Thursday, August 2, 2018

San Francisco Marathon Race Recap

I ran the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday morning with THEE @PavementRunner.

I ran this race last year and had a great time so when I saw an ambassador for the race was doing a giveaway for an entry I threw my name in the hat (because, let's be real, at the time the registration cost for the marathon {with fees} was over $250 and although I enjoyed the race I don't know that I liked it $250 worth, but if I could run it for free I was all in so I think I entered like 54 times...). Lady luck was on my side and a few days later I got the good news that I had WON! 


Now, if you know anything about San Francisco, you probably know that it is an expensive city. Even with the free registration I knew it would cost a pretty penny to get up there and stay for the race. Thankfully a friend of mine offered to let me crash at his place which was SUPER gracious of him (not to mention his swanky apartment is like a quarter mile from the finish line and his pups are super sweet so it worked out perfectly!). #RunnersMakeTheBestFriends ;)

These views do NOT suck!

With the race and housing covered, the only thing left to figure out was how to get there. I finally decided I would drive the 500-ish miles each way. My Ford Focus gets decent gas mileage (about 28-32 mpg) so I technically only filled my tank twice on the trip - once on the way up and once on the way back. I was also able to use SpotHero to find reasonably priced parking (I decided to park between the Expo, which was being held at Fort Mason, and the Start Line). All-in, it cost me about $80 in gas and $20 in parking - not too shabby for a marathon in San Francisco (including a one night stay).


Saturday morning came and I was up early so I could hit the road. My game plan was to leave Oceanside around 5am, that way I'd be able to get to San Francisco around 2pm (including a pit stop for lunch and a gas fill-up).

San Francisco HERE I COME!

Even though I didn't need a ton of accouterments since I'd be in San Francisco for a total of like 20 hours, I still made sure I had my road-trip essentials ready! I had grabbed an audio book for each way from the library and, of course, SNACKS!

I cannot confirm nor deny that I ate the entire bag of jelly beans on the drive home...

I made great time and ended up getting to San Jose around lunchtime. I had looked before I left and saw there was an Ike's Love & Sandwiches shop there so I knew that'd be my lunch spot. (The hubby and I were first introduced to Ike's on a trip to Arizona for the Phoenix Marathon a few years back, but apparently it originally started in San Francisco. Any time we see one we have got to stop for a sandwich! So many awesomely delicious vegan and vegetarian choices!)

GET IN MY BELLY! (PS I went with the "Reading Rainbow")

Just as I had planned, I got to the parking lot I was going to leave my car in around 1:45pm - PERFECTION! I grabbed my water bottle and made my way to the Expo. Lo and behold, Ben & Jerry's had an ice cream carnival happening on one of the piers with free ice cream, games and rides, so on my walk I popped in and grabbed a small cup of vegan ice cream.

After my quick pit stop I got to the Expo around 2:45pm. If you've been around my neck of the InterWebs for any period of time, you probably know race expos aren't my jam. I am what you would consider "frugal" so hardly ever do any shopping at expos and really don't need the bite of granola or strange sip of juice vendors hand out. I did a quick walk through, said hi to a friend working the PRO Compression booth, grabbed my bib and participant tee and made my way back to my car.

When all was said and done I ended up arriving at Gregg's place around 4:15pm. Our game plan was to meet Brian and his family at Mona Lisa's for dinner at 5pm, so the timing for everything seemed to work out flawlessly (well, except for the fact that Gregg thought dinner was at 5:30 so we showed up later than we were supposed to - oops!)! Dinner was scrum-didily-umptious and the company was even better! (Just in case you cared, I had a margherita pizza and it was yummy!)

These guys are two of the best!

Since I had been up early and drove 500 miles, I was pretty spent by the time we got back. Gregg and I hit the hay fairly early. I knew the alarms would come fast so tried to get as much rest as possible (especially with a 500 mile drive home).

I would say I was probably awake around 2am and got out of
bed closer to 2:45 because I was sick of tossing and turning.

Thankfully I had already laid out my "Flat Carlee" on Friday night when I was packing for the adventure so I didn't have to worry about potentially forgetting a key piece of my race attire. All I needed to do was put it on come race morning!

