This was my first destination race and my first really big (as in participants) race. My husband, son, daughter and I all ran, which is a really great family activity. You can choose from two half marathons, which basically means running either the first or second half of the marathon. We chose the second half which started in Golden Gate Park and finished at the Embarcadero. This was a very well organized race.
Before the race:
In April I injured the hamstring on my left leg and for the last few months I’ve been
slowly getting better. In June I re-irritated it when running a 5k race. By the end of July I could say it was mostly better. But then, I tried too hard at a track workout and injured my right hamstring. Needless to say, I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to race. If it were just me, maybe I would have stayed home. But we all went for a bit of a vacation. As we drove the course I thought, “oh those hills, both up and down, are gonna hurt!” I fully anticipated needing to walk down the steepest grades to avoid pain.
I very much enjoyed running through Golden Gate Park. I had decided that rather than focus on my injury, I’d just enjoy the scenery and it was beautiful. This ended up being a very good strategy. The race was uphill for the first 3-1/2 miles, which was a bit scary. Much to my surprise these miles passed rapidly and I did the best hill climbing ever (it helps that my chiropractor has me exercising my glutes, hamstrings, and hips every day!) Getting through the hills pain free was definitely a confidence booster.
What goes up must come down and down we went, through the streets of San Francisco. Still focusing on the views I saw all kinds of cool people along the course. One homeless man was lying on a bus bench and shouting encouragement to the runners as they passed by. Runners gave lots of high-fives to police officers working the course. One man offered red vines (candy) to any who wanted to partake. Some of the downhills were steep, and much to my surprise I was able to run them. I almost witnessed a big collision as a runner decided to tackle the steep downhill as if it were a ski run. This was not the best idea because she ran right in front of a much faster runner. Lesson: never forget that there are runners coming up behind you.
This was the flattest part of the course and I had planned to try and run a steady 9:30 pace (and actually did a bit better). There were more spectators and I almost crashed into a woman who decided to ride her bicycle on to the course. Thankfully I saw her in time to stop running! Others who witnessed this near collision yelled at her.
In this section spectators offered beer, tequila, and watermelon. The best par was that I was able to slowly and steadily pass runners. I finished in 2:04:51 which is a new personal record.
Next year we’re doing the first half, followed by the full in two years… at least that’s the plan for now.