Wednesday, July 28, 2010

San Francisco Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #20:
Hit my time goal. Enjoyed the course more than last year. Got to see lots of running friends. Was more sore than I would have liked afterward.

The Full Recap, Marathon #20:

I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking this time...

It was fairly overcast and foggy the entire race so many photos aren't the best.

With all of the marathons I've been running recently, I've developed a pretty good gauge of what effort equates to what finish time. 4:30-4:40ish is a decent pace but not pushing it. Something around 4:25 means I gave it some juice. Higher than a 4:40 I either bonked or am running a mile+ above sea level.

My goal for this race was to get my miles in, but I didn't want to be too sore after the race. I wanted to seamlessly get back into my runs and speed work. I decided I'd shoot for a 4:40 finish. That seems to be my "hilly course" or "I ran a marathon last week pace" so I felt it would be doable for this day.

Take a look at the bouncer at the wave entrance. They seemed to be really cracking down on people not jumping into the wrong start wave this year. I'd be afraid to try it with a guy like that at the entrance.

They had a string of balloons the announcer said was half a mile long in an arch above the start/finish. They had lights on it during the morning which was kind of cool. You can see the Ferry Building up ahead (I didn't have my camera out when I passed it).

In Fisherman's Wharf you pass Boudin and get to smell the delicious sourdough bread baking. Yum! I smelled this place before I saw it and got a photo of the bakers in action.

I had to do some manipulations with this photo because I had the flash on and so the background came out really dark. But it is the Fisherman's Wharf crab sign (the medal from last year).

Horrible photo, but this is Aquatic Park and Alcatraz in the fog in the distance.

Ghirardelli behind Aquatic Park

Another view of the runners winding through Aquatic Park

I have no idea why, but I came to a complete stop to take this photograph.

Hill up Fort Mason leaving Aquatic Park and heading to the Marina. Not the hardest hill in the race due to early placement, but definitely the steepest.

Foggy Bridge from Crissy Field

Running on Crissy Field heading towards the Bridge

Hello, Lover. And yes, we have to run all the way from down here to all the way up there.

Second steepest hill (in my opinion) in the race. Heading up off Crissy Field towards the Bridge.

After cresting the last hill, looking down at Crissy Field and the city.

At this point in the race, I was feeling decent but it wasn't a stellar day for me. I was feeling the inclines a lot more than I thought I would.

Easily my favorite part of the race. No fog horn this year :(

Running on the road-bed of the bridge (this is the only race that does that)

One more :)

After the turnaround on the Marin County side of the bridge, heading back towards San Francisco. This is the only out-and-back in the world of marathoning that I don't mind. In fact, I never even realized it was an out-and-back until just now when I captioned this photo!

The hardest hill (in my opinion, due to length) of the race comes after the Bridge. I think this was taken somewhere near the top of it. I strategically planned to walk and eat a gel through most of this hill.

As with every hill in this race, every good up deserves a good down. Quads say, "Oww!" There is Sea Cliff & Richmond in the distance.

Running south through Richmond towards Golden Gate Park. This section had lots of freakin' rollers.

Right after getting into Golden Gate Park at mile 12.8ish of the race. At this point, I slightly regretted forking over my $35 at the expo to switch to the full marathon. I stayed to the right.

I have literally run thousands of miles in Golden Gate Park. I know every incline and turn of the main roads of the park. While this is mentally comforting, it is also mentally exhausting. Upon entering the park I thought about where the race went and knew it was a really far distance. I knew every hill that was coming up. Quite frankly, while it is cool to run in the park with so many runners, I dislike this portion of the race the most.

I hit the 13.1 mat at exactly 2:20 on my watch. Right on schedule.

My Park

There is a point in the park where the race turns (the western-most point of the race). When I got there I thought about how close we were to the beach on the west side of San Francisco. I then thought about how we had to run ALL the way back to the water on the east side of the city. Sighs. Bring it.

This point of the course is literally 0.6 miles from my home. All I had to do was run right instead of left. I drove to the start/finish and was going to leave my house key in the car but decided I'd carry it on me just so I could bail at this point if needed. I assessed my situation and stayed to the left.

I think I felt my lowest while running on the south side of the park. The north side of the park heading west is primarily downhill. This means the south side heading east is primarily uphill. I do lots of training on these hills so knew they shouldn't be a problem, but they are long and steady and wore me down a bit.

I didn't take many photos in the park after this since I run here all the time. Sorry about that, since it is probably the more picturesque areas of the park coming up. We ran by the 1st half finish (grr), up and around Stow Lake (you can refer to my Strawberry Hill photo from a previous entry) then past all the museums and the Conservatory of Flowers before leaving the park.

After leaving the park, running down Haight Street.

After the initial incline of Haight there is a quad-smashing screaming downhill. After this, I got a second wind which amazingly lasted the rest of the race.


You are now entering the ugly part (both scenery-wise and feeling-wise) of the San Francisco Marathon.

This part of the race last year was a real bummer for me. All of the little hills crushed my spirit (I was under the very wrong impression the second half was flat) and I had no clue where we were going. This year I felt stronger the second half than the first. While I couldn't wait to hit the finish, my legs felt like they could go on forever.

Bleh. BUT, what is that up head? Could it be? I can see the water again! (Hard to tell with the fog, but believe me, the water is out there)

More of San Francisco's finest scenery.

I saw the Bay Bridge and could hear the "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" in my head. I knew the finish was right by the bridge. I actually thought the finish was before the base of the bridge and was wrong about that. But whatever. I had a visual of the finish in the distance.

The last few miles I let myself get way too fast. I just wanted to get to the finish. I felt good and let myself go with it.

