SF Marathon Race Recap

Hello runner friends!

Time to recap and review another race! This year I completed the San Francisco Marathon and finished up the 52 Club challenge which is a 3 year 3 race series where you run the 1st and 2nd Half Marathons in the 2 years leading up to running the full marathon. I ran the 2nd Half in 2012, the 1st half in 2013 completing the Half It All challenge and then followed it up with the full in 2014 and joined the 52 club! I also set a 17 second marathon PR which left me chomping at the bit for my BQ race so I signed up for the Columbus Marathon in my hometown of Columbus, OH!

Full list of challenges are on the website here: http://www.thesfmarathon.com/community/challenges/

So let's get to the race!

Race Expo

So I was late, like REALLY late, to the expo. Like 5 minutes left in the expo on Saturday late. It was down at Fort Mason this year instead of at a warehouse space near the Caltrain station like in years past which made transportation more of an issue. Driving across SF during a Saturday can be a nightmare.

I dashed in, grabbed my race bib, grabbed my tech tee, got my ID checked for my beer garden wrist band and then checked in at the 52 club table to grab my sweatshirt all in ~5 minutes. I was impressed with myself. I walked through the rest of the expo and it was the usual vendors and looked like a good spread of products. Nothing stood out as particularly good or bad, the layout of the expo was a bit weird since there was really an easy path to the packet pick up, you just had to wind through the vendors to get there.

After the expo I headed over to meet up with Patrick (@WhatThe5k) for dinner and then to crash with him at a hotel near the start line. After a hike to get GU since my order of Reload Gel never made it to me :( we called it a night!

Flat Katherine is ready!

Race Day

I was placed in wave 3 and my start time was 5:42 and with a 20 minute hike and needing about a half hour to get myself together at the hotel meant a 4am wake up call. Still not as bad a WDW runDisney race!

We got ready, packed our bags and started the ~1 mile walk to the start line. It was a nice stroll through the city and then we finally arrived dropped off our bags and then I hopped in the porto-potty line. For some reason at this race, I ALWAYS have a problem with these lines moving slow. I don't have this problem at other races. I'm probably just bad luck. So if you see me at an SF race next summer, don't get in that porto-potty line, it's going to be bad news.

I ended up missing my corral so went with wave 4, which was fine since I meandered my way to the front. With the race announcers ready, the runners in wave 4 ready and we were off!

The first miles are flat going up the Embarcadero and then through Fisherman's Wharf which always smells like delicious treats and makes my stomach pang with hunger and my head ask "why not stop for breakfast instead of running 26 miles?" Then you get to the Fort Mason hill which is steep and I just had to keep my pace and breathing in check.

We ran along the water and then up the hill to get to Golden Gate bridge. Last year we had beautiful, clear morning views but this year no luck. The fog was still settled on SF so it was a normal, foggy SF morning. Cool but not as spectacular as the year before.

We then ran over the Golden Gate bridge which is cool but since we get funneled into one lane on the bridge, it's also very crowded. I always have mixed feelings about this part of the course. We then entered back into the city and came to the "bunny hills", on the map them seem like no big deal, but at mile 9-11 they just hurt. We then enter Golden Gate Park and split from the 1st half marathon runners.

So I'm really bad at looking at maps before hand, but man, I didn't know we were going to loop for so long in Golden Gate Park. Around mile 15, we were still in gentle hills and my legs were starting to really hurt so I grabbed some tylenol at the next med stop. I should've grabbed tylenol earlier but wasn't thinking.

After looping through Golden Gate Park, we then ran down Haight for awhile and then made some turns south before turning onto familiar territory near my office. We almost ran right past my office. Miles 18 on were also very sunny! The sun was out and since we were running on the streets, there were no trees to hide beneath for shade and they probably could've used one more water stop in the later miles. As we were heading into the south east corner of the city, we reached a hill at mile 22 where my legs just gave up. I was able to push through but seriously that hill took any extra energy my legs had at that point. We then got to east side of SF and started running along the water again. Around Giants stadium and back up the Embarcadero to the finish!

Official Finish Time: 3:44:39

A new PR by 17 seconds which I'll totally take on this tough course. Wow my legs were screaming at me at the end. The finish chute was nice, nothing great but got some water and chilled out for a bit while waiting for friends before heading into the beer garden.

Overall, the SF marathon is a great city race and a great challenge for anyone looking for a tough road race. With hundreds of a feet of climbing, it's a great test of your hill training. The course really tours the city well too!

