and running fine. I passed Richard at mile 4 but somehow didn’t see him. I saw him on the other side of the road just as I was exiting the winery.

The rest of the time, I was looking for orange in the crowd. It was fun to cheer my teammates on. The heat was just getting to everyone. But you soldier on.

I would finish just as the clock was showing 12:36 or 6:00 for the wave ahead of me. My task was done!

Race 5:50:11.9 114/245 AG 577/—- OA

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