Thursday, June 20, 2013

Race Report: San Francisco Marathon - June 16, 2013

Several months ago when I decided I wanted to run this marathon, I knew what I was getting into but I don't think I fully understood at the time what I would get out of it.  After realizing that the marathon of choice, San Francisco, also fell on Father's Day I wanted to tie the two together.  I firmly believe in "making miles matter" so I teamed up with the Racing For a Cure team that raises awareness and funds for the Arthritis National Research Foundation.  (Here's the full story)  The organization was so incredibly wonderful to work with.  Unlike many charities that run similar programs, they do not require that you raise "x" amount of dollars in order to participate.  Instead, they just ask that you do what you can to raise awareness about a disease that impacts so many but doesn't get the attention it deserves.  Every little bit counts!  Over the course of the last few months I am proud to report that through the donations of friends of family, I raised $1,350 on behalf of my Dad and the ANRF!  My goal was $1,000 but you guys blew that out of the water in less than a week, and the donations kept coming.  I am so incredibly humbled and blessed! A sincere thank you to all of those who donated!  I don't think my Dad expected this level of attention either.  Through this journey I've been able to raise awareness for Rheumatoid Arthritis and reach a new crowd who may not a) know there was a research foundation dedicated to this disease or b) given two flips about some girl running a marathon.  Win-win!

Back to the race!  We arrived in San Francisco on Friday which gave us enough time to hit up the expo, grab our goodies, and a get good nights rest.  Saturday was spent doing nothing.  Literally.  One mistake I made before the NYC Marathon was walking around the city way too much the day before the race.  So this time all I did for about 8 hours was sit in the hotel room with the balcony doors open, read books, drink water, and eat a dose of carbs every hour on the hour.  When your hotel room has a view like this, I can't really complain too much.


Carb loading really started on Friday, but on Saturday I consumed 2600 calories, 500g of carbs, and 160 oz of water. Needless to say, I'm glad I had my stretchy pants on because I was ready to vomit.  I've never actually documented my carb and calorie intake this closely before a race (I know, I know....) so I was hoping that all of this would actually pay off.  For the record, I'm boycotting bagels, couscous, and rice for at least 6 months.  Saturday night our group headed out for dinner at Barbacco (which was fantastic!) and we were in bed by 8pm.   We were still internally on Dallas time so that actually worked in our favor.  Much to my surprise, I actually got a good nights sleep.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 3:50am.  Yawn.  We rolled out of bed, ate our bagels and began the get ready process.  I managed to snap a couple of pictures.

I had a Racing For A Cure jersey that the group sent me.  I tried it out during a couple of training runs and I was so incredibly sad that it just didn't fit well enough to make it through 26 miles.  I was so upset over it.  You can ask Brandon that I debated up until the last minute (I brought it to San Fran) but I decided that I couldn't risk it.  In lieu of the jersey I sported my awareness wrist band and had a custom bib made:
We mixed up our Arginine and headed down to the start line.  Another thing I learned in NYC is to stay at a hotel next to the start/finish line.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.

I'm so glad we stopped for this picture, it is one of my favorites!
 The heightened security was definitely a wake up call:

but we patiently waited and got through to make our way to stand in that familiar ol' port-o-potty line.  30 minutes later (it's a good thing I didn't have an emergency potty situation or anything) we got done with that and it was time to jump in our corrals!  While it was a bit rushed, it was nice to not really have to wait around for long.  I always use my time in the corral to mellow out, pray, and just think about how blessed I am to even be standing there.  Running has been such a gift to me over the years and I'm always happy to give a big 'thank you' to the man upstairs for allowing me the gift of running and being surrounded with like-minded folks on race day.  After only a few minutes, the trolley bell rang and our wave was off!
As we were taking off the sun was just starting to peek out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The temperature hovered around 55-60 degrees with a light breeze....you really could not have dreamed up more perfect weather for race day!

Miles 1-4
The first couple of miles take you down Embarcadero and past Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and all of the main attractions down by the water.  I knew these first few miles were flat, so I fully enjoyed it because I knew that was all about to come to a screeching halt.  There was one small climb around 2.5 miles in, but that was nothing compared to what was up ahead.  

Miles 5-9
After enjoying those first few miles it was time to see what San Francisco was really made of!  Coming up on mile 5 and all I could think of was the Price Is Right game Cliffhangers.....going up!  Garmin clocked it at a 408 foot climb.  While the climb was a doozy, once you reached the top you got your first glimpse of the Golden Gate.  We made our way around and it was time to tackle the bridge!  The bridge makes up about 3.5 miles of the course.  The clear blue skies and breeze made for one of the most picturesque scenes I've ever gotten to run through.  I made sure to look around, take it all in, and as promised....you bet I sang the Full House theme song while running across.

"You miss your old familiar friends, waiting just around the bend...everywhere you look..."

I actually got to pass Brandon on the bridge!  We exchanged a smile and a high-five and kept on going.  My little speed demon was after a PR.  Once you make your first trip over the bridge you get to the turn around point just off the bridge.  This was the point in the race I wish I had my camera.  The view from this point overlooking the water, the bridge, and the city was literally breathtaking.  After doing a little loop it was back over the bridge we go.  The journey over the bridge consists of a gradual incline followed by a decline, so it really went by pretty quickly.  Once we came off the bridge I knew that one of the biggest hills was ahead of us (thanks to doing my research with previous race reports).  Before coming off the bridge I took another shot of GU and I am so glad I did.  The hill going from miles 9-10 clocked in on the Garmin at 946 feet gain.  Ouch and ouch.  I shortened my stride, focused on the top of the hill and up we went!  At the top of this mammoth was a view overlooking the city, incredible!  If there's one thing I can say about this course, you are rewarded for the torturous hills with incredible views of the city. 

