Saturday, September 3, 2022

SF and 70 and a Marathon - Part II The Marathon and After


Finally, here's the San Francisco Marathon report!

Saturday night Lee made us dinner, pasta with pine nuts and bacon, and a nice salad. 

Sunday morning I woke up a little after 3 am. The race started at 5:30 so I needed to get up, so I would have time to eat, and digest, before the race.  I was as prepared as I could be, and I’ve refined my pre marathon routine over the years. Eat, dress, check and recheck my prep list, use the bathroom many many times. Their apartment is so close to the starting line; that part was great. At 5:15 I walked the 2 blocks to the start, found corral C. I thought maybe I would avoid the porta potties at the start for once by being so close, but no. I got in the very very long line and went to the bathroom one more time. I’d taken some Pepto Bismol, and peppermint tums, so I was hopeful that the nervous cramping was behind me.

I got into corral C, but without a clear idea of where I should line up, somehow managed to align myself with the 4:30-4:45 hour marathoners, so for the first few miles of the race I watched as what seemed like hundreds of runners sped by me. This is always a disconcerting feeling but I didn’t let it faze me, at least not too much.

The first 4 miles of the race are pancake flat, along the Embarcadero, to Fort Mason. Then there is a short, but steep hill and a drop down into Crissy Field. Crissy Field is along the bay. Nice views, with the GG bridge looming in the distance. That will be our first big climb.

At about 5.5 miles we started up the switchbacks leading up to the bridge. It was long, but not very steep. I would run, and then walk when it started to feel hard. It was still very early in the race and there were a lot of hills to go. Looking at the switchbacks before the climb, they looked pretty intimidating. I wish I could find a picture of them! I felt like I was running a marathon that just happened to have a small mountain in it!

The bridge was kind of cold, and very windy. It was also still very foggy, so I couldn’t see much. I was still excited and just happy, so I took my one selfie of the race here.

I knew that there was a long downhill into Sausalito, almost a mile, but it was hard to enjoy it, knowing that we had to get back up it to the bridge. It was really cambered too so it wasn’t an especially enjoyable downhill.

As we gradually turned around and headed back to the Golden Gate Bridge I got disoriented. The bridge came back into view, but it seemed to be on the wrong side. It took me awhile to figure out that we had made a loop in Sausalito and ended up on the other side of the bridge that way. 

Again the climb back to the bridge was long but not terribly steep. I was managing the hills so far without slowing down too much. Yay!

After the bridge we entered the Presidio. So beautiful, but still foggy. We went on the Lands End trail for a little bit, then on the road along the bay and ocean with a long descent into the Richmond. That was a nice descent, about a mile of downhill.

Richmond was up and down, up and down. Then we entered the park, joining up with the half marathoners from the first half that were just finishing up. 

I thought the park was supposed to be a long very gradual uphill, but it ended up being a lot of up and down, again. By the time we got to the 1st half finish line (and the 2nd half start) the full marathoners were at mile 17. I didn’t know it, but Daniel, who was running the second half marathon, was somewhere behind me for the rest of the race. The marathoners mostly ran with the 2nd half marathoners for this part, but not always. The signs were clearly marked so there wasn’t any worry about making a wrong turn.

At around 19.5 miles we finally left the park and ran down Haight street, of hippie fame. I thought the park was sort of boring so I was glad to be back on the city streets. Here and there we would see a sign that said “runner valve ahead”. I was mystified as to what this could mean, but later Daniel explained that after we were joined by the half marathoners, they would divert runners over a block to keep congestion to a minimum. That explained why periodically runners would appear from another street and rejoin the main group. It’s a great idea and some other big city marathons that get extremely crowded in spots might want to consider doing something similar.

From Haight, through the Mission, all the way back to the Embarcadero involved lots and lots of ups and downs. I still felt good, so I gradually began to push it a little. I had plenty of hydration and nutrition and there was no danger of bonking at this point.

Once we got to  Potrero there were some major downhills. I went with them and they didn’t hurt (that would come later ha). 

Right before we turned on to the Embarcadero there was a brew pub offering free beer. Of course I had to have some! If it's available this is becoming a marathon tradition for me!

We got on the Embarcadero at the Chase Center, where the San Francisco basketball team plays. The sun had finally come out, making everything look bright. The warmth actually felt good but I was glad we only had to run in it for a few miles.

