On July 27th, I ran The San Francisco Marathon. Yep, another late run report post – bad blogger!
Anyway, on to the details…
The San Francisco Marathon event is THE marathon in SF. OK, there are others, but this one is the official one! The SFM boasts runs through most of the sections of the City and is the only event where you actually get to run on the surface of the Golden Gate Bridge – all other runs/races and walks are run on the pedestrian walkway. It draws all levels of runners, which makes it a fantastic event. The SFM is actually made up of five distances: the marque marathon, the “First Half” 13.1 distance (which, according to this year’s finisher count, was the most popular distance), the “Second Half” 13.1 distance, a 5K, and the “Worth the Hurt, 52.4″ double (which starts at 12AM and has entrants run the marathon course in the reverse direction (replacing the Golden Gate with an out and back on the Great Highway), only to have the finishers join the regular marathon when it starts.)
Weather. The weather was on the warmer side for San Francisco, 63 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the mid 70s over the course of the day. It was overcast at the start and bright and sunny when I finished. No real wind on the Golden Gate, which was nice. Heading up to the Golden Gate, it sprinkled a bit, but that was shortlived and mainly because of the fog and low clouds blowing through. All in all, an excellent weather day for running.
Course. The challenging, but doable marathon is a loop course that starts and finishes on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, then running through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio, then into Golden Gate Park (which is the first half.) After meandering through Golden Gate Park, runners head to the urban portion of the course: down the Haight Street, through the Mission, Potrero, and Mission Bay Districts. Passing behind AT&T Park is the sign that runners are almost done. Merging back on the Embarcadero, runners cross under the Bay Bridge and give their final kick to the Finish Line (which is the second half.)
Management/Support. Course management and support was great, by my observation. I carried my handheld, so I only made use of the aid stations at miles 10 and 18 to refill and restock my Tailwind Nutrition mix. I’ve heard that there were issues with water shortages at a few of the aid stations later in the race. As for course marshaling and management, this was excellent! Volunteers were abundant and the SFPD and Biker crews made sure all runners were safe and supported. Another benefit this year was free race photos – such a cool thing…thanks SFM!
Finishers. Again, SFM is a group of events. By my review of the results, the finisher counts were:
- Full marathon: 6,625
- First Half: 7,256
- Second Half: 4,502
- 5K: 1,630
- 52.5: 42
- Grand total: 20,055 motivated runners!
Post-Race. The post race area was average for any event – good flow for the finish and the usual food and SWAG booths. Because the shut down the Embarcadero, there are plenty of places to hang out and recover, which is always great.
Medal/Shirt. Each marathon finisher received a coaster medal, which is specific to the 26.2 (the other distances are unique to that particular distance…and smaller.) As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 3.5/5. The color was basic, but the logo on the back was great this year, so it raised the rating. I didn’t like the official race apparel that they offered this year. IMHO, it was boring. The shirts were all basic colors and only text this year – I miss the cool shirts over the past few years: course map t-shirt from 2012, orange sunburst t-shirt from 2013. Needless to say, I left without any t-shirt souvenir. :( Bring back the cool shirts SFM!!!
This was my fifth marathon and I had PR hopes coming out of my training.
BUT, exactly one week out from the SFM, on my final, pre-race, long run, I jammed my foot on a speed bump. Of course. I didn’t have a bruise or any swelling; however, it was pretty sore on the bottom outside of my left foot – enough to cause a noticeable limp when walking that Sunday (no hiding it from my wife.) I didn’t go to the doctor, but did R.I.C.E it throughout each day until the SFM. I did a few short & easy check-out runs and rode my bike to stay loose that week. By the end of the week, I was feeling better and decided to stick with my original pacing strategy and goals, but also be flexible enough to adjust mid-race and forgo my goals to ensure I’d heal properly and be able to run the other runs I have scheduled for the remainder of 2014 (4 50Ks, 1 marathon, 1 half marathon, and a 10K.)
Bottom line: I certainly WAS NOT going to NOT run. Mainly out of stubbornness and also because this year was the final leg in my 52 Club challenge and I wanted to earn that sweatshirt.
With that, the goals for the day were:
- Set a new marathon PR – my specific goal was 3:55
- Follow my pacing plan – which factored in all hills and aid station stops.
- Have fun – which is a given!
In the end, I accomplished only one of the three: I had fun. The details about the other two are below…
Amidst the throngs of people, I was able to meet up with a friend at the start and run with her. This was Ruth Ann’s first SFM, so it was great to be able to run with her – especially since she was shooting for a sub-four finish. In the end, she made her sub-four…huge congrats to her!
My story didn’t play out as I had hoped/planned, though I still gritted out a time of 4:07:43 – which, after the initial, post-finish bummer attitude passed, I decided was a respectable finish time (even though it was my slowed 26.2 to date.)
If I said that my foot was pain free at the start, I’d be lying. It was “there”, but not enough to abandon my goals. So, at the horn I went for it!
I’m won’t recount each mile (you’re welcome), but I stayed pretty close to my mile-by-mile pacing plan through mile 15. In fact, my 13.1 split was actually just 18 seconds slower than my planned pace. My foot issue was noticeable, but not painful; however, as the first-half miles went on, it started to increasingly bug me. Ruth Ann knew about my foot, but I didn’t tell her it was starting to bug me as the first half went on. After we hit the mile 15 marker, I told her that that my foot was bugging me, I needed to pull over, and for her to keep on going. I was bummed, because I wanted to pace with her and be there when she finished sub-four, but it wasn’t meant to be… :(
After we separated, I transitioned to a run/walk/run pattern and still kept up a decent pace; however, I eventually realized that there was no way I could recover the pace or earn a PR. I considered just “sucking it up”, “embracing the suck”, and “running through the pain”, but didn’t’ want to aggravate my foot, given that I would be running a challenging 50K four weeks later. It’s funny, I actually thought I saw Ruth Ann ahead and increased my pace for a bit to catch up with her, only to discover that it was someone else wearing a similar singlet! WHA WAH WAH WAHHHH
It’s funny, once I accepted that a PR wasn’t happening and the race was about finishing with a respectable time, I was actually quite content. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed that I missed the PR, didn’t get to finish with Ruth Ann, or even grit out a sub-four. It smarted. But at the end of the day, it was about finishing, keeping the foot as healthy as possible, and positioning myself/it for recovery and running of the Headlands 50K (plus the other races through the end of the year.)
So, I crossed the line with a 4:07:43 finish time – again, my slowest to date – but knowing that I earned my 52 Club sweatshirt, still with a decent time, and positioned to heal and run well another day.
Some photos from the day:
Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 45 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.
Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon (I seem to wear this for races alot!), Armpocket armband, Amphipod handheld, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, Brooks Essential 3.5″ Split Short, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra The One(2) shoes.
- Bottom line: Good day by any standard, even though I didn’t make my 3:55 goal. Earned my 52 Club status!
- Post-race meal: Red Lobster 4-Course Feast – soup, salad, talapia, and a triple-Chocolate Brownie à la Mode!