Ahh, The San Francisco Marathon. The Race Even Marathoners Fear. An urban road race full of sloping hills and gravity-defying roads that twist and turn for miles upon miles! The most common question SF-racing newbies ask me is how difficult are the hills?? I can attest that The San Francisco Marathon is challenging but completely survivable (yes, I AM still alive!). My recommendation is to train for hills, and then enjoy the ride. Hills equate to scenery. Challenging, beautiful, inspiring scenery. And they also mean pride. The San Francisco Marathon is not a cake walk in the park (although you WILL run through a park, and feel free to eat lots of cake after), but to conquer the streets of The City is a badge of honor. I will never be the fastest runner, but I have effing run The San Francisco Marathon.
The San Francisco Marathon 2015, 2nd Half, A Race Review
Sunday, July 26th, 2015
I initially intended on running the full marathon again this year, but I contracted the flu while on a trip to Europe (more on this later…I’ve been getting sick A LOT this year due to sleep deprivation), so I switched to the 2nd half marathon. I have already reviewed the 1st half in 2012 and 2013, and the full marathon in 2014, but this year was my first experience running the 2nd half of the race!
Expo: The 2015 San Francisco Marathon expo was held Friday and Saturday, July 24th and 25th, at the Fort Mason Center.
As an ambassador for The San Francisco Marathon, I volunteered to work the Expo on Friday afternoon. I was assigned to the Berkeley Half Marathon table, the SF Marathon’s upcoming sister race (which I am now an ambassador for too!).
I was able to take a break from the Berkeley Booth to pick up my bib and t-shirt. I needed to change race distances at the expo, and it was an easy switch from the full marathon to the 2nd Half Marathon for a $10 fee.
Once I was finished volunteering, Rich and I grabbed a quick snack at the Off the Grid food truck festival, conveniently located outside of the expo.
I had been feeling a little off the last couple of days, but that evening all hell broke loose. I’ll leave out the gory details, but Rich and I both came down with the stomach flu. The next 24 hours were miserable, and I didn’t think I was going to run the race. After sleeping and hydrating as much as possible, I gained my appetite back on Saturday evening and was able to down a plate of spaghetti. Had the spew-fest continued, we would have both backed out of the race, but everything was contained by Sunday morning and we wanted to run. Can’t stop, won’t stop, amIright?
The Second Half Marathon begins at 8:15 am, which is over 2 hours later than the full and first half runners! So brownie points. Rich ran the first half, so he was almost finished just as I was lining up to race! The course starts in Golden Gate Park and ends at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. At the starting line, my insides were not feeling 100%, but the clean air of the peaceful urban forest just felt SO pleasant. I told myself I have 3 hours to finish the course, and can walk if necessary.
Miles 1-6: The 2nd half marathon course begins with 6 miles of low-rolling terrain in Golden Gate Park. The scenery is beautiful, if a bit redundant, as the course loops around several times.
Stomach assessment: intermittently feeling happy and wanting to barf and die. I ran about a 9:15 min/mile through the park, which seemed to push my stomach to the limit. So I decided to slow down.
Miles 6-9: The exit from Golden Gate Park is the first real incline of the course, followed by some small, rolling hills and steep declines while running down Haight to The Mission District. These were some of my favorite miles of the race, as the course support was plentiful and enthusiastic.
Stomach assessment: waves of runner’s high coursing though my veins, with unrealistic thoughts of PR’s dancing in my head! Until I had to rush to a restroom; minus 5 minutes off my time, booooo.
Miles 9-11: The longest, steepest hill of the 2nd Half Marathon is around mile 9. I powered up to the top, feeling relieved that the toughest part of the course was over! The next 2 miles aren’t the most scenic as you run through the more industrial part of the Mission into the Dog Patch. SF weather has been record hot lately, and the sun was out and smiling down on us. Stomach assessment: Meh. I allowed myself to run/walk through water stops, but happy to have made it this far.
On course entertainment..approaching the end!
Miles 12-13.1: The last couple of miles of the race are incredibly scenic and exciting. The crowds really pick up, and the views of The City and The Bay are stunning!
The 2nd Half runners finish with the full marathoners at the Ferry Building, just past the Bay Bridge. We were treated to medals…
…coconut water, Perfect Bars, Muscle Milk…oh, and bananas.
My Nike + app showed that I had finished running in 2:07, but that did not include the 5 minute bathroom break (I looked up my official time: 2:12…not even my slowest!). I was completely happy with my post-stomach flu results!
The finish line festival was more spread out than previous years, which I loved because it eliminated a lot of congestion. There were many booths, samples, food trucks, and even a Lagunitas Beer Garden.
After reconnecting with my boyfriend, we headed to the Ambassador tent and were treated to bagels, coffee and Lagunitas beer. Beer sounded like a tasty treat, but after one sip I was done. It would take many more days of recovery before my appetite returned to normal!
I am completely happy with my race results, but next year will be redemption: I vow to return and run a healthy and strong race!