This race was one of my favorites. It was my 8th half marathon in the books, but 1st one outside of NYC (I really venture far for halfs as you can tell 😉 ) and I thought it was such a treat to run my new home city in the biggest race of the year.
What made this race especially special was sharing the experience with my friend, Vijay. From signing up together 5 weeks ago, checking in on each other with training, to actually running the entire course together – it made the race so much more enjoyable. I’ve always been a solo runner so was kind of anxious running the actual 13.1 miles together, but I think we struck a great balance of talking/encouraging each other/being good distractions while also giving each other space to have our own race. It was so much fun and definitely makes me want to share more running experiences with others! 🙂
The alarm clock went off at 4:20am…the race start was the earliest I’ve ever seen. I got on my running clothes, ate some oatmeal (never going to venture off from my race morning breakfast), picked up Vijay from his place, and we were off to the race start! The sun was rising along the Embarcadaro and it was quite the view.
The organization was very good for such a big race. No traffic to get to the start, plenty of bathrooms, and easy directions to find our wave. With the huge crowd of people rushing to get to the start we missed our wave and easily entered the next one.
Waiting anxiously for the “bell” to go off (because they wouldn’t use a gun…so California, ha).
And then we were off!
Miles 1-4: strong start
We got a strong start in the beginning. Because we entered one of the later waves, we were passing people left and right for a while. Usually it’s congested in the beginning of races and then spreads out, and so I only pass people if it’s necessary. But this time it felt like we were constantly passing others which was both a confidence boost but also quite the task to weave in and out. I guess there’s some benefit to being in your assigned wave!
Our paces were around 9:20 which I was very happy about. Nice and flat portion to warm our legs up, and we were both feeling strong!
Miles 5-8: straight uphill
Right around mile 5 began the ascent up to the Golden Gate bridge. This portion was literally 4 miles of straight uphill, the only relief being the downhill portion of the bridge, just to turn around and climb up it again! The headphones went in and we just grinded our way through it. Our paces dropped down to 9:50-10:00 which was expected.
I was SO proud of the fact that we didn’t stop AT ALL! I had done these hills in training and don’t think I ever made it without stopping. That race adrenaline really pulled us through :). Overall I felt actually felt pretty strong during this stretch.
There weren’t any mile markers during this entire part which I liked. It was nice to see at the end of the bridge that we were already more than half way done :).
So much fog on the bridge. We actually got drenched from it!
Miles 9-13: Being present + seeing Anna
The last few miles felt like the typical last bits of a race. Legs starting to burn out, anxious to see the finish, etc etc.
Vijay was in a lot of pain due to an existing knee injury. Those uphill miles really did a number on him, but he ran solidly and didn’t once complain – I was beyond impressed 🙂
There were some rolling hills in the Richmond which honestly felt harder than the uphill miles 5-8. My legs were feeling beat! But anytime I felt pain or negative thoughts came in, I was just grateful I got to run this race. I focused on being present and actually trying to enjoy the last miles, because those miles are truly the heart of the race.
We saw Anna and her boyfriend, Ben at mile 12!! They woke up and literally sprinted over to catch us quickly (thank god for Facebook friend tracking)! There actually weren’t many spectators the entire race. I guess no one wanted to wake up ridiculously early to cheer us on :P, which meant even more to me that Anna and Ben came out. It was just the boost I needed to finish the last mile strong.
We went from the Richmond into Golden Gate Park and charged straight to the finish!
Final time: unfortunately we didn’t get timed officially since we lost our chip timers, (ugh!). On top of that, I started my Garmin half a mile late, but with the portion I timed I estimated we came in around 2 hr and 7 min, which I am thrilled about given how tough the course was!
This was Vijay’s first half marathon – SO HAPPY FOR HIM! Only 10 minutes after finishing was he talking about signing up for the next one ;). You can’t NOT catch the running bug after these things.
I absolutely loved this race. The whole weekend reminded me of running the NYC marathon two years ago with the feeling of hometown pride, but this time in my new home city. I will definitely be back next year!! 🙂