I finally got around to writing a review! It’s been a looog work week to say the least. I’ve decided to include reviews of my running experiences because I personally do a lot of research online before I choose a race. It’s nice to get different people’s perspectives, especially if I’m going to be traveling somewhere. I want to know if it’s worth it and what to expect. This is my first review so here goes!
Race Review: The San Francisco Marathon 2013 , 1st Half June 16, 2013
Expo: The Expo was held at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. This is the largest expo I have been to and there are plenty of vendors and free samples. I’ve already posted some pictures from the expo here. We didn’t have to wait in long lines, and when I needed to exchange my tech shirt for another size (twice) it was no big deal.
Who doesn’t love race swag? I’m sure someone, but not this girl. The shirt design was kinda funky and “digital” looking, but the sizes were off. The sleeves were about 3/4 for men and women, which was kind of an odd fit. But I don’t run for shirts. I’m all about the medals. This year the half medal had a nice design of the Golden Gate Bridge and was very similar to last year but bigger (which is better).
Race day: I COULD NOT SLEEP! My alarm was set for 4 am and when my head hit the pillow (around midnight) I was wide awake with anticipation. I slept zero hours. Nothing. I usually barely sleep before a race. 45 min. 2 hours. 4 hours. But never zero. Sometime after 3 am I realized it was a lost cause and jumped out of bed. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right? I was not going to miss the run!
The weather was insanely perfect. By the time the race started at 5:30 am the sun was well on it’s way up.
Waiting for the 6:02 start time for wave 5
Even with the heightened security due to the bombings in Boston, it was a breeze to check sweats bags and get in to our corral. Each wave started 10 minutes apart and very much on time.
This course has been my favorite so far. It’s challenging, scenic and there is NEVER a dull moment. There isn’t tons of crowd support for such a big city race, but those that do come out-especially the volunteers-are so much appreciated. (The Sports Basement cheer section was awesome, I’m not sure that was coffee they were drinking!)
(mileage is approx. from memory)
Miles 1-5: The first couple of miles are a nice flat warm up. You start near the Bay Bridge and run along the water for awhile, passing by some key touristy sites: the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square (yum) and Alcatraz.
This is the first race I’ve had to stop at a restroom. I was a little discouraged at first having to delay my finish time by at least 5 minutes to wait in line, but I stopped my Nike app here (around mile 3) just to compare to my official finish time for my own personal satisfaction 🙂
The first big hill is around mile 4 (I think?). It’s somewhat steep but since it’s still early on most people seemed to have a lot of energy.
Miles 5-10: The ramp up to the Golden Gate Bridge is long and fairly steep, but with the beautiful bridge just up ahead it’s easy to push forward.
Running the Golden Gate defines this race. It’s a stunning visual in itself and the day of the race the sun was out and shining on the water. Truly breathtaking; at this point your runner’s high is in full effect.
Miles 10-12: After running across the bridge and back there is another long incline to tackle. Then, you get one fast downhill slope along the beautiful coast before the final couple of miles in the Richmond District. This is where I struggled last year-the course ends with a lot of uphill. I still felt some fatigue, but unlike last year I did not walk at all!
Miles 12-13.1: The course ends in Golden Gate Park and this is where the crowd support finally picks up. And it is much needed at this point! I felt my calves starting to cramp from running uphill for the last few miles but once the finish line was close enough I sprinted strong to the end. It felt amazing!
Cold, tired and feeling great!
Golden Gate Park is always at least 10 degrees cooler than the Embarcadero (where the start line is) so I HIGHLY recommend checking a sweats bag. 5 minutes after you finish the race it gets extremely cold. “Space blankets” are provided for all the runners; they really help so make sure to grab one even if you don’t feel like you need it right away!
Bread, pastries, yogurt, coconut water, milk, fruit and Irish coffee are provided at the finish. There is even a free shuttle provided for all runners back to the start line.
This is the second time in a row I have run this course, and it was just as awesome as I remember!
I somehow managed to run 13.3 miles in 2:04 according to Nike!
My official finish time was actually 2:09 with the restroom break. I’m really happy with the run; I pushed harder than last year and had no walking breaks on the hills. I’m confident I can get my half marathon time down below 2 hours, especially on a much more level course.
The first half is a challenging run, but not unbearable. I was so nervous last year about those hills but everything is totally manageable. The full marathon is another story. I haven’t run it yet, but congrats to anyone that has. By mile 13 I was ready to rest and eat some food! Someday I will be in the company of those amazing people who have been able to run 26.2 miles through the hilly streets of San Francisco!