Race Recap: SF Marathon (1st Half)

So I ran 2 other races recently but didn’t write the recaps, so let me quickly catch up…

On May 19th BFF Amy and I ran the Capitola half marathon relay on a beautiful Santa Cruz day and it was very fun!  Amy completed her 10K in 1:07, and I completed my 6.9 miles also in 1:07 for a 2:14 finish. Yeah us! Recap done!

And on June 8th, my Team Cocktail Moms and I ran the See Jane Run 5K for champagne and chocolate in Alameda, and I finished in 29:22 which was a miracle as it was a super hot day, definitely in the 80s- everyone was glad to NOT have run the half marathon so we tried to find some shade and ate and drank and celebrated our butts off.

There, all caught up!

Now, for yesterday’s race, the first half of the San Francisco Marathon

Fear? What's that???

Fear? What’s that???

On Saturday, I easily took BART out to San Francisco and walked to the Concourse Exhibition Center for the expo. I don’t really “do” the pre-race expo usually, but this time I actually had the time so I walked around and picked up some Nuun, a couple new headbands, a pair of compression socks and TONS of free samples!

On Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 4:30am and having set all of my gear out the night before, as always, I was ready by 4:45. Hopped in the car and easily drove to the city and parked at a garage that was about 5 blocks away from the start as well as away from all of the street closures.

Checked my bag, found the porta potty, then waited in my corral for my wave to begin.

Good morning, San Francisco!

Good morning, San Francisco!

I can’t think of any other race that I’ve done that started so early in the morning- 5:30am start time for wave 1, and on and on every 15 minutes or so through 8 waves total (for the first half) and my wave had a 6:13am start. Can’t get more specific than that!

Here we go!!!

Here we go!!!

The race started off nice and flat and I easily cruised down the Embarcadero. With the division of the waves, one would think that that would improve congestion but it really didn’t- I had a hard time finding my pace since I couldn’t really get through the gaggle of runners in front of me. (Note to self: take a faster wave next time!)  Once the street opened up right around Fisherman’s Wharf, I was finally able to take off and pick it up.

In that first mile, an Amphipod water bottle came off the runner’s belt in front of me and another runner completely tripped over it, almost falling. I saw this happen but couldn’t get away from it and tripped right over the bottle too, nearly rolling the same ankle I injured earlier this year. Due to the congestion, the woman who dropped the bottle wasn’t really able to turn around and pick it up, so there it lay in the middle of the course, hopefully NOT taking down any other runners thereafter!

Hello, hill!

Hello, hill!

Right before the first 5K, we were greeted with the first hill entering Fort Mason. I have run this hill before many times and it’s not too long, so I easily got up and over and kept on running through Crissy Field and toward the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.

Can’t get to the bridge without conquering more hills first so right at mile 5 is when this race really starts to get challenging as you begin climbing up, up, up to get to the bridge.

When you get to the top of this sucker, guess what? It keeps going up!

One mile of climbing and finally we reached the entrance to the bridge at mile 6. I’ve run over the Golden Gate before a few times but only on the side walkways, never down the middle! In this case, they shut down half of the bridge so we were able to take over and it was AWESOME!!!!

The Golden Gate Bridge is uphill both ways, about a 3-4% grade so I was trying really hard to focus and stay on target as my time was 59 minutes at this point. Ran and ran, dodging the other runners who kept stopping to take pictures and/or walk. Completed the bridge, then did a little loop and began to run back down…

... not before stopping to take a pic first!  WOW what a view!!!

… not before stopping to take a pic first! WOW what a view!!!

Running back down the bridge, I was in a very meditative state. I wasn’t taking any pictures, I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than my amazing surroundings at the moment and all of a sudden, I tripped over something. I don’t know if it was my own feet or a literal bump in the road or the lane divider but oh so LUCKILY, the 2 runners next to me saw me going down and quickly grabbed me while the woman in front of me turned around and kind of pushed me back, saving me from a total face plant!  SHOO!!!  And THANK YOU kind strangers!

