Posts Tagged ‘san francisco’

San Francisco Second Half Marathon

It was kind of a dream come true when I had the opportunity to run across the Golden Gate Bridge – not just once, but twice – at last year’s San Francisco First Half Marathon. It was such a fun, well-organized race that within days of registration opening for the 2016 race, I had signed up to run the San Francisco Second Half Marathon.

By way of explanation…each year, the San Francisco Marathon also includes two half marathons: the 1st Half, which mirrors (not surprisingly) the first half of the marathon course, and starts alongside the marathon runners, like I did last year; and the 2nd Half, which starts at a slightly different location, but joins up midway through the marathon and ends at the same spot. My motivation for running the 2nd half was two-fold: 1) to visit our friends in San Francisco again, and 2) for a medal – and not just any medal…

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**I want to dedicate this post to my Aunt Shirley, who passed away two weeks ago. We met for the last time during my visit to Ontario in April, when attending the wedding of my cousin – her granddaughter. She will be missed.**

 

The weekend has been busy. We had an extra SummerChor rehearsal on Saturday – 10am to 2pm. As mentioned in a previous post, we’re singing the Durufle Requiem – and our concert is just 3 weeks away! In addition, because the Durufle is kind of short, we’re also singing the Faure Requiem. A lot of folks in the choir have sung it before, but it’s my first time. The Faure also happens to be my Dad’s favourite, so I’m sorry he won’t be here for the concert.

We attended the Powell Street Japanese festival, and I got dressed up in my Japanese duds – a bit different from my usual running gear!

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Saturday night was the Celebration of Light – third night of fireworks, with Canada putting on an amazing show set to music – glorious!

On Sunday morning, I went for a quick run – about 8.5km – along English Bay and around Lost Lagoon.

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That was followed by the Vancouver Pride Parade – colour, glitter, music, festivities – lots to see and do! And Monday is BC Day – so we’re enjoying a beautiful long weekend!

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Keeping up with tradition, here is another installment of my Monthly Update. I will continue to give credit Brie (Like the Cheese) for giving me this idea – and bow to here commitment in participating diligently in the November Project. I had planned to join, but they were forced to relocate from downtown to Queen Elizabeth Park – which is just too far from home and work to be feasible on a Wednesday morning. Nevertheless, a few things have happened this past month…

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In July, I…

1. Did 3 rounds of speed work. I know, that’s really not a lot. But given how little speed work I’ve been doing, I decided it was time to commit to some regular workouts. So I joined Coach Carey’s Thursday night clinic (care of Forerunners). Over the course of three weeks, we did:

  • Hill repeats – 9x up Jericho Hill (a steep, short run)
  • Track workout – 9x 400m, gradually increasing our speed
  • Sprints – 5x 800m in Little Australia (near UBC)

I plan to continue with the speed training through August as well.

2. Met a celebrity. I got my geek on when we ran into Stephen Amell from the TV show Arrow. I had just finished the Summerfast 10K at Stanley Park, and I saw him walk by – he had run the race as well. I approached him and asked for a photo. This isn’t exactly an ‘achievement’ for the month, but I found it kind of exciting!

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3. Ran the Golden Gate Bridge…twice! After months of anticipation, we finally made the trip to San Francisco. I ran the SF First Half Marathon, and the route took us out across the Golden Gate Bridge and back again! It was a foggy day, so not a lot to see – but the thrill of the event made it totally worthwhile. I also went fully ‘branded’ as a BibRavePro for this race – I even heard someone read it out as I ran by: “Bi..bra..ve – oh, BibRave!!”

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I’m now considering running the Half it All Challenge by participating in the Second Half in 2016! Stay tuned!

In August, I will…

1. #PlankADay. We’ve all heard about the benefits of planking – what it does for our core, and how it strengthens runners. I get regular alerts from the @PlankPolice, reminding me to stay on track. I was a bit half-hearted about it last month, but I’m going to make a concerted effort this month!

2. Find a balance. I’m trying to fit a lot of things in each week. I want to run, I want to get to the gym – but I also have to work, I’ve got choir rehearsal, and I want to spend time with family and friends. Even in the summer, when the days are long, I’m not good at being an early riser. I find it tough exercising after work. So I’m not sure how this balance will be achieved…yet. I’m working on it.

3. Run a race in the Arctic! Yes, you read that right! I am heading to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for a business trip in the second week of August. I’ve run there before – but just a TravelRun, on my own, in the cold.

