So today I ran the San Francisco Marathon; well not the whole distance, just half of it. The event has a full marathon and two half marathons. The first half begins on the Embarcadero just south of the Ferry Building, goes past Aquatic Park and Chrissy field then up and across the Golden Gate to the turn around at the vista point on the Marin side of the bridge, then back across the bridge into the Outer Richmond and finishing in Golden Gate Park. A beautiful, but challenging course. I’ve been doing this event for the last four years and prefer the first half route by far. The second half, which I inadvertantly signed up for last year, begins in Golden Gate Park, goes through the Haight and winds it’s way down through the City, past the ballpark to the Ferry building. Booooooring!
My stated goal this year was to finish better than last year; my mental goal was to do the first half in 2:00:00 or thereabouts as long as the therabouts was under 2:00:00. I had several things threatening that goal:
1) Jet lag from my recent sojourn to Europe.
2) Lack of training for the same reason as #1.
3) Apparently my hotel room was directly above the hotels restaraunt/bar that had a live band last night. Awesome.
I felt great at the race start. My legs were a little stiff and heavy but that quickly abated, until the first hill just past Aquatic Park. Had to walk up the second half of that. The next time I walked was on the hill up to the bridge….mind you I’ve never stopped on those hills before, just slowed my pace. Once I got on the bridge I got my rhythym back and was enjoying the run. Now, the bridge has these metal spacers, that’s what I’m calling them, every so often which I think helps the flexibility of the bridge. I stepped on one and thought, “Hmm, that’s kinda slippery.” These things are 2.5-3 ft wide, I think. So, I’m tooling along listenting to the sounds of the race, the “pat-pat-pat” of the feet, the spectators clanging cowbells, people encouraging each other, then…”What the? I’m FALLING!”
Yep, one of those damn slippery things the LAST one before the turn around. I got right back up with some minor scrapes but shit, I’ve never fallen before. The turn around is about the 7.5 mile point so I walked, consumed some GU, drank some H2O, stretched and headed back across the bridge thinking, “Damnit. I’ve already stopped three times AND I fuckin’ fell.” I was physically feeling like crap, mentally my goal changed to simply finishing. My spirits were bouyed by passing “mostly maked barefoot guy with a mohawk” and several others and just kept plugging along.
I did stop two more times, oh “stop” means I walked instead of ran, before the end of the race and toward the end was questioning my physical ability to finish. As I crossed the finsih line I stopped “RunKeeper” on my iPhone and it said I had finsihed in 2:08:29. “WTF?!” I thought. “I stoped like 5 times AND fell once!? How’d I finish in 2:08?” I had been convinced I’d wind up somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30.
When I got home I looked up my time from last year when I ran the boring 2nd half through the Haight which is mostly downhill. Last year’s time was 2:11:11! I did 3 mintues better on the tougher course despite my breaks and full body contact with the pavement! The last time I did the same course I did today my time was 2:16:31!