The Giant Race

I've been averaging going to 2 ball games every home stand this season. Two games in one weekend is pretty exhausting; adding in a half-marathon made it a pretty full weekend.

Friday Night Game

This was the inaugural year of the Giant Race, the first half-marathon hosted by the Giants. I registered for the race back in February at Fan Fest, and registration included a ticket to the game the night before the race. Since we also planned to go to the game after the race, it made sense to spend the night in the City. We stayed at the race-designated hotel which is a nice walk from the park. If you're familiar with San Francisco you'll know that summers in the City are usually cold; our summers usually come around in October. So when I saw how warm it was during the walk to the park, I knew we were in for a hot race day.

When we got to the ballpark, we went to the expo that was held in the parking lot behind the park.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how well the bib pick-up process was organized. The expo wasn't too bad either; picked up some free samples, found out about new upcoming races and got some snacks too.

Figuring out what ballpark food to eat for a pre-race meal was a bit of a challenge. I had my heart set on getting my macho nachos, aka the jerk chicken nachos at the Orlando Cepeda BBQ stand. Unfortunately, the runners were seated in the upper deck and the View section stand didn't have the nachos I wanted. The Tres Agave nachos were there, but those are nasty (I'm sure they're better in the restaurant, but the ballpark version sucks). After walking up and down the concourse, I settled on the Cha-Cha bowl - Caribbean rice, beans, chicken and vegetables.

We were seated in the very top corner of the park. I'm not an upper deck kinda girl and I felt so removed from the game. I mean, we couldn't even see the scoreboard. At least we had a nice view of the 3rd base line and the G's ended up winning the game.

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At 10 pm it was a warm walk back to the hotel (again, very unlike San Francisco summers).

Race Day The next morning, we planned to take the complimentary shuttle to the park. We waited for it for about 15 minutes and when it finally showed up, it turned out to be a small van. It would take several trips to get everyone who was already there waiting to the park, so we ended up walking. The fact that I didn't need a jacket at 7 am pretty much told the story of how the day would be.

We stopped at McCovey Cove to take a few photos:

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Then headed to bag check where we met up with Ron (how did we not get a photo together?).

There were about 3700 participates for both the half and 5K. Unfortunately, other than the pace groups, there wasn't really organization to the start. We pushed our way up to the 2:00 pace group that Ron and Karin (so happy I finally got to meet her in person...how did we not get any photos together either?!) planned to run with.

Matt Cain (of the high-knee socks look) was there to kick off the race. I can't remember what he said, but I do know that Jeremy Affeldt was way more inspiring at last year's 5K.

Before I knew it, it was time to go. We said goodbye to Ron and Karin, then Missy and I waited for the 2:20 pace group.

Miles 1-4 Starting out I felt great. Since the race started behind the park, there was a lot of space so people weren't crowding into each other; there wasn't any dodging and weaving. The area behind the park is dry and industrial with a few new buildings. Not a lot of action going on, but Cheer SF was there to keep things spirited (random thought: how exactly does one become a member of Cheer SF?), along with a gospel choir.

At Mile 2 we passed the ballpark and I was grateful for the shade. I took my first sip of Ultima, the drink I had in my belt. It was warm and gross. I shouldn't even have bothered to use the belt because I didn't use it again for the rest of the race.

As we continued to run along the Embarcadero, I realized how much lack of shade there is in this area. What little shade there was came from the shadows of the buildings. The next aid station was around Mile 4. It was so hot, I knew I'd be stopping at every one. My ritual became, drink 1 cup of Powerade, drink 1 cup of water, pour 1 cup of water all over me.

Miles 5-8 We hit the first hill at Mile 5 - Fort Mason.

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I've run this hill many times before and always kicks my ass - every single time. I tried to run it, made it half way, then walked the rest because I felt like I was having a coronary. The rest of the Fort Mason area was hills, then it flattened out for a bit while we ran back along the Embarcadero (Fisherman's Wharf).

