HITS Napa Olympic Triathlon: Week 7 training & Rock ‘n’ Roll SF Half Marathon recap

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We’re in the home stretch!

Last week was the final full week of training before Hubby and I tackle the HITS Napa Valley Olympic triathlon this Sunday, April 13. It was also jam-packed with fun — namely the LUNA Chix Summit and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon.

Here’s how the week shook out, plus a recap of the race.

Week 7 Olympic Distance Training Plan – planned & (actual)

  • Swim 60 min. (40-min. pool swim with speed work)
  • Bike 90 min. / Run 25 min. off the bike (55-min. spin class/25-min. run on treadmill)
  • Swim 60 min. (30-min. run)
  • Track workout (track workout with LUNA Chix team, 2.5 miles total)
  • Rest day (30-min. walk)
  • Long bike, 35-50 miles (20-mile bike ride to Sausalito)
  • Long run, 9-12 miles (13.1-mile RnRSF Half)

Adam Shane, owner of the Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco (coming this May!) asked me to help pace him on Sunday since the Rock ‘n’ Roll race would be his first half marathon. It was a point-to-point race, so our crew Uber’ed over in a few different cars and met back up at the Beach Chalet near the race start.

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It was crowded, but well-organized. Hubby made his way to our assigned corral (two) because he wanted to try to get a PR in his second half marathon, but since I had decided to run this one for fun, I hung back with our group and we made our way into corral four.

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Before we knew it, the gun went off and the corrals were being released one by one. We knew ahead of time that it was a hilly course, so no one was super shocked when, almost immediately, we started winding our way up the streets.

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We took it easy, though, and kept a conversational 9:30-10:00 minute mile pace as we enjoyed in the great views (the weather couldn’t have been better — clear and mild with a light breeze) and made our way over toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

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I was especially pumped to  run into one of my favorite workout buddies, Pavement Runner. We took the obligatory selfie and chatted for a few minutes as we jogged along with his group. They were a roving party, playing music, taking pictures and starting impromptu dance parties!

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I knew my job was to get Adam to the finish, though, so I caught back up with the Barry’s crew and checked in to see how he was feeling. Luckily, he was getting a major second wind around mile seven, so he decided to push the pace and go for it for the last six miles.

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As you can see, we had a picture-perfect day on the bridge, but it was pretty crowded, so we ended up losing each other in the mix. I figured I’d either catch up with him further along or he’d continue to push for a strong finish, so I put my headphones on and just ran by feel at a comfortable pace.

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By the time mile 10 rolled around, the flat portion was over, and it was back to the hills…and they were no joke. Yeah, I’m in decent shape from triathlon training, but I’m learning that it can mean something quite different than being in peak half-marathon-racing shape. My legs and lungs started revolting on the back-to-back inclines.

So now it was just a mental battle — my body was capable, but my mind was second-guessing my fitness level. So I knew it was time to reach into the bag of mental tricks and set a goal on which to focus for the remainder of the race.

I hadn’t been tracking my time closely, but after spotting the clock at mile 11, I had a feeling I could pull off a sub two-hour finish if I maintained my pace and gave a kick at the end. I refocused (and spotted Adam about 100 yards ahead!) before bringing it in for the final push downhill to the finish. Final time 1:59:44.

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The best part? Reuniting with everyone at the finish and hearing their race recaps. Adam rocked a sub two-hour finish in his first half, Hubby nabbed a new PR, Vivi ran a strong race, the November Project was out in full force, and Brian (aka Pavement Runner) also stopped by to say hello.

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And coming in a close second as the best part of the day might have been the post-race stop Hubby and I made at Philz Coffee…seriously, the Dancing Water roast is nothing short of amazing.

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Stay tuned for week eight…and RACE DAY!

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Race Recap: Berkeley Half Marathon

Source: Berkeley Half Marathon

Source: Berkeley Half Marathon

Usually I try to go into races with a solid game plan: I’ve got a decent idea as to what my level of fitness and current comfortable pace will allow, and from there comes the “awesome,” “good” and “just-finish” time targets.

But as I lined up this morning at the inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, I was still vacillating between trying for a PR and just running it for fun. Same course, same distance, two very different mindsets.

Lining up for the start

Lining up for the start

Being a little more than a month out from the Nike Women’s Marathon, my inclination was to try to take advantage of some of the accumulated endurance, but I’ve been dealing with a sore tendon in my foot, as well as some other minor aches and pains…probably from not taking my own advice and running too hard too soon during marathon recovery (I know, tsk tsk).

Ultimately, I decided to play it by ear. The game plan was that there was no game plan, and I’d simply “run by feel.” Coach Jenny Hadfield is a huge proponent of this (read her article on it here). Get out of your head, listen to your body, and you just may be pleasantly surprised, she says.

Waiting for the race to start

Waiting for the race to start

Turns out, it works. Granted a net downhill course, good weather and a number of other factors help, as well…but I PR’d with an unofficial time of 1:47:07 despite not having a pace band, aiming for specific splits or knowing where I was time-wise at each mile.

Here’s how it played out: I broke the race into four 5K’s and tackled each one separately. Of course, if I wasn’t feeling it, I’d have moseyed along, and this post would have been filled with a lot more pictures! But since I was able to get into a groove, the first 5K was warming up and settling into a comfortable pace. The second, third and fourth 5Ks were then about trying to maintain an even pace before giving it whatever was left in the tank for the last mile.

Couldn't resist snapping a shot of all the colorful shoes!

Couldn’t resist snapping a shot of all the colorful shoes!

Out of the gate, I came out fast, but there was a big downhill slope during the first few miles that I wanted to take advantage of. Once we hit the Berkeley Marina, the course was pretty flat, aside from some small hills and sections of rough road and gravel, so I just focused on keeping a strong stride.

Everything was smooth until mile 12 when I started getting super nauseous (Note to self: I think I’ve got to switch to gels instead of chews for distances of 13.1 and under), so it was a fight between trying to push hard and trying to keep my breakfast in my stomach. Throw in a monster hill at mile 12.5, which I briefly considered walking, and it was a tough final stretch, but I’m super happy with the results (and motivated for the next goal – 1:45!).

Home stretch!

Photo courtesy of official KineticFix race-day photographer, Ben 🙂

And since it was the inaugural race, I’ve got some feedback  and constructive criticism for organizers:

Pros: Nice long-sleeve technical tee, well-organized from start to finish, accessible start/finish with ample parking, lots of port-o-potties at the start, friendly feel, flat and fast (net downhill) course, multiple disciplines to choose from.

Cons: Small expo (albeit I went to the early pick-up at Sports Basement, but there wasn’t much there), I didn’t see a marker at Mile 1, no time clocks at mile markers, rough patches and gravel stretches along parts of the course, crowded last mile where all distances converged and ran around the Golden Gate Fields parking lot = clusterfest, ginormous hill at mile 12.5, point-to-point course (versus start/finish at same location).

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DONE! With a shiny new medal and a shiny new PR, to boot

Overall, though, it was an excellent race, and I’ll definitely be back…although maybe next time I’ll have a more specific goal in mind now that I have a handle on the course and the flow of the race.

Huge congrats to all my Bay Area blogging friends who ran today, too. We were out in full force!

And one more note – I’m thrilled to be featured in the “Runner Spotlight” on RoadRunnerGirl today; check out the post here to read my Q&A, and thanks to Mindy for the opportunity!