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.
I 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!
Around 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!
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:
The 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.
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!
We 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.
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.
And 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!
In 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.