Sunday, April 5, 2015

San Francisco Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon 2015 Race Report

Wow! What a day. I can't wait to tell you about it. I'll start with the Friday before. I had planned to go to the gym but the day got hectic and I decided since I was running the half on Sunday, it's fine to just rest. Saturday I indulged in some treats, carb-loading is always a great time to indulge. I started the dinner hour by having two cream puffs, one vanilla and one chocolate. I couldn't finish them both but I gave it my best effort.

I headed over to the expo to pick up my bib and check out all the vendors. Except I had the wrong closing time and I got there just as they were closing up! If I had gotten there literally a minute later I think I would have missed it, they were locking the doors when I walked in. I was bummed to miss the expo but happy to have my bib and shirt.

I paused on the way out to take a picture with the route map. Then it was off to dinner. I had bread, pasta with clams and yes, dessert, even though I'd had the cream puffs. You can get away with stuff like that when you'll be running for over two hours in the morning :)

After dinner I went to an art theater across the street to watch The Labyrinth, one of my all-time favorite movies. I know, it's kind of cheesy camp fun, but I love it. It's kind of like my personal Monty Python and the fact that it was playing in the city the night before my race, when I had to be right across the street to get my packet, was just too perfect.

Just like Sarah and Hoggle, I'd be running soon.
After the movie it was straight to bed, a 6:30am start time is going to mean an early wake up.

I stayed in an SF motel just a couple miles from the start. When I got up I realized I'd forgotten to plan for breakfast. Despite still feeling the weight of yesterday's eating, I knew I needed breakfast. The coffee place around the corner didn't open until 6am, which was cutting it close but really, it was my best option for food.

Warning, poop-talk ahead...I was hoping to go #2 before the race, aside from the physical concerns, knowing all the food I'd put into my body the night before was messing with my head too. I had some coffee and oatmeal (more food! more need to poop!) but nothing happened in the bathroom department. On my way to the starting line I glanced longingly at the porta-potties...wish I had a need to use one but my system was just not budging. And I had no time to wait, I'd have to run the race and just hope my full system wouldn't be a problem.

I was in corral three and I got there about 10 minutes before the first wave took off. It was still dark out but considering we were right on the ocean, I wasn't freezing. I had sweats and a zip up jacket over my running clothes, I'd planned to toss both at some point during the race. But since I wasn't freezing I took the sweats off before the start. I did a couple knee raises and then, before I knew it, my corral was taking off.

The start

My view in corral three
I had no expectations for myself in terms of pace or overall time. Given how I'd crammed my training into four weeks, I knew I had to go easy if I was going to make it. We ran along the ocean for a few blocks and then turned inland. As we soon as we turned the corner, bam, a hill. I heard a fellow running groan at the sight of it and I reminded myself, "hills always look worse than they are."

Turning inland, and heading uphill. Photo from
I just put my head down and ran, ran, was such a beautiful day, I love San Francisco, and this was a picture perfect SF day, made for running. We wound our way through some neighborhood streets and eventually popped out next to the ocean again. I've always wanted to run on this portion of Lincoln Blvd, perched above Baker Beach, with a postcard worthy view of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands.

My Garmin of the first few miles
But holy hills...this was the worst part of the hills. The race organizers had some pretty funny signs to help us up the hill, this was my fave.

I can relate.
Again, head down, and run. I made it up the series of hills and felt a wave of pride and self-confidence come over me. Now on to the bridge. I've run over the Golden Gate enough times to is NOT flat.

Elevation profile
As you can see, the bridge trends uphill on the way over. But I was so distracted by the fact that we were running not on the pedestrian path but on the actual awesome. The views were spectacular. I had to get out my phone for a couple pics.

heading over

I hadn't carefully studied the route map and I was terrified that we'd have to run down the hill on the other side of the bridge, then back up and over...I've run (and walked) that hill and it is a painful spiral uphill. I sighed relief when we turned around in the vista parking hill! I ditched my zip-up jacket around this time, the weather was just perfect. I mean, really, look at that sky.

on the return trip
Notice the solid stream of runners filling the road in the distance? I wish I could've captured what I saw, so inspiring.

An official pic from 2014...runners on the bridge, I love it!
So back over the bridge and down toward the Marina. Along the way I'd had some mild stomach discomfort, along with what felt like pre-cramping in my legs...I worried something might derail me but reminded myself that for now, I'm not derailed so just keep running! The cheer squads along the way also helped. There were also a couple/few bands but I had my headphones on and didn't really listen to them.

A pic of the lead runner (courtesy
Besides, with scenery like was easy to forget my worries. I started to drag around mile 8, so I had two Shot Blocks, which gave me just the pep I needed. I think I had two more around mile 10 but I can't remember now.

After running along the Marina we turned inland toward our big downtown finish.

The last mile of this race was the best last mile I've ever run. Ever. It was a series of downhill blocks and I was running my heart out. People were lining the street screaming for us and I was filled with a love for running, a love for what my body could do, a feeling of overwhelming gratitude and happiness. Yes, running can feel this good.

the last mile
I crossed the finish line feeling like a million bucks. I have to post the proof of this pic because the photo website is messed up and it won't let me purchase this one yet. But rest assured I'll be buying this one...I love it!

I looked down at my Garmin and saw 11:07 way! I couldn't believe it.

took me 20 seconds to remember to stop my Garmin
Of course my official pace was a bit slower because it assumes I ran 13.2 miles, when I really ran 13.31 due to poor tangent running.

No matter...I ran the race in 2:27:33...still faster than my first ever half-marathon, which is always my minimal time to beat.

I got my medal and headed toward Muni. I wasn't interested in listening to music, being there on my own, I just wanted to get to a shower and lunch. But boy oh boy was I happy!

Well, there you have it. Sign up by midnight tonight and this race can be yours for only $50 in 2016. Despite telling myself, somewhere around mile 6, that I would never run another half-marathon again...I'm off to sign up. Because this is worth it. I'm worth it.


  1. I am so excited reading your blog ! I feel like I was there with you. I actually ran the Nike Women's Marathon a few years ago and just felt the excitement in your blog as I felt running that day as well. I've never been prouder of myself - tackling those hills and crossing that finish line with my best time ever. Fast? Nope. But I was beaming with a 4:35. You blog took me back so thank you ! I'm so happy for you and you should be ONE PROUD WOMAN !

    1. Thank you! There is no correlation between speed and our inner sense of accomplishment, knowing what we achieved. Awesome job on Nike, there is no other race like it.

  2. i HAVE to do this race in the future. have to! i will probably incorporate it into a trip to visit my family in oregon one year. you did AMAZING! the shots you got on the bridge were fabulous! i can only imagine how awesome it is to run over the bridge! and what an awesome medal!

    1. Yes, you do! Let me know when you're coming, you can sleep on my pull out :)

  3. awesome, what a spectacular day! well done :)

  4. I did this race it was amazing. It was my first time running through the golden gate. Great view by the way.


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