A couple of months ago when my parents and I were discussing vacation plans for the summer, we decided to visit San Francisco. After having secured our lodging and flights, which were rapidly being booked from under us, we glanced at what was going on in the city the days that we were going to be there. Lo and behold, there was the San Francisco Marathon taking place on July 31st! Most people would be like “Who wants to run a race on their vacation?” but me? Sign me up! I did linger a little too long, however, and missed out on the first 1/2 marathon sign up which took us over the Golden Gate Bridge. I wasn’t ready for the full marathon yet so I signed up for the 2nd 1/2 marathon.
I made it to the expo on Friday when we were visiting Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Located in Fort Mason, the sign proudly announcing that ALL races were sold out and building was packed with vendors. I could have spent hours there! I didn’t, though, and quickly got my packet, asked about transportation from the hotel to the start line/shuttle and headed out to meet the rest of the family who were hanging out at a local Starbucks.
The morning of the race arrived with a temperature of 56 degrees (lovely!). After hardly sleeping – excitement! – I headed down to the lobby to walk the dark streets of Union Square heading to the shuttle bus pick-up. I must say that I am sometimes geographically challenged. I knew I had to walk down Market Street which would then meet up with the road that the shuttle buses are on. Of course I turned the wrong direction! I met up with a gal from Central California named Irene who was also heading to the race. Once we got turned around in the right direction, we joined the incredibly long line for the shuttles. I was thankful I had left early enough that we didn’t miss the transportation access!
Finally on the bus, we breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it wouldn’t be too long and we’ll make it to the start line. Except the shuttle bus driver didn’t know where he was going and we were his first route to take to the start. Are you kidding me????? We took the scenic route where we could hear the drivers’ conversation with dispatch about where he could and couldn’t go (road closures due to the race) Panic started to set in when I overheard dispatch say, “Why are you making a left there?” Breathe. I had no control over it. Let it go. *Gulp*
We eventually made it to the start line where due to being late I missed Wave 3’s start and had to settle for the next one. That’s after making a mad dash to port-a-potties (no TP :() and checking in my sweatshirt. What a frenzied way to start a race!
The race got started and I was trying to find my pace. It was a crowded start at the edge of Golden Gate Park with the usual people cutting in front of you and narrowing of the course so my time wasn’t a good starting time. The course itself was very interesting with hills up and down. I was impressed with the numerous water/electrolyte/medical stops located throughout the course (10 in my 13.1 miles!) and was grateful for port-a-potties when I had to make an emergency visit after mile 7 (my first potty stop EVER during a race. Hope not to repeat that again!). I had a goal of a 2 hour time (my PR is 1:55) but didn’t want to put on too much pressure racing on a strange course in a strange city with hills that can’t be replicated in Kansas. Even by losing time to potty, I finished with 1:58:11 only my Garmin says that I ran 13.29 miles instead. I had walked many, many miles the previous two days sightseeing San Francisco so my legs weren’t as fresh as they could have been either. I was pleased with my time, though, and gave it all I had, which is all I could have done!
The results came in and they sent me this awesome run-down as to how my performance compared with others. Not too shabby!
I couldn’t have asked for a better day for my race and who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to run this race again. It was a great way to see the city in a different way and something I’d never done before – racing with over 27,000 strangers! Something I never thought to have put on my bucket list but an achievement none-the-less. Now back to my marathon training schedule!