In preparation for my birthday race, the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, I decided to attend four free training runs hosted by Pamakids Runners and Sports Basement. This meant running on Saturdays, which I normally avoid, but it was worth it to run with other people for a change of pace.
As Sports Basement is right next to Crissy Field I figured we'd be running there, which is very familiar territory to me. But for the first run last Saturday, we headed out over the Golden Gate Bridge. I had run it twice before, but only during races. It was chilly and windy and noisy, but fun because my friend Ryiah was running with me, and we had a supportive coach with us for part of the way. We got slightly lost on the way back, but her Garmin recorded our total distance as close to the six miles we set out to do, and at a pretty decent pace for me (10:47 min/mile for the 5.2 miles after the warmup portion).
The six miles (the middle of three distance options offered that day) included an initial run of about a mile, followed by everyone stopping and stretching for about ten minutes before continuing to the bridge. I'm not used to stretching during (or before) a run, preferring to do so as part of my regular yoga practice in the evenings (or late morning/early afternoon if I have a yoga class). Possibly as a result, for the next two days my thighs were very sore. I was still able to run, but even walking around was difficult.
For the second training run, yesterday, I arrived and asked if all distances were heading out over the bridge again. The leader replied no, we're doing the Presidio, and showed me a map. I almost cried as I saw the confusing directions; I'm terrible with maps, especially of windy trails through the woods. And Ryiah couldn't make this run. I found another woman and fellow DSE club member who I thought would go at my pace, but she was significantly slower, so I just tried to follow the coaches and others in front of me.
We ran a mile on uphill switchbacks, which was tiring, then stopped to stretch. After resuming, the group spread out quickly. Fortunately, one of the coaches continually doubled back to direct at each turn. I thanked him profusely. As long as I knew where to turn, I was really enjoying this run; new scenery, different terrain, and I just felt great despite being bundled up to withstand the temperature in the low 40s.
But after awhile I didn't see him anymore; presumably he had gone ahead with the faster runners. I found another coach, who asked if I was doing the 8 miler (the options being 6/8/10 that day). I said no, the six. He replied that the coach for the head of the six mile group was actually behind me! I waited for her to catch up, then they both puzzled over the map to figure out which way we were supposed to turn. This happened a couple more times, which annoyed me as I was feeling strong now and didn't want to stop.
Eventually we made it out of the woods, and I told the 8 mile coach that I had decided to do that distance instead. He directed us out to Crissy Field, where we were to make a loop around the marsh. But soon he said he'd led me in the wrong direction, and to get the full eight miles in I'd have to run past Sports Basement and double back. I was annoyed (and getting tired by now) but said fine. He said he'd run with me at 10-11 minute pace, but according to my new Garmin (which I love) he was going faster than 10 minute pace, I was running out of breath and told him to go ahead. Which he did, stopping at the point where he told me to turn around before heading back. I almost slowed to a walk at that point, my heart was pounding so hard, but I managed to jog back to the store and finish the seven miles (not counting the warm-up) with a pace of 11:21 min/mile. Quite good for me at that distance considering the hills, unfamiliar territory and several stops.
I was afraid my legs would be trashed again this morning, between the 8 miles of hilly running and ~4 miles of walking I did yesterday. But I felt good enough to bundle up against the sub-40 degree weather and do the 5K race I'd planned, and finished it in under 31 minutes. I'll write that race up once the official results are posted. Happy that I'm getting more fit!