My #FlatCarlee included: White and Black PRO socksblack Brooks Fastforward Crossback sports bramidnight Sparkle Athletic skirt,
tank from TJ Maxx, elite Road ID, WeRunSocial trucker, black and white QALO silicone wedding bands, black and gray Momentum
Jewelry wraps
Nathan handheld, WeRunSocial thingamajig, PROBAR BOLT chews, Garmin Forerunner 935, and Brooks Ghost 10
{Special Olympics USA Games edition}
(with pink Shwings).

When I woke up I checked the weather and we had near perfect running temps. I would've loved lower humidity (Karl the Fog hangs around when the humidity is high) so the misty morning would've been clear, but beggars can't be choosers!

Better than 75* and 98% humidity... 

I got ready, ate a PROBAR BASE bar (my favorite flavor right now is the Frosted Peanut Butter) and made my way to the start. I decided to drop my bag off in my car BEFORE the race so I wouldn't have to walk further after the race (having to go back to Gregg's to get my stuff and then to my car) so that just meant I needed to head out a few minutes earlier.

Ready to do this thang!

I met Brian and Richard near where the shuttle buses were dropping off the first half runners (this race offers a full marathon, two point-to-point half marathons {either running the first half or the second half of the full course} and a 5K) and then we made our way to the start. FYI: Although I walked upwards of 2 miles at like 4:15am, there were TONS of people out so at no point did I ever feel unsafe (there were over 15,000 runners plus spectators, volunteers, etc around).

We started running before the sun even woke up!

Eventually it was time to head to our corrals so Brian and I wished Richard a great race and we made our way to Corral B (Corrals A and B were lumped together so we actually started about 30 seconds after the gun went off). If you haven't read Brian's blog post from last week with his goals for the race, go do it now ;) Don't worry, we will wait for ya!


Okay so now that you know the game plan, let's see how we executed. Seeing as Brian and I have run many-a-race together (this was our fourth full and I think we've done 9 half marathons and a hand full of shorter distances), he knows I'm a bad pacer, so I left the "keep it in the 9:XX's" up to him. (That means I get to blame him for any off miles, right?!)


Actually, Brian did an AWESOME job breaking down our paces mile-by-mile, so you should read his race recap HERE if you haven't yet. He gives you the nitty gritty of our splits and why they were a little fast or a little slow. But, suffice it to say, we ran a near perfect race (for his goal) through Mile 20. At Mile 20 he got a cramp and it threw us for a little loop. We did our best to put one foot in front of the other and eventually we made it to the finish line. We both finished with smiles on our faces (and with the exact same official finishing time), so I am considering it a MAJOR win!


But, shoot, you know I am a total chatty-Kathy when it comes to recaps and can't just write a six sentence recap (or ride on the coattails of someone else's post), so let me give you a few more deets about the race.


Like I mentioned, I ran this race last year. Seeing as this was the 41st running of the race, I assumed it would be similar to the previous year... Well, you know what they say about assuming... Let's just say they snuck in a handful of BIG changes without much publicity (or maybe I just had my head under a rock - which could totally be possible!).


First, one of the main reasons I enjoyed this race last year was how you could run either the full, the first half or the second half. The hubby didn't want to run 26.2 miles, so it worked out perfectly for him to run the first half because he could start with Dave and I (who were tackling the whole shebang), stop at 13.1 miles, ride the shuttle to the full (and second half) finish line, drink his post-race beer and watch us finish. This option allowed us to experience part of the race together while still tackling the distance we felt comfortable with. Well, this year they change the start times. Now, the full starts at 5:30am and the first half starts at 6:30am... no longer allowing the full and first half runners to run together.


Next, which goes along with the first point was the Golden Gate Bridge portion. I loved this part of the race last year. They closed down one direction of the bridge and let the runners run wild (okay, not wild, there are specific lanes designated to run in, but you know what I mean). It was an out-and-back section, so you got to cheer on, high-five, etc the runners going in the opposite direction. Well, this year they changed the bridge. Now, the full marathon would be able to run over it, but were moved to the sidewalk and the first half would have their course altered to miss the bridge entirely. (I did hear that if you had registered for the first half marathon you had a short window with the option to upgrade to the full marathon for free or defer your entry for a year, but still... that part of the race is awesome so it's a bummer it got cut out for them.) Not to mention, now that you run on the sidewalks, it's near impossible to cheer on fellow runners across six lanes of traffic.

