The San Francisco Marathon: Worth the Hurt?

San Francisco Marathon Finisher

On July 25th, I made a feeble attempt to run the San Francisco marathon. I skipped traditional pasta dinner and had pizza at the hotel restaurant. If you’re a marathon aficionado, you know the rules: nothing new before race day and by trying something new I think I sealed my fate.

I woke up at 3am and tried to get to the Embarcadero by 4:30, however since roads were closed and we couldn’t find parking, I missed my wave start. Lines for the port-o-potties were long and thankfully I didn’t need them. The next wave start was 30 minutes away so I froze for a while. Thinking I would be running soon, I didn’t bring a trash bag cover either so I tried my best to run in place and talk to the people around me but no one wanted to talk. Go figure.

The first two miles past Fisherman’s Wharf and into the hills were brutal. I tried desperately to enjoy the views while my shins were on fire and the bottoms of my feet started to ache. I tried to outrun my problems but that only made it worse. Just as the pain numbed away, we were faced with a hill and my hips started to hurt and I felt a shooting pain up my back. Could this possibly get any worse? Yep. As we eased off the hill and I broke out into my run, my knees started to hurt. I wanted to scream and cry out in pain but I continued my race and before we knew it; I was looking off into the distance at the beauty and splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As we wound our way up a hill, past the residential area, and through a meadow, I couldn’t help but be amazed by this wondrous bridge. I thought of all the man power, the countless hours, and the energy that was required to build this marvel and how I would be getting my first opportunity to run the road bed. Running the bridge was a mix of emotions. The fog was settling in and clouding my glasses, cars were headed in the opposite direction (one guys tripped and fell; almost into the traffic!), and everyone is buzzing past you in a quick frenzy. You can’t really see the views because you’re so low on the road bed but if you looked down, you instantly notice how high up you are and even though I’m not afraid of heights, it scared me a little.

The span of the bridge was a good 4 or so miles and I was surprised to suddenly be at mile 10 and almost done with my race except that last half was another series of grueling steep hills. I am grateful for all the water/cytomax stations as well as the medical tents. Also it was great to see all the locals out there to cheer us on, provide donuts, hot chocolate, etc. The San Francisco police and fire departments did a wonderful job of providing safety and managing cutoffs; they are the friendliest cops I’ve meet at any race.

The race ended at Golden Gate Park where the 2nd half marathon started and the marathoners continued for another 13 miles. I ran the first half so my race ended and I received my key chain medal along with some yummy post race goodies. I wandered the park for a bit before enjoying breakfast at a clifftop diner and soaking up some breathtaking beach views.

Was it worth the hurt? Yes. You can’t beat this course or the views. However, it’s not a beginner’s race. You will need to train on hills and strengthen your endurance. Also bring lots of hydration. Even though it was overcast, your body still loses fluids and you might not get to a water stop in time. This was my 9th marathon and 2nd in the CA Dreamin’ series. Next up is the Long Beach marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll LA half marathon. I can’t wait.

(click on the photos to view the captions)

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