Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Think That Was a Race…

Without further ado – five minutes from the Streets of San Francisco…

This wasn’t my “A” race. Not even my “B”. Three races in six weeks (the first two on trails encompassing 32 miles and 7,000 vertical feet gained) along with my focus on weight loss has left me sore and tired. All. The. Time. If there’s something that 3 years of running has taught me – not every race is a PR – especially if weight loss is involved in training. I did that once. Never again.

The morning started early. Like really early. I don’t think I’ve been to a race with a 5:30AM start. And with a reported 24,000 runners involved, I decided that it would behoove me to get to the start early, in spite of the advertised 6:00AM start time for wave 4. I was up at 4:15, and out the door at 4:30. I walked the six or so blocks and at the start at 4:45 AM.

100_0005_WMV V9_0001I was actually wandering around in a half stupor when I heard my name being called. It was Meg and BS brightening my morning with their smiles!

100_0003_WMV V9_0002Around 5:15 or so, I made my way over to my starting wave. I decided to push back one wave (from 4 to 5), and entered the corral. I’m glad I did when I did. I heard a lot of horror stories later on that as the start times got closer, people were not allowed into their assigned waves and were moved to the back of the pack. But – what I can tell you is that the corral police did their jobs fantastically. Just before out scheduled start time of 6:00AM, the barriers came down and we moved toward the start line. Right on schedule we were off!

Now,the first thing that hit me was that since I had scooted into my corral early, I hadn’t had a chance to use a porta potty. So, by mile 1 with a bursting bladder, I made my way off course to use one. I re-entered the mass of humanity, and immediately ran into Penny! Woot!

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The next few miles were incredibly scenic. As we came up on mile 2, the smell of fresh sourdough was in the air. It was Boudin’s! The home of San Francisco sourdough! Which meant that Fisherman’s Wharf wasn’t far behind:

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100_0014_WMV V9_0001a Next up was the Marina, where we would get our first views of the Golden Gate:

100_0018_WMV V9_0001The day was cool and foggy. No actually *cold* and foggy. I didn’t have a goal in mind for this race – other than to finish and get my California Dreaming medal. As a result, I wasn’t really pushing at all. I was running at my long run pace. My breathing was even and not labored when we headed up our first hill of any consequence. But, I was sweat soaked and the cold and damp was taking a toll on me. I had the foresight to wear a long sleeved tech shirt, but I was still starting to get cold. My hands were numb and my legs cold and uncomfortable.

By mile 5 we were climbing the only hill of any consequence on the course – up a 250 or so foot gain. I shortened my stride and headed up the hill.

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I hit the top, made the right turn, and viola! There it was in its glory! The Golden Gate! This is why I was here! I have driven across, but I’ve never really been able to enjoy the sight up close. It was an eerie day – we couldn’t even see the top of the towers through the fog!

100_0026_WMV V9_0001We headed across the bridge into Marin County, around the overlook and back out onto the bridge. One thing for sure – the cold was doing a number on me. I had to stop (again) to use a porta potty (#1 due to the cold). But, I headed out onto the bridge after a few minutes and made my way back into the City.

On my way back, there was an akaAlice sighting (sorry I didn’t yell at you aka!) and a burbsonthgo sighting (sorry I didn’t get a picture Allison!).

100_0031_WMV V9_0001One thing that I never really thought about until after the race – almost one third of the race is spent on the bridge! That’s right – from miles 5.5 to almost mile 10. And worth every minute of it!

What was next was, ummm, interesting. By now my legs were hurting, and the next mile or so was about 200 feet down on paved road. I tried to shorten my stride and speed my cadence, but by the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was pretty much dust for this race. Again. I settled back and enjoyed the view of Baker Beach and the run through the rolling hills of Richmond.

100_0036_WMV V9_0001And then I was there. The final left turn into Golden Gate Park and the finish. I mustered up what I had left and crossed the finish. My time? Nothing to brag about. 2:32 and change – a full 25 minutes off my PR. Bleh. But I got it. My California Dreaming medal!

