Sunday, August 3, 2014

San Francisco Marathon Race Report

California was not a new marathon state for Scot or me, but we traveled west anyway, to run this iconic city in the San Francisco Marathon


Official race pic that actually turned out well; and the pics were free!

I hadn’t been to San Francisco in years, so I was excited to return and to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. We stayed downtown near the Embarcadero with Eddie and Nilda.


The view from our hotel room with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo

Saturday was our crazy day. We had to leave home at 3:00 AM to drive to Dulles and catch our 6:00 AM flight. Thank goodness it was direct. We were able to get a little sleep on the plane to make up for not sleeping the previous night. We landed just before 9:00 AM and headed to the BART to get downtown, but not until after dropping way too much money on way too much chocolate at the Ghirardelli shop in SFO airport.

Our first order of business was to check into our hotel, and then meet up with my friends Antonia & Jerry, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple years. Their kids S and E had grown so much! We had lunch at The Plant CafĂ© Organic, which had great vegetarian options, and spent some time watching the kids at a playground, and hanging out in the fabulous atrium of our Hyatt. It was wonderful to catch up!


In the Hyatt lobby with A & J, S & E, S & S

About the time Eddie and Nilda showed up, Antonia and Jerry had to head home with the kids. We marathoners hopped on the shuttle bus to the expo at the Fort Mason Center. By the time we were done there, I was beat. Scot and I went back to the hotel and had a quick carry-out dinner before crashing. Eddie and Nilda spent some time at Fishermans Wharf.


The Fort Mason Center as viewed marathon morning; site of the marathon expo

The next morning was not as hard as some early marathon mornings; it helped to be on Eastern time. We were only a few blocks’ walk to the starting line, thanks to Abbi’s brilliance in picking the hotel for us.


A pretty fabulous pre-race sunrise pic in front of the Bay Bridge

Nilda, Eddie, me and Scot ready to start

The first few miles were flat and along the Embarcadero. Great views! We ran by several tourist attractions.

Alcatraz!
Approaching the climb to the Golden Gate Bridge; you can barely see the line of runners going up the hill to the right
Climbing up to the Golden Gate Bridge

Around mile 5.5 we started our climb to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw the line of runners going up the hill as we approached, and knew it would be a grueling climb. We were rewarded with some awesome views.


View of the city from the top of the hill; we really missed that overcast sky when it got hot & sunny later on


Almost there!

After this pic I put my phone away because the crowd on the bridge was thick and moving fast

Then we ran the bridge, across and back. The pack of runners was thick. I stayed toward the center so I would run right by the runners coming the opposite way. I was rewarded by being able to spot several friends: Tony (Endorphin Dude), Mike (his first marathon back from surgery), Kerri, Gwen, Barry the Joggler, and of course Scot, who had run ahead of me.


I found Scot after I crossed the bridge; he was on the way back

View from the far side of the bridge was awesome! They also had a band and very welcomed energy gels and chews

Just, wow!

After returning to the San Francisco side of the bridge, the course ran through beautiful neighborhoods, the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. I loved the course, but it was very hilly, as you’d expect from San Francisco. I did a lot of walking up hills and running down them. Then the sun came out and it got really hot for running in the second half of the race. I definitely slowed down.


It's Ken Nwadike of SuperHero Events; I met him when I ran the inaugural Hollywood Half in 2012; I opted for 2 free hugs

The Chinese Pavilion in Golden Gate Park


Haight Ashbury

I'm taking a picture of the photographer taking my picture
And here's the pic of me that the photographer captured

Joggler Barry; I just keep running into him, no pun intended

The last couple miles were back on the Embarcadero, and we ran past AT&T Park where the Giants play. Because the Embarcadero was curved, it was hard to see the finish line until we were almost there. It was such a welcome sight!

At AT&T Park, and so close to the finish line

Scot's photo of the race medal and the Bay Bridge

After showers, Eddie, Nilda, Scot and I took BART out to East Bay to meet up with Fran and Ray, and Halbert, who was staying with them. We shared a meal and conversation and then called it an early night. But before we turned in, Scot and I walked over to the Bay.

Scot took this great pic just a short walk from our hotel

The San Francisco Marathon was very well run, and I would recommend it. However, plan for hills! It was not an easy course, but it was beautiful and worth the effort. For those who want to do the half marathon, there are two separate races: you can run the First Half Marathon, which follows the first half of the marathon including the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge; or you can run the Second Half Marathon, which starts in Golden Gate Park and finishes on the Embarcadero with the marathoners. I wouldn’t mind running the First Half on a future trip to San Francisco, but then I’d want to spend more than just two nights in the city. This was my second trip to San Francisco, but I still haven’t been to Alcatraz, and many of the neighborhoods I’d like to see. I guess I’ll need to go back.

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