I started trying to speed up. I did this mainly by cutting my walk breaks short by 10 seconds or so. I wanted to try making up a minute or so so I could qualify for New York again.

By mile 25 I knew I was going to run the end of the race all out. I got to 25.6 and skipped my next walk break and decided I would just keep going to the end. I finished in 5:28.30, good enough for NY. I felt good too.

I texted with Lee and Kelsey until we found each other. Daniel finished a couple minutes after me.

I felt pretty happy. I didn’t make my A goal, but really I didn’t expect to. I wasn’t sure how I would handle the hills and I ended up managing them very well. The temps were perfect for a marathon, and I didn’t let the wind bug me (except on the bridge).

And then I found out I had won my age group! I was shocked. I’ve NEVER won my age group in a marathon before, let alone a big city marathon! At Manchester City I came in second in my age group, but that was a much smaller marathon, about 1200 people total. San Francisco had about 6500 people in the full marathon, so not huge, but pretty big. There were 5 women in 70-74, and two of those women didn’t finish. It just brought home to me that San Francisco is a very challenging course. I’ve got to give a shout out here to the training plan I’ve been using, Luke Humphrey’s marathon method, a cousin of the Hanson Marathon Method. Its infamous among marathoners for having long runs that max out at 16 miles, instead of the 20 miles or more than most marathon plans prescribe. Instead it focuses on quality runs. Every run has a specific purpose, and when you run those 16 milers your legs are tired, so its like you are running the last 16 miles of a marathon. Ever since I’ve started using LHM I’ve felt very prepared for every marathon. I don’t always PR but in some fashion I run well, and recover quickly. Its hard but it's a great training plan.

And of course this year I get to PR in my age group for every distance that I run!

We walked the few blocks to the apartment. I took a much needed shower and then we went to 21st  Amendment for lunch. I wore my medal, of course! I had a pizza. It was good, but they were really busy, and it took soooo long to come. I was almost about to start nibbling on the energy bar in my purse before it finally came!

We went back to the apartment to laze around. I was feeling pretty stiff and sore by then. I took a nap but was actually too sore to sleep. We went for pasta for dinner. It was good, but I was so tired. I just really needed to lay down. 

I woke up in the morning still really stiff and with a headache to boot. The headache meant I needed to hydrate. A couple cups of coffee and lots of sips of water didn’t really cut it. I had some oatmeal but we were going for dim sum later so I didn’t want to eat too much. I went with Dan and Kelsey to walk Rossi and that helped with the stiffness a lot, but the headache persisted.

At 11 we took the streetcar to Ghirardelli Square to have dim sum at Palette. The streetcars are not the touristy trolley cars, although the ARE touristy. The are old fashion street cars from all over that SF bought and refurbished. They bring back memories for us old folks, albeit kind of faint ones for me, from when I was a little kid.

The streetcar was slow, and crowded. We’ve been wearing masks everywhere so this was no different. Palette was delicious. Their plates looked like little China paint palettes and you could put the different dips in the places where paint would normally go, the chopsticks looked like paintbrushes. Very clever!

We got Chou long bou, hot and sour soup, egg tarts, beef noodles, bbq pork buns, pork belly, and more that I forget. AND I had several larges cups of jasmine tea, that finally took care of my headache. It was all good.

We decided to take electric city bikes back. I’ve ridden an electric bike before but it’s been a long time, when we went to Kyoto in Japan, years ago. It took me a couple minutes to get used to it, and I walked over the streetcar tracks, but once we got to where there was a bike lane it was fun. The only problem was that there wasn’t anywhere to park them when we got back to the apartment. All the city bike parking spots were full. It was ok, we could leave them locked on the street, but it costs a lot more if you do that. $13 for a short bike ride is pretty pricey! Oh well.

I fell asleep for about an hour. At 4 we drove down to Palo Alto to look at chairs for Daniel and Kelsey’s dining room at West Elm and then we met Kelsey’s parents for dinner at Limon, a Peruvian restaurant in Burlingame. More delicious food, margaritas, wine. When we get back home I’m not going to eat again for a long time. Like at least a couple hours!

And that's that for the San Francisco Marathon. I really loved it; I'm glad I didn't listen to the warnings about how hilly it is and just went for it. I wouldn't recommend it if you're trying to qualify for Boston, although some people do, but if you enjoy the challenge of hills, like beautiful views, appreciate a well organized medium sized-race I highly recommend it!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on winning your group and making the time for NYC! So happy for you.xoxo



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