This was my first 12k race, and when I signed up for it back in December, I was really excited, because I was going to San Francisco. Destination races are always fun. This is going to be a long post...
When I chose my hotel, I was looking for something that would be close to the starting line so I wouldn't have to worry about walking too far, or worry about public transportation. I spent all of Saturday afternoon at the hotel, watching the Star Wars prequels marathon TNT was showing. I carbo-loaded from Uncle Vito's, which is a pizza place up the street from the hotel. I was ready for the race.
The walk down to the corrals was only about 15 minutes, and though there weren't any runners from my hotel, there were already runners on their way down. I kind of figured, and once I reached Market Street, there were a lot more runners. The corrals were spread out, and there were signs showing how to get to each corral, and volunteers pointing the way. I was in corral D, and had to access it from Embarcadero. When I rounded the corner, I saw the Bay Bridge right in front of me.
I'd made it without seeing any naked runners, but that ended when I entered my corral, and there was a naked man, wearing a Kim Jong Un mask. OK, no big deal. I was behind him, and was only seeing his butt. But he turned around.
Spoiler alert, there were a lot of naked men on the course, most of which were walking. I passed two topless women, and one naked woman, and the rest were naked men. Other runners would want to take pictures with the naked people, like some sort of twisted Disney character stop. One guy I saw was even wearing the Goofy hat with ears (and that was all he was wearing!!).
I distracted myself by applying the sunscreen I'd bought at Walgreens. I bought one of those travel size tubes so I could carry it in my running belt. The sun was kind of behind clouds, and I figured once I got on the course, there wouldn't be much shade.
I had hit up the portapotties before heading to my corral, but this is the first knock I'll give the organizers. Once I was in my corral, there weren't any close portapotties that I could see. I ended up having to go before we started, which was delayed due to the HUGE corral in front of us. If a corral is going to be that big, it should be cut in half. The first thing I needed to do was find a pit stop on the course, which came after the first mile marker. I paused my Garmin so I could get an accurate running time, and I spent about 15 minutes in line. I know costumes are fun, but when you're waiting at portapotties behind runners in costume, it slows down the process. But I had to go.
Once I did, I felt SOOO much better. I started my watch again and continued during the race.
I was not a fan of the first half of the course. Most races space out and I can find a groove, but I was constantly weaving around groups of walkers through the entire course. I have an extra quarter mile on my Garmin due to all the weaving I was doing. The course was congested with other portapotty stops where the lines were spilling onto the course, participants would cut all the way across the course to see entertainment (or naked guys), and city residents would cut across 2 inches in front me, right on the course. It was so chaotic, and I was getting pretty cranky. The first couple miles weren't that scenic either.
Things finally spread out after I crested Hayes Hill. That hill was no joke. I was running as much as I could at the base to make up the time spent waiting for the portapotty, but I had to stick to walking once I started climbing the hill. My calves were killing me by the time I reached the top, or what I thought was the top. There was actually one more section before I could start heading down hill. From there, the course is downhill as we spent the rest of the time getting back to sea level to finish on the beach. Thankfully, the residents weren't cutting across the course anymore, and when we entered Golden Gate Park, I had a lot more room to weave around more groups of walkers.
My knee did start to twinge before mile 4, and I'm not surprised. That hill was quite something, and now I was heading downhill. My intervals let me keep going, and I was so focused on how my knee was doing for each interval, I completely forgot to eat my Sports Beans! Oops. I actually didn't feel like I needed them, and only realized I'd forgotten about them when I was done with the race. Despite my knee, I was feeling really strong during my running intervals, and at one point I looked at my Garmin and it said my run pace was 9:20. When I finally calculated my splits, I saw I negative split the course! Miles 5-7 were my fastest, with 6 being the fastest of those 3.
We weren't getting much of a breeze running through the park, and I was using my water bottle to cool me off a little bit. I didn't feel like I was sweating much, but it was perfect weather in the 50s. It took me until halfway through the course to take off my throwaway shirt, but I held on to it. The race only offered gear check to VIP runners (runners who spent more $$$ on the VIP package). Another knock on the race. I'm glad I held onto it because once we popped out on the road to the finish line, the brisk breeze hit again since we were at the beach. I finished strong across the finish line, and got my medal, water, and half banana.
All I wanted to do was sit at this point, but the finish line area was so congested (a theme TBH), I headed straight to the shuttles to get back to the start line. I'd purchased my ticket when I registered, which they printed on my bib, for the Express Downtown shuttle. Once I sat, I realized I had been sweating, and I felt disgusting. I was also hungry, and tired. Once the shuttle dropped us off, I stopped by McDonald's for lunch on my way back to the hotel. That fat and grease sounded amazing, and it was. I horked down my lunch before getting in the shower. After I napped for about 30 minutes, I headed to Ghirardelli to get my post-race treat. Going downhill was quite a challenge on my IT band, but it was worth it. Once I got back to my hotel, I napped for another hour.
It hasn't been easy sorting through how I feel about this race. I don't regret doing it, but I didn't have as much fun as I thought I would. After decompressing, I realized I'm not disappointed in my effort, especially since my last miles were my fastest. I did the best I could under the circumstances. I'm disappointed in the race itself. I don't mind parties, I don't mind people wanting to walk races, but when I spend the entire time weaving around walking groups, I get frustrated. A 12k is 7.45 miles, and I did 7.69 miles. I was also shocked this race didn't offer gear check for all runners. Every big race I've done has offered gear check.
The trip itself was enjoyable, and much needed to recharge. It also feels good to have the race done with, and I can be lazy for a few weeks while I recover. Allie's happy that I'm home.
Tuesdays on the Run with Patty, Erika, and Marcia.