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Race Report: Emerald Across the Bay 12k, 2010

On March 21 I ran the Emerald Across the Bay 12k. I wasn’t really planning to do this race, but it ended up on my schedule and it seemed like a good idea at the time. The plan was to get in some extra miles that week to make up for my decreased mileage in New York, and what better idea to make myself do it than by committing to a race?

The race is a point-to-point, starting out in Marin at East Fort Baker, running up to, over, and down from Golden Gate Bridge, across Crissy Field, finishing at Aquatic Park. We caught shuttles at Aquatic Park which took us to the starting point up in Marin.

View from Aquatic Park at 6:45 AM:

2010-03-21 07.06.57

I got in line to wait for the shuttle, and THIS GUY came by, started dancing, and giving high fives:

2010-03-21 07.10.47

The shuttle came and took everyone over to East Fort Baker. We got there plenty early – I had about an hour and a half to kill before my wave crossed the starting line.

2010-03-21 07.37.52

These folks looked like they were at an Of Montreal concert:

2010-03-21 07.39.28

About 20 minutes before my wave started, I checked my phone and my sweats, so no more pictures for me until the very end. At 8:45 I headed up to the starting line, and the second wave took off!

I didn’t have much of a pacing plan going in, aside from treating it roughly like a tempo run (9:35-9:50 min/mi). I didn’t want to push too much since I’d gotten a lot of mileage earlier in the week, but that’s about all I had planned.

It was the standard crowded mess at the beginning. I ended up passing a fair amount of people in the first two miles, which I attribute entirely to letting people pick their own starting wave *with no time guidelines* for each wave. Pacewise I’m usually in the middle of the pack, but I kept passing people whose bibs were for the first wave. And there were walkers in the second wave! Not cool. If you’re going to walk, pick the third/last wave.

The first mile or so was downhill, and not too long after the first mile marker, the ascent from the ocean level up to Golden Gate Bridge began. I’m not sure what the gain actually was, but it was a fairly intimidating hill. I ran (slowly) and passed a bunch of people walking it. My Nike+ didn’t start at the beginning, so I was only able to self-time from approximately 0.75 miles onward. This was disappointing, and I never really felt like I got a good sense of my pace or time for the rest of the race.

Once we got to the road level of the bridge it got considerably easier, with not much actual bridge slope to notice on the way across. They didn’t shut down any lanes of traffic for us, so everyone ran on the ocean side pedestrian walkway. If I’d been doing this race with a more serious mindset I would have gotten annoyed with this, since people kept running four-across and blocking anyone who wanted to pass. Around here I chatted for a bit with a guy and his maybe 9-year-old son that was running the race with him. Cute.

Running the downhill from the south side of the bridge was really really fun. I’d run up this hill dozens of times while training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, but I’d never gotten to do the super awesome downhill, just the grueling uphill portion. The race folks had stationed a photographer here (good call!!) to get shots with the bridge in the background:

I barreled on downhill – probably too fast – and got to Crissy Field. This is the “back” of one of my favorite out-and-back long runs, and the course continued eastward.

This is the only race I’ve done in the last year and a half in which I did not bring my own water pack. It was nice not to be constantly be adjusting it. Since it was a 12k and the weather was semi-cold and gray, relying only on the two water stations worked out ok.

The route map wasn’t so great so I wasn’t quite sure where the race was supposed to end. I was a bit disappointed to see we had to run back up the hill by Fort Mason, but at least we ran up the easy side of the hill, which isn’t bad at all. BUT. We got to the top, and I saw a big inflatable arch. I was far enough away that I couldn’t read it, but hey…arch! So I stepped it up and got moving, until I got close enough to read that the arch said “one more half mile!”. CRUEL. Not ok. There were no garish mile markers for the entire course, until this tricky and misleading one. Anyway, i didn’t enjoy the speedy downhill that I normally love because I was to busy being pissed at the sign.

The finish line was not too far from the downhill, just a half block or so at the start of Aquatic Park. I picked it up and passed a handful people and finished, but I didn’t have a good sense of my time at all so it didn’t feel that great to cross the line and see the gun time, which was at least 20+ minutes off from my actual time.

I stuck around for a bit at the expo. There were beer tents:

2010-03-21 10.25.05
But I feel like you’ve got to run at least a half marathon to deserve a beer at 10 AM.

I wasn’t able to check my time until later that afternoon, but I ended up finishing the 12k in 1:11:36 (9:35 per mile.) Not bad. I hadn’t set out to race this, just to run it as a tempo run, but I did end up PRing. (Can you tell I don’t do many shorter races?) My tempo pace for this batch of marathon training is 9:35-9:50 per mile, so I managed to hit that right on the nose for this run. I think I could have done better if I’d been training specifically for this race, and if I hadn’t run 10 miles the day before, but it’s a new PR so I’m not going to be too critical! 1:11:36 is much faster than the other two 12k races I’ve run, and I’m happy with that.

This was the first race I’ve run without someone to cheer me on, and that was a nice experience. As much as I love my running partners and wonderful running sherpa boyfriend, it was a good chance to get out and run with no pressure and just enjoy!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

GREAT JOB!!! i was out there cheering for a friend and ran a couple of the later miles… that is not an easy course for a short race!

Comment by aron

Thanks – it was a fun race and I’m glad it made it onto my schedule. It’s the first time I’ve ran across the Golden Gate Bridge!

Comment by christinamariejohnson

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