Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Monday, July 27, 2015

Race Report San Francisco Marathon (First Half) 2015

This is my second time running the first half of the San Francisco Marathon. This year I was in Wave 8 which started at 6:30am, a full hour after the first wave was sent off. 
I copied my race outfit straight from Becka and was so glad I did. I got a ton of compliments on it! Thanks Becka! The top is from Ink n Burn, the skirt is from Running Skirts.

I learned this trick to pin my bib directly onto my clothing (instead of hooking it with a safety pin through those 4 little holes) from my pace leader at the LA Marathon. I don't know if pinning the bib directly onto your clothes is better than using the holes but I feel like I should never disobey a pace leader.
The start of the race was right on Embarcadero, sandwiched between the Bay Bridge on one side and the Ferry Building Clock Tower on the other side.
San Francisco is such a great town, picturesque and so progressive. I just love it here.

The course took us straight down Embarcadero, past all the piers and towards the Wharf & Ghiradelli Square: 
From there we went along the Marina, always heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
The first killer hill was around mile 3 I think, which was the entrance to Fort Mason. I walked all the uphills.
I think I see the Bridge!
We're getting really close now! 
I believe this is the uphill that is heading up and into the bridge. On all the hills I just put my head down and focused on getting one foot in front of the other.
Our original race strategy was to get to the Golden Gate without walking, getting across and back, and then we'd do a walk/run combo until the finish line. 
That would have worked out just fine except for this monstrous hill right after the bridge. I walked the entire thing again:
Right around here I was passed by a guy carrying a tuba. Do you have any idea how demoralizing that is?!??! Thanks a lot, Tuba Guy. You're pretty awesome, doe!
Only 1.1 miles to go....
Heading into the finish, there's one more uphill into Golden Gate Park. You really have to dig deep to get over this one.
Love that the Event Volunteers were from a motorcycle club. These guys were just awesome (they got up early for ME?)!
Still smiling at the finish line because I'm ecstatic that I was able to finish. I hadn't run since the 9 miler I ran in Seattle 2 weeks ago, so I far exceeded my expectations for this race.
I finished in 2:53, very happy that I came in under 3 hours. 

The GOOD:
  • Staggered time starts meant there were less people and less chaos than when I ran this race in 2010.
  • There were 6 water stations with Nuun (LOOOVE!!) and Water
  • The weather in San Fran always seems to be cool and overcast. Perfect running weather
  • Love the Motorcycle club volunteers
  • Scenery is totally San Francisco and totally awesome
  • Running over the GG bridge distracts you for FOUR entire miles! 
  • Great post race snacks. Nothing like See Jane Run, but I got a full bottle of Muscle Milk, bananas, more Kettle chips
  • Shuttle buses back to the start line were pretty efficient even though the lines were looooong. 
The BAD
  • The hills seem unavoidable since it's San Fran, but I can still complain about them!
  • The spectator game is totally lacking here. Not much crowd support to speak of, I'm sure because of the insanely early start time. 
  • Didn't see the first water station until almost mile 3 I think. I may not need it physically, but mentally I need to know there's water available frequently. How about putting the 1st water station at mile 1.5? 
 The UGLY
  • It's San Fran, so there's not much to complain about EXCEPT: the race medal. Gosh is it plain and plain and plain. Snore. C'mon SF! With all the talent this city attracts, someone should be able to come up with a nice medal design. 
Totally running this one again next year. I keep saying that about all the races I'm running lately but I know I can't keep going back around the country to the same places I've already been. I need to save my traveling budget for seeing new places. 

But I do recommend this race and WOULD RUN IT AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT! 


San Francisco Weekend, aka Christmas in July, aka Praise the Lard

Last Christmas (2014) my sister gifted me a race registration for the (first) San Francisco Half Marathon 2015. It was a super thoughtful runner's gift. When it's December, looking at a race registration for next July sounds totally doable....but a hop skip and jump later and it was time to pack my bag for San Francisco. Gulp.

My buddy Val was gracious enough to agree to be my "rabbit" for the race and motivated me to train by putting his own sweat into the game. We left LA around 5am Saturday morning and finally drove into the City around 10:30am. I puffy heart San Francisco. If it weren't for the va-Giants playing there, it would be my dream city.

We had a room at the Hyatt Embarcadero, the race's host hotel (one of them). I can't recommend staying in the host hotel enough. Staying at the LA Bonaventure when I ran the LA Marathon was a fantastic experience for me and sealed the deal about host hotels. Always gonna do it if I can afford it.


First order of business was the race Expo. There were free shuttle buses from the Hyatt to Fort Mason where the expo was located. #hosthotelperk

We pretty much zipped in and out of the Expo. I amazingly seem to have matured past the point where the energy at the Expo causes me to make impulse purchases that I'll regret later.

I did find a new flavor of GU: Maple bacon. I LOL'd when I saw that! Can you imagine eating a GU breakfast at mile 9 of a half marathon? I sampled a bit of it but it actually didn't really taste much different than the Salted Caramel flavor. Salted Caramel GU is amazing.




 Typical beautiful San Francisco views from the Expo (Fort Mason).

While I didn't buy anything at the Expo I DID pick up dozens of these free bags of Kettle chips.

After the Expo we explored the Embarcadero a bit and met up with a friend for dinner at the Ferry Marketplace.

This is now our new expression
Then to bed early after setting out everything I'll need for tomorrow.
The race officially started at 5:30am for those fast corrals and marathoners. For us Back-of-the-Pack-ers, the gun wouldn't go off until 6:30am. Still a pretty early race start, but I'll always take an extra hour's sleep--don't have to ask me twice!
The awesome host hotel had a coffee & bagel bar set up starting at 4am. How awesome is that? #hosthotelperk We stopped there first at 6am before walking out the hotel doors to find our corral, which was about a block away.

