San Francisco Marathon Weekend Is Here: Am I Ready?

This Sunday is the 40th anniversary San Francisco Marathon. I’m reading that there will be +27,000 runners and many other spectators and staffs will be at the event.

I picked up my bib after work today at Fort Mason, and I could already feel the energy surrounding Fort Mason. As I was driving by the Crissy Field, I seemed to notice more runners on the trail that thousands of fellow runners and I will be on in two days. I am very much looking forward to exploring San Francisco on my pair of snickers along with many other runners who invested time preparing for the race.

Am I ready?

I’m not too sure how much I am. I built up my miles, but haven’t done too many long runs to date. The longest run that I did was about 15 miles. Far too shorter than what’s recommended. Oh well, I’ll just have to take it easy.

Looking at my running index calculated by Polar, it looks like I’ve made a modest improvement since January.

progress-report-01292017-07202017

It looks like I started out at about 56, and moved up to 61 as of my last run. Considering I was at about 58 a few weeks prior to Napa Valley Marathon, I think I’m just about at the same place.

Since I’m not too confident that I’m well prepared, here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Take it easy in the first half: I think the mistake that I made at Napa Valley Marathon was to go out too fast in the first half. I should target my mile split at about 8:30.
  2. Carry water: With 27K runners on the course, I think it will be difficult to stop for water especially in the beginning. I’ll carry water and gels to get hydrated as needed.
  3. Enjoy the scenery: I am really looking forward to taking running tour of San Francisco neighborhoods. I should keep in mind that this is a rare opportunity to enjoy and explore San Francisco.

30 hours to the starting line.

Wish me luck.

-Jae

Signed Up For The San Francisco Marathon

I have been itching to sign up for a marathon in 2017. I was debating whether to sign up for Oakland Running Festival Marathon, the San Francisco Marathon or Half Moon Bay Marathon. But in the end, I ended up choosing the San Francisco.

It’s happening on Sunday July 23rd. It’s about 6 months out. That should give me enough time to rebuild my long runs and get ready for another shot at completing the marathon around 3:40 target time.

The one thing that I’m looking forward to the most is running across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve rode my bike a few times across the bridge, but it was on the pedestrian path. At the marathon, I hear that they block a couple of lanes off from the traffic, and runners run on the lanes. That should be some experience.

Now I have a goal for 2017. Let’s get out there and train!

-Jae

Hard Lessons from My First Marathon

It took me a few weeks to fully recover from my first marathon. I think I needed the time not only for my physical muscle repair but also mentally as well. I felt lousy that I did not give 100%, and totally missed the mark of 3:40 goal. (I came in at 4:02.) Even going back and analyzing the run took me a while to do.

Past week or two, I finally felt ready to face the result. So I went back to take a look at the my pace chart.

marathon-chart

The slowdown really happened around mile 19. That was right around 2:35. That’s when I let go of the race mentally, and started to mix walking and running. And that’s also when I started to get cramps on my calves and toes.

Looking at this chart, it looked really familiar to lot of my previous long runs.

Here are a few for the reference:

long-run-training-pace-chart

For some reason, my pace falters at about 60-70% into the run, and I had to start walking. I remember having muscle cramps on these training runs as well, and that must have been the reason why I decided to slow down.

On all these runs, I maintained about 8:15 pace, which was just about my pace for the marathon as well.

Why am I always falling apart in the mid run?

Here’s my thought:

  1. I was not eating early and regularly enough during the run. During my training runs, I consumed 2 gels during the run. But during my marathon, I ate 2 gels, 1 mini-Clif Bar, 1 banana, and 3 small cups of Gatorade. That must have helped me delay the first onset of muscle cramps. But even that was not enough to replenish my glycogen. Must eat more early on and east more regularly.
  2. I didn’t have enough aerobic running training. I am finding that there are specific reasons why I need easy runs. I need them because I need to increase aerobic efficiency, maintain my optimal running mechanics, reduce my recovery time to get more training miles, and avoid getting injuries. My training runs were too fast to be easy.
  3. I didn’t have mental preparation of running for 3+ hours. Going into the marathon, my longest run was 20 miler, and I had to start walking about 65% into the run. I never had the mental readiness to endure 3+ hour of continuous running.

