Date Of Event: July 31, 2011
Ever since I started to really run, the San Francisco Marathon was a clear choice for me. It’s no secret, San Francisco is by far one of my all time favorite cities and to have the privilege to run it was just something I had to take advantage of. A couple months back, just after the Vancouver BMO half I was feeling pretty good so I decided to sign up for the SF First Half Marathon. I knew I had my work cut out for me since SF isn’t exactly a flat and fast city so I got to training right away. Fast forward to 4 weeks prior to the San Francisco Marathon: I make one wrong step trail running and gave myself a nasty eversion sprain to my right ankle!!! DOH! What to do…what to do…? Suck it up and run anyways!!!
We arrived in SF the day prior to the race making the racing Expo our first stop. I’ve never been too crazy about Expo’s, however this one seemed much less painful than most others that I’ve been to. The line-ups were minimal (the longest being the one to get your ID checked for the Irish coffee/beer gardens), and the overall layout of the expo was very efficient. We grabbed our race packets and had a quick look at some of the booths throughout the expo, one in particular that caught my eye was the Big Sur Marathon booth which dazzled my medal-lusting eyes with their incredibly sexy medals. This was enough to intrigue me to register, oh yes I did. Post-Expo, we checked into our hotel and went straight to our favorite Vegetarian Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre to load up on some amazing food.
Morning Of: I guess because I was injured and wasn’t even sure that I’d be able to finish the half marathon I wasn’t feeling too panicked about the race, I knew it wasn’t going to be a day to even consider a PR, but more likely a DNF. My biggest worry was that I wasn’t going to have a fast enough pace to make the cut-off for the rolling closures. To be honest with you, I was just really anxious to get to the start line and see what I was capable of doing with a sprained ankle, a brace and having had not been able to run more than a couple 2 mile runs in the previous 4 weeks. A good challenge I say!
Start Line: I arrived at my corral the suggested 15 minutes early, and upon making my way in to the crowd the level of organization was very clear. The volunteers were very efficiently directing runners where to go and checking bib numbers. I was in the 6th wave which was scheduled to start at 6:12am, and I’m not kidding you when I say this race was so well organized that my ACTUAL start time was 6:13am! Okay SF Marathon, you’ve already officially won me over.
Miles 1-4.5: My plan from the start was to go slow, really, really slow and to listen to my body (and physiotherapist), if my ankle got really bad I knew I’d have to pull myself out of the race. As soon as I started I had to keep reminding myself “slow down, SLOW DOWN!” Initially I felt okay, and then…dun, dun, DUN! Ankle pain started. I looked down at my watch to see how long it took for the ankle pain to start and there it was a measly 4 minutes and 2 seconds…yup, I’m screwed! I pulled myself together and found my focus and continued on. The first four miles were great, the sun was just starting to come out and we got to run all along the waterfront, by Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square and through Crissy field. My only qualm about this stretch of the road was that I was SO cautious of stepping into one of the train track grooves that I felt a little distracted by it. A sprained ankle + uneven surfaces = nightmare.
Miles 4.5-9.5: The Golden Gate Bridge!!! Let me just start by saying the entire first portion of the race you can see the GG Bridge off in the distance and it’s so fricken daunting!!! It looks SO far away and SO high up and SO very long! Having said that, I was super stoked to get up on that thing! Within the first couple minutes of being on the bridge something amazing happened, I saw a familiar face running towards me, not just any face, the face of my best friend, this moment was HUGE for me. It instantly made me happy and rejuvenated and gave me the extra push I needed to get over this bridge. Almost immediately after that I witnessed a guy catch his foot on one of the bridge grates and wipe out pretty hard. You could hear a collective gasp over the runners in the immediate area. A few runners on his side of the course stopped to help him out, it wasn’t even a few minutes passed that point when ANOTHER runner did the exact same thing on the next grate! Needless to say I was very cautious of where I was setting down my Newton’s on that bridge. Up and over and back I go. I felt pretty good during this portion of the run, I did take a few walk breaks, and took a little time to soak in the moment. Running the bridge was a memory that I’m sure I’ll never forget, the bridge is massive and iconic and it was just so amazing to run it.
Miles 9.5-13.1: Coming off the bridge I had a moment of clarity, I realized that I had a real chance of finishing this race bummed ankle and all! Immediately upon having that thought the happy tears started flowing. I pressed forward (very slowly) and as I approached the 10 mile mark things took a turn for the worse. I was hit with a huge wave of nausea, followed by panic. My stomach hurt SO bad and I was thisclose to throwing up. At this point, so very close to the finish line there was no way that I wasn’t finishing this thing. I dialed back my pace even more than the turtles pace that I was already crawling along at and literally took the remaining 3 miles one step at a time. I’ve never felt nauseated during a long run before and let me just say it was bad, very, very, bad.
In all honesty, I was so sick and in so much pain by this point that I can’t even recall a lot of the last portion of the race. Nearing the finish and entering the park gave me a bit of a second wind, the park was beautiful and there were fans cheering all over the place. With the finish line in sight I put a smile on my face and gave it all I had. Crossing the finish line was super emotional for me for different reasons than any other race before. I really couldn’t believe I finished, I somehow pulled it together and my little stubborn body pushed through the pain and did it!!! I now have no excuse ever to not finish something that I’ve started.
Aftermath: I wish I could say I spent the rest of the day celebrating and drinking amazing wine and eating yummy, rich food, but the reality of it was I spent the entire rest of the day stuck in my hotel room throwing up. ICKY ICKY SICKY! Even with the sickness and sprained ankle the San Francisco First Half Marathon has been one of my favorites, totally “worth the hurt”. Extremely well organized, with gorgeous scenery and amazing, enthusiastic, efficient volunteers. Having the chance to run through my favorite city was incredible and I can’t wait to come back next year to run the Second Half Marathon so I can claim my “Half It All” fancy, schmancy spinner medal!
- Bright Orange long-sleeve technical shirt
- Scenic Views: Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge, the park
- Location, my favorite city!
- Volunteers were AWESOME!
- Medal size, a little small, but I get the concept of a key chain medal.
- plastic cups! I’m a fan of pinching my water cups.
RACE SUPPORT: 9/10
RACE ORGANIZATION: 9/10
BONUS: 8/10 (Incredible experience to run the GG bridge, shirt, views, Irish Coffee!)
PLACE OVERALL: 2589/3619 out of all females