Today I ran my third SF Giants Race (the 10K this time) after taking last year off. (In case you're interested, here's my 2010 and 2011 race reports.) I must say, the race has really grown since that first year, but I guess like everything else, when the team wins suddenly everyone is a fan.
I went to the expo on Saturday to pick up my race bib. It was held in the areas behind center field and Triples Alley.
I thought I could be in and out of there in a flash but it took about 20-25 min to enter the ballpark through the Marina gate. Then it was another 15 minutes or so of waiting in line to get my bib. There was a lot of inexperience with the "picking up the bib" process both by volunteers and participants.
When I finally got my bib I was also received a band to which I asked what it was for (since there was no instructions accompanying it). I was told it was a "pace band." To me, a pace band is something a runner wears with pace times listed on it for the purpose of running for a specific time. Apparently the purpose for this "pace" band was to indicate which corrals to be in at the Start Line.
With my bib I also got my race shirt. When I registered I requested a Medium, which turned out to be the equivalent of a Small. *Sigh*, yet another too small race shirt that I will never wear...
However I did get my Sergio Romo bobble head which is very cool.
On my out I stopped to take a photo with my favorite Giant of all time...
Oh, and one last thing on the expo - parking was available in Lot A, which is right behind the ballpark... for $4.
Apparently I missed the memo on pre-paid parking for race morning, so I figured I would park at my gym which is a mile from the ballpark. But then last night I realized that it would be dark on race morning and the area is sketchy. So I opted to park in Lot D for $10. Being my father's daughter I was paranoid that the lot was going to fill up early so I was parked by 5:15 am, just 15-minutes after it opened. (And just so you know, I wasn't the only Type A'ers there at that hour...)
I sat in my car for a while, then made my way over to Gear Check which was at McCovey Park behind the ballpark. After checking a bag I ran a lap around the ballpark in search of a real bathroom. My stomach was acting up and I needed the real thing, not a port-a-potty.
Not being successful, I made my way to the front of the ballpark on King St. where the Start Line was and met up with Alyssa (she ran - and PR'd! - the half marathon).
As soon as the race started I immediately knew that my stomach was going to be a problem. It was all I could think about during the entire race which was such a bummer because my legs and lungs have been feeling really good lately. I've also been in a good place mentally, something that I've struggled with.
While I said that I didn't have any goals, that wasn't completely true. Over the summer I attended a webinar series by Coach Dean Hebert (which I will elaborate more on in another post). So while I had no time goals, I did have two non-time goals that were based upon things I learned from Coach Dean's bootcamp:
1. To stay focused: To only think about the current minute, the current mile - not how many miles are left, not what went wrong in the past miles - just the present. Certainly I could manage this for just ONE hour.
2. To learn composure: So that when I get off-task and lose focus, or if something goes wrong, I know how to reorganize, regroup and refocus.
I guess I should be careful what I wish for. Because of my stomach issues it was really, REALLY hard to stay focused on the task at hand.
With the race being such a short distance I thought I could manage the discomfort. But by the time we ran past the second water stop I was frantically looking for a port-a-potty. There wasn't any, but across the street was one of the public bathrooms. The first one I ran into was broken so I had to run to another one on the opposite side.
When I hopped back into the race I was positive that my pace had slowed down considerably, although I didn't wear a Garmin so I had no idea what it was to begin with! When I passed the turnaround the clock read 28:46 which was not bad at all for me!
After the bathroom stop I thought the second half of the race would be better but my stomach continued to churn. I had to make a second bathroom stop at another public bathroom just past the Ferry Building. I have never made two bathroom stops in a race before.
Once the ballpark came into view I just put my head down and kept telling myself, "Just one more mile, just one more step" until I got to the Finish Line inside the park.
When I crossed the Finish Line I was completely shocked to see that my gun time was 1:01:36-ish. I thought it would be much slower with the second bathroom stop.
After crossing the Finish Line, I stretched out in the outfield, took a couple of photos, then made my way to the exit.
Later in the morning I checked the race web site and my official time was 1:00:54. This is only 35 seconds slower than my PR. While I was bummed about narrowly missing a PR, I am pleased with my time given the challenges.
I'm also really happy that I was about to stay focused and composed. It's not easy to do when you're worried about crapping your pants during a race! (overshare?)
Thoughts On the Race:
* Being that this is the fourth year of the race, I thought pre-race communication could have been better. There were a lot of things that could have been explained in a simple email that could also have been posted to the web site AND included as a printout with the race bib.
* For example:
- What the "pace"/corral band was for? - Where was the timing chip? (it was on the bib) - Where was the Start Line? (I scoured the web site for this and did not find it anywhere)
* If you're going to do things that different from the "norm", over-communicate it to your audience.
I keep all the emails from the races that I register for and the only one I can find for this race was dated a month ago on July 1st. Most of the race's emails were about fundraising (which was for a great cause!) but other important logistical details should have also been included.
Later in the morning, after the race was over, I saw that most of this information was posted to the race's Facebook page this morning. The problem with that? - when the race starts at 7 am, who's looking at Facebook? And, not everyone is one Facebook. So while social media is a great way to promote (and communicate) the race details, I think important details like this need to be sent in formal communications. The SF Giants do so about ticketing, promotions, game times, etc. (I get the emails), so it would be nice to see the organizers of the Giant Race do so too.
All this being said, I thought that the race was very well-executed. The best things were:
* The volunteers: they were fantastic and really cheered on runners on the last mile - I certainly appreciated it.
* The Finish Line: it was SO MUCH BETTER THAN 2011 (which is why I skipped 2012). There was room for people to move after crossing the Finish Line to cool down and stretch out. I even heard volunteers asking people to clear out of the immediate finish area to prevent congestion. Good job!
* The 5K not starting until 11 am: It wasn't nearly as congested as it has been in previous years because of this.
I thought it was very cool to open the ballpark to the public at 7 am to allow spectators to sit in the stands and cheer. However, I don't understand why limited sections of the park couldn't be opened at 5 am for runners so that we could sit in a warm area, and use real bathrooms.
All things considered, I had a great time and depending on the timing of next year's race plan will plan to run it again. I mean, it only has the best medal ever!