Full Marathon Course

First Half Marathon Course

Second Half Marathon Course

But, even with these logistical changes, I still had a great time! Maybe it was because the course is pretty gorgeous (minus the last few industrial miles), maybe it was because of the company (as I'm sure you know, Brian is a ROCKSTAR), maybe it was because I didn't pay for the race entry (having less invested meant it didn't have to live up to super high expectations), maybe it was because San Francisco is such an awesome city (if the weather was warmer and the cost of living wasn't a bajillion dollars we might even think of living there), maybe it was because RUNNING IS MY FAVORITE (but I'm sure that's pretty obvious ;))... whatever the reason, I had a smile on my face for the entire race.

Brian asked if I wanted to take a photo with the bridge in the background... I chuckled because with the fog
you couldn't even tell it was there... At least while we were running on it you could see a bit of it...

Legit, you can't wipe the smile off my face while I am running!

I guess you can say I have one look... At least the background changed ;)

FitFam6 caught us around Mile 26 - heading to the finish line!

Having friends on the course is also extra special! Brian and I stopped to say "hi", snap a picture and give out hugs to a bunch of folks. First up we saw Dave, Paula and Asher (three of the FitFam6 crew). They were spectating in Golden Gate Park (which, behind the bridge is my second favorite part of the course) so of course we had to stop real quick. Gregg was also on the course in his unicorn costume (he showed it to me the night before and I could not stop laughing... in my mind, when he said 'unicorn costume', I was picturing a unicorn onesie like I have... this was definitely NOT what I had in mind). Ashley was also out cheering on runners with Every Runner Counts (a group she launched with the belief that running has a place for every pace, and whether they’re breaking the tape or finishing after the cones have all been picked up, every runner counts). Don't get me wrong, having random strangers cheering for you makes you feel like a superstar, but having your friends out there makes it that much more amazing.

Can't wait to tackle #Dirt2Strip with these two guys! And, if you didn't know, Paula is the BESTEST EVER!


Love that ERC aims to be the aid and cheer station on race day that fuels runners hearts and helps shepherd
them through the finish. Their crew doesn’t pack up and go home until every runner has made it in.

And if you read Brian's recap (which you better have ;)), you know that his calf cramp during Mile 20 slowed us down a bit, but we still crossed the finish line within 10 minutes of the 4:10 goal time we were shooting for! Not too shabby, especially seeing as at one point Brian was literally stopped in his tracks with a seizing and pulsating calf muscle.

Brian's tangent suggestions must have helped because I was only a quarter mile over for this race - HA!

After crossing the finish line we grabbed our bling, some snacks and made our way over to the water's edge. Originally I was hoping to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge and take my "Medal Monday" photo, but Karl the Fog had other ideas so I had to settle for a finisher shot with the Bay Bridge in the background and a bling picture in front of the Ferry Building.

I know, I know, it's the "wrong" bridge, but at least you could see it! 

Once I made sure Brian's family knew where he was (he didn't want to carry his phone so I was playing messenger... {forever Pavey's +1}) I started heading to my car. The longer I hung around, the later I'd get home, so figured I should head out. Thankfully the parking lot I used wasn't effected by race road closures and I was able to get to the freeway rather quickly. And then it was a seven and a half hour drive back to Oceanside... finally getting home around 6:30pm.

Yup, I drove home in the same clothes I ran in... Thankfully no
one else was in the car to have to deal with the stink ;) 

I was gone for about 37.5 hours, drove about 1,000 miles, ran about 26.2 miles (Brian tries to get me to run the tangents, but I'm always veering off for high fives or photos), spent about $100, and have memories that'll last a lifetime. #Priceless


Have you ever been to San Francisco?

1 comment:

San said...

Congrats on your race, Carlee. What a whirlwind trip to make it to the SF Marathon... but I am glad you had such a great time.

I spent two days in the city as well and ran the 1st half marathon. I was bummed that we were split up from the marathoners they changed the course and that we didn't run over the bridge anymore. However, it made for a much less crowded start (which I liked).

Hope you had a great weekend!