Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Rest of the Story - SF 1/2 Race Report

OK...so when last we met, I was on my way to the Golden Gate Bridge...running with RBR (and briefly with Willie and his friend, before they speedily took off, but not before I could be a wise-ass and ask him if he'd even broken a sweat yet).

But before I go on with the race report (yes, I'm killing some of you, aren't I?) I do have to take a moment to talk about the DAY BEFORE THE RACE, specifically, the fabulous dinner organized by Penny where I finally got to meet some of the fabulous peeps I've been stalking these past months/years.
Meeting Meg...and I'm hoping that her husband Steve is just trying to NOT be part of the picture
The herd at dinner (me, Mik, Betty, and Elsie). The BEST running/travel partners EVAH
Penny and Willie checking out the latest Tweet
It was so much fun to talk to everyone. Meg wrote in her race report that she could have stayed at dinner forever. I agree. I was afraid that I wasn't going to have the chance to meet in person some bloggers. I knew that on Friday night there was a Tweetup and I was super bummed because we weren't flying into SF until Saturday morning. Luckily, Penny organized a dinner for Saturday. Once again, I completely owe her.

Anyway, onto My Race Report

Pre-race - I made what would turn out to be a really good decision to wear a tanktop underneath the Neon-Day-Glo-Lime-Green race shirt with my arm sleeves. AND I decided the day before the race to purchase a pair of RaceReady capris to wear instead of the running shorts I'd brought. I'll be honest, I don't know WTF I was thinking when I packed for this event. What ever I thought I was  packing for, it was not for SF. I grew up in Northern Nevada. I have family in the bay area. I KNOW what summers are like in San Francisco (e.g. winter-like).

I love Race-Ready gear. Not only do they make the most unbelievably bright racing tunics EVAH, their running bottoms (shorts, skirts, capris, knee length shorts, etc)  have a whole lineup of pockets on the outside. I carried my iPhone, Gu, and some running gloves in my back pockets, and had pocket room to spare. So even though the sales people at the Expo booth were real A-holes*, I still love their running gear enough to overlook that aspect of their company.

Of course I took this picture at the Expo, because I am, you know, like 12 (he, he, he). In fact, the post that I wrote about The Dangers of Self Massage, still gets a fair number of hits every week.
OK...so here's the really STUPID thing I did pre-race. I walked around all day in flip-flops...and we did walk. A LOT. By the end of the day, I could start to feel tightness in the Plantar Fascia tendon. Not. A. Good. Thing.

Miles 1-2 - The Start
As I wrote in my last post, Elsie and Betty managed to work their way into Corral 5 or 6, but I was off searching for water, so I got separated from them. So even though I started off by myself, I was surrounded by a bunch of new "friends" I made with the people standing around me including a group of women who said they'd keep an eye out for the rest of my crew wearing NEON-DAY-GLO-LIME-GREEN running shirts and another wonderful man who had run the race 7 or 8 times and was giving us pointers about how to run the bridge and the Precidio. He warned that in the Precidio, we'd run up a hill and then there's a slight curve and then more hill. I'll come back to that advice later.

Lots of others have talked about the race start, and it is fun. Lots of peeps. The run through Fisherman's Wharf, the smell of bread baking at Boudin, the first view of the bridge...all spectacular. I tried to settle into a nice even pace. The good thing about starting in Corral 7 is that I was running with my peeps. A bunch of people also trying to run a 2:30 (ish) 1/2 marathon, so in just staying with the crowd, I wasn't pushing myself to go too fast. Unfortunately, I could feel my heel twinge. It didn't hurt, but I could feel it. This I obsessed about repeatedly.

Mile 1 - 11:03
Mile 2 - 11:08

Miles 3-5 - Running With Stacey
Somewhere past the second mile I felt a slap on my ass and there was RBR! Now I have to admit, that as thrilled as I was to meet RBR, I was also kinda star-struck and sorta nervous when we met. She is fantastically funny and charming and ADORABLE. I'm sure she thought, who is this boring old woman? Can't even carry on a conversation with me...GAH!

Also, in answer to G's comments yesterday. I have no idea about RBR's anatomy, but I will say, the woman has balls...she was running the full marathon and pretty much left me in her tracks.

Anyway her presence was, for me, a Godsend because I forgot about my damned foot and just started enjoying myself.  We ran for about two miles together, then once we got on the bridge, she either picked up her pace (or she picked it up and I slowed down). Either way, thanks so much for running with me Stacey! I even got to run (sorta) with Willie for a bit and got to harass him about not even breaking a sweat.

I think we were somewhere around Fort Mason we had a clear shot of the Golden Gate bridge. I harassed some stranger, who was running with a big-ass camera if he was going to run with it the whole way!  See, this is what I do in the first miles of a run, harass people around me. No wonder people want to run with me so much!