By this time I was so, so hot. There was an aid station right before the ramp up to the North Beach Hill. I didn't want to cramp up so I drank a lot of fluids there. But I think I drank too much because all of a sudden I got really queasy. Somewhere in North Beach, around Mile 8, I puked. I usually have a stomach made of steel and have never puked while running. Ever. Its pretty disgusting.

Despite that puking thing, North Beach wasn't that bad. Everyone at the expo said that North Beach was the "big hill", but I found it much more tolerable than Fort Mason. Maybe because it was more gradual and not straight up.

Mile 9 Mile 9 - downhill on Broadway. I loved it - scummy stripper clubs and all. I rocked out to 50 Cent and thought the worst was over; it would be smooth sailing from there on out.

Miles 10-13 Mile 10-13 was back tracking along the Embarcadero back to the ballpark. Sort of. I was cruising along and got so excited when the ballpark came into view. I kept thinking, "its almost over!" But then I got to there and realized it was only Mile 10.5.

We had to run through the back of the park again. I swear, it was like a death march. Hot and lifeless. Passing the Lefty O'Doul Bridge where the Finisher's chute started and seeing the runners heading into the chute when I still had 2 miles left just about killed me.

Those last 2 miles were tortuous. Every time I made a turn I expected to see the course turn back towards the park but it didn't. It was like last years Seattle RnR all over again. The worst was at Mile 12. It appeared that's where you turned to head back toward the park, but instead, there was another loop in the other direction. I saw Missy here; we just looked at each other and shook our heads. It was about this time that I sent Ron a text that said, "I am so miserable."

I am so grateful for the lady who tapped me on the shoulder as I walked and encouraged me to get going again. "Just one foot in front of the other" she said. As I picked up the pace I ran into a couple of twenty-something girls. One of the girls yelled, "Dammit, I was doing so well until Mile 10!" I started laughing and joined up with them for a bit.

When I finally got to the Finisher's chute (which ran down the boardwalk behind the park) I met up with Missy and we entered the park at Triples Alley (right center field). We ran along the warning track and crossed the Finish Line together in left field.

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As soon as we crossed the Finish Line, we came to a dead stop and had to stand in a long line to wait to get our medals (btw - who's bright idea was it to have a blue medal for the Giants Race?!) and have our photo taken at home plate. There was no space to walk around to cool down. As we made our way down the line I started to cramp up and feel quesy again. So as soon as I took my photo, I walked straight to the medical tent (in the opponents dugout).

When I felt normal again we made our way back to the expo tent to pick up our race shirt. Did they really need to put "10" on the back? Every time I look at it I think of Travis Ishikawa (and not in a good way).

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Post Race We had to check out of the hotel by 1 pm so we raced back, cleaned up and checked. Since the game didn't start until 6 pm we had 5 hours to kill. We decided to head to the Public House, the restaurant/bar at the park.

The Giants had opened the park for fans to watch the World Cup for free on the HD scoreboard. They thought they'd get a couple thousand fans but instead 20K people showed up which made the Public House a crazy mess. They ran out of food and didn't start serving again until 3 pm. Luckily there's free wi-fi at the ballpark and we were able to keep ourselves occupied while starved, waiting for the kitchen to open again. The good folks there knew we waited a long time so they served us first. I'm not ashamed to admit that I pigged out on burgers, fries, mac and cheese and chocolate salt ice cream.

We ended the epic weekend in the bleachers, watching the Giants beat the A's during another warm night in City.

For a first time race it went a lot better than I expected and I have to give mad props to whoever manages the @SFGiants Twitter account. They answered all of my race questions. With the tens of thousands of followers they have, I really appreciated the prompt responses!

Now that a little time has passed, I can say that despite the heat, the puking, and the death march, it was fun. I'll definitely participate in this race again -- at the very least the 5K.

The next race I'm registered for is the San Francisco Marathon 1st Half next month...thank goodness it starts at 5 am!