Let’s see how these lessons can make me a better runner.

It’s time to execute.

-Jae

Post-Marathon Recovery

It’s been a week since my first marathon. But it already feels like a distant memory. The pain and struggle of mile 19 is fading away, and all that’s remaining clear is how much it was exciting to be part of the event. Especially starting out the run with thousands of runners in the early Sunday morning on a wet pavement was something that I won’t be able to forget easily. I can still hear the sound of hundreds of footsteps hitting the pavements.

My body has recovered well. I was able to run a couple of miles of easy run last Friday, and I was able to put in 4 miles of easy run today.

I’m already looking around for the next event to participate. My running mentor tells me that San Francisco Marathon is something that I should try. It’s happening in late July. Just about 4+ months away. That should be enough time to attempt a couple of long runs.

A couple of things that I learned from my first marathon:

  1. Eat more early on and often during the run.
  2. There is no substitute for long run training.

For my next marathon, I should increase my mileage, and experiment with my diet before and during the run.

-Jae

Napa Valley Marathon is a week away!

We are just a week away from Napa Valley Marathon. The marathon starts 7am next Sunday, so technically it’s less than 7 days away.

In a way, I feel that I’ve done a reasonable preparation for it. With a couple of 20-mile runs and average weekly mileage of 28 in the past 9 weeks, I have improved my easy pace since I started training for the marathon. My easy pace is now at 8:15 minute/mile pace, and I feel as though I can sustain it comfortably. The big question is for how long I can sustain that easy pace. We’ll have to find out next Sunday. 😉

I decided to drive to Napa Valley on Sunday. That means I’ll have to wake up by 3:00am, do my morning routine, get my breakfast, and get out by 3:45am. Google says that it will take a little more than 1 hour to get to Vintage High School, the finish line, so that means I can be there by 5am to catch the bus ride to the starting line (the bus leaves 5:15am).

After talking to a couple of marathon-veteran co-workers, I don’t plan to carry anything during my run. No water bottle, no camera, no phone, no gel, nothing. I think the best thing is to run as light as possible including clothes. Weather has been pleasant 50’s and 60’s recently, and I’m hoping that it would be nice enough to wear sleeveless running shirt.

This week, I plan to take it easy. I’ve looked at a few marathon training charts, and most of them recommend doing no more than 3 runs prior to the marathon day, so I will stick to easy runs, maybe 3 or 4 miles.

There I have it. My goal is to cross the finish line under 3:45. But I am not going to kill myself for it. Instead I plan to enjoy the community running experience. Hope the weather is nice next Sunday.

-Jae

Marathon Logistics

Napa Valley Marathon is now 3 weeks away. It’s time to start thinking about logistics. Napa Valley Marathon starts from Calistoga 7am Sunday March 6th, 2016.

The website says that they provide bus ride from the finish line to the starting line at 5:15am. That means I should plan to be there by 5am, and if I were to start from home, I should leave around 3:45am. (It’s about 62-mile drive.)

But I should use bathroom and eat something before I head out. That means I need to be up by 3am at the latest. Wow, that’s early.

Should I get a room? I like the idea of shorter drive and one more hour of sleep, but not sure if I can get a good night rest and a hot breakfast 4:30am in the morning.

When I checked for the availability, I found out that all close-by and reasonably priced lodgings were all booked on the marathon weekend.

Oh, another thing. I need to show up the day before and pick up my bib and welcome packet. That means I have to make the drive twice, if I don’t stay near by.

I don’t know which would work out better. Sleep at home and drive, or stay somewhere near and sleep a bit more?

Newbie questions don’t end there.

What kind of clothes should I wear? Do I need a layer when starting out? What do I do with jacket when I take it off? What about water? I’ve been practicing with hydration belt, but not sure if I want to carry my own water when there are aid stations every 2 miles. I need all the weight saving that I can get…

What about photos? Should I run with my iPhone, just to snap a few photos along the way? Do I need to get a belt for iPhone 6 Plus?