OK...I posted this yesterday, but it warrants a second look. The bridge...
One of the first hills - Toward the Bridge
Mile 3 - 11:46 (pretty sure I stopped to take pictures, but clearly, I was slowing down about here)
Mile 4 - 11:31
Mile 5 - 11:20

Miles 6-9 - The Bridge
So, we got to the bridge and I'm not gonna lie. It was effing COLD! In the open areas, there was a good wind. In a moment of clarity, I pulled my gloves out of my back pocket and put them on in what would amount to be my BEST DECISION of the day.

On the bridge
Stacey in the pink feather boa...leaving me in her tracks (Happy B-Day Girl!)
To be honest, the uphill on the bridge, other than slowing me down some, didn't really feel like a hill. Maybe it's because I run over LOTS of bridges in San Diego, or I'm just used to a lot of gradual inclines like this, I was OK with it. It was cold, but once I put my gloves on and pulled my sleeves up, I was fine as far as the weather went. At this point, I was mostly looking for peeps I knew. I first spotted Mik, who was almost done with the bridge...as I was starting...GRRR (JK). Then I spotted Penny and her sister and waved. I somehow missed Glenn (you need to wear brighter colors Glenn!). Then I saw Elsie around the 7th mile.

The biggest problem I had on the bridge was that it was CROWDED and maybe because I was in the 7th wave and there were a bunch of first time runners, I don't know, but seriously peeps. Isn't it good race etiquette to move to the right if you're going to walk? (See picture of me above, on the bridge? I am not so coordinated to run and take pix. I was WALKING at that point, thus I moved to the RIGHT.

Anyway, about mile 7 I started to feel the cold in my ears. I started getting a headache, and also felt sorta---well, wrong. I was actually quite worried that I was coming down with something and was starting to feel it. Despite the cold, I actually felt hot and feverish. I thought "damn. Maybe I'm getting the flu. Nice time for it to hit me).

I was also keeping an eye out for Betty. I figured she and Elsie started in Wave 6, about 12 minutes ahead of me, and that since I'd seen Elsie, I'd be spotting her shortly. When I got to the turn around and still hadn't seen her, I started to worry about where/how she was. I figured I might have passed her and she was in a PP, which would be a bummer. At the turn around I felt another slap on my ass (BTW...what is it about my ASS that everyone wants to slap it? Huh? Maybe BBJ has an answer for that).

I was Betty, who told me that she'd be holded up in a PP for the last several minutes. Good timing huh?

I shared with her that I pretty much felt like I had my "motor running" for the last mile or so.

We laughed. I needed that. So we wogged for a while further and I took a photo.

Yes, me and my excellent self-photo skillz - Me and Betty's shoulder on the bridge...GAH!
Mile 6 - 11:59
Mile 7 - 11:10
Mile 8 - 12:03
Mile 9 - 11:51

Miles 10-12 - The Park
I'd been told that the run up the Precidio was tough, and I'd looked at the elevations. It looked sorta like going up Torrey Pines at the La Jolla 1/2 Marathon, only shorter. So here's the thing. I pretty much psyched myself out about the hill. I'm not going to say it wasn't a good hill. It was, but I coulda taken it. I just didn't. I thought it was going to be a longer hill, so I walked. Then the hill was over and I knew I coulda run the whole thing. Not knowing the course killed me there. I was bummed.

Aside from that, this part of the run was, as everyone reports, brutal. It's not so much the uphill parts, but the downhill parts are just killer, on the toes, on the quads, on my calves (which are still recovering even today).

That being said, it is another breathtakingly beautiful part of the course.

This picture so doesn't do the course justice...
The other exciting thing that happened, as I was running down one of several hills, is that I spotted Stacey's pink boa. I tried to catch her on the downhill parts (which in the long run may have been an error) but couldn't. Finally, at about the 11th mile there were some porta-potties and I could see the pink-feather boa in line...I knew it was my last chance to say stalk and say hello/goodbye/ make an ass of myself and I knew I was NOWHERE NEAR a PB, so I ran over to the lines and took one last picture.

See...she's adorable. Thanks so much Stacey for putting up with me!
Mile 10 - 12:22 - Clearly uphill
Mile 11 - 11:25 - That must be downhill
Mile 12 - 12:35 - The last hill...or so I though

The last mile & fin
OK, I thought the two miles of AFC was brutal...putting a mile and a half hill in miles 11 and 12 of a 13 mile race is difficult, but here's the thing with AFC...the first 6 miles are downhill (some steep downhill, but consistent), then the next 5 are effing pancake-flat, then the next two are uphill, then the end is downhill. See...there's some consistency there.

This would be the opposite of AFC...The rolling hills of the last mile were just mean. My legs were wasted from the up and steep down hill of the previous five miles. Finally, I got to the park and saw the finish. At least there was that, once I got to the park, the race was over. Thank goodness.

