Race Report: San Francisco Half Marathon (1st half)



Alright, so I’ve been gone for a crazy long ass time.

I don’t have a great reason for being MIA. There were no family emergencies. I didn’t win the lottery and pick up to travel the world. No, nothing like that. No friend drama. No drama of any kind. Nothing. When it comes down to it, I just didn’t have much to write about. My training was pretty non-existent for SFM.

How non-existent you ask? Here’s the breakdown.

May: 16.31 mi (base building?)
June: 12.32 mi (uhm, more base building? losing base is more like it!)
July: 6.47 mi, 19.57 (w/ SFM, for the MONTH)

Compare this to my training for LB 2008 when I set my last half marathon PR:

August: 32.6 mi (base building)
September: 55 mi (speed, speed, speed)
October: 9 mi (first 2 weeks of Oct, the 2 wks before LB), 22.1 (incl. LB)

Yeah….

I was basically averaging one run every two weeks while “training” for SFM. That’s pretty damn sad.

But what can I say? Even though the hills of SFM scared the bejeezus out of me, I just couldn’t find the motivation or the inspiration to get my ass into gear. Funnily enough, on the morning of the race, I felt nervous but confident at the same time because what few runs I did do were pretty solid despite my sad training cycle.

So, let’s get on with the race report!

You guys have already seen what little I did to prepare for SFM. Here’s the other stuff.

Pre-Race
I picked up my bib on Friday. The expo was pretty small, PACKED and hectic.




We didn’t get to stay long because we had to head over to Alameda for dinner at Sarah’s house. We were rushing out the expo doors when I remembered that I hadn’t picked up my CA Dreamin’ jacket yet. That was why I was doing SFM, afterall! To finally complete the last installment of a trilogy of coastal races.



Dinner was fantastic. It was so great seeing Sarah, Shane, and Jonah again. It was also a special treat to finally catch up with Virginia and James and meet their baby boy, JoJo. We left super late that night (2am!), with full bellies, happy souls, and me, with a huge bag full of books (hello, Hunger Games!).




Race Game Plan
I had to finish SFM in under 3 hours. I normally wouldn’t worry about this, but most of the half marathons I’ve done have been relatively flat. I was worried that the SF hills would kill my legs, plus I wasn’t training well. But even given all this, I still felt like a sub 3 hour finish was doable. Looking back now, I don’t know exactly where this confidence came from. Perhaps I was delusional!

My goal was to keep my pace evenly at 12:30 for the first 5-6 miles, then I was anticipating a slow down in the last half. In the end, I thought this would average out to be a sub-3 finish.

The Race
Before lining up at the start line, Christine and I waited in line for this hi-tech standalone bathroom that cleaned itself and washed the floors after each use. I’ve never seen anything like it before, but it took ridiculously long to do its cleaning. Each cleaning cycle took 45 secs. Ok, so it’s not THAT long. But when you have like 20 people in front of you and you have to get to the start line in 30 minutes, it feels like FOREVER. In the end, I guess it was better than using a port-a-potty.


taken after the potty break and before heading to the start line


waiting for waves 5 and 6 to get going before wave 7 can toe the start line


we were queued up right next to the Bay Bridge


Wave 7, finally queued up and ready to cross the start line

The first 4 miles ticked off pretty quickly. Somewhere around 3-4 miles into the race, Christine caught up with me (she’s got some real running talent! More on this later). Running with Christine was unlike running with anyone else. The most RANDOM stuff happened to us!

Randomness #1: First off, Christine was running in completely new shoes. The shoes were not only brand new, but she had never used this particular brand before (Brooks), and they were a different type of shoe she was used to wearing (stability, instead of neutral). Leading up to the race, she was experiencing some right IT band issues. She bought an IT band velcro wrap, which helped a lot during her training runs but she felt that the neutral shoes, even with stability insoles, weren’t giving her enough support – so she got a pair of Brooks shoes in the stability category the week leading up to the race. Race day was the first time she used them

Well, it turns out those Brooks did NOT help in the support area and only led to her having issues with her left IT band on the day of the race. Yikes! So, throughout the race, we would either have to stop or walk slowly so that she could switch her IT band wrap from one leg to the other. She ended up having to switch the wrap about every mile to every other mile.

Randomness #2: While she was wrapping, either she or I would end up dropping random stuff on the ground. She dropped her water bottle a couple of times and her wrist band. She was constantly fiddling with her jacket, which kept falling off her arms (too hot for her to wear it). My mp3 player unclipped and swung precariously around, bounding on my legs, and yanking out my earbuds. At one point, while running on the bridge, her hat blew off and we stopped to chase it down. We were looking around frantically, hoping it hadn’t blown off into traffic or off the bridge. It was her favorite hat! All the while, it was stuck, hanging on her ponytail. LOL We must have looked SO STUPID. hahaha

Randomness #3: Around mile 10, Christine had to take a port-a-potty break. So, while she stood in line for one, I went to refill my bottle at the water station just a few feet away. I also drank some Cytomax – man that stuff is WAY too sweet!. About half a mile after that little pit stop, she drank out of her water bottle and started gagging. It turns out, she had dropped her water bottle while she was in the port-a-potty and she had forgotten! YACK! *shudders* Then she told me about how she hadn’t properly locked the door to the port-a-potty that well, so a little boy ended up walking in on her. ROFL

Randomness #4: As we were heading into mile 11, I looked down and saw that my skirt had fallen down to mid-thigh! I guess my compression tights were a bit slippery. I dunno how long I’d been pseudo mooning people. I quickly pulled up my skirt and relayed the story to Christine. We had a good chuckle about it.

Randomness #5: Christine did not know where any of the photographers were! I’d point one out, and she’d look the opposite direction. Then I’d point out that he’s on the other side and she’d look right beyond him! LOL Check these pics out.



