Here are my stats from yesterday’s San Francisco Half Marathon.  They are stats.  Let’s remember this as we proceed.  They only tell part of the story, because by my recollection, this is probably the PW in a Half Marathon.  I will have to check.

1st Half Marathon
Runner Details Race Results
Bib: 63346
Name: Linda Vermeulen
Gender: F
Age: 51
Hometown: Ripon, CA
Overall: 6838 out of 8394
Women: 3823 out of 4989
F 50-59: 298 out of 492
Age/Grade: 46.75% Place: 4432
Finish: 2:46:07 Pace: 12:41
Tag Time: 2:46:07
Gun Time: 3:47:17
Split Times
7.6 M: 1:30:33 Pace: 11:55


My story begins as a 47 year old single Mom of a 10 and 7 year old boy on Halloween 2007…and has been told many times here on this blog.  I started running because I was a PE teacher, then because I was getting a divorce, then because I fell in love with the sport.  I soon was reading everything I could get my hands on…and there are countless posts about this on this site (just go to the Archives section for October).

And every race I want a PR.  I want to improve, and I think that means improve my time.  And until yesterday, I truly believed that was what I wanted.

My PR for a half marathon was set at the Davis Stampede earlier this year with a 2:24 and change.  It was a horrid race, and an even worse course, but we finished it.  If you are supposed to be happy with a mere number, I wasn’t.  But, I digress.

Kim and I ran the race as planned with a very conservative first half.  We hit it for five miles.  I did something I had been challenged to do, which was run without music.  Most of my readers know that I love playlists and songs that will pump me up…but recently my coach has been directing me to naked running.  I balked, as I usually do.

The first mile I ran without music, and all I heard was the light padding of people’s feet all around me.  I could feel my heart and lungs starting to gear up…and I liked it.  I put in my earphones because a group of girls were gossiping about their friend who took a lot of vacations and had a lot of money.  I just didn’t need the negative energy.

We passed 2-3-4 and started up the hill at 5 to what was to be a series of undulating hills.  For the rest of the course.  The hill at mile 2 or so is the same hill that Nike uses, so I’ve seen that mother before.  But, it was easy.  Nothing like the end of the course.  At mile 6 or so you start the 3000 ft ascent to the Golden Gate Bridge…which looks flat but is so … not.

I ran the bridge on the Emerald 12K in 2008, but we were on the other side, it was sunny, and running traffice only one way.  In this half marathon, runners looped so your side was going one way, and you had another group coming back.  And it was a long slow incline…I wish I had taken water at mile 5, and kicked myself knowing there wouldn’t be water on the bridge.  By the time we got to the water station, one person was pouring water, and a few were handing out GUs.  I brought a Honey Stinger, but the fact remains:  I cannot do these things.  So, Kim waited for me…we walked, got water and I tried to settle my stomach.  There was one band.  Still, at this point, no music except for Til I Collapse by Eminem as I tried to reach the entrance to the bridge.

What comes up…must come down, so back over the bridge we go.  And it was no more pleasant, except the other runners were now on the sidewalk which made it a bit easier.  At the exit of the bridge, I was at 9.3 miles, and felt strong.  Even though my numbers were off.  I was strong…and that was joyous.

Miles 10-13.1 were a different story.  I knew San Francisco was hilly.  What I didn’t know was exactly HOW hilly.  Mile 10 downhill was a nightmare.  Like a long, never ending nightmare.  I had no music, and I was paying attention to my legs that were starting to cramp, along with my shoulders.  The up was bad, but the down was worse.  Once I got off that, I knew it would be better.  It wasn’t better.  But, I was listening to my body…and THAT is better.

Mile 11-13 seemed to be one long set of hills.  Mini inclines.  Turn corner.  Incline.  Turn corner.  Repeat.  I walked a bit, because the Honey Stinger was not working for me.  I saw very little support on the side.  Just a lot of runners.  In listening to my body, I also noticed it wasn’t working very hard…so I got to get it moving a little bit.

Finished.  Stand in long long line to go back to the start line, and Kim has a raging tooth infection, so she is not good.  We grab something to eat.  My requisite coffee and her Diet Coke.  And we get a pen, and we write on the tablecloth.  Not on the blog or on a text.  But really dissecting…and this has become my favorite part of racing:  really connecting with the people who ran it with me.  The journey, if nothing else.  And we laugh about the people elbowing us to stay with their pace group, and the gossipers and the loud talkers and the cell phone users.  And, we just laugh.

My story?  It’s on the paper.  Good and bad.  We draw the course as we remember it, and talk about the events leading up to the medal. And, even though the time was not a PR, there was much gained in this race.  From the crazy fun BART ride into San Francisco, to the 3am wakeup call (which is on the right side as negative) to the shivering under a mylar blanket, you just don’t define your race by the numbers.  My story is told in the details.  A fun race.  Hard, but worth it in the end.

4 thoughts on “Every Runner Has A Story (SF Half Mary Report)

  1. I always think its so cool when I find a new blog, and I see that we’ve been in some of the same places at the same times.

    Anyway, I found your blog today through The Running Fat Guy (Glenn) and because I am searching for other SF 1/2 race reports, I read yours. I was there…it was a tough race and certainly not one for a PR…or at least it wasn’t in my case either, but congrats for gutting it out and for finishing! There are lots of people who didn’t even show up that day!

  2. Sorry we missed each other. Time for you to get serious about MCM isn’t it? I’ll be watching you! By the way – I see akaAlice is reading now. You *must* read her blog!

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