Got up at 4, had 2 cups of coffee, left the house at 4:30, got to The City at 5. Snagged a parking spot 3 blocks from the Finish.Waited 1.5 hours til starting wave 8 got to run. During that time I had 12 ounces of Mountain Blueberry Accelerade AND went pee 4 times. My race started at 6:42. 1/2 mile into it I had to pee again. Then settled into my run, which was going to end up lasting 5:06. My average speed was 5.1 mph, my fastest mile was done at a 5.6 clip, my slowest mile was done at 4.6. I apparently burned 3,588 calories. This was marathon #28 overall, and the 9th of the 12 in 12 challenge. It was my 3rd running of this particular race. This running was my 3rd best time of all 28, my 3rd best time of this year, and 15 minutes faster than the last time I did SFM in 2005, or 4 years ago. I had 3 strawberry Clifshots and 1 English Mars Bar (at mile 17), and suffered through 1 hotspot on my right foot and 0 blisters. I did 4:1 run/walk intervals for the first 15 miles, then geared down to 3:1 til mile 22, then chilled out at 2:1 til the finish. Oh! My bib number was 8614. Numbers sorted!
Now, the important bits.
While I didn't really welcome the alarm at 4, it was very nice to wake up in my own bed, as opposed to a hotel somewhere else, on marathon morning. In other cities I've resorted to buying a cup of coffee the night before a race then saving it overnight and nuking it in the pre-dawn getting-ready-to-go ritual. Here, I set up the coffee maker the night before and was welcomed by the smell of freshly brewed Blue Bottle.
I was in wave 8, the last group to start the marathon, at 6:42. The first wave left at 5:30. Didn't think I was going to like the wave thing but when it came right down to it, it was okay. The separation meant we were not packed like sardines in a tin behind the starting line and, after the race began, there was far less jockeying for room in the first couple of miles.
The weather at the start could not have been better. San Francisco's lovely fog chilled the air (ala Tony Bennett). As we ran through Fisherman's Wharf, the aroma of Boudin's fresh baked sourdough bread was something I would have paid to take with me the whole 5 hours. I run through this area at least once a week and will admit to sometimes not understanding what it is that out-of towners find so attractive about it. This time, I got it. I was proud to see so many visitors stop their runs to snap keepsake pics, as proof they were really here.
After climbing our first steep, although quite short, hill, in Fort Mason, we got our first look of the day at the Golden Gate Bridge. Actually, it was our first glimpse of where we were sure the GGB was. The fog completely shrouded the iconic structure that means SF to so many people. What we could see was a steady stream of runners, about 3 miles away, climbing the 2nd steep hill of the course, into that fog. Made me think of a horror movie where hundreds of runners enter a mysterious fog...and never...come...out!
It did not take long for my beard to retain enough of the mist and fog, once on the GGB, that, had it been a towel, I could have wrung it out and had a 1/2 cup or so. As exciting as it must have been for the visitors to run on the bridge deck (one lane north and one lane south) I found it to be somewhat of a pain. Too many people in that confined space. I was relieved when the bridge portion of the marathon was done.
From there we headed into the Presidio (an old Army base) and up the 3rd steep climb of the day. Had there been no fog this is where we would have got our first look at the Pacific Ocean. Not THIS morning. From the top of that hill we tumbled down for, I'm guessing, at least two miles. A great spot to make up some of the time lost on the three earlier climbs. Then, it was into Golden Gate Park. This is where I had the most trouble. The hills are not steep, at all. But they are long. The park is home to mile 15, which is where the city's Hash House Harriers were pouring little cups of Pabst Blue Ribbon. As I approached, they were loudly proclaiming "the keg is dead". I, however, scored the last little cup. It was a delightful reminder of what was waiting at the end of all this. I was happy to come out at the east end of the park at mile 19, with "the Haight" before me. The last two times I'd run SFM, by the time I got here the cops had re-opened the famous street to traffic, forcing me onto the sidewalk. Not this time. Nice!
The fog had lifted by this time, and the sun was beating down. Temps were on the rise, as energy waned. This is when the "bacon station" appeared, on lower Haight, at, roughly, mile 20. Two guys with a little table, with freshly fried-up bacon and a sign saying "free to marathoners". These two guys are now my favourite people in the world. One piece is all it took to spur me on. THAT rocked.
The next 4 miles wind through SF's warmest neighborhoods and an industrial/office park area know as "Dogpatch". The latter is the least attractive part of the course. I have found that keeping my eyes fixed on AT&T Park off in the distance helps get me through this stretch. The last two miles skirt the southern edge of the ballpark and then up the Embarcadero, right back to where we started. Before crossing the finish line I got a high five from Bart Yasso. Bonus!
Shortly after running past the ballpark I realized I was very close to breaking 5 hours for only my second time. Turns out I was a half mile short of that, but I am very pleased with how my race went. Next up, Rochester, New York, in about 6 weeks.
Oh, look. I found some more numbers. After the race I had 1 7/11 hotdog, 16 ounces of chocolate milk, drove 15 miles home where I had, over the next 7 hours, 1 Stella, 12 ounces of tangerine juice, 2 margaritas, 1 dinner (of beans on toast with turkey bacon), went to bed at 7, and slept for 10 hours.