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