Monday, July 28, 2014

The San Francisco Marathon - The First Half

I first signed up for the Napa to Sonoma race, and then found out that the San Francisco Marathon race was the next weekend. We decided to extend our stay in California so I could also do this one. I signed up for the first half because you get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge. However, I also had a 5:52 am start... yaaaaawn.

Up bright and early!
We started running the Embarcadero, which is nice and flat. It was the early morning hours, so we got to see the sun rise. It was a bit warm though, and we didn't have a breeze. We then got to Mission Blvd, which is also flat. Then once we got to the Presidio, we started to see some hills... tiring hills. It was a pretty spectacular view seeing the Golden Gate in the distance.

Mile 4.
Running the Golden Gate was pretty awesome. I never realized how long that bridge was... I was on that bridge for 4 miles.

Golden Gate
I have to say I got a little emotional on that bridge. It was just a once in a lifetime experience. Once we got off the bridge, we had another uphill climb, but then we had a one mile downhill. It felt great on the lungs, but pretty much hurt my legs. After that, I pretty much walked the uphills, and ran whatever else I could.

Finish Line!
I finished in 2:17:12, a couple minutes slower than Napa to Sonoma Half. However, I clocked 13.35 miles on the watch... Overall, I'm happy with my time.

Overall:2942 out of 7250
Women:1234 out of 4052
F 30-39:430 out of 1360
Age/Grade:48.03% Place: 2907
Finish:2:17:25 Pace: 10:29
Tag Time:2:17:25

We finished in Golden Gate Park, which reminded me a lot of Forest Park. California is suffering a drought, and it was nice to see some green grass! The finish line wasn't all that exciting. We split from the marathoners and 2nd half starters, so it didn't feel like that big of a race at the finish. I basically finished and walked straight to the shuttle line. We were bused back to the start/finish line, where I met up with Josh.

#12 Half Marathon!
San Francisco was a good time, but it's a one and done. I'd love to do another Destination Race, lots of good amenities with that one! Here's one of my favorite photos I took on our last night in San Francisco, the night before the big race. It was a beautiful evening.

San Francisco

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon

This was such an amazing race!! It was super low-key, but featured so many amazing things. For example 1) I bumped into Ryan Hall; 2) I got to hear Meb Keflezighi speak and share his story, and talk about his Boston win; and 3) hello, it's in Wine Country.

Meb Keflezghi
The race start was so beautiful!! We started at the Cuvaison Estate Winery, which has fantastic scenery.

Cuvaison Estate Winery
The race is a point to point race. You had to be dropped off at the race start (no parking allowed), or take a bus, which left from a couple of the hotels in town. I had Josh drop me off about an hour before the race start, so it was a lot of waiting around. They were playing good music, and although a bit chilly, the weather was beautiful. The perfect running weather!

There were no corrals to start, so you basically just waited where you thought you wanted to be. The horn blew, and we were off. The first .4 miles is challenging. You start by a quick steep downhill, turn left, and then for the next .3 miles, it's a steep uphill run. They call it Butt Burner Hill.

Butt Burner Hill
It wasn't too bad. We were moving soooo slow. Plus, there were a lot of walkers, and some were walking with friends in the CENTER of the ROAD. So irritating. But I ran, or slow jogged, the entire hill, and then we had a nice two mile down hill section. The course was amazing. Rolling hills, amazing views, and we had an overcast sky which was a blessing. There were hardly any trees, so there would have been no shade for the first 10 miles or so if it was a sunny day. Plus we had a light breeze, so I never really felt like I was sweating a ton.

I never once looked at my watch. I didn't care about my pace. I came in to this race undertrained, so I just let my body do what it wanted to do. I did have a stitch in my side at some point, and then it went away... and then I got a stitch in the other side. But overall, my lungs felt amazing. I stopped for some beef jerky at mile 7.5 (mmmm) and some Guinness at mile 9 (burp)... then some wine at mile 10.5 (refreshing). They had a live band at mile 7.5 because sometimes they had  to stop the runners to let cars pass on HWY 121. This is a major link between Napa and Sonoma, so I was curious how they would handle it. I didn't get stopped, so I just kept moving through!.

This was my ideal course... rolling hills. Which is making me a bit fearful for the Chicago Marathon since it's mostly flat. I had some energy to sprint it to the finish! Which makes me hopeful for my Chicago Marathon. We'll see!

Sprinting to the Finish!
I ran the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon in 2:12:57, a 10:05 pace. Not my fastest, but not my slowest. I'm super happy with my results, and getting ready to run this bad boy this Sunday:

Golden Gate Bridge