A fun, mainly scenic and tough marathon today around San Francisco. The city's marathon is one of the few road ones in July so had plenty of ultra-runners showing up who clearly had a free weekend. I saw Mike Wardian at the expo, fresh off his indoor marathon World Record of 2:27. I think even he's lost count of how many times he's run around that time even just this year and he was out for a win and a CR (standing at 2:26ish).
I've felt sluggish since Western States and have tried to do some speed work a few times but had to cut back to a jog when I felt there was nothing in the legs. Given I happened to be reading Tim Noakes' 'Lore of Running' recently, specifically the chapter on overtraining, I was trying to weigh up whether I'm just knackered from recent races or overtrained. There was only one way to tell - try to go hard in a race.
It started early at 5:30am and was chilly with the first few miles in pre-dawn darkness. I stayed in a cheap Travelodge and managed to get bitten all night by bed bugs so barely slept and won't be using their brand again. But by the time I started I felt fine and ran off with the others at the front of the start line, going too fast. I also managed to forget my watch or Garmin so had less idea of how well it was progressing.
The course is fairly hilly and windy, with the first half having a particularly hard section up to the Golden Gate Bridge, over it and back. I tried to stay with a group of people and pace with them but it got strung out fairly soon around the top 20 and I had to run on my own. Running over the bridge was very cool, with a mist over it and everyone got to see the rest of the field coming the other way due to the out-and-back.
I got a time check at halfway and was pleased to see 1:18:30, which was better than I'd expected given the wind and undulation. Then the second half was flatter with more protection from the wind and I just tried to hang on even though I really felt less fresh than usual.
Overall it was a great race and I'm glad I was able to fit it in. I managed to just get a negative split, but that was mainly due to the second half being easier. 2:36:35 and 8th felt like a promising result and at least I seem to be knocking out ties around that frequently. Mike W broke the old course record with 2:25 but was pipped to the win by a couple of minutes. After chatting with others, we reckoned the course added maybe four minutes so he probably ran equivalent to near to his best time. The man is certainly consistent.
Definitely up for more of the same next year. I met a few local marathoners and ultra guys too so am glad about that. Although I do feel I missed out a bit on either the Lakelands 100 miler in England or 'The High' 100 miler in the Himalayas which were also this weekend. But every weekend is a compromise between all the amazing events which exist these days. Ultra-running is booming and that can only be good.