Will I do it again? After running basically the same course 3 years running, I might take a break next year and continue my 50 state marathon challenge elsewhere. Or I might do the Tough Enough challenge, time will tell :)

Pros:

  • Great course
  • Great challenge
  • Good swag and a variety of race types
  • Easy to get to race start
  • Easy to get into if you are looking for a big city race

Cons:

  • Hills!
  • Water stops less frequent than I'd really want
  • Food at the end was lack luster (dry muffin anyone?)

Friday Happy!

What a week/two weeks/I don't even know what day it is?! Haha... but seriously only half kidding there.

Here are the things that make me smile today!

  1. Only 1 month until @WhatThe5k comes to SF and we run the SF Marathon "together" (aka he's probably going to smoke me)
  2. I get to go to Napa for the first time this weekend!... for a race expo... but still, I am going and I get to rep Bia at the Zooma half marathon!
  3. New bedding! I finally got a lighter comforter, so now I sleep much better. Thank you Ikea for being so affordable!
  4. Visiting my friend at her job and getting free food! I'm so excited that 1) she's close-ish to my office and 2) she's awesome!
  5. Delicious hard cider - I went to BevMo for the first time last weekend and it was glorious! They had so many fun ciders to try, I didn't know where to start! (For the record, black currant cider is tasty)
I'm excited to go hit the road and travel up to Napa to spend the next 2 days with all the Zooma half marathon athletes! Come say hi if you see me!

I Rocked and Rolled! (Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco Half )

Hello all!

After a four month hiatus from racing, I was back in the saddle and ready to go for the Rock 'n' Roll SF Half! This was going to be my first Rock 'n' Roll race and I was stoked, I heard so many great things about this race series!

Let's go to the expo!

Expo

The expo was held at the Moscone Hall which is a great convention venue! This is where a lot of the major conventions in SF are held!

Yes, yes I am!!! Let's Rock!

Expo Layout

I went on Friday afternoon, so the expo was really really quiet. It was great! I picked up my bib and got my free water bottle. I then grabbed my t-shirt and clear drawstring bag and some free samples (Starbucks Via Orange, Bio Freeze, and Coupons)

I then moved on to the race merchandise area which was basically a full Brooks store. Lots of stuff to choose from and lots of great race merchandise. In an effort to save some money I just bought a hat. I then moved on to some of the vendors. Got some GU, a new Sparkly Soul headband, and snacked on some free samples.

It was super low-key and I really enjoyed wandering around which is not something I normally say about expos. I'm sure if I had gone on Saturday my experience would've been much different but going during a slow time was great!

After grabbing my stuff it was time to head back home! Getting excited for Sunday!

Course

Elevation

Race Day

So I wasn't really sure how this race was going to go. I had basically run this course backwards last July when I ran the 1st Half Marathon during the SF Marathon weekend and had completely burned myself out running up some hills before getting to the bridge. With this in mind I approached race day just hoping to beat my previous SF race time - 1:48:08.

I knew I needed to take the first hills a bit slower and not attacking them as I normally do because I needed to pace my miles. So I got a restless night of sleep and 4 am rolled around, let's do this!

A friend met me at my place and we drove into the city together. We parked around 5, got on a shuttle bus around 5:30 (you had to take a bus from the finish area to the start area because it was point to point) and were at the race area by 6am with a half hour to mill around and get into our corrals. Of course a last minute bathroom run combined with a long line meant I ended up in the corral overflow area. Not sure why we couldn't all fit.

This cool cat is ready to run!

At the start, they did something interesting. They had corral 15 (reserved for walkers) start ahead of everyone else. I thought this was weird and would cause congestion but I figured RnR had figured this out and it wouldn't be an issue. I was curious at the very least to see how it would work!

So the walkers started as 6:15, the elites were off at 6:30 and then the rest were right behind. They had staggered starts for each corral but it was very fast. I was in corral 2 and I felt like we went directly behind corral 1, maybe corral 1 was just the elites and I was confused.

Anyways, we were off. Flat for a second and then to the hills we go! Up and up until we go to the bridge. We did meet up with the walkers and it was... okay. They took up about half the course and it was annoying to get stuck behind them but we were past them in about a half mile or so. My mile 2 it was just runners! On the bridge it was pretty congested since it was only one lane for each way going over the bridge. Luckily I was out front far enough that it was fairly spaced out.

