Date: June 16, 2013
Distance: 13.1 miles (21 km)
Pace: 10:03 min/mile
Finish Time: 2:13:28
Overall Place: 2422/5957
What an amazing trip! This was my first time visiting San Francisco, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Fair warning: lots of photos in this race recap, which also doubles as a trip recap.
We flew down on Friday, wanting to get in a couple of days of sightseeing before the half marathon on Sunday. First stop: Alcatraz.
I’ve got an odd fascination with prisons, and absolutely loved learning more about what prisoners experienced during their time on Alcatraz. I didn’t realize that many of the prison guards and their families lived year-round on the Rock, or that there were never more than 300 prisoners in Alcatraz at any one time.
After escaping from the Rock, we eventually figured out the confusing (to me, at least) San Francisco transit system and made it to the race expo just 45 minutes before it closed for the day. Picking up my bib and t-shirt was a breeze, and Byron was able to purchase a ticket for a spectator shuttle bus that would drop him off at a few spots along the course.
And then to dinner. I’m a big fan of the Nom Nom Paleo blog, and used her restaurant reviews to select many of our meals during this trip. The restaurant Marlowe was a few blocks’ walk from the Expo, and based on Michelle’s glowing review, I just had to try it.
Saturday was spent at the Ferry Building, checking out the farmers market and many food stalls, followed by stops at Fisherman’s Wharf to visit the sea lions, the Aquarium of the Bay and the Exploratorium. I chose another Nom Nom Paleo recommendation for breakfast, grabbing an egg and maple bacon sausage sandwich from 4505 Meats. Okay, so the bun part isn’t exactly Paleo, but it was worth relaxing my regular Paleo criteria during this trip.
The Exploratorium reminded me of Vancouver’s Science World, but on crack. It’s always an interesting experience being a childless couple at a kid-centric attraction. On the one hand, it’s great to see kids getting excited about science. On the other, they’re usually doing it wrong! More than once I had to restrain myself from pointing out that if they’d just wait and not smash every single button on the device then they’d see what it actually does.
And one final pre-race treat: we serendipitously came across the Crème Brûlée Cart while riding the F line trolley car. Mmm, torched sugar from a truck.
Alarm went off at 5am. Oy. The weather on Saturday had been downright chilly, and I didn’t pack enough layering options, but made it work using the long-sleeved race shirt and a hastily-purchased pair of $7 sweat pants so I didn’t freeze on the walk from our hotel to the start area.
One cool aspect of the San Francisco Marathon is that you’ve got three options: run the full loop for the marathon, or run just the first half or second half. The first half follows the waterfront from the Ferry Building up the Embarcadero, past Fort Mason (the first of many hills to come), along the Presidio and then up, up, up to the Golden Gate Bridge. After crossing the bridge and turning back, you head (mostly) downhill to Golden Gate Park. There, the participants of the First Half cross the finish line, and the folks running the Second Half get started. As one spectator near Golden Gate Park kept yelling “You’re almost done! Unless you’re running the full, in which case, you’re halfway there!”
We had perfect race weather, I absolutely loved the course, and my knees held up to the hills better than expected (thank you Sitka Physio!). The only problem I encountered was crowding on a few narrow sections, especially on the bridge. Remember, if you’re going to walk or even run slower than the people around you, move to the right side of the lane. I spent a lot of time weaving around other runners, which requires a lot of speeding up and slowing down.
I spotted my husband as I approached the finish line, and may have shouted something to the effect of “Fuck, my ass hurts!” I also tried (unsuccessfully) to tuck my Yurbuds into my sports bra before my finish line photo, to the amusement of the runners and spectators around me.
Other marathons could learn a thing or two about organizing the finish line area from San Francisco. Best post-race snacks ever: in addition to the usual bananas, we got cinnamon scones, sweet Hawaiian rolls, yogurt, coconut water and Irish coffee with whipped cream. Yum!
Although I had hoped to finish in sub-2, I was happy with my 2:13 — pretty much the exact same finish time as last month’s BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, even with the addition of some killer hills. Not too shabby.
After wrapping myself up in a stylish mylar blanket (sexy!), we took a city bus back downtown to our hotel to get ready for a post-race brunch of ‘deem sum’ at Yank Sing and more sightseeing.
The afternoon was spent checking out the California Academy of Science, browsing at indie bookstore Green Apple Books and having dinner at Roam Artisan Burgers. Can we get a Roam in Vancouver? Because that was the best damn burger of my life.
For our last day in San Francisco, we took a harbour cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, rode the cable cars and grabbed one last food truck meal before heading to the airport.
San Francisco, I love you. I will be back.
In July, I’ll be running the Pride 5K. Join my team!