San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017 – Race Recap

Race #131
Half Marathon #40
California Half Marathon #4
2017 Race #14
2017 Half Marathon #5
San Francisco First Half Marathon #2
San Francisco Marathon Race #5

Last year during wedding planning for Mom and Ellis we talked about all running the San Francisco Marathon this year. Plans changed; Ellis hasn’t been running and Mom and I decided to run the half marathon instead. Then I learned that this was the 40th running of the marathon and that it just so happened to be my 40th half marathon. I am a huge numbers nerd and also mildly obsessed with the number four. I had to run this race.

After a four year consecutive stretch of coming out for this race, I took a break in 2015 and 2016. My work schedule was not conducive to this race. As low man on the totem pole at the bank, I often did not have the ability or the personal days to take off a Friday and a Monday to come out for the race. I am so glad that my schedule works a lot better for the race now. I will be back.

San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017
That’s me, signing up for next years marathon. That’s right, the full marathon.

Back to this year’s race…

We, after a slightly awkward start, got a Lyft to the start line. After a portopotty stop – I was not about to make the mistake of six years ago and skip that – we headed into the corral. I joined Mom in the third wave. The time I entered as my estimated time put me in wave 2.

San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017
This is right before we entered the wave since Ellis, obviously, couldn’t go with us.

We didn’t have long to wait. A few minutes later we were off!

San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017

I really enjoyed every bit of this race, even the ridiculous hills.

We started off at a fairly good pace and stayed to the left. Pretty soon we settled into a good routine of moving single file to pass people. (That happened a lot in the first few miles.)

The temps were low and the scenery beautiful if a bit foggy. I could tell that we would not have very scenic vistas on the bridge.

We ran our fastest miles in this section which also was the flattest except for one hill in mile 3 which we happened to walk up the day before after picking up our packets. We explored the Fort Mason area. As we explored I recognized the vista and remembered that we ran this way. That hill is no joke. When we ran up, that was the first time I wondered what I was thinking

Mile 1: 8:49
Mile 2: 8:42
Mile 3: 9:05
Mile 4: 8:34
Mile 5: 8:51

After mile 5, the few flat-ish miles ended. We headed up the steep incline leading to the bridge. This one is also no joke.

As we headed over the bridge, I felt a little sorry for anyone running this race for the first time. I remember being in complete awe over the view. (I also took some of my first and only “running selfies” while going across the bridge. Never again) We could see between 50 and 100 feet in front of us. Fog covered the rest. This also made the bridge wet and a bit slick. This ended up making my left shoe and sock a bit wet. Thankfully the organizers blocked off an extra lane so that we had three lanes to work with instead of two. This made the middle lane a “passing lane” and lessened the chance that runners going opposite directions over the bridge would run into each other.

The water stop at the “scenic” overlook also had Gu gels and chomps. I decided to grab one of the packs of Chomps even though that meant I had to back track a few steps because the volunteer, a kid, didn’t have long enough arms. 🙂 (Of course, I’m not actually critiquing the kid. I thought it was pretty cool that he was out there volunteering.)

We made the turn around quickly. Before the race I had thought about stopping here and taking a selfie with Mom but the fog prevented that. We headed back onto the bridge and back towards San Francisco.

Mile 6: 9:50
Mile 7: 8:53
Mile 8: 9:00
Mile 9: 9:07

After we got off the bridge, Mom wanted to get some fuel but her hands were numb. On the Marin County side of the bridge there was a small section of the bridge where the wind blew quite freely making it just a bit chilly. We walked for a brief section while I got the chew out of the pack for her. Soon after that we started running again.

Mile 10: 9:03

The hills start in earnest during the last 5k. Up and down and up and down and up and down some more.

Also during this section comes a portion where they do traffic diversions. I don’t understand it completely but I think they alternate a certain section of the course so that vehicle traffic isn’t impaired significantly. That means that every so often runners are shifted to an alternate portion of the course. Obviously, I have run through these sections before. I’ve just never been the first runner to have to turn onto the new section. It’s just a bit unnerving to turn off from running with several hundred other people to seeing no one in front of you. The volunteer who directed us to the alternate section kept shouting “It’s the same race. I promise!”

The mile from 11.5 to 12.5 … wow … killer, mainly because of the frequent and significant rollers.

Finally we rejoined the course just outside Golden Gate Park. We knew the end was near. We made the turn into the park. Only half a mile to go. After looking at the video Ellis took of us with less than a tenth to go, I know that I need to work on my form, especially at the finish. I make conscious effort to maintain proper form at the beginning but then the thought usually fades after a few or several miles.

A few minutes later and we made the left turn, splitting from the marathoners. Just before the finish shoot Ellis stood, positioned to get some great shots of us coming in to the finish.

San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017
San Francisco First Half Marathon 2017

With mere feet to go, I started to sprint and pulled away from Mom. Other than that we were pretty much side by side the entire race!

Mile 11: 9:17
Mile 12: 9:12
Mile 13: 9:28
last .28: 7:19

I finished in 1:59:51.
Mom finished in 1:59:55.

That’s a whole lot better than the first time I ran this race (2:24:xx).

Race Review

Registration and Packet Pick Up
Registration is painfully easy for this race. The pain comes from the area of your credit card.
Packet pick up is wonderful. I love their expo. The last time I ran this race back in 2014 was the first time that the expo was held in the Fort Mason center. I didn’t like it as much then. I liked the old venue better. I had no such qualms this year.

Race ShirtPrerace/morning (evening) amenities
From our end, everything was well organized with plenty of portopotties available. I have seen on social media that the UPS trucks that served as the gear check vehicles for the full marathon did not arrive on time for the earliest waves which resulted in many people just leaving their gear behind with the workers who still waited on the trucks. Traffic can be an issue in San Fransisco.

This course challenges you right out of the gate with its early start time. (If you run the second half you get to “sleep in” a little.) I absolutely love running over the Golden Gate Bridge, even if the fog completely obscures the vista. The hills are not for the faint of heart either. I love every bit of this course.

Course Support
Each aid station is more than adequately staffed with volunteers. I am not a fan of Nuun at all. I do not like the 0 calorie electrolyte beverages. I have also seen other complaints about this on social media. Since water is always available, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Finish line and Post Race Amenities
Plenty of food awaits at the finish line. The first thing you get is a bottle of water. Then you walk a little ways to receive the medal. This was genius. Instead of having everyone come to a complete stop shortly after the finish line and cause a bottle neck, there is plenty of space.
They also have a special challenge tent where I picked up my 40 for 40 medal. I love all the special extra medals and challenges that the SF Marathon participates in. To qualify for this challenge, you had to have run a 2017 race that when combined with another SF Marathon race that you have run in the past five years equals 40 or more. For most people, that meant a marathon and a half marathon which is how I qualified.
I am not a particular fan of Muscle Milk though and its artificial flavoring.

Photography is available. As of this recap, it has not been posted yet.

This took several hours for the race to post. When they were available, however, the race sent an email with a link where you could search up your results. My results are not correct. I had to submit a correction request since my gun time and chip time were mysteriously the same and had me starting 13 minutes before

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