Mile 13 - 12:29 - I got nothin' but GAH for that!
Mile 13.1 - 10:20 - Gettin' it done!

Garmin time - 2:35:24
Official time - 2:38:11

So, no PR, but I wasn't expecting one. In fact, I'm actually pretty happy with it. It is NOT by a longshot the slowest 1/2 marathon I've run. In fact, for most of the run, I felt pretty good (except for mile 7. I'm not sure what happened there). The 3+ minute difference from my Garmin and the Official time tells the story, I stopped and took pictures and I walked (to take more pictures and sometimes, just cuz I wanted to).

I've been scanning the blogosphere today and reading up on other's race reports and I'd have to agree with the consensus that the SF 1st 1/2 is an unbelievably beautiful, awesome, well-organized (makes the SD RnR Marathon look like it was run by amateurs) race, but it is NOT one where a PR is likely.  The course is extraordinary (if you want a real view of it Glenn has put together a really fabulous video of the highlights, and that can't be outdone).

Elsie crossing the finish line (One more THANK YOU PENNY!)
Next time: The aftermath...The Herd attempts to leave the race site!
* Really...the service at their booth was beyond terrible, if not downright RUDE. Both Elsie and I were going to buy some merchandise and the RaceReady people pretty much ignored us until Elsie waved her hands and shouted, "hey, we would like to BUY something from you!"  I mean, I KNOW the expo was a ZOO, but didn't they know that going in? In fact, when I mentioned to the RR-guy that I had a blog, and that on said blog, had mentioned their product on several occasions, and that our running group ALWAYS wore their freekin' running shirts in races, he just kinda stared at me. Not even a "Thank-You" or an "Oh, How Nice." OK...whatever, dude. I'm not looking for any free gear, or even a discount (although that would be NICE), but just a little appreciation would have been appropriate. I guess you sell enough gear without me, but still... I compare that experience with the one that Elsie and I had buying new Earbuds. The sales guy was funny, and nice, and joked around with us, and wished us well on our race, and was an all around decent guy. I'm saying nice things about him and his company. RaceReady? I like your gear, but your sales people were jerks. I might have bought more from you...but I didn't because of that...so there!


  1. Great race chica!!!! I'm so glad we were able to inhale pasta together on saturday night and then at least see each other, briefly, before the start!! The "wave police" were in full force that morning! I was so bummed I didnt get a chance to run with you guys-for I was left in my sister and niece's DUST!! I could have used a running partner!!

  2. I think it happens at all races everywhere - walkers taking up more rooms than they should. I have nothing against walkers...I walk sometimes too...but my plea to all walkers in every race please please please get out of the way!!

    Well done!!

  3. Nice report! What fun to meet so many blogger buddies!

  4. Great race report and great race! It sounds like you were able to see a bunch of folks from the blogosphere/twittersphere-- fun!

    Hopefully, I'll see you at Long Beach!

  5. WOW, Girl, that was ONE wicked pix of BS and I! He was totally, hysterically laughing about it, the most action we've captured on film, ever!!!! I have to say, I was really thrilled to meet you, finally. You have that special something and I've always respected your blog and your writing so it was FUN to connect but not nearly enough...truly, let's try again soon! Let's leave Steve out of it though...
    The bridge was SO cold but so gorgeous and I'm glad you had a nice run.
    Thanks for the reminder of the dangers of self-massage. I'm not surprised it gets so many hits...BIG HUGS, you're a special one!!

  6. Congrats! Love reading about bloggy meet-ups. :)

  7. OMG! I kept thinking "Stacey, you are making her crazy, shut up for God's sake!"

    I had a blast and it was so much fun to meet you. Next time we will get more of a chance to chat!

    Never mind G, he is just jealous! He just WISHES he could grind up on teh Aleece!

  8. Another thing, I went to the Race Ready table at the Big Sur Expo and they were equally as asshole-ish to me. If they hate it so much, and clearly by their attitude do not want to sell anything, why do they go?

  9. Fantastic time, those last hills kicked my butt too, excellent write-up Alice, and about that running thing we started, lo these four years ago, it was, remember, all about the Ti--t A-s!

  10. I am so bummed I missed the dinner that night with y'all - I had been wandering around all da and when we got back to my friend's apt, I just couldn't muster up the strength to get back out there again! Meg is a doll, isn't she? She was my roomie in Boston :). I met RBR in line to pick up our race packets, she was a total blast! I totally loved that race and would register for it again in a heartbeat. Congratulations on a fabulous race!! Mabe one of these days we will be able to hook up :).

  11. What a great RR Alice! It was so nice to get together again at dinner.

    Hmmm. I wish I would have remembered my gloves. I don't think I've ever shivered while running....

    Yes - Shelter Island is on the list. I wouldn't miss that for anything! See you in Long Beach.