On a whim, I Googled ‘yellowknife marathon‘ and came up with a result. The Overlander Marathon and Half Marathon…well, it just happens to fall on that very weekend! I turned to Twitter:

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And so, with that, I have decided to stay a couple of extra nights in town, and run a half marathon in Northern Canada!

Can you believe it’s already August? How’s your summer going?

July posts you may have missed:

Happy to join Jessica at The Silvah Lining for her #TuesdayTales race recap link up! Share your race recaps!

The Silvah Lining

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I feel like a lot has happened in the past few days – and all of it good! Thinking about how to sum up an amazing weekend in Northern California combined with a world-class half marathon, I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost. Because I’ve still got lots to say!

Signing Up

I’m not exactly sure what put the San Francisco Half Marathon on my radar. But at some point I decided it was going to be on of my 2015 #yearofthehalf races. I checked in with my dear friend, Wendy, who I’ve known since we met in Japan some years back. She and her family live in Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge. Can we visit in July?  I asked way back in February. Confirmed!

So we arrived at SFO late on Friday night. Wendy was there to pick us up, and given that we hadn’t seen each other in 5 years, there was lots of catching up to do!

Expo Day

Despite our late arrival, I had decided to do some Marin County training. We were staying in Mill Valley, hidden amongst the redwoods. I ventured out into town and back, and managed a 5.5km shakeout run while the rest of the gang went to a local cafe. It was beautiful.

Then we were off to the Expo! Wendy said she was expecting a table with bibs – not the huge event that it actually was! Not surprisingly, the place was heaving. With a full marathon, TWO half marathons, a 5k AND an ultra (double) marathon to be run, some 25,000 people had to pick up their race packets.

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In what was arguably some strategic planning, the packet pickup was at the very back of the venue, requiring all participants to walk amongst the vendors and sponsors.

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It took more time to fight through the crowd than it did to get my bib and T-shirt. I grabbed a couple of quick samples – my beloved nuun and some Simply 7 Hummus Chips – but limited my browsing since we had Wendy’s daughter in tow.

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We napped in the afternoon, and then had dinner by the water in Tiburon – with views of Angel Island and San Fran in the distance.

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After dinner, prepped my gear for an early morning…

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Race Day

In order to ensure we were downtown in time for the 5:30am start, the household was up at 3:30am. I had coffee, oatmeal and toast with peanut butter – nothing fancy or unfamiliar, and certainly no smoothie! But despite taking my time before we left, I knew a potty break would be required.

Traffic was light and I was dropped off a block from the start line before 5am. I made a beeline for the toilet lines, which were thankfully short.

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Then I made my way to the starting corral. It was dark, with the lights of the Bay Bridge as a backdrop.

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The San Francisco Marathon is unique. Those running the First Half Marathon (like me) start out with the Full Marathon runners. We follow the same route until the final mile in Golden Gate Park – the half marathoners veer left to the finish, and the full marathoners continue. And at mile 13, the Second Half Marathon runners start their race (around 8am) and follow the remainder of the marathon route.

Long story short, there were both half and full marathon runners with me in the corral. (I wore my Tiux Compression Socks, too!)

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At 5:30, the gun went off and the elites headed out. Our wave started two minutes later.

The Waterfront – The ‘Flat’ Part

The route took us along the Embarcadero, the historic waterfront with all the Piers. Pier 33 – the ferry to Alcatraz. Pier 39 – the Aquarium. Fisherman’s Wharf. I tried to take photos as I was running, but this is all I got:

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I realized within the first mile or so that I shouldn’t have gone to my corral so soon. I should have lined up again for the toilets. I really had to pee.

At the first water stop, I made a decision – it was now or never, stop for a potty break or be miserable for the next 90 minutes. I erred on the side of comfort, and added about 45 seconds to my overall time. But it was my best decision that morning.

Then we met our first hill.

Up and up, up to the top of Fort Mason. A blip on the elevation profile, a chore in real life. Thankfully, with an empty bladder, I was feeling quite spritely and made it to the top without incident. Here we had some pretty remarkable views of the city, but none of my blurry photos do it justice. We wended our way back down to the waterfront.

Past the Palace of Fine Arts, through Crissy Field. And thanks to the generosity of Hoka One One – free race photo number one!

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Through the fog and the brightening sky, the Golden Gate Bridge came into view.