To the bridge we go!

And now back the other way! Look at all the runners!

 Once over the bridge, we had lots of room to run. We ran along the coast and it's my favorite. The sun was coming up over the bay and there wasn't any fog so you could look back and see the Golden Gate bridge and you could see Alacatraz out in the water. THIS is why you run SF!

It was at this point that I was more aware of my pace. I was watching my pace but hadn't really been pushing it through the hills because I didn't want to burn out but I was cruising safely to a new SF PR and I was feeling great! After some scenic bay views, we turned back into the city and well those hills from mile 10-12 were killer. Augh, these were rough with lots of hills!

After that though it was all down hill. Around mile 11 I realized I was on pace to actually beat the PR I ran in Disneyland. This was a huge motivator! We cruised into the finish area and it was great all downhill and I was tantalizingly close to my PR! I was trying to catch this female runner who I had been following for about 5 miles but wasn't able to catch her. Darn!

I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and loaded up on all the snacks! I could barely carry them all!

I then went and waited for my friend who was also running and I also needed to check my time to see if I had beaten my PR! I didn't think I had but wanted to see what my official time was.

Official Time: 1:44:34

Only 16 seconds slower than my PR!!! Augh! I know I should've been so excited that I ran as well as I did but it was only 16 seconds! I was so close to a PR! I'm immensely proud I ran this race this well. The hills were killer and I was able to properly pace myself through them which makes me more optimistic for the SF Full Marathon in July. I felt great at the finish too!

I grabbed my sweats and waited for my friend and checked out the area. The Neighborhood was the headliner for the race and they were nice to listen to and it was fun to be at a "concert" in the middle of the Civic Center.

Concert!

Overall, I had a great time. The course was really well laid out, the "after party" was fun, and I liked the overall vibe of the race. I went into it pretty relaxed and ended up having a great race! If there is a Rock 'n' Roll race in your area, I would definitely check it out!

Will I do it again? Maybe, I think one year I'm going to buy the season pass and just run a bunch of them in the year!

Pros:

  • Great swag
  • Great course
  • Great post-race area
  • Great medal
  • VERY well organized - the Rock 'n' Roll series is a well oiled machine

Cons:

  • I was expecting more rocking - I felt like most of the bands I passed were still setting up or warming up. Not a lot of rocking.
  • Walkers up front created early/unnecessary congestion

Nike Women's Marathon Race Recap

So... it's been awhile but I'm getting so excited for Dopey, so get ready for regular updates as I count down the days until the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend kick off!

We are at 58 days!

Also, congrats to everyone who ran the Wine and Dine Half! Looks like everyone had a blast!

Since I last posted I ran the Nike Women's Marathon here in SF and also a Warrior Dash (my first attempt at any type of obstacle course race).

This week we'll talk Nike Women's Marathon!  Here we go!

First we'll start with the spoilers! I set a new PR and shaved 8 minutes off my time and came in at 3:51:04 woot woot! I stayed in control and felt good at the end, probably could've pushed a bit harder and knocked off those 4 seconds but still so excited! 

Anywho, on with the show.

Expo

So if you are looking for a race with great swag, freebies, and race weekend merchandise, look no further. aA the expo you could get a 5 minute Neutrogena make-over, get a 5 minute hair style by Paul Mitchell, get a spray on tatoo, and lots of Whole Foods, Luna, and other food to nibble on including a Quinao chocolate bar which was delicious. Needless to say this race has some serious sponsors.

Goodie Bag

Macy's coupon, Verizon coupon, Paul Mitchell sample, Neutrongena Sunblock (I grabbed an extra such a great size) Luna bar, 2 different trail mixes, and then bib and flyers. Some serious swag.

So the expo was.. crowded! I have been to expos before and granted I'm not the best with crowds at expos but this was crazy. It was packed and I just wanted to get in and out. I also wanted to grab some GU but there were not the normal booths, it was all just sponsors so Cliff was all you could buy (oh, well picked some up on my way home).

The Expo - this was all in a tent set up in Union Square in SF so it made it... interesting. I wish they had just used some of the facilities that other races use. I'm guessing they wanted to be right next to the Nike Store though (this is where you could get race weekend apparel and there was SO MUCH to buy).

Cool wall of people tweeting pics

The route

So crowded!!!!!

