Well it took me awhile to write, but here is my recap of the San Francisco Half Marathon, my favorite half marathon experience thus far. My alarm was set for 4:30 am which gave me jus enough time to get dressed, fuel up (honey stinger and black tea with a drop of half and half) and be in from of the hotel by 5 am for my Lyft. I debated walking to the start, but it was so early I was a little nervous about the possibility of being on the streets by myself so I decided just to take a Lyft. I actually met another runner in front of the hotel and offered to share my Lyft that way neither of us would have to travel to the start solo.
I was in the 5th corral which was scheduled to start at 6 am. The start of the race was well organized and by no means overcrowded. I was able to make my way to the corral without any issues. I met and talked with a few other runners in the corral prior to our start. The weather was perfect at about 56 degrees. I actually didn’t even need my long sleeved shirt and was a little sad to toss it.
My corral started promptly at 6 am. While I had no goals for this race I really wanted to finish in under two hours so I figured I’d run little faster in the beginning where the course was fairly flat. I know this isn’t the best race strategy, but I just knew I could bank some time up from for when I had to face the large hills later in the race. I didn’t want the pressure of actually knowing my current pace so I turned my Garmin to the clock. The only numbers I could see other than the time were the splits. This actually takes the pressure off, because when I can see my pace I stress over it.
At around mile two I passed these to guys running with a pizza. I did see them again on the bridge and they still had their pizza!
The first five miles were along the waterfront and as you can see there was not much elevation gain. This resulted in a reasonably “easy” run for those miles. I pushed, but not super hard. I was saving my bigger pushed for the actual hills. I did get to see Brian (Pavement Runner) at the We Run Social set up a mile 5. It is amazing how seeing someone you know can just make you feel so much better, especially since it was right before the first big climb.
Mile six was the climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge, although you wouldn’t know it because of the fog. This was the roughest mile of the entire race and my slowest mile. It was hard and it hurt, but I never stopped running. I just kept pushing forward and relied on my mantra-what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!!!
I made it to the top and didn’t die. I swear the Golden Gate Bridge is there, somewhere…
The bridge itself was not that bad. The biggest problem with the bridge was the crowd and the occasional areas of slipperiness due to the moisture from the fog. Only the Northbound side of the bridge was closed and technically only half of that, because they kept a bus lane open. This meant there was limited space for runners to run and it was difficult at times to get around people. I basically stayed toward the inside of the bridge and ran towards the runners running back when it was clear. This meant a lot of weaving in and out, but somehow I made it work and maintained a pretty good pace considering.
At the turnaround this man, I think his name was Jerry, caught up with me and told me I did a great job getting through the crowded bridge. He had actually been following me for most of it. We got to talking and ended up running the rest of my race together. He was a great support and a really fun companion. He definitely helped me to finish the race strong.
After the bridge we had a few more hills to tackle. This is actually where the race felt pretty rough, although my paces for every mile were still pretty good. Jerry really helped me get up those hills. There was also this other guy running our pace and at every hill he would start yelling, “Small hill, it’s just a small hill, we can do this.” Let me tell you that it amazes sometimes what helps during a race and he actually really helped me during those hills. It made me laugh and it made me push just a little harder too.
About a half a mile before mile 13 the half split from the marathon and I had to bid farewell to my new friend Jerry. At this point my other friend looked at me and said, “We got this, only a little over a half mile to go.” I said yes we do and ran my heart out. It was all downhill from there.
I still had no idea where I was at time wise, but I knew I was under two hours. Imagine my surprise when I found out my official time was 1:54:55. Literally, 19 seconds away from my PR. Crazy!!!
Crossing that finish line was amazing and getting so close to my PR without really training for it was amazing too!!! I did wait for my second friend who was yelling up every hill. I told him he really helped me get up them! We snapped a quick picture before I headed off to grab my medal.
I got my medal and took a few pictures while calling Chris, Lisa and Allison to tell them how well I did!!!! Since this finish line was not the same as the official finish line I had to shuttle back to official finish and of course the beer garden, don’t forget the beer garden.
I didn’t want to hang around too long, because I figured the shuttle situation would be a disaster. I grabbed a coffee with a shot of Bailey’s and headed to the shuttles.
Well let me tell you about the shuttles. They were actually school buses and there were a lot of them waiting. As each bus filled they left and then the next one filled and left. There was absolutely no wait time. I was pleasantly surprised.
It was about a 15 minute ride back and my one goal at the finish line was to hit the beer garden and claim my free beer.
It was a gorgeous morning!! I relaxed in the beer garden for about 20 minutes.
Here are my official results:
This was an amazing experience. I absolutely loved San Francisco and it was the best half I have ever run! It was also one of the most organized races I have ever run. IT was smooth sailing from start to finish! They even include a free finish line photo:
I would definitely run this race again. I would even consider the full marathon at some point.
Have you ever run San Francisco? What is your favorite half marathon?