Well, we survived! That feels like quite an accomplishment right there considering the serious lack of training that happened for this race but let’s start at the beginning.
Saturday we drove to the city and made out way to the expo. Rewind, we first had to stop at the Under Armour Outlet in Vacaville because we totally to not have enough workout clothing (please read that with the intended sarcasm in which it was wrote). Anyways we finally made it to the city, to the hotel and hopped in a cab to go to the expo. I ended up being really sad that we got a cab instead of walking because we passed a naked bicycle parade on the way and we passed it way too fast for my tastes! Not that I wanted to check out anyone in particular, it was more that I am interested in how someone physically rides a bike naked. It seems like a chafing nightmare to me. Anyways, we made it to the expo, picked up our bibs, checked out every exhibitor there, meet Bart Yasso, and finally decided we needed to leave and rest more/geek out over running stuff less. So we headed back to the hotel, found a super market for breakfast preparation, found a place for dinner, set out all of our clothing, and made it to bed by 9:00pm! Wake up call was set for 4:00am!
We decided to head down to the starting line at 4:45am. Our wave was as 5:42am and we were supposed to be in our corral 20 minutes before that. Our hotel was great and less than a 10 minute walk from the start. I had no comprehension what this many fellow runners would feel like. I was expecting it just to be the Wes and I on our walk to the start. It wasn’t! The streets were packed with runners heading that way. It was so fun talking to others and all moving towards the race! I felt like I had tons of new friends who are all crazy like me and so we get up in complete darkness to be crazy runner together! We got to the race start, checked our bag in, used the bathrooms (tons of port-a-potties available!) and went to the start. The Bay Bridge was beautiful behind us with its lights and the sky was still dark. I clicked on my watch, put my headphones in my ears and waited to start.
Off we went. Since neither of us had trained for this at all very much, we decided to try not turning on our music until we needed it. We started tunes free and I really just loved hearing the stomping and flapping of so many runners near us. It was colder and a little breezier than I had expected but that had to be due to being right next to the bay. While the first mile hurt (it always sucks) before I knew it we were at the first water station, about 2.7 miles in. We had also decided to walk through every water station and make sure we stayed hydrated. Right out of this aid station was our first hill. It was just enough to slow everyone down and allow us to pick us some serious roadies! I guess living in Reno and training for things like the Reno Tahoe Odessey makes us still hate hills decent hill runners. This entire course was littered with little hills throughout the 13.1 miles. The best thing I can say about hills is that you totally feel like a bad ass when you make the top and anything you go up you get to fly down! We were running through tons of spectators and a line of memorial flag holders and before I knew it we had passed mile 5 and were about to head up to the Golden Gate Bridge. So by now I was expected it to start hurting but so far I was still feeling great. We were maintaining about a 9 min/mile pace and tempting thoughts of breaking 2 hours were floating in my head. Running on the bridge was fun. The intense fog was hiding the beautiful views I was expecting but I found I was having way more fun people watching since this portion was an out and back. I saw one of the leaders (maybe top 50ish or so men) completely decked out as Minnie Mouse. I saw a couple people fully dressed and painted like cats. One of those chicks passed me like I was standing still! I saw a dude in full out S&M, complete with leather studded booty shorts and a neck chain and maybe handcuffs (not totally sure, maybe he just held his arms together and very close!). I saw some sorority sisters staying strong and working to complete their first half marathon. The only thing I didn’t like about the bridge was the medal joint coverings on the ground. Even though they were protruded, they were still very slippery and I was worried about falling. They were just big enough to through off my natural stride as I tried to avoid them all together. I’m sure I looked amazing like a total idiot as I tried to skip over these. Needless to say the bridge flew by and before I knew it we had ran it out and back and were now at about mile 9.5. Still no music and to be honest, I totally forgot I even had my I-pod!
Off of the bridge we headed through a beautiful neighborhood and towards Golden Gate Park. This area made me wish I lived in San Francisco to train. The rolling hills through the neighborhood were awful towards the end of this course but it would be great for training runs. Just long enough to start to feel the burn and then a sweet small downhill to recover and then repeat. We kept steadily working our way to the end. At one point Wes told me that is we could push to about an 8:30 pace for the remaining distance we could possible break 2 hours. He told me that on a downhill part so I instantly pushed to just around and 8:00pace thinking I was going to kill it. Oops, I didn’t see the next rolling hill in front of me! A 2 hour finish was totally not happening! We made our way to the finish line and just when I told Wes I had nothing left to kick with, something inside told me to do it anyways and we picked up the pace for the last final stretch in. Finish time was 2:06:04. A nice surprise given I have not ran any decent distance runs since my last half back in May, which was also my first half ever. I am NOT an experienced runner and it was really nice to see some of the other training I do still keeps me in some kind of running shape.
After the finish line I wrapped up in a space blanket. This was the biggest race I have ever done and the first that gave these out. I think I look amazing wrapped in plastic foil! Seriously, no! That was a total joke in case you don’t know me. We proceeded to the food line and the buses and called it a day, running wise anyways. We had Giants tickets for later and of course there was a need for beer carb recovery!
This race was awesome! Coming from a much smaller town the sheer size of this race made it a completely new experience. I would really recommend it to anyone. It was run so smoothly and was so accommodating to runners of any and every level. By looking at the finishing times I believe that the second half is somewhat faster/easier than the first half. I am thinking of running the second half next year for comparison.
Special thanks to my husband Wes for running with me and encouraging me when the hills tried to take me down! You are a beast and you make me a stronger runner and the best I can be! Thank you and I love you!