Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Missed It By That Much

The short version: i ran 3:22:16, which is 1 minute 17 seconds slower than the time i need to qualify for Boston (3:20:59). So that sucks. On the plus side, this is still my personal best time for the 4 marathons i've run, on the most hilly course i've run. I'm particularly happy with the second half, which i ran in about 1:41-- far and away my best second half.

The longer version: We drove up to about the Thousand Oaks area on Friday night, got a hotel along the freeway and spent the night. The next day we just drove up the 101 all the way to SF, except for food and bathroom breaks. The marathon expo was near the Embarcadero, just across from the ferry building. We got there at about 3:30, picked up my stuff, and then walked over to our hotel (the Omni, on the corner of California and Montgomery). We checked in and then walked around the city for a while, mostly Chinatown. I really wanted to get Chinese food, but i figured i should get some pasta so we ended up at the Cafe Niebaum-Coppola (yeah, the movie director who has his own winery). It was OK. The kids were amazingly cooperative, and they enjoyed Chinatown.

The run started at 5:20 on Sunday morning, so we went back to the hotel so i could get some sleep before getting up at 4am. I figured this early start would suck, especially since it meant that it'd be dark for the beginning of the race, but as it turned out i really liked it. It was cool, probably in the 50s and the start wasn't too crowded. The course was fun. Even though it was very hilly by the standards of a road marathon (how could it not be in SF?) it was easily the most interesting course i've run, the highlight of course being the trip over and back on the Golden Gate. Not surprisingly, it was foggy so there were no views from the bridge to speak of, but it was still cool. I've walked across the bridge in the past on the sidewalk thing built for that purpose, but running on the actual road was a rare experience.

The first half was pretty tough, and i came through the checkpoint just about 1:41. I was feeling good though, so i threw in a couple of faster miles and i got back on 3:20 pace fairly quickly. Although it seemed uphill for a long stretch, i felt really good. After about 18 miles i just started focusing on passing the next guy in front of me. There was a huge downhill just before 20 miles and after that it was fairly flat. I still felt strong until maybe mile 23 or 24 and then the wall hit me. I shuffled through the last couple of miles, but i never had to stop to walk. It sucks to miss my qualifying time by so little, but i feel like i pushed it as hard as i could, so i'm not too depressed.

Because of the early start, i was done before 9am, so i walked back to the hotel. I showered and changed, we checked out and drove over to Pier 39. I'd purchased tour tickets for Alcatraz. The tour is more fun than you might expect. It's a self-guided audio thing, which worked better than a normal group tour. Since you're going at your own pace, there's no big group through which you have to fight to see whatever point of interest you're at. The weather was good too, and the boat ride over was pleasant.

After the tour we hopped back in the car, found our way out of SF, and hopped on to the coast highway. We decided to stop in Monterey, so we got some dinner at a place down near Cannery Row and then got a hotel. We got up early on Monday morning and drove down to San Simeon to take the tour of Hearst Castle. There's a vast amount of cultural context to that place that my kids just don't have experience of yet, but i think they get the idea that it's an unusual place built by and unusual man.

Finally we just power drove down the 101-405-5-78-15 to home. Too damn much time in the car, but we avoided most of the worst traffic (thank you, car pool lane).

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