The SF Half Marathon

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And, so…the day began. 5:30am start in San Francisco. Starting line just south of the Ferry building. A gorgeous morning as you can tell from the photo. I had run down to the starting line as my little warm up. The city streets filled with fellow runners….love it! As I ran along to the start, became more and more awake, enlivened…to do my thing. RUN.

It had been a long time in between races…the last one I did was very different; a super small trail race in Pacifica. The starting line was packed with those running the Full Marathon and those like me, running the Half. (This was the 1st half of the course, last year I did the race but ran the 2nd half of the course, which is actually easier in may opinion.)

My “starting wave” didn’t actually cross the starting line until about 5:50am, so I had plenty of to stretch, warm up and get comfortable. I felt relaxed and at ease with my “game plan”….which s simply run, enjoy and do my best. In contrast to last year when I had specifically trained for a personal best, I did not train much this time. I mean, I got many runs in, but I didn’t focus on speed work, I didn’t get the specific training in that I would have needed to keep pace with my 1:58:42 from last year. And, I was ok with that. I knew when I signed up this would be the case. So.

There was a Cable Car bell ringing to signify the start and off we went. The first 5-6 miles are almost entirely flat as we run all along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf and along the Marina Green and Chrissy Field. Felt easy and comfortable. I kept looking out into the bay….feeling loads of gratitude and appreciation for where I live.

And, then the climbs started. The steep climb up from the marina and onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Contrary to popular opinion, I did not enjoy this part. I knew I wouldn’t as I remembered this portion from when I ran this Full Marathon back in 2005. To me, running across the bridge is very loud and it FEELS like a constant steady slight uphill in both directions! I guess the path is like a slight arc, but honestly it doesn’t feel easy. I guess I also feel like it’s a bit chaotic because the bridge is not closed to traffic. So, lots of cars swooshing by and other runners headed in the opposite direction since it is an out and back portion. The remaining 4 miles were not easy.  Once off the bridge, we made a steady climb into the Presidio which is followed by a nice downhill section into the final Richmond District neighborhood and finally into Golden Gate Park. I was not comfortable on the climbs as any climbing has been almost non-existent in my training. Ahhh… A good kind of hurt, eh? But, even around mile 10, I remember thinking, “I am actually feeling ok…i would be curious to see how i would fare for the FULL course today.” And then, something happened in the last 2 miles where i just started to feel very tired…like seriously running out of gas!! I was surprised but probably shouldn’t have been since my longest run pre-race was only 10.5 miles. So, as we made the ran the final steady uphill mile into the park and into the finish line, I was Happy I was NOT running the FULL course. Today.

My finish time was right along what I expected in 2:09:42

My main goal while running races is always to see what I can do on a given day. How will I show up? How will my body perform? How am I mentally? As mentioned in previous posts, I had not felt the greatest mentally or physically before this race and I did in fact, have some fears that I would just crack and not finish. But, as I woke and got prepared in my hotel room….as I made my way to the starting line….as I stood there with thousands of my fellow mates,  I knew I was instantly stronger in every way. THAT’S why I do this. It was great to get out and be a part of the race and feel the enormous energy and camaraderie. I needed that.

I never really care how I finish overall, but I do care and like to see how I fare among my sex and age group: women 40-49.

Here were my numbers from this year :

Females 40-49    121/618

Which I think is good, especially on the tougher part of the course.

To contrast, here are my numbers from last year when I ran the 2nd portion of the course and had a PR

2012 Females 40-49    54/415

Which I also think is good.

Some comments about the race logistics, etc: Race Expo was ok, but it was VERY, VERY hot in the building so that made it uncomfortable to stay long. I was also super aware of how commercialized it all is….seems like every year, the feel of an expo appeals to me less and less.  I used to love going to these things and now I have more like a “get me in, get me out” attitude. But, that’s definitely the nature of big races and I have to expect that….if I want something low key, there are plenty of options for that!!

The Race organization itself was awesome. Even their communication per-race, with sending emails and letting us know security would be enhanced and to arrive earlier than usual. And yet, there was no waiting or anything at the starting line, everything was clearly marked for each different starting wave and just simply well-organized. There was enough of water, Gatorade, etc on the course and the volunteers were terrific, as usual. Massive thank you to all the volunteers. I realize some were probably starting their VOLUNTEER shift at 4am or earlier. THANK YOU! The finish line and snacks afterward were more than sufficient. I took a shuttle bus back to the starting line and that was easy as can be. So, overall the WIPRO SF HALF MARATHON was terrific.

I made my way back to my hotel, changed and met a friend for breakfast at the Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley.  A great Sunday morning.

Thank you to my friends who cheer me on, near or far, in person or in spirit. Thank you!

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Shoes: Brooks T-7 Racer. super light shoe, felt good but would not want to run in full marathon, but good for this distance. Would want more support for longer distance

Also wore: compression socks for the first time. loved them and will use again.

Next up: The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4th!!

“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” –John L. Parker Jr.

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