Last week was a good taper week, which, in theory, means lots of healthy food and sleep, very little running, lots of stretching, rolling, a visit to my ART specialist and getting myself into the best state possible to run an awesome half marathon.
Well, 5/6 ain't bad.
First, I'm a sucker for Sichuan numbing hot spicy flavors (Mala and all of the other related variants
). I've been trying to figure out where I can acquire the taste close to home and just last week finally found a couple of places that make prepared dishes with it, which was awesome. But then, I went to Din Tai Fung with a colleague, L, whose wife is from Sichuan. We ordered spicy noodles and I lamented how difficult it is to get Sichuan numbing spice. L mentioned that her wife ships spices to the US in bulk because apparently our Californian imports do not meet L's wife standards. Through some miracle of making my desire known to the universe, within one week of seriously starting my quest to acquire Sichuan spice sources, I was offered some of the imported stash from L's wife for home use. JACKPOT!
Green = numbing Sichuan peppercorn;
Red = ridiculously spicy pepper flakes.
Mortar and pestle for scale.
This is easily a 3 year supply. Thank you L!
So, on the delicious food front, I hit up 99 Ranch
to stock our house with delicious Asian dried, canned, preserved, and fresh goods and we ate off of them for at least half of our meals this week.
Rice stick noodle bok choy stir fry with peanuts, spicy shirataki noodle soup (made it twice -- better with a poached egg), and spicy veggie soba ramen-style pre-race soup were all delicious. After this many meals, E has requested that I rein in the numbing spice, both in frequency and in amount per serving. Apparently, there can be too much of a good thing.
|Not gonna lie -- this spicy mushroom miso veggie soba pre-race dinner was amazing.|
So, #1, food? Check.
#2, sleep? Yeah. I did lots of that.
#3, very little running? Check. Total weekly mileage before the start line on Sunday AM was 10 miles, almost all of it at target race pace or faster. I felt fast, strong, and pleased with my lack of pain.
#4, lots of stretching, rolling and a visit to the ART specialist? I did these as well. The beastie balls make rolling while indulging in screentime very easy, and I found time to stretch a couple times in the week in an effort to avoid major issues. The ART visit was wonderful on Thursday and I left thinking that a half finish was easily doable.
#5, an awesome half marathon? Nope. Not even close. My AM went perfectly. I slept fitfully (typical pre-race stuff for me), woke at my 6:20 alarm, did the obligatory AM rituals, got out the door, to the Starbucks for the latte and juice and back on the road by 6:45 AM. I made it to my parking spot before 7:30 AM, and I thought of my friend Cat
while waiting for the buses.
This race's shuttles used to be yellow US school buses, but now, in peak SF tech something or other,
they are the tech company buses put to good use on the weekends.
I made it to the start with plenty of time to wait at the porta-johns, finish my juice, do my business, and get to the start, ready to go. I missed all the cool kids near the start 'cause I don't have FB on my phone and they were all communicating with it. C'est la vie.
|4th SF Kaiser half start. 1st DNF.|
I headed out for a fast first downhill mile and, it was easy and fast, so as planned, I built in walking breaks and hit the 5K right about on target pace, even though the last mile in the first 5K is significantly uphill. I felt good.
It was warmer than expected, but not too warm. Similarly, it was more humid than I'm used to, but not egregious. I mean, I was sweating like crazy, but that's my gig. If it's over 60, regardless of the humidity, if I'm working at a decent effort level, I'm losing water like no one's business.
I took a Gu at the water station after the 5K and then I picked the pace back up. I tried to keep the target pace but I was falling behind despite what felt like appropriate half marathon effort for how early in the race it was. This was, of course, frustrating, as I'd picked a relatively "easy" target pace. At the 10K mark I was seriously considering stopping. In addition to the lackluster pacing (which killed any desire to push through for a nice time), my left hip was starting to tighten up and I was concerned that I'd lose all the (minimal) fitness gains I'd made if I pushed it too far. I have a tentative crissy field 5K next weekend as a training race and a real 5K in Austin the week after. I knew I wouldn't be able to do a good job at either of them if I pushed today too far.
At mile 7.52 I stepped off the course and walked back to my car --
I had brunch to console myself with a bunch of awesome runners and amazing food,
hosted by the awesome http://sfroadwarrior.blogspot.com/
Part of me is disappointed, of course. I was looking forward to completing a half marathon for the first time in over 18 months. But the other part of me is happy that I made the call I did. As AK eloquently put it -- it's a risk/reward equation. The risk was you were going to continue to tighten up your leg and undo the good work you'd done and mess up your upcoming 5Ks. The reward was you could finish the very annoying 2nd half of Kaiser out and back on Ocean Blvd in the direct sun and humidity. And when you put it like that, I'm very happy with my decision. Thanks, AK!
Cheers. Here's a blurry sweat-covered phone lens photo of fresh fruit in sparkling wine
(who needs juice for mimosas?)
and the first runner to show up to bRUNch
who actually finished the half (https://jensrunningblog.wordpress.com/).
Let's just call it art.