I’d like to say that this is a race report where I’m giving details on how I crushed it, how I was able to pick-up the pace, hit my time goal and PR! But that is definitely NOT what this race was about. This was not a serious race whatsoever, and I have to say, I think it’s quite possibly the funnest race I have ever run!
Stephen and I registered for this race a few weeks ago, but we knew at the beginning of the year we would run it. We are going for the California Dreaming series and the San Francisco Marathon is a race you have to run as part of the series. Regardless, I believe I would have run it anyway because I LOVE this race. It is the first marathon I have ever run (on 8/3/2008) and it is just special to me because I love San Francisco so much and getting to run through most of the city is such a great experience. There are three different races you can do for SFM – the full, the first half, or the second half. We chose the second half because it’s slightly easier than the first and you end at the actual finish line with all the full marathoners.
Going into this race was a bit scary. I have recently been training with a personal trainer and I have been SO sore that running long runs has been pretty impossible. My entire body has been sore and I’ve been working muscles I didn’t even know existed. It’s an AMAZING experience, but it’s also tough on my running schedule. Weight and circuit training twice a week has really changed the way I workout and train. That being said, I went into this race just hoping to FINISH, let alone run it in a decent time.
Somehow, I managed to talk Stephen into running this with me. We have never run a race together (because lets face it, he’s 6’2” and I’m 5’3” – our strides are just a little off) and I thought it would be fun to do this one together. I also knew I would need some motivation if I started dying on the run. He promised he would stay with me, so we set out to run it together.
We left our house around 5:30 a.m. with Aron. It was a bit of a challenge getting into the city and finding parking (when is this EVER easy??), but we lucked out, found great parking and headed to the shuttles.
After the shuttle ride, we were dropped off right at the start line in Golden Gate Park, it was perfect! We had some time to kill, so we were able to watch the full marathoners come through a portion of the park. It was fun standing there with Aron and talking about races we’ve run and our first experience with SFM just two years before.
As we were chatting, the music on the loud speakers went quiet and we heard an announcer come on. I have no idea what he was saying, but I clearly heard the word “GOOO!!” being shouted. I thought it was a joke, but all the sudden everyone started moving and we were crossing the start line! It was the most interesting and un-climactic start ever! Oh well!
We headed into the park and I felt pretty good. I was just hanging out and chatting with Stephen. At about mile 3 Stephen was like “this is part of the full marathon?!” – he was surprised that all the hills we were climbing and descending were actually miles 14, 15 and 16 for the FULL marathoners! I told him we weren’t kidding, SFM Full is a toughie!
We continued up and down and through the park, at mile 4 I knew I needed some water and a gu. This is where I realized I made a race mistake. Even though we weren’t taking this race seriously, I am used to running with a hand-held water bottle. I didn’t take one with me on this race and was starting to get crampy because I was not drinking enough water. Good thing we weren’t running for time! Lesson learned on water!
At mile 5 there was a water stop, so we stopped…and took some gu, drank some water, stretched, talked, and took pictures! This was certainly a first for me because I never stop at water stops, let alone take a break!! But it was fun!
After that I felt great! We were running a pretty good pace and passing people. It was a little crowded heading out of the park, but we made it and stopped a couple more times for picture opps.
We had a bit of a hill climb coming out of the park, but it wasn’t bad. We just kept cruising along, talking and taking pictures. The whole time I was thinking about my first full marathon just two years before. I was trying to remember each part of the race and how I felt when I was running this course at mile 20, not at mile 7.
After a few downhill’s, we began winding our way through the Mission District. We kept making right turns, then left turns, and there was so much to see!! So many spectators were out and about and I loved it! As we were running a slight downhill, one of those spectators started running toward me waving frantically – it was Tara!! She found us at mile 8! She jumped in and started running with us.
Just after running into Tara, I got a really bad cramp in my side. I needed gu and water, so we stopped for a second and I downed a gu. At the next water stop, I walked through, got some water and cytomax, then kept going. It made ALL the difference! I felt amazing after that and my cramps were gone.
We were on the lookout for a few more of our friends who we knew were out to cheer us on. We were nervous we wouldn’t see them because the race divides runners onto different blocks and streets. It’s almost like a weaving pattern and you see some runners turning and others going straight. We were afraid they were on a street that we weren’t running on. Just as we were about to give up seeing them, we turned the corner and there they were!
We were pretty much in the home stretch at this point and we began seeing the full marathoners starting to walk. I felt for them as I knew exactly what they were feeling. I gave a few of them encouraging shout outs and wished them the best.
At mile 11.5 we saw the Giant’s Stadium!! Another photo opp 🙂
We only had about a mile left, so Stephen and I started to speed up a bit. It was getting crowded around the stadium, so we passed as many people as we could, then hit the street for the last .5 miles. Just as we got to the 26/12.9 mile marker, we saw Maritza and Kerry cheering us on!
As we got to the finish line I grabbed Stephen’s hand and held onto it until we crossed the finish line. I know, SUPER cheesy and so unlike me, but I figured this might be the ONLY time we ever cross a finish line together so I better make it a photo finish! It was awesome.
We immediately saw Aron waiting on the sidelines, so we hurried through the finish, grabbed a million goodies that I could barely carry (so much good stuff! I needed a bag for all the goodies), and got our medals.
Overall, AMAZING race! This was the most fun I have ever had during a race. It went by so fast even though it was one of the slowest half marathons I have run (2:00:09). I am so proud of myself for running it and hanging in there. I would liked to have trained more and ran it better, but at the same time, I had so much fun running with Stephen, taking pictures and just enjoying my time that I don’t think I would change any of it. I will have many more chances to run a fast half marathon, but taking my time and creating a fun race memory was such a great experience. I highly recommend everyone who runs to do a fun run at least once!! Chances are, you’ll probably do it again. I foresee more fun races between Stephen and I…sprinkled in with all the ones we will race.
I had such a blast with everyone and look forward to all the fun running stuff we have coming up. Now it’s onto a 12-week Full Marathon training schedule for Stephen and I. We are gearing up for the Long Beach Marathon on October 17th, wish us luck!!