A few weeks ago I ran San Francisco Marathon. SF Marathon is a race that holds a special place in my heart. It was my first ever marathon (if you can believe it!), and one of the few races I’ve won (the ultramarathon distance, which is a much less competitive field). It’s also a course that I know well – I’ve run every inch of it over and over throughout the years. Some stretches – like along the Embarcadero – are ones that I’ve run possibly hundreds of times, and I have many wonderful memories of seeing the sun rise over the Bay Bridge, or watching the fog hover under the Golden Gate Bridge. Other parts of it – like the Presidio Climb – I only do on longer training runs, and other parts of it – like Golden Gate Park – I have done with many friends over the years. It’s such a beautiful course – and one that is very meaningful to me!
This year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run it, because it was only a few weeks out from another marathon that I have been actively training for. However, it was really hard to resist the allure of the course for all of the above reasons. Also, I was an ambassador for this race again (one of my favorite ways to engage with the race!), so it would have been silly not to run.
So, with less than a week to go, I registered for the race, did absolutely no tapering, slept terribly in the days leading up to it, convinced a friend to also run it on almost no training, picked up my bib, and showed up to the start line.
Needless to say, it wasn’t my best performance. Here’s what to sent to my coach afterwards:
- I didn’t realize how hilly it was (1300 feet for a road marathon is tough) so that was challenging
- I started too fast in order to hang out with a friend for the first 10k
- I felt pretty nauseous towards the end – not sure why this was – that’s pretty unusual for me
- After mile 16 or so I slowed way down, but it still wasn’t like – easy running. My hamstrings were pretty fatigued throughout
- My food strategy – I tried to do 100 calories per hour, which worked for the first two hours, then I switched just to electrolytes at aid stations because the idea of eating more was unappealing
And I immediately got a post-race cold the week after (not COVID – got tested!).
That being said, here were some highlights
- Got to run with a friend!
- Saw the sunrise while running over the Golden Gate Bridge
- Met an ultrarunner and ran a few miles with him
- Got to do the whole pre-race routine, e.g. wandering around the start line in the cold, clustering with other runners at the start, waiting for the gun, etc. I missed that
- Ran a marathon!
This was the first big race I’ve done since COVID, and it felt quite safe. For example:
- They let runners start in groups of five at a time, with two (very quickly counted) seconds in between. This sounds, on paper, really irritating, but in practice, I actually loved it. It meant no jockeying for position at the start line, and no dodging other runners for the first few miles
- Aid stations all had big water containers so you could refill your own personal water bottle if you had one
- Some areas (federal land) required runners to wear masks, but almost nobody actually did that
Anyway, here are some pictures! Looking forward to next year. Even though this wasn’t my best performance, I still had a great time, and I still love this race. I’m just so happy to be able to run with no injuries and no pain, and run organized races again.