Just wanted to share some thoughts about the Expo and the race. I’ll focus on the first half marathon since that’s the race I completed.

EXPO

The Expo was held at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion just past Fisherman’s Wharf headed toward the marina.

Fort Mason Festival Pavilion

Fort Mason Festival Pavilion

It was the perfect location, not too crowded, easily accessible and accompanied by the best views. Many runners plan some vacation/touristy stuff when they are in town so hitting up the Expo and then sight-seeing can be done on the same day. I’ve been to SF before but the views never get old. I stopped there the minute they opened to head straight to the “Solutions” desk to change from the Full to the Half.

Fort Mason Festival Pavilion

easily found with a sign that big!

They had limited spots and it was first come first served so I wanted to ensure I could make the switch. The process was relatively painless. They had spots for the first half so that’s what I chose. There was a $10 fee for switching but in hindsight I know it was money well spent.

race switch complete...

race switch complete…half the distance, half the hills….all the fun!

expo-vals-first-bib

Valerie’s first ever full marathon bib

The usual suspects were there selling merchandise and offering free samples of things. And I tried out the Vega Accelerator that TSA speaks so highly of.

RACE DAY

Race day offered a Full Marathon and a first Half Marathon which both started together along the Embarcadero at 5:40am. Valerie ran the full and Lisa and I ran the first half. They also offered a second Half Marathon (that started at 8:30am) at the halfway point of the full marathon course. My friends Michelle and Shane ran that one. And there was even a double marathon (52.4 ultra called “Worth the Hurt” that my friend Roger and also PavementRunner completed which started at midnight)  (There were shuttle buses that took runners from the finish to the start and vice versa. This was my only complaint overall about the day and I talk about it more later.)

There were multiple waves. Lisa, Valerie and I were seeded in Wave 5 which started about 6am. There were about 5 minutes in between each wave start which is really pretty efficient compared to some other large races I have participated in.

The start

The start

Sisters!

Sisters!

All decked out in too much pink and ready to run

All decked out in too much pink and ready to run. That’s the bay bridge all lit up behind me. So pretty!

photo courtesy of Roger

photo courtesy of Roger

Course:

The course in general wasn’t crowded at all with the exception of the Golden Gate Bridge. Only 1/2 the bridge was closed to traffic meaning that the other half was split as runners did an out and back. Basically it was about the width of a sidewalk in each direction. For me this was a non-issue since I was running a slow race and not shooting for a PR. But for those who felt they were “stuck” behind slower runners they might have had to do some bobbing and weaving and drain some energy. The first half was a beautiful course. I’d actually run most of it in trips past but the last 3 miles were along the Presidio and into Golden Gate Park which I had never run before and they were just as scenic.

just gettin started

just gettin started

Golden Gate Bridge

Mile 2ish

selfie at mile 7ish

selfie at mile 7ish

course-10ish

mile 10ish enjoying the downhill after going up a HUGE hill

Lisa crossing the bridge at mile 5ish

Lisa crossing the bridge at mile 5ish

Mile 11ish My favorite kinda curb appeal

Mile 11ish My favorite kinda curb appeal

Golden Gate Park

inside Golden Gate Park at the end of the race

Alcatraz

Mile 2ish View of Alcatraz

Golden Gate Park

almost done. It felt good to know I was not preparing to run another 13

mile 4ish

mile 4ish

course5ish

Elevation:

I know it goes without saying that the course would be hilly, but let me tell you this was the HILLIEST course I’ve ever run. I actually walked up an entire hill between mile 9 and 10. I do plenty of training in Central Park which is quite hilly as well but nothing compared to this.

Water

Because miles 5-9 were basically on the bridge water stops were a little sparse in that section of the course. You could access Nuun (the electrolyte beverage offered on the course in place of the usual sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade) and regular water just before mile 5 but it was crowded and again, for those pushing to PR I’d suggest you take your own water to avoid that stop. There was another water stop at the turnaround which was about mile 7.5. And they offered Gu as well. The next water stop was practically at mile 10.

Buses:

The shuttle bus system seemed a bit pokey to accommodate the first half runners to get them back to the Embarcadero. It took an hour to get on a bus. I am sure there’s not much that can be done here but it made me cranky. Also, Lisa and I were anxious about seeing her sister finish the full and we were afraid we’d miss her. Luckily we got there with about 20 minutes to spare.

POST RACE:

post-race-halfers

While injuries forced us to drop back to the half we both finished all smiles and the best part is that we still got to start with Valerie and get her started on her first full marathon journey

post-racemedal

sweet success!

she really was happy it was over but needed to address the potential dry heave situation before she could give out hugs.

she really was happy it was over but needed to address the potential dry heave situation before she could give out hugs.

A few personal things to share.

Running gear: This was the first time I wore compression socks during a race as i usually only wear them to aid with recovery.

mile 4ish

mile 4ish

I usually wear capris and not shorts/skirts but with my calf hurting I thought trying the socks during the race would help and then that kind of dictated the rest of the gear. I LOVED the socks. And I didn’t mind wearing shorts now that I’ve discovered Mission Anti Chafe Cream. But as a girl who tends to be self conscious of her legs I did work hard at trying to move past that. I had my emotional moment too. Read #4 here.

Running Pace: I really had no time goal for this race and it really felt liberating. That’s the one thing about injuries. They allow you a free pass to take the pressure off of going all out. I really enjoyed myself. Had I been injury free and tried to run up those hills all out i’d have peetered out way before the finish line and probably been grumpy. My finish time was 2:33 and change. My first half marathon back in 2007 was 2:36. And my current half PR is 2:05. So you can see I took it easy.

This race is all about the course views and the challenging hills. You won’t be disappointed. But be sure to get your hill training in.

I’ll be back in San Francisco September 19th for Ragnar Napa. As a matter of fact, I better sign off as I need to work on our team name logo. =)

Have you ever been to San Francisco? Do you love suspension bridges as much as I do? Compression socks? Do you like them? Wear them during races? Just for recovery? 

 

4 Comments

  1. I can’t answer your questions without being biased…truth =). Stay blessed Stay fierce Sal!

  2. Fort Mason Festival Pavilion is where the 3 Day 60 mile Walk for Susan G Komen ended. perfect location.
    E

  3. Glad I took it easy and cruised in with time for you guys to shuttle in. That’s me… Always giving.
    Great recap number 2

  4. Thanks for the review on compression socks during races. I never thought to wear them during training because I never thought they were necessary but good to know they helped with the race!

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