Ran the SF half this morning. Here's the story....
goal was to run a 1:25 (6:29 pace). The course climbs about 300' in miles 2-6 and then drops 300' in miles 7-8 and then is pretty flat. I had calculated mile paces based on the elevation changes. Basically it was going to be "get to the top of the hill, see what I can make up on the downhill and then take it from there".
Weather was perfect, low 50's, overcast, misty, very little wind. Start was well organized and I was just 2 rows back from the start. We joined the full marathoners when we started (8:15am) and the people we joined were on pace for 4:30 finish, so we were flying by. I'd worked out that a 1:25 finish would have me passing about 2,500 marathoners over the course, which I was hoping was not going to be a problem.
Start was fast as it was downhill for first 1/4 mile, out of the gate at 5:30 pace but got it back under control as we levelled off. First mile still quick overall at 6:09 (plan was 6:30).
Mile 2 and 3 were the 2 slowest according to my plan as they had the hills. Goal was 6:48, 6:51 - got thru them in 6:32 and 6:40 so I had banked 50+ seconds in just the first 3 miles.
Mile 4, 5 and 6 were up & down and plan was 6:39, 6:24 and 6:33 - ran them in 6:30, 6:16 and 6:29 so I was moving fast. Went thru 6 in 38:36, which was 1:06 ahead of plan. (according to Garmin, mile markers were no use as they were for the full, so we had a very helpful 5.9 mile mark...)
So the uphills hadn't been as bad as I had expected and I was feeling about how I expect to feel 6 miles into a half.
Then it was time for the downs of miles 7 and 8. I'd planned to hit these at 6:10 and 6:11, but mile 7 was not really down, it was flat/up with a steep down at the end, mile 8 was better with a more gradual drop so I went thru those in 6:15 and 6:02.
As the course flattened out I realised I was in with a shot at a breakout time if the wheels stayed on, and after a quick systems check figured I had enough left in my legs to hammer the next 5 miles adn gut it out. It was flat and I knew that 6:25 would get me comfortably under 1:25 but decided to just run hard and see what I could do. Quads were definitely feeling it from the fast downhills but I hoped to hang on for 30-35 more minutes.
Mile 9 and 10 were steady and I just reeled in more marathoners, they were in the 22-23 territory so they were having no fun, must have sucked to see people like me whizz by. Ran a 6:18 and then sped up to a 6:13.
At mile 10 I just decided to go for it and pay the price afterwards - 11 was at 6:13 and mile 12 was 6:10. Unless I crashed I was in for a fast time, but I was hurting and my quads were extremely unhappy with my decision.
With just over a mile to go I started picking out the half marathoners and chasing them down, it was pretty easy to tell who was in each race. Caught 3-4 in mile 13 as I did a 6:09.
The final 0.3 (garmin was long as usual) was a sprint thru the barriers and the crowd at 5:45 pace and I crossed the line in 1:23:47 feeling like I'd left most everything I had out there - I beat my 1:25 goal easily and a got PR of just about 2 minutes. Garmin pace was 6:17 and official pace 6:23.
From the preliminary results looks like I was 42nd overall out of thousands, and 4th in my age group (M40-49). I am very happy with the way things turned out and feel I ran a good race, with a very strong finish for once.
This shows splits: blue bars are mile splits, with the blue line showing the cumulative pace. Red shows heartrate, so you can see that I was working hard for those last 5 miles once we got down the hill!