Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Report: The San Francisco Marathon {1st Half}

I have been wanting to run the San Francisco Marathon (SFM) since 2008 but between law school and being injured it just hasn't seemed to work into my schedule.  This year I was bound and determined to make it happen and it ended up being my 17th half marathon and the perfect way to kick off my next training cycle (more on this later).

SFM consists of a marathon or the opportunity to run either the first or second half for 13.1 miles.  If you run the halves in back to back years you are eligible for the "Half it All" Challenge Medal.  If you run the marathon in the third consecutive year you are eligible to join the "52 Club."  I think you know what I will be doing the next two years!

Saturday I headed into San Francisco to get my packet.  It was a quick trip as I had to come back and do some work but they had a lot of vendors and fun things to see.  I thought for a race with 40,000 people I would have to wait in some massive lines but the process was seamless and I had my packet and shirt in less than 5 minutes.

On my way out I ran into Aron and Kristin.  We were all in the same wave and planned to try and meet up at the start the next morning.

The race is an early one starting at 5:30 am although my wave started at 5:52 am.  Without traffic it usually takes me 45 minutes to get into the City and I figured I shouldn't have too much trouble that early on a Sunday morning.  I picked a parking garage to park at, set the GPS and my alarm for 3:45 am and was out the door by 4:05.

I got to the City right around 4:55 only to discover the garage I wanted to park in was already full!  I tried two other garages close by and they were full too.  By this time it was 5:15.  I made the decision to drive away from the start in hopes of finding an empty garage.  At 5:30 I pulled into one 1.2 miles from the race start.  I grabbed my stuff and sprinted to the start.

At 5:40 I got to the start, pinned on my number and found my gear truck.  Thankfully there was no line and I easily handed it to a volunteer and sprinted to my corral.  My wave had made their way to the start line and I was lucky a volunteer let me in instead of joining a later group.  I figured it would be a lost cause finding the girls at this point but thanks to Courtney's sparkly blue tutu I spotted them with minutes to spare.

At 5:50 my Garmin found a signal and then I got a message the keyboard was locked.  What?!?  I got a sinking feeling this was not going to be my race.  I whipped out my phone and frantically googled "unlock keypad on Garmin 910X" but the gun sounded and we were off before I got an answer.  My first Garminless race.  As a Garmin fanatic I panicked for a moment but knowing I was just running for fun calmed me a bit.

Nobody in our group had any time goals.  We all just wanted to go out and have a good race.  I actually even doubted my ability to keep up with them for the entire race (they are all speedy) but I thought I would just try to hang as long as I could.

The weather was cool and foggy - just the way I like it.  We spent the first few miles just chatting and taking in the race.  It was fun to finally get a chance to run with everyone again and I got to meet Holly who had come out to run from Texas!

Around mile 5 (and let me tell you those were the fastest 5 miles ever) you run up up one of many steep hills to get up onto the Golden Gate Bridge.  This was my third time officially running the Golden Gate Bridge and I can tell you it NEVER ever gets old.  It was pretty foggy that morning so the views were a little obscured but it was a blast nonetheless.  It was fun trying to spot friends who were already on their way back.

Just as we were coming off the bridge I looked up and said, "wow, that looks like Dean Karnazes" and as we got closer it was!  It was cool to see him out on the course.  

Dean in the blue
Around mile 7.5 we took a bathroom break and decided it was a great time for a photo op!

Once you come off the bridge you are already halfway to mile 10.  I was so shocked we had already ran almost 10 miles!  I was having so much fun it didn't seem possible that we could have gone that far.  

The next hill I remember from the Nike Women's Marathon.  My legs were starting to feel it a little bit at this point.  I asked Aron if we got to go down the big downhill from Nike and she said yes!  Knowing that was right around the corner helped push me to the top.  I absolutely love that downhill and while it didn't take you all the way to the coast like Nike it was fun to fly down.

By this point we hit some rolling hills while making our way towards Golden Gate Park and I saw the mile 12 marker.  I had missed the mile 11 marker (remember no Garmin) so this was a nice surprise.  Although what wasn't a nice surprise was the volunteer who said "it is all downhill from there" - don't give runners false hopes!!  :) 

We all decided we needed to stick together so we could all be in the photo crossing the finish line together.  As we entered the park and the finish line came into sight I couldn't believe we were almost done.  That felt like the fastest half marathon ever and definitely one of the most fun!  We all crossed the finish line together arms up.
13.1 miles/2:10:22/9:57 avg
3.1 @ 9:48
7.4 @ 9:49

After getting our medals and taking a few pictures, Sima, Holly and I waited in the worlds longest gear pick up line.  This was my only complaint of the entire race.  I think they assigned gear trucks by waves and waves were assigned by finish time so naturally everyone in our wave and gear truck finished around the same time and all wanted their stuff at the same time.  It was well worth the wait though once I had on my nice warm, dry sweatshirt.

Once we got our stuff we found Aron and Kristin and got some food (they had a huge variety with a lot of good stuff) and our Irish coffees and cheered on other runners racing the 2nd half marathon and the full.  

Soon we said goodbye to Holly and the four of us headed back downtown.  A meet up was planned for after the race but unfortunately I had to take off as we were off to Monterey to celebrate my sister-in-laws birthday.  From the sights and sounds of Facebook and Twitter though it seems like everyone had great races!

But then again, it is never a bad day when you get to run in San Francisco.  Add cool, foggy weather, the Golden Gate Bridge and running with friends and it makes for the perfect race.  It was well worth the wait to finally be able to participate in the race and I can't wait to run the second half next year for the "half it all" challenge. 

Jellyfish pic from the trip to Monterey!
Pin It!


  1. Looks like a fun one!

    Whatever you are wearing is super cute too. Is that a skirt or shorts??

  2. This looks like such a fun event. Wonder if I'll ever be able to run this far? I am sure SF is my kind of running weather.

  3. I'm so sad...I was in wave 4 as well, and looking at the start line photo, I wasn't that far from you guys!! What a shame I didn't recognize you to say hi!

    Glad you had such a good race...I had fun but I was glad to finish with all those rolling hills at the end. Swines!!!


I appreciate your comments. Thanks for taking the time to leave one!