REVIEW: 2012 San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon

Date Of Event:  July 29, 2012

Price: $85.00 (discounted early registration price)

Since running last year’s 1st Half Marathon and having had the opportunity to run in the streets of  San Francisco for the Newton Running campaign in December, I’ve been dying to get back to the SF area to pound the pavement.  After suffering through sickness and injury during last year’s race I’ve felt the need to redeem myself in one of my favorite cities as well as collect my “Half It All” spinner medal. 😉

The EXPO

The Ginger Runner and I drove up from LA on Saturday morning and hit the Expo right away.  Following in last years foot steps this Expo was pretty painless, I was able to get my race packet right away with no wait or lineup, the layout was clean and straightforward, and they had some really great vendor booths.  I even got to experience the surreal moment of seeing my mug, well actually my butt, on a poster at the Newton Running booth. I would have to say the worst part of the entire Expo was the lineup at the ladies washroom, and after traveling for hours and hours from LA, let me tell you, I was a very impatient girl at this point, doing a mighty fine pee dance.

Morning Of: We got up bright dark and early and I did my usual pre-race routine; nervously got dressed, pushed my yogurt and granola around in my bowl without really getting much in my mouth, applied my VERY necessary water-proof mascara and Carmex lip balm, packed up all my hydration and nutrition, slipped on my Ryder’s Hex glasses and we were out the door.  Because Ethan was running the full marathon, we headed down to the start line super early so he could make his 5:45am start time.

Sitting on the VERY dark bus

Start Line: This leads into my biggest gripe of the event. Those who were doing the 2nd Half had to take a bus from the main start line to the 2nd Half start line in the park, buses ran from 6:30am-7:00am and dropped runners off at Spreckels lake near the start line. I ended up on one of the first buses around 5:50am and originally the driver had said that we were not going to depart until 6:30, most of us just wanted a warm/dry place to sit and relax pre-race, so the bus was an ideal place.  Within a few minutes of sitting on the bus, the buses started departing WAY before 6:30, meaning we would arrive WAY early at the start line.  Once we arrived at the park it was raining/misting, it was really cold, there was not much for shelter and nowhere to sit.  They did provide some heaters, which were still being set up when the first few buses arrived, problem being that you really couldn’t get any warmth because they were immediately crowded.  I hate to put on my complainy-pants, but arriving so early and having to stand at the cold/wet start line for more than 2 hours really sucked. Yeah, yeah…boo hooo. 🙂  My other start line gripe is that unlike the main start area, there really wasn’t much for pre-race hyping, there was a lack of music at the 2nd Half start (for the most part) compared to the fun, loud, dance-music filled atmosphere at the main start, and no one MC’ing until right before the start gun, which made for a very quiet, cold, nerve-racking start line experience.

Elevation chart

Miles 1-6: My plan going into this race was just to take it easy, not get sick and finish. I was still nursing my IT band issues and going into a very hilly race I had no option other than to approach with caution.  The first 6 miles were gorgeous, we had the privilege of running through Golden Gate park, huge trees lining both sides of the road, beautiful scenic lakes and amazingly fresh, crisp air.  Don’t let the fact that the 2nd half is the “easier” half fool you, there are a few pretty decent hills within the park itself.  At this point in the race I was feeling pretty good, my legs felt strong and most importantly, I was having FUN!