SF Race Recap Here

After the race we limped back to our room, showered & packed & headed back out for breakfast.

By this time it was around noon, so technically we'll call it brunch. We found a cute place called Kate's Kitchen in the Haight District and ordered whatever we wanted, promising not to judge each other. I wanted eggs benedict AND  pancakes.



After brunch we made one more stop in the Mission (Gourmet Ghetto) to pick up some goodies at Tartines because I can't go to SF and not stop at Tartines. Can not. If you haven't been, go there and order a banana cream tart and brioche bread pudding. Then your life will be complete.
After Tartines we said goodbye to the beautiful City, promising to return soon.

Both Val and I were entirely satisfied with our performances in the half marathon. We're both kind of at the same place where we have every desire to recommit fully to running and training but are struggling to figure out how to fit it into our lives. This weekend getaway from our daily grind was exactly what we needed to recharge and remember why running is important to us.

And so on the drive home we sat in silence and listened to Born to Run on audio tape, exactly how we wanted to end a great weekend. 

CALLING ALL BORN TO RUN FANS!! Run Free-The True Story of Caballo Blanco

Just had a great weekend at the The San Francisco Marathon. I ran the first Half and will be putting a blog post together about it later today.

But first, I want to get the word out about this AWESOME DOCUMENTARY, Run Free-The True Story of Caballo Blanco:
Born to Run changed my entire way of thinking about running. I feel like I owe so much to this book and this man that inspired it. How could I miss it?

The closest theater to me screening this is in San Diego. I'm lucky that I actually visit San Diego quite often because my sister and my extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc) live there, so it doesn't seem like it's too far to travel.

The theater won't show the movie unless there is enough advance interest. I got my ticket and my friend purchased his too. I hope we get the numbers in time.

Here are the currently available showtimes:

If it comes to LA, (which, how could it not??) I'll see it again! 

I hope there's a screening near you!! 



Monday, July 20, 2015

An Accidental Weekend

My favorite weekend is the kind where the Puff is at her dad's (BD) and I get to sit at home all by myself in my pajamas, forage for food from the refrigerator and watch marathon television until my eyes bleed. That wasn't the case this weekend. 

Friday, before the end of the work day, my girlfriends had persuaded me to go with them to watch the Amy Winehouse Documentary at the Art theatre in downtown Long Beach. We got tickets for the 9:15pm showing 
I really wasn't that big of an Amy Winehouse fan, but I loved loved loved the documentary. If you get a chance, and know anything about her, definitely see this one. It's a remarkable eye-opener. 
Dinner, movie and girl talk, a great, late Friday night

The next day the Puff and I had to drive to San Diego for a family birthday party. Once again, this was a semi-last minute event. I'd been alerted about the party--via Facebook--just a few days before  and since my weekend was initially wide open, I agreed to give up my entire Saturday for my San Diego family.  
The < 2-hour drive took us almost 4 hours. I think the crazy rainy weather threw everybody for a loop here in So Cal. It's seriously true that Californians can.not.drive.in.the.rain. Seriously.
Unfortunately for the birthday twins the rain cut the party at the park short, so the adults left the kids with grandmas and went out on the town! 
L-R Hannah (my niece's bff), my niece, Arizona Cousin
Arizona Cousin was once again my P.I.C. (Funny that I call her my Arizona Cousin since I rarely see her in Arizona. We just spent a long weekend together in Seattle.)

It was Pride weekend in San Diego but we still managed to find a place that wasn't too crazy. We started out with drinks & appetizers at The Patio
From The Patio we walked over to another place called Izakaya Noodle. Good sushi & ramen noodles. Not sure if they make their own noodles in-house, but it was still delicious and super cheap.
After Izakaya Noodle we hit a dive bar called the Lamplighter to watch the Padres vs. Rockies game. I'm definitely a big enough baseball fan that I can watch baseball any where, any time, any team (except the Giants) #forloveofthegame. the Lamplighter was a little locals-only bar with Karaoke which would have been epic fun but since I had a 2+ drive ahead of me I cut out as soon as the game was over. We were home way past our bedtime. 

After church on Sunday I raced home to finish some chores for the week ahead and then had to get ready to get out the door to drive to LA with my girlfriend.  Her son-in-law was performing in a play at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.  
The play was called THE SOUL CAFE and starred Loretta Devine as a night club owner who's nephew was involved in some dangerous misdoings. When I was in college I worked as a cocktail waitress at a jazz club in Long Beach called Birdland West. This Soul Cafe play, with all of it's stereotypical night club shenanigans, THOROUGHLY took me back to that time at Birdland (EVEN including all the money & trust issues but without the murder plot).  

The play included stage performances at the club and the actors doubled as singers and went up on the Soul Cafe stage to perform such songs as Sideshow and Hey There Lonely Girl. DANG THOSE SONGS TOOK ME BACK! Also in the play were Ernest Lee Thomas (Raj from What's Happening!) as an emcee, and Kelly Price as herself, headlining the Soul Cafe. 

After the play, the entire cast and all of us groupies headed over to (where else?) Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles

Roscoe's is the ONLY place to go in LA when you're out way past your bedtime. And yes, in case there are any doubters out there, waffles DO go with fried chicken. It's a match made in Roscoe heaven. 

It was definitely a great weekend. I'll be busy in San Francisco again this upcoming weekend, but come August I'll be back to wearing my pj's and zoning out with the TV again. Can't wait!