I’m going to be running my eighth half marathon this Sunday – the first half of the SF Marathon. This will be my second time running the 1st half and my third year in a row running an SF Marathon half marathon. Of all the local races I’ve run, the SF Marathon is my favorite (Chicago is my absolute all time favorite but SF comes in second on that list). More than any SF race, the SF Marathon (even at the half marathon distance) feels like a REAL race. Everything from race communication prior to the race to the expo to the actual race itself is super super well organized. The course (especially in the first half and the five/six miles through Golden Gate Park) is stunningly gorgeous. And with all those hills and a super early morning start time (around 5:30 am to 6:30 am depending on your wave), it is a hard course. It just feels hard core – a serious effort that’s worth doing and celebrating.
I’m really excited about this weekend’s race but I’m also a bit nervous. I don’t feel like this training cycle has been all that great – I’ve missed far more runs than I’d like and I haven’t done much cardio cross-training (partially due to being in Europe for two weekends and partially due to time management/stress). I do think I’m more prepared for the hills this year than I was back in 2012 when I ran it the first time. I’m going to run this race without my trusty Garmin (I’ve never run anything longer than a 5K without my Garmin) and run the race by feel. I’m really curious to see what that feels like but I’m also somewhat worried about not knowing at any particular moment how I’m doing (but that’s kind of the point).
But more than anything, I’m using this weekend’s race as an opportunity to keep me inspired and to kick start a few things:
- I want a half marathon PR at the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October. I’ve run this race before and the course is flat flat flat. If there’s one course where I can run a half marathon in under 2:30, this is it.
- I want to run the full San Francisco Marathon next year. Having run both halves of the marathon and seen how difficult each one is on its own, running the full SF Marathon is kind of scary BUT also super exciting. I really want to be able to say that I’ve done it. And I’ve got a whole year to train.
- I want to run the Chicago Marathon next year, raising funds for the PCRF. Running the Chicago Marathon last year was amazing and I want to relive that experience (and improve my time). I learned about the PCRF last year at the Chicago Marathon – they help kids from Palestine and Syria get medical treatment abroad. It is a really great organization that’s non-political. I can’t think of a better or more important way to run the Chicago Marathon than to do so while helping these kids that the world has seemingly forgot.
- I want to get an erg (indoor rowing machine). I was most consistent with my cardio cross-training when I lived in an apartment complex with a gym. Even though we’ve got some awesome gyms at work, I’ve never really gotten into the habit of going there consistently. I’ve found that there are some logistical constraints for me personally that make this hard (e.g. getting ready at work, having a hard time separating my time vs. work time, finding the right machine when they’re all taken during peak times, etc). I know if I had something in my place I would totally use it. I have a love/hate relationship with the erg. It is an AWESOME workout and unlike the elliptical, feels hardcore. And it would be a nice complement to my running. But it can also be really hard to pass the time on it (because it is so hard). I’ve been pondering this possibility for a week and I’m still pretty excited about it so this is most likely going to happen!
- Eating better. I’ve really struggled with this since joining Google. The reality is that when you’ve lost a lot of weight and you’re trying to maintain that, you just have to be way way more careful than the average person. And when somebody else is preparing food for you, you really have no idea what’s in it and it just makes it that much harder. I’ve been trying to bring my own lunch and snacks (yes, this does sound and look as funny as you’d expect when you work in a place that offers free food) like I used to do before I joined Google. Doing so has been pretty effective for me, it is just easier to each healthier when I’ve already packed things that I like that are healthy. It just takes the guesswork out of it.
- Being more consistent about blogging my progress. There’s something about writing (and writing when you think you just might possibly have an audience) that helps keep me going and helps me stay on track.
All of these things are getting me pretty excited about the next year. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of losing and maintaining is that I need to be working towards new goals and trying new things. The more that I feel like an athlete training for an event, the more that I treat my body like a tool that needs to be properly fueled and maintained (drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, stretching, massage, etc). I think numbers #1 through #4 on that list will really help put me in that frame of mind.
As is running my EIGHTH half marathon (!!!!). In the most beautiful city in the world. On a course that even marathoners fear.