JonRoig.com | Posted: 2007-08-02 17:36:04 | 6375 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode
San Francisco... a city full of hills.
... Who knew?
Sunday, I ran my sixth full-length marathon, and my first "real" one -- the course in SF is significantly more brutal than that of any of the others that I've encountered before.
I don't know if I'd do it again, but it's an interesting race.
The race starts in the dark, in the fog, at 5:30 am in the morning and sets out along the Embarcadero towards Fisherman's Wharf. Somewhere out there, shrouded by mist, lurked Alcatraz, but I didn't catch a glimpse of it the entire run. The beginning of the course is flat, which is a nice way to kind of ease into things, but as it starts to wind its way through the Presidio towards the Golden Gate Bridge, it starts to get more intense. After about mile 3, that's when the race begins in earnest... you have to do the climb up onto the bridge, where we were greeted by mist and fog and wind. It was actually really pretty cold up there and we couldn't see a thing. I can't wait to the see the race photos from that part -- I was soaking wet by the time I was halfway across, and it wasn't (I don't think), sweat.
I ran first half marathon of the course two years ago, so I was somewhat familiar with what to expect. Luckily, I'm getting to the point in my running career where, while I don't start in the first wave, I got enough of a good start that I didn't get all tied up by the crowds on the bridge like I did before.
The race crosses over to the Marin headlands, where you turn around and run back into the city and snake your way through Golden Gate Park which, nourished by the thick moisture in the air, was beautiful and lush and green. It really is a pleasure to run in that park... anyway, once that's done at about mile 16, you're back in the city, cruising through Haight-Ashbury and finally, past the new baseball stadium and back to the Embarcadero.
That's where things start to get a little weird. Haight-Ashbury was basically deserted at that time of the morning -- only a couple of homeless people were on hand as spectators, and they didn't seem terribly enthusiastic about the whole affair.
I guess SF really doesn't like that race at all. I actually heard someone yell, "Get the fuck off the roads and go the fuck home!" at the runners. There's a really funny craigslist post which seems to sum up the attitude quite nicely.
The thing is, by the time the race hits that part of the course, the race has changed dramatically. Although 15,000 people were involved in the event as a whole, only 4,500 or so were doing the full marathon, so the field was quite thin at that point. At one point, with the weird course switching thing they were doing to try and manage traffic congestion, I found myself separated from the pack I was pursuing, running nearly alone on empty city streets, with only one of the many volunteers from a local motorcycle club to offer reassurance that I was heading the right direction.
All in all, it went really, really well. I finished in 3:38:56, a pace of 8:21/mile. That was good enough to secure 515th place out of 4276 total runners.
The split breakdown was as follows:
7.5 Miles: 1:06:12 pace: 8:50
Half: 1:53:24 pace: 8:39
20.7 Miles: 2:57:19 pace: 8:34
So... yeah. Picked it up considerably in the second half, which is what I aim for. All in all, a very fun run.
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