100_0041In closing – I must say that this race was AWESOME!!!! Showing up early was totally the way to go. The corral police kept the start organized. I was originally concerned that there wouldn’t be enough water on the course (every 2 miles), but the water stops were well organized, well staffed, and had plenty of drink for everyone. The course was absolutely spectacular. The views were amazing. And the finish? It’s been a long time since I have been in a finish chute that was so well organized and executed. Plenty of food and drink for everyone. Medals and (thank God) mylar blankets at the ready. And drop bags organized by bib number. I showed up to get my bag, and a friendly smiling face was at the ready with it! Wow!

Bottom line? If you haven’t done this race – you should. It’s not flat. It’s not easy. But – it’s worth every penny paid and every second of enjoyment on the course.


  1. HOORAY! I am so glad that your expirence was a wonderful one as well! GREAT pics! and wonderful review Glen! Im bummed the video won't load :L Hopefully it will at home! I want to see it all over again!

  2. Who cares if it was a PR! Congrats on finishing and getting your California Dreamin' medal :)

  3. love the video! you know that's the song they play after every giant's home win right? ;)

  4. Awesome report Glenn. I agree with every word. There were points in the course where I was really COLD (the bridge for one) and other parts, where I worried I was overheaded...weird, but worth every single friggen cent. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

    We tried to start in Corral 5, but were summarily excused to our own start Corral in 7. Betty and Elsie managed to move up, and that's how we got separated.

    I'm sorry I missed you too, but as you can see from the photo, I was pretty much in The Zone at that point (and clearly needed to relax my shoulders!) I didn't set any land-speed records on Sunday either, but I really don't care. It was worth it.

  5. Oh...and fabulous video...I got chills watching it!

  6. Wonderful post, I love it! The video is great and I laughed at the darkness, literally. That's because I was SO tired! I had a little potty issue too, oh well, there are never enough potties nor enough time to use it!
    I smelled the bread too but Steve said he didn't AND he never saw Alcatraz! Yikes, I guess he took this one pretty seriously.
    It was great to finally meet you, can't wait until LB and we have to do the meet up again with Slomo!

  7. Hi Glen that sounds like an awesome time. Thanks for the review and pics. Did you have to pay extra baggage charges for that medal? Looks over 20 kilos to me...

  8. Very cool report - most days I wouldn't mind feeling a little cold! Nice addition to the race bling collection.

  9. Loved the video Glenn! It seriously looks like such a great race to just enjoy the scenery! You totally made me want to run the race now and visit SF!

  10. Gotta love that California Dreamin' bling!

    I loved the course :)

  11. Congrats on both finishing the California Dreamin' series and SF! I'm glad it was a good experience for you. I agree- it's a must do!

  12. Hi Glenn,
    Congrats on a great race and damn, I love that medal! Fantastic race report with nice pictures and video:) You know how much I love the pictures!

    BTW, you are looking awesome! I saw the picture of you on Meg's blog too:)

  13. Nice video production!

    Crowded start, no one even trying to run.

  14. Congratulations, Glenn! Love that Cali Dreaming medal...makes me want to go after that one day!! I loved that course, too, and would run the full again in a heartbeat, if I were well-trained. Sorry I didn't get to hook up with you, had hoped you'd have time after the race, but next time for sure! You did great considering all...be very proud, I know I am!! :)

  15. I agree that it was a great race but I don't recommend the first half for first time back of the pack half marathoners. There was like no race left for me. I didn't mind but I could definitely see how it could be disheartening for someone with less experience.

  16. Dang nice bling Glenn! Great job on the race. I love that you take such great photos when you're out there racing. Let's me get to see the sights without dropping the $$ and without the pain. :p

  17. That is awesome about that medal!!! Some races are just supposed to be fun runs - nothing wrong with that.

    You saw a TON of people!!!!

  18. Great job! Congrats on the CA Dreamin' Medal. I'm jealous. I couldn't make it to SF and now I won't be collecting that medal at Long Beach.