Tuesday, June 18, 2013

San Francisco Marathon First Half - Race Recap

Last year, I fell in love with the San Francisco Marathon. It was my redemption race - my second marathon after a freaking awful debut in Seattle

I knew, immediately, that I wanted to run this race again. I was excited to be selected as an SFM Ambassador a few months later, but honestly, I would have run even without the ambassadorship. 

There are some races that are just GOOD. You can tell they're put on FOR a runner, with a runner in mind. The course is well thought out, the details are nailed. SFM is one of those races.

The San Francisco Marathon is historically held in mid/late July. It was moved this year to accommodate America's Cup; next year, it is back on schedule for July 24th, and early registration is now open (link HERE).

The event offers several different races - the full marathon, first half, second half, and a 5k, plus a kids race as well. 

And the challenges - I cannot pass up a challenge, which is how I ended up running the first half this year. The Half it All Challenge (for runners completing the 1st half and the 2nd half in consecutive years), the 52 Club (runners who have completed the 1st half, followed by the 2nd half, followed by the full in consecutive years), and the LA/SF Challenge (runners who have completed the LA Marathon plus SFM, in any order, in consecutive years). 

I talked last week about how I didn't really have a goal for this race. I was not feeling very confident in my endurance. I know the speed is gone for now, since I'm barely running, and most certainly not doing speed work. 

I was hoping to drag myself in under 2:30, and actually planned on carrying a camera and taking as many pictures as I felt like taking (spoiler, I crushed both goals).

As an ambassador, I was incredibly lucky to have access to the VIP area in Perry's on Embarcadero, just steps from the start line. Starting in wave 5 at 6:02, I got to Perry's around 5:15, and was able to have some breakfast, some coffee, and hang out in the warmth until my start time. 

Around 5:45, I headed out to drop my bag (bag check is SUPER easy and well organized - every truck was labeled clearly, and after the race, I literally just showed the volunteer my bib, and they handed over my bag within 2 seconds. Everything was put away neatly), and made my way to the back of corral 5. 

We started right on time, and unlike last year, it was SUNNY. It was still cool, but the not a cloud over the Embarcadero. It was really, really lovely.

I would argue that the first half is the tougher half, elevation-wise...
I would also argue that it's more scenic. Don't worry, I have plenty of pictures to back up my claim.

Ummmm. the pictures. 

Like I said, things went pretty well for me. I wore my iPod, but never turned it on. I wore my Garmin, but never paid attention to the pace. I just... ran. And looked around. And snapped pictures.
That was, in fact, exactly my thought at that moment.

Some things crossed my mind, like I noticed my quads were achy. I noticed my ankle didn't hurt. But afterwards, I couldn't really remember thinking about anything. 

I spent about a mile being really confused about how much farther I had, because I can't do math while I'm running (that's a lie, I just can't do the math ever). For awhile, I calculated that I'd probably be coming in around 2:40-2:45. Eventually, my math caught up to me, and I realized I had 2:30 within reach. Easily. 

I ran comfortably, and easy, and... man. It was just NICE. I walked plenty of the uphills, like I normally do because I'm the laziest and don't train, but otherwise? I felt.... good. 

I remembered from last year that I felt the aid stations were too far apart sometimes, so I carried my handheld, and it worked perfectly. The aid stations were never crowded, I just like more hydration. 

Tangents aren't really my thing, I guess, because I ended up running 13.25, in 2:27:45.

The really interesting thing about this (to me, I really know it's not that fascinating) is this:

Well. That's some pretty consistent pacing. 

Especially for someone who claims to be really terrible when the course is running uphill.

Compared to last years instant crash and burn....

Last year, the first half felt HARD for me. I was legit considering quitting at the half. This year, I finished the first half 8 minutes faster, and it felt EASY.

Interesting. And, not bad, me.


I don't think I can say enough how much I love this race. It's beautiful. It's so well managed. Every single volunteer I encountered was friendly, helpful, and FUN. I think that's really what I like - everyone there seems to really be having fun. 

Can't wait for next year. Anyone in for the second half? It's downhill.....

I'll recap the rest of the SFM trip separately later this week. 

Closing: You should run this race. Really.


  1. This race looks amazeballs. So pretty - it's so much easier to run when there are beautiful things to look at!

  2. I so enjoyed running the first half a few years ago. Your race report captures the spirit of this event perfectly. Definitely one for every runner's bucket list.

  3. Oh I want to go run this with you next year!!!

  4. Looks like we'll be swapping halves next year -- I hope the weather is just as good! We can celebrate our Half It All completion together. :)

  5. Looks a lot prettier than last year. Yay for feeling "easy"!

  6. Aweeeesome! And this race loves you. :)

  7. love all the pics and nice job on the run for fun!

  8. Love all the pics! I want to do it next year!

  9. nice job with the run, awesome photos and it was nice to meet you in person as well. Can't wait until 2014!

  10. Love the recap! I'm training for my first marathon now.

    I think I will eventually travel across the country for this race! I love San Fran, and it sounds great! Husband and I have decided to travel and do marathons across the country. I always say the best way to sightsee is to run! :)Thanks for the great pictures!

  11. The second half is definitely easier (which you know because you ran the full.) I loved doing the Half it All Challenge. Next year I'm in for the full, it'll be my first time doing the full at this event. I'm so glad you love the race, I do too. Way to go on crushing your goal!

  12. Sounds like you had a great time!

    And yes. Second half next year for SURE. It owes me.

  13. That just seemed so ... fun! Like a really enjoyable race experience where it really is an experience and not just running random miles in some random place for some random race. Awesome!


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