Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A little late: San Francisco Half Marathon Report

I haven't really said much about the race, other than how much I enjoyed it. I think I mentioned that I missed the race last year because of family issues and missed it the year before because of injuries. I ran the second half in 2007 and wrote all about it afterward - I'm not going to repeat all the details of the route since you can read it there. I'll just note the changes and my own personal thoughts.

The expo was at the Design Center again. We went early Saturday morning. Packet and shirt pickup went very quickly. The shirts were different for each race and sex. The Half shirt was cute, although girly sized (which we all know I don't like much):



The goody bag was a very nice backpack. One side had blanks for writing your bib number, so that the bag could be used before the race for sweat check. I'm afraid I don't remember exactly what was in the bag, but there were lots of freebies at the expo.

We wandered through the booths, registered for the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon, bought some shorts, bought some gels, looked at other races, tried some foods and drinks. A very nice expo.

There was a little problem Sunday morning - the approach to the bridge on I580 was closed for repair. Thanksalot Caltrans. I met Bree at her house at what seemed like the middle of the night and we detoured our way over. We had allotted oodles of time to get there so of course we were early. We ended up parking at the Embarcadero Center (which would later prove to be a mistake) and walked over to the bus.The line-up for the bus was long, wrapping around the corner. Loading was going very slowly but as we approached the next bus the people in charge figured out a faster way to load the people. We boarded and took the long ride across town.

We arrived at the second half start nice and early and immediately lined up at the porta potties. We wandered over to the route and saw one of the nicest things I've ever seen at a race start: propane heaters. There were several, all with formerly shivering people huddled around. We found a spot on the periphery and tried to warm up.

There were a few waves for the half and somehow we managed to start with the wave before the one where we should have been. That, and the first half mile being downhill, got us off to a way too fast start. I told Bree we had to slow it down and we did, but our first mile was a smoker.

I like the route a lot (probably the reason I've run that second half in 2010, 07, 06, 05, 03 and 02 and the full in 2004). The weather was good for a race: cool and overcast without being cold, with a light breeze. I was feeling pretty good. I stuck with 9:1 run:walk, except for a couple of bigger hills. I'm very careful on big downhills so where other people bomb away, I mince my way along, trying not to re-injure my knee or crush my quads. Or fall.

There's really not much to add about the race itself that I didn't say last time. I got tired around mile 12 and told myself to just run and get it over with. I finished in 2:47, much better than I had anticipated and my fastest half in years. I got my medal and space blanket, a bottle of water, had my picture taken a couple of times, grabbed some food.

The food available was impressive: scones, bagels, chips, fruit, Jamba Juice, granola and yogurt, and much more. I walked through the choices and grabbed this 'n' that, wandered on and looked for the sweat bag pickup. Along the way I noticed a race booth for the Loyal Runners. I figured since I had run the race so many times, maybe I'd be included in that group. I told the volunteer my name and was handed this lovely water bottle. Nice!

I tracked down the baggage and quickly retrieved my bag. Bree arrived shortly and we sat down on the curb and chatted for a bit. Then I noticed the beer tent. I have a rule after races: if there's free beer, I have to have one. It's the principle of the thing. Heh. So we walked over and convinced the guy checking IDs that I was indeed old enough to drink (I don't carry my license when I run). Sheesh, I haven't looked under 21 for a few years. Or decades. We got our beers and sipped enough to make it clear that we were really hungry and wanted to leave. The balance of our beer was dumped in the trash since we couldn't walk down the street drinking.

We got back to the car and were completely blocked in. We were on the bottom level of the lot and there was gridlock. For over a half hour there was no movement at all. Not even an inch. We pulled the car back in a spot and went out to lunch. By the time we returned, we were able to slowly exit the lot.

I like this race and I think it's improved every year that I've participated. At times I've thought of running the first half, but since it's normally too foggy to see a view from the Bridge, and since the route is hillier than the second half, I'll stick with with I know. I plan to run it again next year!

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