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At Mile 5, the game changed. The hills that San Francisco is renowned for – this was one of them. Not like the Fort Mason hill – a legit hill. We somehow had to get to the bridge, and up was the only option! I was determined not to walk, no matter how slow I was going. The road twisted and curved, and suddenly it was there in front of me (the blurriness evokes some of the ‘feel’ of the run…)

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The Bridge

That’s right folks! My purpose for being here. The reason I chose the First Half. The icon of San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge!

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The upper reaches were still shrouded in fog. It was surprisingly quiet. There was a bit of traffic – only the 3 lanes on the east side were for runners. It was windy. It was amazing to be there.

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The bridge deck is about a mile and a half long (over 2,500 metres) – and midway across we encountered the lead runners on their return journey. I was paying more attention to them than to my laboured breathing. It was inspiring. And at some point, we hit the halfway mark.

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At the far side of the bridge, we did a loop around the lookout point – I didn’t stop to take in the view, and I’m pretty sure it was still too foggy to see much. Then we were the ones heading back, and an increasing volume of runners were approaching.

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The toll gates were all flashing SLOW but a sign above clearly stated DON’T STOP – I took this as encouragement, and forged ahead.

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To the Finish

Although running the Golden Gate was the obvious highlight of this race, my truly favourite section followed. We were running Lincoln Boulevard, along the western edge of The Presidio. Nothing but the wild Pacific Ocean spreading out to our right. The crowds had thinned, and even the runners started to spread out a bit – we were heading up again…

At the peak, the sweeping vistas were breathtaking. The photos do not do justice.

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Downhill again.

The final stretch took us through the streets of the city, with some of that awesome San Fran architecture. I did not take photos on the run, but here are a few from the day before…

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Left turn. We’re in Golden Gate Park. A curve. Another left, while the marathoners turn right. Where is the finish line? Another curve and there it is – I speed up for (what I hoped would be) a strong finish.

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They call my name – Wendy, just steps from the announcer, corrects his pronunciation – and he repeats it. This makes me grin like an idiot.

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A medal. A space blanket. Some food AND some Irish coffee! My 7th half marathon of 2015 is complete!

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The Holiday Continues

It’s only 7:30am! The day stretches out ahead of us! We drive back over the Golden Gate Bridge, as runners continue their journey. I’m glad to be done. The day involves:

Brunch!

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A nap!

Late lunch and some errands with the family.

An amazing massage (I got treated!)

Then a relaxing dinner at home.

Monday was a bit more on the sightseeing front:

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An amazing race weekend – and more importantly a fantastic time with good friends. We will be back for another race!!

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Final Results

Chip Time: 1:50:10
Average pace: 8:25 min/mile (5:13 min/km)
Overall: 620/7727
Age Ranking: 99/845

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RACE REPORT

Overall
What a great race! The scenery, the city, the energy, the people, the Bridge! What more can I say?

Packet Pickup/Expo
Crazy busy expo, extremely crowded parking lot. To be fair, they warned us repeatedly to take transit to get there – but we were with a family coming from outside of the city, so it made more sense to drive. I found the flow of people inside a bit challenging. Because the bib/shirt pickup was at the very back of the hall, you had to fight your way through some serious crowds. I prefer it when you can enter, get your stuff, and then wander through the expo.

T-Shirt/Swag
Long-sleeved t-shirt in orange. I didn’t wear it for the race, but I will look forward to wearing it when the weather cools off. Pleased with the design and the colour. The medal is quite lovely, if a bit small. It has a classic feel to it. The unexpected perk was the free race photos sponsored by Hoka One One!

Course
The First Half starts out flat, has a fairly short, steep hill, and then is flat again until you head upwards to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bridge itself has a gradual, gentle slope. The rest of the course is fairly consistent up and down to the finish. A challenging course with some amazing views. The fog on race day made it a wee bit less scenic, but cooler to run!

Aid Stations
There were several, and I think they all had nuun and water. I grabbed nuun at a couple of them. On the far side of Golden Gate, they were handing out Gu Chew packets. Everything seemed quite efficient.

Post-Race
I believe there were more festivities at the very end – where the Full Marathon and Second Half finished. At the First Half finish line we had bananas, Muscle Milk and a few other items – but most importantly, Irish Coffee! Yum! Also, got nifty space blankets!

Race Management
No flaws in management that I could identify. Good race communication via email and social media, on-time start, and a smooth flow of things. I was pleased. I’ll definitely keep this race in mind for future!!

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What’s your favourite sight?
Have you run any of the San Francisco Marathon races? Would you consider it?