Another race recap on the blog is happening now! This past weekend I ran in The SF Marathon for the second year in a row. Last year I ran the first half of the marathon (which I didn’t blog about, but I’m guessing that’s because I had such a rough race, hello dehydration) and this year I completed the marathon course by running the second half. Yep, you can run the first or the second half of the course, pretty cool huh? The first half begins at the Embarcadero, goes along the coast, across the Golden Gate Bridge, up and over some gnarly hills, and ends in Golden Gate Park. The second half begins in Golden Gate Park (surprise!), winds through the park, heads down Haight, and winds back up along the coast by AT&T Park and ends in the Embarcadero.
The weekend started early when I woke up at 5:30am to drive up to South San Francisco and catch a BART to take into the city (avoiding parking in SF = happy Meg). Why so early? Uh, so I could run with running legend Bart Yasso in his shake out run. There was about 10 or so people who showed up, including SF Ambassador and my friend Alisyn. The pace was slow, so we kept a little ahead of the group. After we headed to the Lululemon run, but that was a little more overwhelming. So my new running friend, Renee, and I took up to run to the expo (a nice 5 1/2 miles total for both runs).
At the expo, I picked up my bib and made an easy change from Wave 3 to Wave 2, as well as got a sticker confirming my participation on the Half-it-All Challenge (more on that later). Then I headed over to the Tech Center where I met Monika for the first time in person. Monika is also a SF Ambassador and makes tutus for GlamRunner. Several people that I know from various online running communities were wearing a tutu in the race, so guess what. I decided to do so too. I picked up my tutu and high tailed it out of the expo to avoid buying any tempting (yet expensive) running gear or registering for yet another race. The rest of the day was filled with shopping and errands and picking up Kevin’s uncle from the airport.
The next morning I was up before 5:30am so that we could head out with plenty of time to spare. My friend Pat graciously volunteered to drive me up and drop me off at the start line. We made amazing time and got to the start line with plenty of time to spare. After biding my time in the car, I headed out to start line and Pat took off to meet his buddy who lives on Haight. I got the start line and found several warm heating lamps to keep us runners warm on the cool, drizzly, foggy morning. (What a great idea! Kudos to that genius!) I chatted with some other runners who had traveled from San Diego and Colorado. And soon enough it was time to run.
I really wanted to set a new PR even though my current one is just two months old. A part of me feared that 1:45:44 time was a fluke and I needed to at least run it again to prove that it was real. I also wanted to run a steady race, as my last one was very fast in the first half but I struggled in the second half. I knew that if I wanted to get 1:40 I needed to maintain a 7:38 per mile pace. I tried to keep around that but ended up averaging a 7:48 pace. But I kept my pace very consistent, my fast mile 7:28 and my slowest at 8:11 (1st and 3rd mile respectively). But most of my miles were really in that 7:40-7:50 range. I ran strong the entire race and felt really good (such a difference from last year!). And I felt strong on the hills as well (of which there were a few more than I expected). In the first half I had kept near a woman running a similar pace (she kept me going in the park) but I moved ahead of her after the 6 mile marker. Oh and I saw Monika in her tutu briefly in the Park.
After the leaving the park, we headed down Haight. I loved running through the crazy famous neighborhood. I saw a sign that said “That “clif bar” you just ate was really a special brownie, welcome to the haight!” (or something like that). And we got some nice downhills through this section. Then I was running in areas of SF that I don’t know well and we had less crowd support, expect for the Lululemon crew you cheered us on. Around mile 10 or 11 I had a little side cramp, but I focused on my breathing and pushed through.
We came up to AT&T Park and I knew there was only about a mile left. So I gave it my all. It wasn’t my fastest mile, but still a strong finish. And I easily had negative splits in this race, woohoo! I had taken my head phones out around mile 11 just because I like to hear the crowd and runners toward the end. As I reached the finish, I heard Pat yell my name. I couldn’t give my normal yell back but I really appreciated the cheer! I thought I would finish in the 1:42 range, but I just missed it and crossed the finish line at 1:43:03 (95th woman overall and 28th in my age group). This race granted me both the confidence that I can run for 13 miles under an 8 minute pace and a shiny new PR (by almost 3 minutes!).
After I finished, I received some nice hardware. The SF Marathon started a new challenge last year where if you run both half marathons in consecutive years, you receive a special “Half-It-All” medal. It’s a pretty awesome medal and spins to show both the Golden Gate Bridge and the infamous Haight/Ashbury cross street. Then Pat, his friend Sean, and I headed from some post-race breakfast bagels and coffee.
I love the SF Marathon (and would love to run the full… 2013 maybe?). The race is very runner friendly with clearly divided waves, great organization, lots of water/electrolyte/calorie stations, and good volunteers. I love that we get to run so many different parts of the city. They also have this cool SF Ambassador program (just in case you didn’t click on the earlier link you can learn about the program here). I’d love to one day also be one (shameless begging happening here!). But seriously, this was such a great race experience and I highly recommend participating in one of their events.