Miles 6-10: Holy downhill Batman!!!  After leaving the park we ran through the Haight/Ashbury and Mission district.  Although this part of the race isn’t particularly pretty, I really enjoyed it.  By this point in the race there were a lot of supporters out on the course, which I just love.  It warms my heart that people care enough to come cheer on strangers.  It’s just pure awesomeness, plain and simple.  One of my favorite supporters was a guy randomly handing out Mardi Gras type beads, he was so excited and was happily shouting out encouragement, he placed a string of beads around my neck (no I did not earn them in the traditional sense 😉 ) which I ran with for about 3/4 of a mile before I offered them as a trade to one of the volunteers for a refill of my water bottles.  Cue record scratch.  It was somewhere within these miles where things started taking a bit of a turn for the worse for me.  I’m usually very strict about my hydration/nutrition during long runs, however I was not on this day.  I’m not sure if it was me just getting in my own head about how sick I got on the course last year or what it was, but I was failing miserably.  Close to mile 10 I started feeling waves of nausea and my IT band was screaming, but what can you do? Push on I say! Whenever I get in a tough spot during a race I ask myself if there’s any REAL reason that I cannot put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward…my answer has always been no so far. 🙂

Miles 10-13.1:  The last few miles are relatively flat, the course takes you by At&T park and along the waterfront towards the finish line just before the Ferry Building.  This stretch of the race was just okay for me, not particularly scenic and running by the stadium was a little ummm…nauseating.  There was a game about to start and there were loads of people tailgating and the smell of cooking hotdogs wafted through the air, which to a vegetarian already experiencing waves of nausea isn’t the best smell in the world. *gag*  During these last few miles I did a lot of very slow jogging, and all I could think about was crossing that finish line and getting some champagne in me. I pushed through the final few miles and was SO excited to see my boyfriend and his parents cheering me on along the finishers chute.

The big daddy of all medals!

Finish Line:  After crossing the finish line I was greeted by a nice volunteer who put my finisher’s medal around my neck and I slowly made my way through the post-race food.    This is one of my least favorite parts of races, battling to get through the hoards of people just to get out, by this time in the day the finisher area was just PACKED!  Because I completed the 1st Half Marathon last year and the 2nd Half Marathon this year I was eligible for the “Half It All Challenge”, which means MORE BLING! 🙂  I made my way through the crowds, and walked and walked and walked…finally finding the tent where they were handing out the Half It All medals. By far, this medal is my favorites, if you have a chance to do the 2 races I encourage you to, not only do you get to run through an amazing city you get a ridiculously awesome medal. Absolutely worth the hurt!

The Aftermath:  Both Ethan and I had a great race day and it was time to celebrate!  Once we got back to our apartment, the beer and champagne were flowing, followed by consuming a ridiculous amount of amazing pancakes and french toast, followed by delicious pizza and salted caramel ice cream.  Did I mention how much I LOVE post-race eating?!? OINK!

So what’s left to do you ask?  It looks like the San Francisco Full marathon is on my list of to-do’s for next year. If I complete the full next year I will get into the 52 Club, which means I would have run a total of 52.4 miles in San Francisco and I’ll get an awesome hoodie too!

One last very important note:  I want to stress how much I appreciate each and EVERY volunteer.  As a runner, sometimes in the moment you might be feeling sick, or exhausted or sore during a race, maybe a bit selfish but at the end of the day the volunteers are the ones who really make sure we are taken care of.  I do my best to thank as many volunteers as I possibly can during the race and I urge all of you to do the same.  I love you to pieces all of you volunteers! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

xoxo, MLL

LIKED:

  • Awesome volunteers (I LOVED all the bikers with smiles on their faces)
  • Well organized H20 stations/potties
  • Rad bonus “Half It All” challenge medal
  • fun, scenic tour of the city
  • On-course support/fans

DISLIKED:

  • Early bus drop off for 2nd half runners, cold, wet, nowhere to sit
  • Shirts, I loved last years so much, these ones just disappointed me a bit
  • Medal size/design (2nd half, not the half it all medal; that was AWESOME)

RACE SUPPORT: 9/10
RACE ORGANIZATION: 9/10
PRICE: 8/10
BONUS:  8/10 (Amazing bonus bling, love my Half It All medal, scenery, beer)

TOTAL: 34/40

TIME: 2:33:34
PLACE OVERALL: 1589/2188 out of all females

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3 thoughts on “REVIEW: 2012 San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon

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