Monday, 10 August 2009

San Francisco Marathon 26th July 2009

After running Badwater everything you do after seems a little bit of a let down and although i loved visiting San Diego i'd be honest and say that the thing i needed most was another race.
I'd entered the San Francisco Marathon a number of weeks after getting my Badwater start when i learnt that a Canadian friend was going to do it and i'd immediately thought "Road Trip" as with a race near LA on the eighth of August it meant i could rediscover some of my favourite parts of the Californian Central Coast.
After driving from San Diego the climate of San Francisco came as a rather unpleasant shock with fog rolling in at 2PM when i arrived (it was 80 degrees at San Jose shortly before and to come to less than 60 was not good at all !).
Think the rest of Thursday was spent wondering "why am i doing this ???", Friday was a little better but come Saturday morning i thought i should bite the bullet and do a 90 minute run in race gear (AURA singlet, shorts, gloves and Buff Bandanna), well to be honest it wasn't that bad although by my watch it dipped to 53 degrees by 9AM.

With a 5:30 start (so not to interfere with traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge), i left my hotel around 4:45 wrapped up like i was heading to the arctic (the yellow man - the infamous yellow tracksuit pants and yellow Melbourne Marathon windcheater).
I still hadn't put my racechip on and it still remained a mystery - essentially an orange band aid ??? - and was keen to get official help.
One less than pleasant surprise was that my timingchip didnt have a sticky part (like it should have) so that i'd have to put it under my shoe laces and hope it stayed on.
By now it was race start time, but thankfully the field of 5,000 was sent off in seperate waves and being in wave 1 i found it very easy to make my way to the front.
Before the race i was confident i'd cruise around the course in around 3:20 to 3:30 i just couldnt believe that 10 days after Badwater i'd have anything better than that in me.
Initially i was in front of the 3 Hour pace group but they breezed past at Cressy Field, now i was wondering just what i was capable of, finally up to the Golden Gate Bridge although cold and foggy above it was better than i'd anticipated and i was feeling comfortable, was shocked to hear an Aussie voice, a girl from Dubbo, just before the Marin turnaround but also a bit worried when she said she was in the second wave !!.
Think that spurred me on a little, once off the the bridge we had plenty of very easily runnable parkland (although i'd have loved more of the Presidio), and we were soon near the half marathon finish, bit confusing there as they sent one way and us another and a time clock (1:34 ?) seemed to be before half way. Still i was enjoying the scenery and also happy to be holding my ground against other runners.
At around 13.5 Miles i was surprised to see a sign "Beer ahead" but then realised this was the local Hash House Harriers Stand and there was actually beer, couldn't resist a drop although a little earlier than i'd normally like, it was a pleasant change from the tiny cups of Cytomax supplied so far (nevertheless still in a tiny cup - what are they cardboard medicine glasses ???).
For a moment or two regretted my drink as it bubbled in my stomach but from then on set out with renewed vigour, from then on it was the non tourist part of the course as we made our way through a factory area, mile markers seemingly making the course longer and longer, just thankful for the many posters with questions and answers along the course to take my mind off of this section.
Finally we were coming towards the port, and therefore the end, a couple of sharp turns (and one real good band) and we were passing the football ? stadium, now the end was in sight. Time to put in a little harder as i had no clue of the time i was doing, the odd high 5 i accepted but now it was time to finish it off.
With 200 yards or so to go i was gathered in by another runner so with nothing to lose it was a sprint finish now that i could see we'd be in in under 3:15, for the record just beat him and by the clock did 3:13:08, much better than i anticipated although the fact the gloves were still needed showed i was right in my clothes selection.
In short great, picturesque course for around 15 miles, very mundane next 4 miles and then the finish, probably as big a field as i really like i'm definitely not interested in fields of 20,000 and above.
As for my Canadian friend, i did see her come in (around 20 minutes later than planned), but lost her on the way through medals and goodies ultimately 3 hours later i was to find she spent much time in first aid on a drip, definetely not as good a day as mine.

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