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Race Report: San Francisco First Half Marathon – 2010
July 30, 2010, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Despite hearing horror stories of the first half of the San Francisco Marathon, I had a really fun and satisfying race on Sunday! I ran this one with my friends and with no time expectations. My goals were to do a scenic run, challenge myself to get over m aversion to hills, test where I was at post-marathon, and have fun. No time goals, just fun.

I trained for this one with W and (Mr.) S. We registered super late, so we ended up in wave 8, the very last wave. The only plus: I got to sleep in until 5 AM. Minuses: dodging even more people than normal for the first three miles, and nagging fear that we wouldn’t get over the bridge before they started redirecting people to the sidewalk.

S and I grabbed a cab and got to the starting line early, so this has been one of my least stressful race starts yet. We met W, made our way to the corral after checking bags, and we started about 5 minutes later than our scheduled start. Off we went.

I need to just get over it, but I really really hate dodging slower people at the start of the race. I’m really not that fast myself, but I get so sick of needing to weave around people. The first mile was bounded by curbs on either side, with a cobblestone median. I’m super paranoid about curbs, so I tried not to weave too much, but S and W took off and I needed to follow. There was a dude on his iPhone, taking pictures and posting them to Facebook, all while weaving in and out cluelessly and passing people and going up and down the median. I tried so hard to stay away from him, but I didn’t lose him until nearly the top of the Fort Mason hill.

(Disclaimer about the mileage: my Garmin was REALLY off compared to the course’s mile markers. I know we weaved a lot, but it kept fluctuating throughout the race so I don’t know what was actually wrong. )

Mile 1- 10:02 (dodging people)
Mile 2- 9:31

S left us right before Fort Mason hill to use the bathroom. The hill wasn’t bad, since it was so early on.

Mile 3 – 9:55 (Ft Mason hill)

W and I continued through Crissy Field, and S somehow caught up with us right before the first of the really sucky hills (the one behind the climbing gym.) I managed to keep them in sight through all of the bridge approach hills, but once we got to the bridge I lost them both.

Mile 4- 9:46 (Crissy Field)
Mile 5 – 9:52 (some bridge approach/hill)

And, the bridge. Friends had told me horror stories about running Golden Gate Bridge during the race, but it wasn’t too bad. There was fog, but it didn’t feel abnormally slippery. Being crammed into one lane of traffic with so many runners made passing nearly impossible, so you got stuck at whatever unfortunate slow pace for the next 2 miles or so. Lame.

Even worse, though: the people trying to pass while on the bridge. I wanted to go faster than the prevailing 10:30ish pace I got stuck in the midst of, so I hung to the left hoping to pass. But all sorts of douchey guys on the left kept darting into the (equally packed) oncoming lane of runners to try to pass people. Stupid move, guys. I saw 2 collisions due to this. I also saw about 4 people eat it on the bridge due to the grates/ridges. No one seemed to be hurt beyond “shake it off and keep going”.

Mile 6 – 10:53 (more hill/bridge)
Mile 7 – 9:59 (bridge)

After losing my friends at the start of the bridge I assumed I’d be on my own for the rest of the race, but I managed to find W at the Gu station at the observation point. The entire parking lot and start of the return bridge trip was STICKY. Icky sticky Gu glue texture. Gross. W and lost each other again on the way back on the bridge, but I caught her before the big Presidio/Lincoln hill.

That hill was what I was most worried about, but it really wasn’t that bad. During training I kept dragging my friends on runs that started at Crissy Field, went up all of these hills, across the bridge and back, up the Presidio hill on Lincoln, then back down on the opposite side. And then I’d drag them on the return trip back over the hill to Crissy Field again. So by making the run ten times worse during training, the tiny bit during the race paled in comparison.

Mile 8 – 9:44 (bridge)
Mile 9 – 9:50 (presidio hill + downhill)

W’s boyfriend planned to meet us at the top of that Presidio hill, but he didn’t make it due to road closure. And lucky us, the course photographer caught us while we were trying to call him and update him on our progress. I spotted suit-of-armour guy at the top of this hill – I see him at lots of races, wearing the full suit of armor, shield, sword and helmet – and he was on the side of the road looking like he was in bad shape.

I love the gorgeous downhill toward Seacliff, but as soon as you get to the Richmond there are MORE STINKING HILLS. Mentally I knew I could do it and get through the sucky part, but W always starts out too fast and then fades a little bit early so she seemed pretty extra miserable. I put on my metaphorical Encouragement Hat and kept telling W how much ass she kicked, and we got through it. I think I’m just annoying, but ah well, I tried.

Mile 10 – 10:06 (stupid little Richmond hills)
Mile 11 – 9:29 (more stupid little hills)
Mile 12 – 10:06 (Richmond hills)

A few blocks before the mile 12 marker, I told W I was going to pick it up for the end and we split up. I knew I had energy left, but the hills had really exhausted me. I muscled through the last 1.1 miles and passed a lot of folks. Unfortunately, muscling through it meant making a growly face, ruining my pictures, and totally missing my awesome boyfriend who came to cheer us on. Oops.

Mile 13 – 9:27 (picked it up)
Last .1 (garmin said last .24) – 7:42 pace.

I crossed the finish line in 2:10:29. It was just 21 seconds shy of my PR of 2:10:08. But rather than being disappointed with that, I feel pretty damn great. My previous PR was on a very flat course about 6 months ago, and I essentially matched it on this hilly beast of a course. I’m satisfied, and I’ve made progress.

W finished a minute or two behind me, and S managed to beat his previous PR, finishing in 1:56 or 1:57 or something. Yay! Happiness all around. I’ll probably do the second half next year, but I have firm plans to NEVER do the San Francisco Full Marathon.

Up next: the Big Gay 10k in August, followed by a speedy flat half marathon or two this fall. I was debating CIM, but I think I’d be more satisfied by doing a few flat half marathons to really see my post-marathon “speediness” results in a race. We’ll see.

Separate photo post from the SF Marathon coming early next week!