I flew out Friday night after work and settled into my hotel room. On Saturday, I slept in, grabbed some coffee and went on an awesome food tour (see the previous post for details) for a couple of hours in the afternoon. After that I went to go pick up my packet at a hotel across the street from Union square (which didn't have much of a wait at all) and went to check out the Niketown SF window display.
I love that they put up displays with all the runners names in them! It's always fun to search for yours. I was lucky mine was near the bottom so I could easily name a quick picture. It is weird to think that the next time I run a half marathon my name may be different! I haven't decided if I'll run another one between now and June, but we shall see. Anyways, after picking up my gear, I went back to my hotel to catch the end of a football game and hang out for the evening. I knew tomorrow morning would come mighty early!
On Sunday morning, my alarm went off at an ugly time of 5:20 (ew!) and I started getting myself ready. I stopped by a Wallgreens the day before to grab some cereal and bananas for a quick and easy pre-race meal. Then I started the short walk over to the race site. I ended up seeing the bright starting line and really started getting amped up for the race.
There were 25,000 runners at the race this year, so we took up a few city blocks as we waited for the race to begin. There is always a fun and exciting buzz going around right before the race. It's fun to chat with other runners and get to hear their stories about training.
The race started at 6:30am, and we only had to wait 10-15 minutes before we were on our way! I was in the 9:00-9:59 corral, which I usually like to start in. It's usually a bit faster than I end up finishing (especially with a tough course like SF), but I find it's a bit easier to navigate around people who are running at a good pace. As for the course itself, there were 3 big hills, one at mile 2, one at mile 8, and a really bad on at mile 10. It was a very similar course to last year, so I knew what I was in for.
Since the race started so early, it was pretty dark out at the beginning but it wasn't too cold. After the first couple of miles it got brighter and turned into a beautiful day. The last time I ran this race it was cool, misty, and foggy, which is awesome for running but terrible for views. This time around, I was able to see how beautiful the course truly is.
The hills on mile 2 and 8 weren't too bad, but boy did mile 10 slow me down. That hill is a killer! But unlike last time, we got an AMAZING view of the bay and golden gate bridge. It was a good reward for climbing up such a steep hill for almost a mile straight.
Once I reached the peak, I speed up my running down hill in order to try to make up the time I had lost going uphill. I might have gotten a little overenthusiastic on my decent, because I still had to run 2 flat miles before finishing. Those last couple miles were a bit of a killer, but I was able to manage through it and jog to the finish line.
My official time? 2:17. While it definitely wasn't a PR (I got a 2:10 on a race in Portland earlier this year), I was pretty happy with how I did, especially considering the elevation changes in the course.
After taking a breather, I moved through the finishers area and collected a tote full of food, some chocolate milk, a water bottle, and finally the finishers necklace.
Necklaces are so much better than medals, especially when they are Tiffany's necklaces. This one guy had a funny sign he was holding along the race that said "hurry up, your BFF Tiffany is waiting for you at the finish line".
The race overall was pretty well organized. I was bummed that they didn't have an expo like they did last year, but packet pickup was a lot quicker than it previously had been. At the end of the race, they had a bunch of finishers gear, but I elected to skip the line and just order it through Nike.com. Much easier.
After grabbing a hot shower, some lunch, and doing a little shopping, I made my way back to the airport via the BART and flew home. Luckily SF is very close to PDX, so in under 90 minutes of air time I was back home just as the sun was beginning to set. Overall it had been a great weekend, and I'm really glad I participated in the race again this year.