This is the moment you realize you should have done more hill training.

This is the moment you realize you should have done more hill training.

Miles 8 through 10 are pretty much all uphill and it was starting to become harder and harder for me to keep my stamina and pace on the climb here but I kept at it, walking a bit here and there but pushing, pushing, pushing my body on up, up, up… right when I was about to curse myself, this race, and every hill in the whole entire world, I saw this:

I concur.

I concur.

Got to mile 10 and my watch said 1:45 and I thought, “Hey! You may be able to finish this sucker in 2:15!!!” But the next mile of straight downhill disagreed. While one would think that there would be a bit of relief finally going down, it was a brutal, quad-murdering downhill. For one whole mile. My calves were tired from all the climbing and my quads were screaming as I pounded the pavement down, down, down without picking up any speed.

Downhill done at mile 11 and I looked at my watch and thought, “Hey! You’ll be able to finish this sucker in 2:20!” But the next 2 miles of total and complete climbing disagreed again.  Miles 11-13 were SO ROUGH and totally uphill. Oh was it hard. I tried to run but found that I had to walk the steepest parts as my pace was just as fast as walking anyway!

Finally, at mile 12.85 we entered Golden Gate Park towards the finish and I really tried to pick it up and somehow found my last kick to sprint to the finish… while I felt like I could have kept on running, I was honestly glad it was over! My watch said 2:27 but official results state 2:29 so either way, I am VERY SURPRISED I broke 2:30 and am VERY HAPPY about that given how challenging the course was- nevertheless, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!

Proud finisher- 13.1 #14 done and done!

Proud finisher- 13.1 #14 done and done!

I really loved this race! Everything about it is awesome, even all the hills! I can’t fathom how hard the full must be but people were telling me that the 2nd half of this race is easier, much less hilly and I look forward to running the 2nd half in 2014.

The expo was easy to walk through, I loved that my bib was personalized, there was ample water/electrolyte/porta potty stops all along the way, really great medal and- best thing of all- Irish coffees at the finish line in addition to scones, bananas, yogurt, and coconut water. This race is so well organized too- it was very easy to get my bag, food, and medal. As it is a point-to-point, they also provided shuttles to return you to the start and after about a 10 minute wait, I was on a warm shuttle and on my way home.

Unfortunately, when I got home and removed my shoes and compression socks, I was blessed with a HUGE blood blister on my right big toe plus the top of my right foot is very painful, bruised and swollen. While the blister is just ugly, the top of my foot really HURTS! Even more so today- I can barely walk on it!  I asked Dr. Internet and I think this foot pain has to do with forefoot striking on all those hills- I always rise up on my toes when running hills so too much of that just bought me a brief hiatus from running.

That’s okay though. After this race, I more than earned it!  See you for the 2nd half next year, SF Marathon!!!


16 thoughts on “Race Recap: SF Marathon (1st Half)

  1. Congrats on finishing another half marathon, Laura! I really enjoyed your recap — it makes me look forward to running the 1st half next year (looks like we’ll be swapping races). I totally agree about starting waves — I wish I would’ve started with the faster wave to get around some of the congestion. I also saw someone lose a water bottle! Luckily, it happened in a relatively sparse, uphill area of the course, so there were no casualties when the lady went back to retrieve the bottle. The same thing happened when I ran CIM — those fuel belts can be a real hazard!

    Hope your foot feels better soon!

    • And congrats to you on the 2nd half! Considering the full in 2015 perhaps??? There’s a special medal if you do all 3 events in 3 consecutive years… hmmmm… 😉

    • It was tough but for some reason, it went by really quickly! It was amazing to go from bright and sunny to fog and overcast within a few miles.. I’ve run SF a lot yet never tire of those views!

  2. Way to go Laura! The first half is definitely the hard half yet by far the most beautiful! So glad you didn’t face plant…the runner community really is awesome! 😀

  3. Pingback: Today’s Reason: The Movies | running4thereason

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