Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017 San Francisco Marathon Race Report

2017 San Francisco Marathon Race Report

A really fun marathon expo being held at Fort Mason.

The 40th running of the San Francisco Marathon has come to an end. I would like to share with you about this race weekend. This is one of the most challenging yet rewarding race that I have done. The most difficult thing to me is the early race start time.

The race started at 5:30 am for the first wave of the marathon. That means runners had to go to bed really early Saturday night. I had dinner at 8 pm, then went to bed at 9 pm. 
My race bib. It was a nice surprise to see
#KarlTheFog. I didn't recall I put that on
my race bib when I registered 6 months ago.
I woke up at 3 am, and biked 4 miles to the race start.
They offered bike valet, thus giving runners an option to
bike to the starting line. This is a pretty cool feature. With
the bike ride to the starting line, I was fairly warmed up. 

I got to the wave 2 corral at 5:28 am, just 2 minutes
before the start of the race. This made the start of the
race a little bit stressful. The race started on time. For the
first few miles, you got to run along the waterfront. It was
really tranquil to be running with 18,000 fellow runners at
5:30 am. There was not much talking, as everyone was still
feeling sleepy with the early race start. I used these first few
miles to let my legs warmed up, as we would be dealing
with a lot of hills for the rest of the course.

The elevation profile for San Francisco Marathon. This is not an easy course, as it is very hilly throughout most of the race.
We ran through Fishermen Wharf, and it felt so different without the tourists. We then headed to Fort Mason, the first hill of the course. Even though it was fairly steep, the hill wasn't too bad. After Fort Mason, we followed the bike trails to head downhill. There was a crazy section where three bike lanes merged into a single lane of sidewalk with curbs. I made sure I don't have any missteps, or else it would be devastating to trip up so early in the race.

After Fort Mason, we had a few flat miles at Crissy Field. Then, the difficult part of the course started. We ran up 200 feet to get to Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately, the fog and mist started at that point, so it kept us pretty cool. The highlight of the race was that runners can run on Golden Gate Bridge. However, Golden Gate Bridge is technical somehow. There was only one traffic lane for heading out, and one traffic lane for heading back. So the course was pretty crowded. In addition, the metal connector pieces on Golden Gate Bridge were very slippery. During the time on Golden Gate Bridge, I focused on not running into other runners and not slipped on the bridge.

The San Francisco Marathon took you to different parts of the city.
The highlight is getting to run on Golden Gate Bridge into
Marin County north of the city.
After completing the segment on Golden Gate Bridge, I knew the toughest part of the course was over. You got to run on the west side of the Presidio for a few miles, then heading off to Golden Gate Park. 

Golden Gate Park was dreaded about a lot of people. For me, that's actually my favorite part of the race. You have the first half marathoners finishing, while the second half marathoners merging into the course. There were lots of things going on, so that kept me distracted from the hills of Golden Gate Park. Once we got to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, I knew that we had reached the highest point on the course, and it was mostly downhill from there.

Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day. During race day, it was sogged in.

However, that was when my nightmare began. The sun showed up as soon as we headed out of Golden Gate Park, and I overheated right away. Instead of running at a 7:30 pace, I slowed down to 8:30 to 9:00 pace as I hit the wall. I started walking, and I had to mentally remind myself to start running again as the race was starting to fall apart for me. After a minute of walking, I returned to a slow jog. I was dragging my body towards the end of the race.

Enjoying the sun after the race with
fellow race ambassadors Jeanne and Kim
from Connecticut.
At mile 24 to 25, we saw the baseball field for San Francisco Giant sitting in front of the skyline of San Francisco. At that point, I knew we were approaching the end of the race. I was able to pick up my pace, and started running towards the finish line under the Bay Bridge. I finished the race at around 3 hours and 30 minutes. Not my best marathon, but a good time considering this marathon was really hilly. There were at least 1200 feet of elevation gain in 26.2 miles. This made me realize I still need to train harder if I wanted to get a Boston Qualifier.

At the finish line, there was a tent for race ambassadors. As an ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon, I was able to spend some time catching up with fellow race ambassadors and sharing our race experience.

This is a difficult race, but it is amazing at the same time. I will be returning to the race again in July 2018. I will be better trained to tackle the hills in this course. Hope that you guys enjoy this race report.

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