Wednesday, August 1, 2012

San Fran-tastic!

Well! It was an amazing weekend living in the fantasy world of Loopville. I got away from the real world, drove to beautiful places, stayed at an exquisite resort-like house, hung out with cool runners, and finished up with a fantastic race experience! This is how all weekends should go!

Friday I drove up from LA to Alice's Loop House. After settling in to one of the HUGE bedrooms, Alice and I drove to Santa Cruz to pick up Medievalist (from now on referred to as V). We did a quick tour of the Santa Cruz boardwalk and then found a diner. I felt like breakfast food, but nobody told me this was a vegetarian diner until it was too late. I was stuck with "Fakin Bacon", a sad, sorry substitute for the real thing.

And the gluten-free pancakes were not the best either, but at least the eggs were real!

Saturday morning we got up and planned to do a trail run in the redwood wilderness. Then we discovered JunBlack was on his way! This crazy guy left home at 2AM to drive up here, spend the day with us, and drive home the same night! And when he got here he found out he forgot to pack running gear. But no worries! He said he would run in his jeans. And he did! 5 miles of trails at 8:30 pace in jeans. Crazy dude! Wish I had a pic. Anyway, the run with V and JB was of Rave Run quality - simply beautiful with great trails. I had a little runners high going just enjoying the atmosphere. And this is all right outside V's door at UC Santa Cruz.
After that, it was back to Loop house where another Loopster had dropped in. John Wayne sadly missed the run, but it was good to see him again. Then JB, V and I drove up to SF to the expo, and since V had never been to SF, we gave her the 3 hour tour of the city. Without hardly leaving the car, because there is no parking in SF. Fishermans Wharf! Coit Tower! Lombard Street! Chinatown! Golden Gate Park! And we drove the Golden Gate Bridge and pulled over for photos with all the other tourists. Bet they didn't know there were celebrities in their midst!

Back to Loop Central for pasta loading, and more loopsters dropping in. Red Hat Amy and her DH was there and John Wayne was back with his daughter. Good food, good talk. And some people found time for looping...

Relaxed and watched Olympics. The only thing that would have made this trip better would be to have it be track week in London. Took a dip in the outdoor hot tub to relax and mentally prepare to race. My plan was low-pressure; I wanted to run fast, but I wasn't trying to PR. I am still in the middle of marathon training after all. My goal was sub 1:35, or 7:15 pace. But I figured it was a stretch and was fine with anything sub 1:40. V predicted a 1:34:46 for me.

Sunday we were up at 4:40 and out by 5 for the 1-hour drive to SF. Alice and her DH were excellent hosts, driving up and cheering for us even though Alice wasn't running. I hopped out of the car and headed alone to the shuttles for the 2nd half marathon. We were bused across town to Golden Gate Park, where I got to rest for an hour or so for my 8:15 start. I chatted with some runners. It was low-key and not that crowded at this alternate start line. Beautiful setting too, and the weather was mid 50's and misty. Perfect.

OK, so now, a race report!

First 1/2 mile was downhill and I settled right into 7:15 pace and felt great. But then we hit some hills. Most of this race was littered with ups and downs - mostly not huge, but enough to notice. I would slow and feel pretty crappy on the ups and feel like there was no way I could maintain this effort. Then I would catch a downhill and start feeling great again. We were passing slower marathoners during the whole race, and it was fun to be always passing. It was a little crowded but not enough to really slow me down. The first 6 miles in the park had lots of curves, hills, trails and beauty and was very fun.

Splits were all over the place, but I found I was close to on pace, and figured I could make some up in the 2nd half which was more downhill.

7:15, 7:24, 7:33, 7:17, 6:51, 7:16.

As we got out of the park we entered Haight-Ashbury. Favorite sign: "That wasn't a Clif Bar, it was a hash brownie. Welcome to the Haight!" There were a couple steep downhills here so miles 7 and 8 were 6:58 and 6:45. But then, more ups and mile 9 was 7:24.

At this point I was tiring and just holding on. It was an effort to maintain pace, but I knew if I could hang on I could go under 1:35. About here, some guy wearing a pink ladies frilly outfit went by me and cruised away from me easily. I got trannied! I was jockeying back and forth with a couple guys and that helped motivate me. Miles 10-13 were 7:09, 7:12, 7:16 and 7:06.

The last mile goes right by AT&T (Giants) Park, right along the right field wall next to McCovey Cove. Then it was straight along the Embarcadero to the finish. I had enough left to push it a bit, and was feeling pretty good about my race. Last .23 on my G was at 6:07 pace. I threw up a big BP and crossed in 1:34:46! Yes, V predicted my time down to the second!

(Later officially changed to 1:34:47 - whatever)

No one was there to capture the moment, but later I found out why. V and A were at the awards ceremony for the 5K. Because she won the 5K!!! Loop Mojo was all over the town, as we had people in all 4 races doing great things. It was awesome to see V up on the stage with a giant bouquet of flowers. She was beaming all day.

I picked up a tiny medal for my pikermi. But then I got a ginormous medal for doing the LA/SF challenge having done the LA marathon. That big thing was more in line with how I felt about my race; A new over 50 PR, and a time only 5 seconds off of my Philly time. On a hilly course. yeah, I felt good.
We met up with a couple more loopsters after the race, but sadly could not hook up with a couple other guys in the crowded madness. Eventually we made it back to the mansion and celebrated with relaxing time, a BP and some wine.

Yes, it was a sanfrantastic weekend!

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