Neutrogena make-over area

So it was cool but sooooo crowded, they also had a DJ playing music so it was loud and, in genera, l very confusing to navigate around. I had to ask to figure out where to pick up my race bib. Overall, I think this was a fun expo but I don't handle expo crowds well and functionally as a race information source, it was a bit lacking.

Theme of the weekend: crowded!

Race Day!

Sorry for the lack of photos I didn't run with my camera.

So the day got off to a rough start for me. I set 2 alarms... both wrong. One I didn't actually turn on the other I set for the wrong day! DOH! So luckily I woke up at 5 rushed around and got to the start line with like 10 min to spare. I was so... close... to missing the race. Live and learn make sure you ACTUALLY set the alarms.

Anywho, once I got there it was once again crowded and confusing. I wasn't sure where to drop my bag and overall it was just very unorganized (this also might be me projecting my own frazzled feelings of running late on the situation).

With a count down we were off! I was in the first corral so I'm not sure if they staggered the other corrals but I crossed about 4 minutes behind the clock. Not too shabby. However, it was slow moving for about a mile. Very crowded.

It was managable crowds (nothing I hadn't seen at a Disney race) from about mile 2 until the half split off from the full at mile 11 and then I was free! It was magical, quiet, and beautiful as we ran through Golden Gate Park. Then we met up with the half again when we were at mile 15ish and they were at mile 12.5. It was a real mind trip when you have a finish line that close and you know you still have 11 miles left.

Again, once we split it from the half again it was smooth sailing. The bad hills were in the first half so really the race was on once we split from the half. Overall, very nice and nothing too major to note. The fog was thick the whole race, so the views were non-existent which is disappointing since I've run some of the course before and it can be the best run ever when you can look across the bay at sunrise.

Nuun was the electrolyte of choice on the course, water was at good places and cheering was good. Not too much entertainment but I wasn't looking for a "loud" race so it was perfect and I was able to find my zen.

The medical tents were a bit disorganized. I usually pick up a preemptive Tylenol around mile 10-12 just to help with any pain that might happen later and I stopped at one tent asked for Tylenol and the guy paused started fumbling around and I left, they were taking to long. Seriously, why aren't you ready with Tylenol, it's not like I asked for space food or something. Whatever, I moved on hoping the next tent would be more prepared. Med tent, run up, shouted that I would like Tylenol and it took a minute and I had to write my name down (with cold hands that weren't working so my name was completely illegible) and then I was ready to go. Why didn't they just write down my bib number? I was also not offered water and we were not near a water stop. Oh well, down the hatch and on my way. Nike, get in the game when it comes to med tent preparation.

So the race was good I got a nice kick at the end and finished strong. Give me my TIffany's!

Race chute:

  • "red carpet"
  • Tiffany Necklace stop from SF's finest, hunky firemen - I really should've run with camera
  • Finisher Shirt (I like this - makes the shirt "legit")
  • Mylar blanket
  • Food bag (good assortment bagel, fruit, chips, crackers, etc) <-winning, get your head in the game Disney
  • Chocolate milk (I never pick this up)

Then began the crowds again. It was packed and crazy, very ant hill like. NOTE: the area that was suppose to be used was half on Federal land so there were some logistics with the government shutdown so it wasn't all Nike's fault that the area ended up being so crowded.

First bag check. Bags were all dropped on buses that were then taken to the race finish since it was point to point. However, the buses were lined up with no rhyme or reason and so I had to wander to find the right bus. Not great considering I was freezing, there was wind, and I was just ready to sit down, it felt like an eternity. It was also just crowded and confusing so that didn't help my mood. Finally, I reunited with my bag and found a quite area just to decompress. Then went and got my sparkling wine and then waited in the very long line for the shuttle bus. The bus situation was a bit crazy but not a lot they could do other than making the course loop and avoid this all together.

The shirt! (it's a crazy orange color, I was hoping they would keep with the Tiffany's color theme with the shirts but oh well)

So the take-aways:

  • Pros: great swag, smaller field for the full, plenty of water, and that bling!
  • Cons: Crowded, not the best organization, and medical tents being slow.

Would I run it again? Probably not, it's really expensive and I enjoy the other races in SF more. I also knew when I signed up that it was going to be a one and done. If I did run it again, it would just be the half.

Would I recommend it? Sure, if you are there with friends and you take advantage of all the fun extras it would make a great race weekend. If you are interested, I say, go for it! (or Just Do It) 

;)