Runner’s Log: 40th San Francisco Marathon

Never have I ever… run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

I guess being a San Francisco Bay Area local, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was always a means to go somewhere else and not a destination in and of itself. About 3 years ago I was telling Renee that I wanted to run the bridge, she gleefully agreed to go with me, but we never got around to it before she moved to another state. So in March when Katie sent a note out to a running group about the San Francisco Marathon and I realized the first half would entail running across the bridge, I thought “Hell, this is my chance to check it off the bucket list”. The run will be extra sweet since not many tourists are out and about that early, and they block off half of the bridge from cars so that we can run on the road versus the pedestrian walkway (how cool is that?).

As soon as I received my confirmation, my head filled with visions of all the glorious photos I’d take while running across the bridge. After that day… I didn’t run more than a mile until maybe May when I decided I probably should do another longer race and signed up for the REI 10k trail run to prep for this half. Work got super busy nearing June whereby running fell by the wayside, and then I went on vacation to Vietnam in early July. On vacation, I only did 2/3 of a mile max before coming back to do this half.

I was still really jet lagged the week before the race and had inadvertently packed my weekend full of activities. Friday night movies in SF, Saturday back in the South Bay to rock climb outdoors for the first time then bib pick up then seeing Josh’s new pad, and Sunday was the marathon. Sometimes I feel like I just like to make myself tired, but the half I knew I could do on willpower alone, after all, I’ve done it before without training (and was injured for three months after).

Saturday after rock climbing outdoors in San Bourne, a dusty scabby me headed straight up to SF to the bib pick up.

Arrived at bib pickup 30 minutes before closing and thought to myself “Oops is this the 40th Anniversary of the race? I didn’t even notice when signing up”. After grabbing my bib, I looked around for discounted arm sleeves, since Son and Huynh swore by these in Vietnam, but didn’t find any I liked. Ended up buying nuun at their booth since it was only 5 bucks a bottle when you bought 3.

Jen had graciously offered to let me stay at her place in SF while she was out of town so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way up to the race at an unreasonable hour. So after failing to meet up with Josh to check out his new pad, I headed to do an indulgent dinner at Garden Club before going to Jen’s to shower and relax before the next day.

I set up my race gear the night before because I know if I do this day of I always forget something. Checked the wave timing to make sure I didn’t show up too early and could get enough sleep.

Morning of I got up and changed. I’m already in my car when I realized, I haven’t eaten my ritualistic peanut butter cookie Lara bar. This is my go-to for any run, and if I don’t eat this before a race at mile 3 I can feel my mind going into the shitter and wanting to be a quitter. This has happened to me on several runs where I can feel a sudden sugar low drop. I headed back upstairs to grab the Lara bar and devour it all on the commute to the race.

Parked about 5 blocks away from the starting line for our wave because I didn’t want to pay for parking on a Sunday, then it was about an 11-minute walk to the starting line. Everyone there was stretching or going to the bathroom, or chatting with friends and I just wanted to take photos. The folks I knew who were doing the race ended up bailing, but I still wanted to get this checked off the bucket list. I sat on a curb and took photos of the beautiful sunrise along the bay bridge.

It can’t get better than this sunrise.

While sitting on the curb I noticed everyone had their race trackers on their shoes, and I still had mine on my bib. Was trying to figure out how to add this to my shoes when a really nice girl interrupted and explained to me how it’s done and which part of the red tag was the tracking piece. Whoever you are, I forgot to get your name before the line started moving and I lost track in the crowd, thank you!

For the run, I don’t like being crowded so I would run ahead of the congestion, but once I got settled I mostly sat behind the 12:45 pacers, just because they were near me. For entertainment, I listened to Reply All for the entire duration of the run, the last time I had run the Nike Half Marathon with Laurie she was listening to podcasts, so instead of doing my normal pacing by music, I listened to Alex and PJ playfully banter for almost 3 hours. It was pretty relaxing listening to podcasts and nicely distracting.

In the first 5 miles, I noticed, ugh I have not been using my abs at all recently as they were on fire. Then running by the wharf I realized, aside from the In N Out, I have never been here. I had no idea there was a Maritime Museum, and I’ve lived in the bay my entire life. I love that about running in new locations, you get to explore places you’ve never been before or intended to visit.

At about mile 5 we start approaching the bridge and going up hill, ahhhh I’m excited but then we turn the corner… gah it’s foggy. So it basically looks like this:

Bah humbug.

On the bright side, the fog is cool so I’m not overheating, on the downside, it’s colder here than in earlier parts of the race, my muscles are stiffening up and the fog is making the bridge seem very very long. But I keep running… suddenly noticing a father with his race stroller stopping to take photos with his daughter multiple times, and yet still beating me across the bridge.

Once we reach the other side, there’s more nuun and gu watermelon gels! Normally I hate gels as the texture in the different brands I’ve tried before is kind of shitty, but these were delicious. Then I stepped on one that some other running had dropped and I felt less excited about gels. Ha.

Finishing the bridge we start running towards Golden Gate Park where the half finishes. Surprisingly a lot of it is slopped uphill much to my dismay. My quads are tightening up and I continue to practice the rule I set out for myself at the beginning which was to only run the flats and downhills, while walking uphill to not expend too much energy. Hills are rough, especially running through them in SF. I think I’m on Helen’s street at some point, but I’m getting a bit of mental fatigue and can’t think of what street she lives on, so decided not to try to think about stopping by to say hi. When I was in my 20s running halves it used to be at mile 10 I’d hit a wall and need to power through to the end because I could feel my body giving up, but now I’m noticing 10 come and go with just some general soreness. At the 12 mile point, my eyes play tricks on me. I think I see 13 instead of 12. But then I see it 13! And shortly after the finish line!

Just like that, it was done.


Took selfies in the rose garden on Snapchat caught the bus from the half point to the start, wandered around looking for my car and then went home to veg on the couch for the rest of the day and binge watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. The next day I felt ok, a bit sore from climbing and running but I went for a massage and now I feel pretty spiffy.

Steph also commented on how amazed she was that I run in Nike Frees since they are a barefoot non-supportive shoe, it took a lot of years of strength training to get my muscles to not be burned by wearing these for longer races, but I can’t run in anything else. I love the lightness of the shoe.
Mileage: 13.1 miles
Pace: 12:45/mi
With Me Along The Way: Lady who helped me with my tracker

Next Up: Virgin Sport SF Half Marathon

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