Miles 10-13
After you complete that massive uphill you are also rewarded with an extra long downhill! Weeeeeee was that a fun and a welcomed site!  I cruised down the hill and entered the Presidio and then we started making our way into Golden Gate park.  This was the part of the race where the first half marathoners were going to break off and head to the finish.  It was honestly the part of the race that I was a little scared of.  It's always a bit disheartening as a full marathoner to have to run past the finish line for those just running the half.  They are celebrating with their Irish Coffee and scones and you just wave, and keep on truckin'.  I don't like coffee anyways, psshhhh.  Mile 13 came and went and it was time to settle in for the long haul.

Miles 14-18
I was still keeping pace at this point and really wasn't feeling fatigued.  One of my initial goals when I started training for this race was that I wanted to run the first 18 miles, on pace, without stopping for a walk break.  This stretch of the course was all through the park.  It was very pretty with the greenery and such, but it was also a little boring.  No crowd support and after awhile, I think we can all admit that trees just get a little boring to look at.  Mile 14 came and went....mile 15 came and went....mile 16 came and went....mile 17 came and went....am I really still not feeling tired?  This was the part of the race where I started to get excited!  Not only was I about to accomplish this goal, but I started to see a new PR in my future.  Anytime that thought enters my head my motivation starts to kick it into high gear.  I saw the mile 18 marker and the biggest smile came across my face!  I ran past it until about 18.5 miles in and stopped for a walk/water break.  I actually did something in this race that I never do - I turned off my iPod.  For the next few miles I just enjoyed the run and decided to leave it turned off the rest of the way.

Miles 19-23
Coming up on mile 19 you finally get to exit Golden Gate park and start to head down historic Haight Street.  Nothing like the fresh aroma of a little "greenery" to wake you up on your run.  Someone was definitely having more fun than we were at that point!  Haight Street is a steady incline the entire way up but then you are given a couple of really steep downhills. At this point in the race, downhills aren't exciting.  Instead they are quad killers that you approach saying "Oh dear Lord, please do not fall down this hill".  I leaned back and took my time getting down these but didn't walk it.  This part of the race can be a little confusing because there are a couple of points where they actually split the runners into two different directions.  This helps keep traffic light and eventually you meet back up.  Honestly, I didn't think it was that crowded or necessary.  Luckily I had read those handy dandy race reports from years past and knew this was coming, so I just kept on truckin'.    

Miles 24-26.58 (yep...)
The home stretch!  With less than a 5K left to go, I knew I was going to hit my time goal so I just kept moving.  The last few miles give you nothing spectacular to look at really.  There was a spectator around mile 24 who made up a song about electrolytes and water and played along on his guitar.  It gave me a good laugh so thank you to whoever you are!  At mile 26 you pass by AT&T Park and come back up upon the Bay Bridge which means the finish line was close!  At mile 26.4 (yep....) Brandon, Fonzie, and Jer-el were waiting cheering me on to the finish.  I knew I had crushed my time and couldn't stop smiling!

MARATHON #2 = DONE!!!  4:52:48    

Happy Father's Day Dad!!!!
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing months of hard work pay off!  I put a lot of extra efforts into this race.  I was running it for my Dad, I HAD to do well!  All of the additional hill sessions, calorie tracking, carb loading, multiple visits with the doctor, and all of the extra time spent away from the family paid off.  One huge indicator of having fueled properly was that after the race, I felt great!  Sure I was a little tired and stiff, but I had energy and didn't even take a nap.  I know I said before on a few a occasions that I wasn't going for time.  Ultimately I wasn't, but I had a time in my head all along that I really wanted to beat.  I wouldn't even tell Brandon what it was.  A time that TO ME, would validate my efforts for not only this race but as a runner in general.  (I am my own worst critic)  I wanted to beat the 5 hour mark....which I did!  4:52:58 is a long shot from professional speed, but for me it was awesome and something to be proud of. 

A few weeks ago I set some "non time related goals" for this race, here's an update on those:

  1. Have FUN!  - DONE!
  2. You're running through one of the most beautiful and historic places, enjoy the damn scenery! - LOVED every second of it!
  3. Sing the Full House theme song while running across the Golden Gate Bridge...everywhere you look.... - DONE!
  4. Finish strong.  No matter what time I cross the finish line, I better run through it. DONE!
  5. Find the course photographers (instead of avoiding them) and get some fun pictures taken! DONE - I made sure to smile because I was indeed having fun!
  6. Don't poop your pants.  - DONE!  
  7. Say a prayer of thanks for each mile marker you cross. - DONE! 
  8. Inspire others. - Before and after the race I received so many messages, texts, email, etc. from so many different people and I am so grateful for those!   Your goals and aspirations inspire me more than you know.  I know a few who are about to race their first 5K/10K/half marathon and I've enjoyed watching you go through the process.  It is full of ups and downs but it is ALWAYS worth it!   
Thank you San Francisco for allowing me to cross another race off my bucket list.  The hills were a beast but the incredible views more than made up for it time and time again!  The newest member of the collection:   



 The stats:
Official Race Results
 
Splits

Elevation