AT&T Park

Band playing before AT&T Park

Another view and the 25 mile marker sign. The race winds around AT&T (there are runners running towards the right of the photo across the water)

At mile 25 of marathons I switch my Garmin from the "distance" display to the "time" display. Since most races measure longer than 26.2 miles on my Garmin, I detest it when my watch says we are at 26.3 and there is still no finish line in sight. So I switch to time and get an idea of what my estimated time of arrival will be instead. I switched over right after taking the above photo and realized I was easily going to come in under 4:40.

Yeah, so I was wrong. The finish wasn't before the bridge after all. Keep on truckin'.

My Garmin beeped at one point (which I knew meant we were at the point he thought I had run 26 miles) and there was still no finish in sight. Bleh. In the end my Garmin measured out almost 26.6 miles which in my opinion is more than the average standard deviation fudge factor (read, I really think SFM runs long). I didn't mean to, but I couldn't help pushing the last mile or so. Something about the pull of the finish line and all the people cheering that gets you going.

I crossed the finish with an official time of 4:38:10. I felt okay towards the end but I struggled a little in the beginning. I made the conservative time goal but honestly probably couldn't have done a lot better on this day if I had been trying.

With this race ends a little streak I've had going. Every time I've run a course a subsequent time, I have always beaten my previous time. I knew going in I'd lose that with this race (ran a 4:27 last year). Am a little sad about it, but it had to happen sometime. Mine as well happen when I did it on purpose, right?

Snapped this after crossing the finish. You can see the balloons from the morning.

The finish line

The race shirt. Gender specific XS! Not a huge fan of the design this year, though. BUT, I did get my Headsweats SFM hat!! I went to the SFM expo in 2008 just to shop and saw they had race-branded Headsweats hats. You know what a sucker I am for those. When I trained specifically and hard for the race in 2009 I was so ready to reward myself with a Headsweats hat. But the race went with a stupid, inferior hat instead. I was so sad. But this year, they strayed out of the dark side and came back to the goodness which is Headsweats.

Garmin satellite map of the course. I dislike running in familiar areas since I know how far something is from where I am. "I have to run from here to where now?!"

The night of the race I knew I had gone too fast for the course/day. I don't know why but I forgot how many hills there are in this race. And it isn't even the uphills. There are a few screaming downhills that really beat you up. In retrospect I should have gone for a 5 hour finish with some walking mixed in and I probably would barely have been sore the next day.

I am really glad I did the full again this year. Last year since I felt so badly at the end, I had a very sour view of the second half. That isn't to say that the second half of the race isn't blah blah boring or bleh bleh ugly, but I think I looked down at it more than it deserved. It is hard for a city marathon to run in only beautiful areas and I think SFM does a good job. After 2009's race I didn't care if I never ran the full again, but now I think I'd like to run the full again.

A report wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to all the awesome runners I got to hang out with this weekend! There are way too many to list but I know you all know who you are :) Thanks, everyone!


naomi said...

What a great race report! I loved the photos, especially because, in all honesty, I had no idea where the second half ran. Congrats on a great race! PS You're right, the hill coming off the bridge was the hardest one. And I walked it eating a gel too. :)

Anonymous said...

congrats girl! SF is mean and amazing! I was so sad I didn't get to run it this year that I am 90% sure I will be tackling the full in 2011 :) Hope your legs recovery quickly!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Ya done good! Thanks for the pix and description. Boy - foggy.

the dawn said...

wow wow wow. usually i can't tell incline and/or angle of elevation from pictures, but you did a great job capturing that! looks like it was a real killer. sorry you missed beating last year's time, but wow, for not pushing it you did amazing! especially with that crazy obstacle course! love the new bling!

cliff said...

congrats on the marathon! all the pics give everyone a good idea of what the couse is really like.

yeah, the shirt's design isn't all that great (and it's not a long sleeve v-neck), but the hat looks really cool.

Marlene said...

Congrats on #20!! Glad to hear you enjoyed it more than last year and finished strong. Hope the pain subsides quickly!

Mica said...

This was a good race report--an excellent mix of text and photos! It's a really pretty race, especially the first half. That being said, I don't think the scenery could convince me to do this one. Those hills sound terrifying. Props to you for getting up and down all of them! Congratulations!

bunnygirl said...

Nice race report and pics! Of course, the Mario pic is best.

Lisa said...

WOW. I am so jealous. I've never been to San Fran but I've always thought about moving there for some reason. People just seem to tell me it's my kind of city. I think I need to go.

Sorry this one sounds like a toughy, but you plugged through it like the trooper you are! I'm far from expert, but wouldn't it make sense to put the boring scenery in the very beginning of the course, before you really "need" the visual distraction??

Why didn't Mario run the hometown race? said...

fantastic job and supurb race report!!!!!! :) amazing! i love all the pics too!

Marathon Maritza said...

Congratulations on number 20! Whooo! Amazing job and so glad I got to see you in the end there :)

Sarah Woulfin said...

Great pictures from the race day! Thanks for the honest race report---ALL marathons have their pluses and minuses!

Virtuous said...

What a great race and I always love your reports! LOL @ s/n have forked over the extra $35

And I see you wore another cute skirt ;o)

Fabulous run! You really paced yourself and took it all in stride! Congrats!

Derrick Tsang said...

Congrats!! I am totally going to turn off my Garmin next time too! I cannot stand it being 26.2 with no finish line in sight! Hope your recovery is going well!

EndorphinBuzz said...

Wow! What a beautiful course. The part on the bridge must be awesome. Thanks for taking so many pictures!

audgepodge said...

YAY - great race report! Loved all the pics... felt like I was right there running with you. (ok, not really)

I both love/hate running by the Boudin bakery. I can smell it now!

aron said...

LOVE this report and love all the pics! WOW number TWENTY!!! so awesome :)