Oh man, I can’t help but crack up thinking about this stuff!

We also made some pit-stops to take some pictures, because although this is a tough race, it’s also really scenic.


my attempt at a shot of me and Christine with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop. FAIL.

We were snickering at the picture when a nice guy ran by and offered to take a proper picture of us.


yes, much better!

Then later on, as we were running the Golden Gate Bridge, we HAD to take some pics of us on the bridge bed!



After we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, it was allll hills til the very end. How were they, you ask?

The hills were pretty tough and I found that while my body was ok to run up them, I was mentally very weak. I think part of it had to do with my music selection that day. I didn’t have time to make up a playlist like I usually do, and all the songs came on at the wrong time. The other part was having the pressure of running with someone else who is way faster than you. I ran some hefty hills in the few runs I did. While they were tough and I would slow down a bit, I always managed to make it over them ok, without having to walk. I got pretty good with keeping track of my breathing and pacing myself so that I didn’t burn out early.

But while I was running with Christine, I pressured myself into trying to keep up with her, which was a terrible idea. I ended up burning out and having to walk more than I normally would.

I was spent at the end of the race. I didn’t even have it in me to sprint. My legs were burnt. I didn’t bring enough to eat with me so my stomach was eating itself. I just wanted to be done!


at the finish line


wrapped up and toasty in our space blankets

I managed to meet up with Chris at the food area and then later on, randomly ran into Kim, too!


me and Chris with our CA Dreamin’ bling!


me and Kim, fellow CA Dreamin’ finisher

Official Finish Time: 3:00:04

Maggie Garmin’s Stats:
Finish Time: 3:00:23
Distance: 13.35 mi
Calories Burned:1,502
Avg Pace: 13:28
Avg HR: 166

Christine’s friend, Thuy, met up with us after the race and we walked about 3 miles over to her place before hitching a ride to our place for a hot, hot shower. Man it felt good to get clean!

SFM was a great race. It was nicely organized, and it had some nice scenery. I just wouldn’t want to do it again. What can I say? I’m just not a hill-loving girl. Christine, on the other hand, LOVES hills and LOVES stairs! So, this is right up her alley =) I’m glad to be done with the CA Dreamin’ series. LB and Surf City will always hold special places in my heart with Surf City being my very first half marathon and LB being the culmination of months of hard work and a well earned PR.

But now, I can let them go for a while and look for new races to enjoy. I have the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon to look forward to in October. I’ve already made my training plan for this race and for once, I’m looking forward to starting it. Then, the year will end with what will hopefully be my redemption marathon. I have CIM listed as my marathon for the year, but I’m toying with the idea of doing the Rock n Roll Las Vegas, mostly because it’d be a better destination race. There is more to see, do, and eat in Vegas than in Sacramento. The only negative thing (and a slightly big one at that), is that nearly 65-70% of the course is a complete snooze-fest.

What do you guys think? CIM or RnR Vegas? :)

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About Sheryl

New mama, runner on the mend, crafter, DIYer, Harry Potter fanatic, dreamer, coffee guzzler, rescue mom to 3 crazy pups.

12 thoughts on “Race Report: San Francisco Half Marathon (1st half)

  1. Way to go, Sheryl! Now, I’m not advocating the no-training method (been there… done that… so many times!) but finishing at nearly 3:00:04 is a respectable time for someone who hardly trained for the hills!

    As far as the marathon goes, I think you should shoot for RnR Vegas — then you’ll get the extra, “I rocked 39.3” medal. :) Who wants to go to Sac-town anyway? Vegas baby, yeah! ;)

    p.s.,
    LMFAO you filed this under Metal Spatula!

  2. CIM! I’ve never done it, but heard it’s a net downhill race and has more to look at than Vegas (well other than the portion that is on the strip).

    Great job and good luck!

  3. You know I’ve got to vote for RNR Vegas! Come on, we can mock Bret Michaels together!

    Congrats on the finish time!!

    I’m so sorry that Christine’s water bottle fell in the porta-potty. OH *gag* I’m shuddering as I type this out. Lord. I hope she recovered from it!

  4. @Raciel – Thanks, VTB! =) Yeah, I think I’m done with the no-training thing. I need to change my mindset going into RnR LA. I’ve totally sunk into this daily regime where running/training isn’t the first thing on my mind, whereas before, it was the MOST important thing. Anyway, I’m writing a post on this later =)

    @Page – Thanks, girlie! =) Yeah, the net downhill is what appealed to me the most, but honestly I’m scurrrrrred of all the rolling hills. The flatness and the buffets in Vegas kinda appeals to me.

    @Chris – Thanks, chica! (= I think I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing Vegas. I just need to find out where we’ll be staying and for how long. How long are you guys staying?

    Doode, the porta-potty thing was sooooooooooooooooooooooo grosssssssssssss. GAH!

  5. Sheryl:

    So glad you’re back! I’ve missed your posts. I’ve been reading your blog since the early spring.

    Congrats on the SFM! You made it sound fun, even though there were some struggles.

    I’m new to running (just since January). I’ve got a half marathon on the calendar for December. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Hi Leslie!!! =)

    Thanks! It feels great to be back! Thanks so much for being patient with me and coming back!

    SFM was really fun =) I have nothing but fond memories of it.. even with all those darn hills!

    Congrats on starting your running journey. Have you thought about starting your own blog? Which half marathon will you be doing in December?

  7. Hey Sheryl:

    I’ve considered a blog, but haven’t gotten there yet.

    The half is put on by a local YMCA, Mistletoe Run for Youth, here in Winston-Salem, NC.

  8. Thanks, Shu! Sorry for the late reply, things have been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to post regularly =( I’d love to read more about your running journey. Can I be invited to read your blog? =)

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