San Francisco Marathon -- the 1st Half

(Warning: ridiculously long post) I don’t know how I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 12 years and not have run this race before. It is a great one!

I registered for the first half months ago and have been looking forward to it all summer. While I’ve run across the Golden Gate Bridge many times, I’ve never actually done so in a race. Its one of those things that you just *have* to do.

With so many people from Daily Mile, Twitter and Facebook running the race, I was looking forward the weekend.


Here's a photo of a sign that Martiza made. Its the first race sign I've ever had my name on!

I had planned to meet up with Missy to head to the expo on Saturday afternoon. I headed up to the City a few hours early to run a few errands. As I parked at the San Francisco Center, I got a notification on my phone that Chanthana had just “checked-in” on foursquare at the same location! I got so excited because we’d tried making plans to meet up at the expo and our schedules didn’t jive. I quickly messaged her and we ended up meeting in shoes and handbags at Nordstrom (aka “home base”) :)


Having followed her training on the Daily Mile, as well as on Twitter, I was so excited to meet her in person. And its the first time that I’ve actually met up with anyone as a result of foursquare!

After lunch with Missy, we caught the shuttle from the Hyatt to the expo. I am *so glad* I did not drive there. Parking in the area was a madhouse. I think we arrived as the crowd was filtering out because it wasn’t as bad as other people described (someone told me that 80,000 people filtered through the expo over the 2-day period). We had very little wait time to get our bibs, and while a bit crowded walking through the exhibitor area, it wasn’t quite so bad. I made a few purchases and was happy to be able to say hello to Danica and Page.

After the expo we got to see Ron and the rest of the Ironman family.


I was beyond happy when Ron gave me a Lucy bobblehead to add to my collection!


Having waited too long to reserve a decently priced hotel room in the City, I was fortunate to have a good friend put me up for the night. Although my wave wasn’t starting until 6:02 am, I wanted to get there early. I called it a night at 10 pm, with my alarm set to go off at 4 am. I slept like a baby until 2:15 am, then tossed and turned for about 45 minutes. The next thing I knew I had snoozed my alarm twice and actually dreamt I was already dressed and at the Start Line.

Eventually I dragged myself out of bed and got race ready. This is where I veered off from my usual race day rituals.

* I usually have a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter for breakfast. But when we went to Safeway the night before I saw King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread instead and *had* to get it. So that’s what I ate for breakfast, without the peanut butter. It just didn’t seem to go together.

* During the last half I ran, I didn’t even use my fuel belt so I decided not bring it at all. Its the first half that I’ve done that. I did carry a small hand-held bottle with grape Cytomax (also a first) but ended up just relying on the aid stations.

My friend dropped me off at Mission and Embarcadero, right where the bag drop was. It was perfect timing because the crowd had not yet arrived. I walked around for a bit and then realized there was tons of open space with very little people there so I went on my mile warm-up jog. I’ve been having issues with my lower left leg and it was extra stiff and painful. After the jog I headed to my wave area (or what I thought was my wave area). It ended up being a wave later so in total, I probably stood there waiting for about an hour before I crossed the Start Line.

During the entire time all I could think about was how much I was hurting. The longer I waited, the more doubt crept in my mind and I wondered if I should even run the race. But I couldn’t bring myself to walk away.

Seven minutes before we were to begin I had to use the bathroom. And once I have to go, I *have* to go. There was no getting out of the starting chute, it was fenced it. So I decided to just start the race and pull off at the first porta-a-potty that I saw. Another first for me - I’ve never stopped to use the *facilities* during a race before.

There was a single porta-a-potty at .11 miles, but the line was about 20 people deep and not moving. So I ran further and saw one of those single stall public restrooms. The line was only about 8 people deep so I stopped. I watched the time click by on my Garmin and couldn’t stand it. I knew my chip would record my “official” time so I paused my Garmin so I could track my *actual* running time. 15-20 minutes later I was back on course.

Surprisingly, my leg did not feel painful. Yes, it was a little bothersome, but not painful. I could run with ease and not think about it - which is what I did. While I was working hard, I never felt like I was over-extenuating myself.

We could not have asked for better weather. It was *perfect* running weather - mid 50’s and foggy - typical San Francisco summer weather. I wore a long-sleeved shirt. I could have done with a short-sleeved one, but didn’t feel like it was too hot at all. It was very comfortable conditions.

It seems like every San Francisco race has to include the Fort Mason hill. While not very long, it is steep and killed me during last month’s Giant Race. I was determined conquer it this time. Once I made it up that hill it was smooth sailing until the Golden Gate Bridge. As we ran through Crissy Field, we could see it, and thankfully, it was only partially covered in fog.

I feared the incline up to the GGB. While it was tough, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined it to me. (Side-note of personal pet-peeve: Why do they have Japanese drums at every Bay Area race? Do they motivate anyone?! They were rather annoying here...)

(Cheesy alert: While most of my friends do not care for Train, I love them and was thrilled when my little iPOD shuffle played “Save Me San Francisco” as I ran across the GGB). While running across the bridge was amazing, trying to manuever through the congestion was not. Only half the bridge closed and it was crowded. I got elbowed, kicked, cut-off -- you name it. As Missy said, “I dropped more f*bombs on the bridge than Barry Zito during his last game.”

Coming off the bridge we made the turn into Golden Gate Park on to what I think was the toughest hill of the whole first half. And the beginning of a series of rolling tough hills. I’m not gonna lie, they got to me. But with each uphill, there is a downhill. But those were tough too. My quads are not happy right now. I remembered my coach telling me, “Hills are our friends, they make us stronger.” That happy thought did not last long.

At one point, somewhere on Mile 11, as I was being cut-off for the umpteenth time by someone from the Korean-American Running Team, I reached the top of the hill, turned the corner, only to find another hill waiting. I literally put my hands up and said, “You have got to be kidding me.” At this point I was pretty grouchy but tried to put it into conquering the hill.

Those last 2 miles were the toughest. I admit, I stopped to walk a couple of times. My legs felt like jelly. But then I looked at the people who were running the full and I knew I had to suck it up and not be a wimp, so I pushed to the Finish Line, which by the way, was at 13.30 miles - not 13.1. (For those of you who do not matters.)


I guess you could say officially, it was probably my worst half-marathon time, but I’m going to take my unofficial Garmin time and call this a PR. Its 3 minutes faster than any of the 6 previous half-marathons I’ve finished.

After the race I had wanted to head back to the Finish Line and cheer on the 2nd-half runners, as well as the full marathon runners. But the wait for the buses was well over an hour and by that time, I was ridiculously freezing. I ended up calling my friend (who is so good to me) to come and pick me up. I needed a hot shower badly.

12+ hours later, I am a little sore, mostly in my achilles and the arch of my foot. But I’ve iced, stretched, rolled, and had a Polkers' burger and curly fries, so I am absolutely a happy girl.

This was such a well-organized race and so widely attended. I am definitely going to be doing it again! Congrats to everyone who ran it - it sounds like San Francisco was good to many of us!

PS I realize that this will come as a shock to most of my friends, but I did not take any photos during this race, not even on the GGB. I was all business. So, here's a nice photo from of today's race.