Today was a good day. A very good day. Let me tell you why...
My morning started at 5:30 with a wakeup call from Jamie to make sure I was up and out of the house in time. Hooray for race day!
I hopped on an empty cable car headed toward downtown and chatted with the super friendly drivers. Next thing I knew, I was on a plush shuttle bus to our half marathon start at Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park.
My shuttle got me there by 7:15...a half hour before our running group planned to meet. Eventually I started to see some blue Run the City shirts congregating and made my way over. Our fearless leader snapped some group pictures, gave a motivating pep talk and off we went to our respective wave starts.
I huddled near a heat lamp until my 8:30 start...yes, heat lamp. Where else are you going to see a heat lamp and folks running around in garbage bags in the middle of July?? Love it!! Here's how the rest of the day went down:
Cruised through Golden Gate Park and felt fabulous. So fabulous I didn't realize how fast I was going until I checked my watch at the first water stop. 7:50something. Time to chillax. I ended up dropping my pace a little too much and didn't quite make all my splits. Ah well, it was close enough.
Golden Gate Park is big. Very big. It felt like we ran through there for-eh-ver. Don't get me wrong, it was a great run. I just didn't realize the first 6 miles were in the park. Ha. That'll teach me to pay attention to the course map next time!
The next 6 miles were a testament to the planning skills of the race directors. Technically, they were coordinating 3 different races (full marathon and 2 half marathons) on the same course. That takes a whole lotta skill. To minimize congestion along the race route, they had the course alternating between parallel streets so some runners would run on one street, while another batch ran another route. Check it:
When I first looked at the map, I had no idea how that alternating course thing was going to work out. I pictured tons of runners getting confused, maybe running more or less than 13.1, pretty much disaster all over the place. I'm impressed with how smoothly things went. There was very little confusion, no real clusters of people to weave through...really great approach!
Once we hit mile 9, I started getting nervous since we were approaching the portion of the course that is known for being pretty desolate.
Thankfully there were lots of DJs parked on corners BLASTING music and our coaches were scattered between miles 10 and 12. It's amazing what a little music and familiar faces will do to your energy level. Next thing I knew, I was hitting the splits on my pace tattoo :)
Zoomed through the next few miles, turned a corner and saw a friend that came out to cheer (yay!!) and before I knew it, we were on the Embarcadero with the finish line in sight. Full marathoners and half marathoners got split into two chutes for the finish. Looked down at my watch and kicked it into gear. Crossed the finish line in 2:03. Hells yes. Not quite 2:02, but a PR is a PR. :)
Couldn't have asked for a better race. Just a few things that stuck out for me:
- Very well organized. Coordinating two half marathons and a full marathon with two different start times on the same course is quite a task. Having them go so smoothly that this runner didn't notice any logistical problems is amazing.
- Finisher medals and sweat bags are reusable. You know how race medals kinda just pile up and you really don't know what to do with all of them? Mine turns into a key chain. The full marathoners' medal turns into a coaster. The bags are made of a durable material and were really easy to keep track of since you sharpie your bib number on the designated squares. I'll probably tote mine around to runs.
- Music where and when you need it. DJs galore. Loud. Awesome.
- Finish food: Water, Cytomax, bananas, Pirate's Booty (in like 2 or 3 flavors), a baked good I didn't take, nectarines, Bear Naked granola, Jamba Juice smoothies. So many things to choose from!
- Only thing I'd change. All our markers went like this: 7.9, 8.9, 9.9, etc. It threw me off at first, but eventually I got used to it...it just required more brain power than I was willing to use mid-race ;)
I'd definitely recommend the 2nd half marathon to anyone looking for a moderately challenging course (the hills are gradual and pretty scattered) in the middle of the summer.
After the race friend and I met up with the running group for some mimosas and then
someone of us decided tacos were in order. Not just any tacos. Nick's Crispy Tacos. The one in my neighborhood too!
Friend and I each got a Pescado taco (one Nick's way, one not) because they are clearly my new favorite.
We also sampled two others, the Carnitas (braised shredded pork in corn tortilla with pico de gallo & pinto beans) Nick's way and the Pollo Asado (grilled chicken in corn tortilla with pico de gallo & black beans). Originally we planned on splitting those last two, but they were so huge and messy.
I thought the Carnitas taco, was ok...still not as good as the Pescado. In hindsight, the Carnitas would have been better not Nick's way. I think I just don't like pinto beans with melted cheese. Anyway, it was a taco with meat. It made my belly happy either way.
Very good day. Very good day indeed :)