Few cities in the world have distinct personality. Soul, drive, passion. Many strive to project some kind of an image, but very few cities are actual living and breathing creatures.
Today I'm running second hilliest city in the world, and if you ask me - number one when it comes to downhills!
I signed up for San Francisco marathon on a whim. My marathon training began 6 weeks ago, and I wasn’t thinking about any races till October. But good friend of mine, Mike, told me about this race. I signed up. I promised myself - I won’t push it!
Yes, right, this plan worked well....
For those who can't wait, here is a short video clip with the race highlights (Music: 'Stardust' by Jean-Michel Jarre and Armin van Buuren, from upcoming E-Project. iTunes. Google Play)
‘Are you ready to die?’ Dean Karnazes asked us at the pre-race Shakeout Run. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.
Someone told me: ‘Second half is mostly flat’. I’m laughing so hard when I read these words now. Scenic - yes, beautiful - yes, scary - sometimes, flat - NO!
The course took us out of Golden Gate Park, thru Haight Street down to AT&T Park, Embarcadero and finish line at the Bay Bridge.
There were four of us: Mike, his friend Rick, Dani and Christian - great kid from Norway, who never ran longer than 6 miles in his life. He signed up for the race the day before, while visiting SF with his parents.
Dani is taking a picture of us before the race. Mike, Christian, myself. Rick is late to the party.
Miles one thru five of a second half were beautiful. Gorgeous park, excellent cloudy weather and a few hills on the way. Lots of turns and plenty of people traffic.
On the way out of the park, we ran by the finish line of the first half marathon, and I was surprised to see 3:44:00 time on the timer and people still finishing.
It was ‘fun run’ up until this point. Nothing to brag about.
Oh, my faithful friend, Dani, he told me after the race - did you see a buffalo? A buffalo? I ran by the buffalo and didn’t see it?
As it turned out - yes, there were a few buffalos in the Park. Even if there was a tyrannosaurus nearby, I wouldn’t have noticed the thing )
Passed mile 5 things got interesting.
Things about to go gownhill. Literally.
Here I need to say, that I began the race at the 2:20 time mark, with my friends. I did everything to make sure I don’t race. I took water with me, I took GoPro Hero 4 Session camera to shoot San Francisco on the way, I signed up to start in the last, third wave.
That plan failed miserably. From the start I kept 7:30 min/mile pace and passed a few of people on the way. It took some zig-zagging, but psychologically this is much better than let other runners pass you.
On the way out of the park we hit slow and steady incline at first, and than it began.
Beep, beep, beep - I had to do plenty of editing here )
At one point I though - if anyone of us goes, we are done, all of us in this group. I had to slow down substantially on the way down just to be sure I prevent knee injuries.
San Francisco is San Francisco. Costume party on the run.
I knew that upfront, so I came prepared - taped and Newton’s Gravity IV have been an enormous help throughout road runs.
I’ll never forget, 3-4 years ago, when I started running I had regular pair of sneakers (Puma or Nike, don’t exactly remember which). After a few short weeks my knees snapped and for the next two months I was in pain. Lesson learned - good running shoes from thereafter.
fuha recommended me Newton’s, and after fitting right model at RoadRunners Sports, I never looked back to any other brand. All of my running shoes are Newton's. And I’m knee pain free, unless I do something really stupid.
Fast, long distance, recovery, daily run - my collection of running shoes.
Once the hilly part was done, we passed a few bands on the way - that was nice and entertaining! My first big city event, and I get the vibe of the crowd and location - this race definitely is the most memorable this year so far.
Just reached my 'numb zone', when the race ended )
Passed AT&T park, and onto the finish line. Last stretch, as usually - the most difficult part of the race. Those .1 or 0.2 miles, when you see the finish line in a distance and everything falls apart. I’d rather not see finish at all - keep focus and composure, quick turn and done. But every race I’ve been so far, they make you see the finish line at least half a mile in advance, and some make you circle around it! Brutal!
After crossing that line, I looked at the watch, and … F***k! 1:48:25. I was genuinely disappointed.
I promised not to race, I took lots of pictures and videos on the way, went thru downhill rollercoaster, but still I expected at least to match my PR from 6 weeks ago on a flat course.
Yes, I’m not competitive at all! )
Only later, when I looked at the distance, I realized - we have done 0.3 miles more than actual half marathon distance. After official results came in: 543 out of 3984, puts me in top 13% of the pack, 59th out of 370 in my age group, I guess is Ok.
My friend Mike and his buddy Rick got special medals for doing both half-distances consecutively last and this year (Mike earned his 3rd, and in total did about 30 halfs and 10 full marathons! Major achievement over the years, if you ask me)
The San Francisco Marathon #TSFM, is definitely the race to remember. Second half is not touristy - there are more runners there, than vocational visitors. The course will test your endurance - but you’ll be glad you did it.
After all, you’ll get to see the heart of San Francisco!
See you next year at TSFM! Good night.