So many half marathons this year. Nicole has barely kept track of which ones she has signed up for. I think the SF Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon is one she was most excited about. Now that I’ve run it, I see why.
We were introduced to the RNR series last year in Las Vegas. We came away from that one impressed by running on the closed “Strip” but generally unimpressed overall by the other parts of the course. With the lure of a cool medal and a race close to home Nicole couldn’t resist signing up, and weeks later when they threw out a $99 discounted fee, I grabbed my spot.
The course starts near Ocean Beach, makes it’s way to the Golden Gate Bridge, then continues back to the Presidio, the Marina, then downtown to City Hall. An impressive tour of a beautiful city. It might be one of the best courses I’ve run.
I’m lucky that Nicole works for a hotel company and that we both got a great rate for a cool hotel on Market St. the night before. We went out there straight after work and found ourselves hunting for food around 8:30pm, much later than I like to eat the night before a race. With the help of my Italian aunt, we were recommended to eat at Trattoria Contadina. The Italian food was irresistible and I polished off a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It tasted divine. It was about 9:30pm. The race started at 6:30am. Not ideal. Still delicious.
After a restless night of sleep we were up and at it at 4:30am. I was not hungry at all and ate a banana. This is not normal for my usual breakfast. We made the jog from Market to City Hall where shuttle (school) buses were waiting to take us out to Ocean Beach. I was reminded of high-school cross-country running days as we all loaded on to a stinky bus with stiff seats and no space to get to a race. It was a neat memory.
We arrived with an hour to spare before the run started so we both huddled near a gathering of people outside of the Beach Chalet lobby. Inside much warmer runners who had paid for VIP treatment could enjoy snacks and comfort as we all sat outside clinging on to whatever warmth we found.
Nicole and I had previously agreed to each run our own race, so when the time came I went to corral 1 and she went to corral 7. Soon was a nice rendition of the National Anthem and a moment of silence for Boston Marathon victims.
Then, the race began….
Within the first mile we turned a corner and one of the signature SF hills came into view. What a start! We all took it in stride and made our way through the Sunset District neighborhoods. Soon we found ourselves climbing a steady hill with the Golden Gate just coming into view, the best part of the course teasing us as we suffered up this hill. As we approached the bridge, those of us in the first few corrals enjoy the couple mile span with plenty of space, as we returned across the span, the later corrals were bursting out of the designated lane for runners. I hear this was still an improvement over last year, they used the pedestrian path instead of closing lanes. Yikes! I spotted Nicole on her way out on the bridge.
The beautiful section from the Presidio through the Marina was a point for me to challenge my pace and turn it up for a couple miles. As my legs began to get a little tired I focused on maintaining a strong pace. It worked out really well and give credit to my coach for giving me this challenge.
The final stretch of miles included another uphill climb but the whole last mile was downhill. It was a great way to finish! I could see the finish line with a huge crowd from more than 1/2 mile away, it was easy to keep gaining speed with this sight ahead. I crossed the line around 1:42:00 and was surprised at this time considering the stops I had made thanks to the meal the night before.
I ran back aways hoping to see Nicole finish and to my surprise saw our friend Emily running to the finish. This was her second half marathon ever in two weeks. Another runner is hooked……
I finally figured I missed Nicole and found her in our meeting spot at City Hall. We watch a couple songs by the band “The Neighbourhood” and then made the walk back to our hotel room on Market St.
The day ended with burgers at Gott’s Roadside at the Ferry Building and some of the most beautiful sunny weather we’ve had this year.
I suggest signing up for this event. Every bit of the course is scenic, the course is a good challenge, and it takes place in one of the best cities.