A pace to call your own…

… and a pacer to go with it all!

I am a pacer for the SF Marathon Training Program and I will be running the full marathon come July 25 (Yeehaaa!), along with 2 marathons later in the year in San Jose (half marathon) and Las Vegas (full marathon) or CIM (full marathon). I pretty much did a 100-meter sprint as I excitedly dashed towards the invitation to write a blog for the SF Marathon as a pacer (it was akin to me dashing to an ice cream truck pulling up on a hot summer’s day!), and so I look forward to sharing notes about all things running with you over the next couple of months and I look forward to hearing from you as well!

My first ever full marathon was the 2009 SF Marathon which I ran in record time and injury free thanks to the amazing training program! It charged me up like never before and got me hankering for more. So, in keeping with that “hankering”, I decided I would run the SF Full Marathon every year (yes, call me crazy but I love running!). But then I also realized that during my training, I had amassed so much knowledge and experience around running that I wanted to share it first-hand, with runners, and so the obvious choice was to also volunteer as a pacer. So here I am – Garmin watch on, GU gels packed, water bottle filled, pre-run snack consumed, SF marathon gear on, map in hand, PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) cap on and ready to run!

Kezar Stadium

Kezar Stadium... and the crowd went wild!

Workout: Saturday Long Slow Distance (LSD) Run
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 1 hour 21 minutes
Route: Kezar Stadium, Pan Handle, Upper Golden Gate Park

Most people shudder at the thought of getting up early on a Saturday… I mean it’s the weekend after all. It’s supposed to be about turning that pesky alarm clock off, sleeping in late, hanging around in your jammies, letting that cup of coffee brew just a little bit longer before you head off to brunch (Bloody Mary’s included!). But I’m an early riser regardless of whether it’s a weekday or a weekend and so, while many were sleeping this past Saturday at 6AM, I hopped out of bed (OK, a wee bit of dragging and some talking to myself WAS involved), got into my running gear, had my usual pre-run breakfast (a slice of toasted protein bread with raw almond butter and raw honey) and headed out to run with the training program. Nothing beats the feeling of running through empty streets and quiet neighborhoods in the morning, with the only company being other runners, the occasional dog walker, the sound of the fog horn sounding off in the distance, a group quietly performing Tai Chi, birds starting to chirp, the sun rising behind Sutro Tower and the steady sound of my foot striking the ground… beautiful!

Route Maps

Route Maps... left onto Stanyan, right onto the Panhandle...

The weather was cloudy but there was no wind, which made it ideal running weather. This Saturday, the group met outside Kezar Stadium (did you know it was the former home of the Oakland Raiders and then San Francisco 49ers, and several scenes from the 1970 movie Dirty Harry were filmed here!). After a talk from the head coach on warming up, dynamic stretching and some core exercises, I studied and memorized the route I would be pacing, the trainees got into their pace groups, a symphony of “beeps” was heard as pacers and trainees turned their Garmins on, and we were off!

1st Half Marathon Finish Line

1st Half Marathon Finish Line...you can envision the finish line!

Entrance to Stow Lake

Entrance to Stow Lake... also part of the Full and 2nd Half Marathon course

Stow Lake running path

Stow Lake running path... beautiful and serene as always

The route took us up the Panhandle running parallel to Haight Street, then back down into Golden Gate Park past the Conservatory of Flowers, at which point I guided the trainees through some dynamic stretches. I find doing a series of quick dynamic stretches 15 minutes into a run (after running at a slow warm up pace) really helps in getting my body ready for the rest of the run, and has also greatly reduced any soreness I used to feel 10 or 15 minutes into the run before the adrenalin kicked in. I also took a swig of water from my bottle every 20-25 minutes just to keep myself hydrated. We then ran by the back of the De Young Museum, right by the finish line for the SF 1st Half Marathon (Ah! The memories of seeing the 1st Half Marathon runners finish and realize I still had 13.2 miles more to go, but SO inspiring to see the triumphant looks on their faces as they crossed the finish line! It was a boost of energy!). Then around Stow Lake (some of the prettiest running paths) all the way to the Polo Grounds, as conversations in the group ranged from stretching to the weather to restaurants to politics to work-life balance and then back to restaurants (I always find conversations during Saturday runs somehow have food hidden in them somewhere!). Then back to Kezar Stadium via the SF Botanical Gardens. I was happy to have kept the pace consistent throughout the run and the trainees felt good being able to keep up with the set pace. The route was easy with some small hills (I called them ‘harmless inclines’!) thrown in for good measure (remember: “hills are meant to be conquered, not feared!”). 🙂

Ice is your friend

Ice is your friend... no, really!

Post-run breakfast

Post-run breakfast... would make any mama proud!

I wrapped up the run by leading the trainees through a series of static stretches, answered any questions they had, and then everyone dispersed to get their weekends off to a good start! I headed home to some one-on-one time with my foam roller and stick (its a love-hate relationship, what can I say folks!) followed by a nice CHILLING ice bath (they’re not as scary as folks perceive them to be) which I have found does a world of good in speeding up muscle recovery and keeping muscles soreness at bay. For a post-run meal, I conjured up a fruit smoothie (great source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients that the fruits contain and healthy carbs), an avocado-shrimp frittata with zesty quinoa (an amino acid rich in protein and fiber and is gluten free), 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 slices of protein bread and cereal with flax seed (a great source of Omega-3 fats that are anti-inflammatory) and almond milk (great source of protein especially if you’re lactose intolerant).

What a great way to start the weekend, eh?

So, as I got ready to head off to watch Avatar in 3-D (yes, I’m probably the last person in the world to see this movie!), I got a message from one of the trainees who ran with me saying that today had been one of his better runs in a while and he had a great time. I left the house with a spring in my step and a smile on my face… this is why I love to run… and that, is a good thing! 😉

Peace out!



6 responses to “A pace to call your own…

  1. Great post! Extremely informative and should be very helpful for all those training for marathons in or around San Francisco. My hat is also off to you for helping out as a pacer.


    • @ Dr Segler: Thank you for your compliments! It’s always heartening to hear that what one does makes a difference.

  2. I loved reading your post, and look forward to keeping up with your blog! I so wish I still lived in SF and could train with you and your group. I will be there on 7/25!

    • @ Cate: Thank you for your compliments! Bummer you cannot train with our group but we’ll all be rooting for you and each other come 7/25! Good luck and god speed!

  3. great blog luke! what pace are you leading?! i just started my SF marathon training this monday … looking foward to a LSD on saturday morning :). i love running throuh SF, Crissy field, golden gate park, presidio, golden gate bridge, along ocean beach. i know i should visit more often or just move back north! happy running!

    • @ Rowena: Thanks for your compliments! I hope you are enjoying the SF Marathon Training Program. It’s a great program!

      Stay tuned to our blog posts for tips and advice as the weeks progress.

      Happy running!

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