What about deodorant? Do I need it, or it is inconsequential after 26.2 miles of sweating outdoor?

Full of questions.

I wonder what other runners are doing.

-Jae

Marathon Is Just 7 Weeks Away!

Today I just realized that Napa Valley Marathon is just 7 weeks away! It’s officially time to panic. 🙂

On one hand I feel that I have been doing what I can to prepare for it gradually. On the other hand I don’t know if I’ll be ready to run the entire course without either getting a cramp or hitting a wall.

How could I know for sure? I have never done it before.

I find myself reading a lot about running and how to prepare for long distance runs. And the more I read and find out how other runners are preparing for the race, the less I feel that I am adequately trained.

Here are several training tips that I found while reading:

  1. Weekly mileage matters. Make sure to put in consistent mileage on week-to-week basis to train the body to endure fatigues from long runs.
  2. Interval training and fartlek are important components of running training program. Make sure to push the heart rate to uncomfortable and challenging zone where the body can increase its lungs’ and cardiovascular capacity.
  3. Running uphill is a good way to build muscular strength. Incorporate hill running so that the legs and cardio can withstand elevation gains during long runs.
  4. Build core strength. Without solid core it is not possible to run efficiently.

I’ve been running about 25 to 27 miles a week. On the weekends I have been doing about 12 to 14 mile long runs. But that’s about it.

Limited interval training on treadmill, occasional fartlek, and I rarely run up a hill as part of my training. As for core strength, I think it’s been pretty much the same since the day I started running.

Given that the Napa Valley Marathon is less than 2 months away, I need to plan out how I’m going to train for it during the remaining time.

Here’s what I plan to do.

  1. Bring the weekly mileage up to 35.
  2. Do a weekly fartlek or hill training outside.
  3. Complete 22 mile run by Feb 7.
  4. Run 8:20 pace half marathon.

Is it going to be enough to complete my first marathon under 3:45?

I don’t know. Only time will tell.

-Jae

Signed Up for Napa Valley Marathon

I signed up for 2016 Napa Valley Marathon.

This is going to be my first marathon experience. I did a half marathon last year. But I never tried to complete a marathon course.

I didn’t think I was ready to commit. Yet when a bunch of my cycling friends and I were messaging back and forth, a veteran marathoner invited us to join. I jumped at that chance. Knowing my aversion to commitment, I’m not sure why. It must have been the right time for me.

I must have been waiting for the next challenge. When I did my half marathon, it was not because of my own initiative. It was my wife’s idea. She invited me to run together.

It was Kaiser Permanente S.F. Half Marathon.

On the race day, it started to drizzle when we headed out in the early morning Sunday. It became pouring rain when we were driving to the race course. Neither my wife nor I had adequate rain gear on us. Flimsy sweat jackets were all we had. When we got out of the car, and out of the garage, it was cold. We were not sure whether it was a good idea to run. Sky looked gray all over, and there was no sign of letting up.

But we ran. Although the rain continued through out the race, we ran. When we were down on the final few miles, the rain drops angled by blustery winds were so sharp that it was painful to endure. In spite of the cold rainy and windy weather, thankfully we finished.

It was the first time ever that I ran over 5 miles. Looking back at it, it was not as physically challenging as I originally thought. Perhaps it’s because I kept pace with my wife. What seemed more daunting before the race was the idea that I had to prepare for the race, and to break my Sunday routine to get out to the race course early Sunday morning. Both of the inconveniences now seem like small price to pay when I look back at the gain from the whole half marathon experience.

Napa Valley Marathon is going to happen on March 6th, 2016, 7am in the morning. I have exactly 14 weeks 6 days to prepare. My marathoner friend tells me that it’s likely that it will rain. I better mend my mental wet suit to prepare for the long run.

Here’s what the course looks like. If you are looking for the next challenge, I would love to see you on the course.

-Jae

Bryan Krouse NVM_2015 Course Map
Napa Valley Marathon.
Thankfully it has net elevation loss. 🙂