I ran the race in 2011 as my second 1/2 marathon and vowed to never do it again. Then my cousin really wanted that to be her first 1/2 marathon in 2013, so I ran it with her… and then vowed to never do it again. The disorganization of a race put on by such a large, global company amazed me. It was entirely too crowded, there was almost no communication before or after the race, it was hard to find information online, the race itself was ridiculously crowded and never started on time, the finish area was entirely too crowded (you just ran 13.1 or 26.2 miles and then you’re at an immediate dead stop for at least 10 minutes trying to push through the crowd to get your food, necklace, photo or gear bag), and both years it took almost 2 hours to get on the shuttle back to Union Square (that you paid for). But when I was asked to run the race for Nuun (they are the hydration sponsor) this year, I couldn’t say no!
I went to the expo on Thursday as soon as my plane landed at SFO and LOVE LOVE LOVE Thursday NWM expo! It’s not crowded at all, since the people flying in haven’t arrived yet. Packet pickup was a breeze (no line!) and I was able to get first dibs on any samples that were there (and they were good!). I went and picked up my car afterwards and made the long drive home, arriving around 9:30pm (after traveling for almost 24 hours).
I really wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. Actually, I was quite sure it was going to be really bad. I had just gotten back from 3 weeks in SE Asia just 2 days prior, I had been having tummy issues (more on that in another post) since the day I left India, severe jetlag was still in full effect and I had spent over an hour the night before the race attempting to find a parking spot near my friends apartment in the Mission (where I was spending the night). To add to that, my left knee had started to throb 2 days before I left India. I finally fell asleep about 11:30pm, woke up at 1:50am, fell back asleep at almost 3am and woke up at 440am. Awesome nights rest, right? The night before that (what some say is the most important night of sleep before a race), I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep. I was doomed!
They changed the course this year (and eliminated the full marathon) – two things I was excited to experience. Less crowding and a whole new view of the city? Yes please. We got dropped off at the start (thanks Alvaro!), didn’t check any bags (though it looked WAY easier, more organized and less crowded than years passed), walked to our corral and got in and out of the portapotties in record time – SCORE! Since we were in one of the last corrals, it took about an hour for us to finally cross the start line (something I really wish they’d work on). I was running the race with a friend who was running her first 1/2 marathon (longest run 9 miles), so both were excited and nervous at the same time.
Since Nuun was on the course, I didn’t need to worry 100% about my hydration (unless what happened at the SF Marathon happened here as well), but just in case (mainly because I was dehydrated from flying), I brought along my handheld. I packed a couple Honey Stinger gels and chapstick, threw my phone in my FlipBelt and we were ready!
The weather was absolutely perfect – I literally could not have asked for anything better. Karl was out in full effect, there was a little misting that felt phenomenal when I started to get warm and it stayed overcast until about 30 minutes after we finished. We ran together for the first 9 miles at a nice conversational pace and since my knee had been killing me since mile 6, I told her to save herself and I’d find her at the finish, so I could pull over and stretch a little bit (also perfect timing for that giant hill haha). Once I walked a little bit, stretched it out and got up the hill, it was all downhill and flat from there, so I was flying – feels phenomenal when you were just contemplating why you were even running at that point just a couple miles before that.
The necklace we got was better than the one I received in 2011 and 2013 – you can actually wear this one as a cute necklace! I’m almost positive the guys that were taking photos with finishers weren’t actually firefighters, but I am not about to argue! I’ll take that little blue box!
I asked them “so what should we do since there’s so many of you and you guys aren’t supposed to pick us up anymore?” One guy said I should propose to them, so I got down on one knee. Apparently none of the other ladies they had been asking would do it! Crazies, it made for an awesome photo opp!
After I got my picture taken, I went over to the Nuun booth to say hello, and ran into a friend at snack/food area, who was there promoting their restaurant and phenomenal salsa! If you live in SF or frequent the Mission (they’re at 24th and Valencia) for delicious foods, you should stop by their restaurant, Papalote! They were featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay (I got to be there for the surprise taping – Papalote won!) and they are delicious! They also have a second location at Fulton and Masonic. Then I went to stretch and foam roll in the NTC tent because at that point, mama’s knee was SCREAMING.
Then I finally found Kristina and her fiance and we walked back to the car to get some food (that’s always #1 on our minds!)
We went to brunch afterwards at BStar (Burma Superstar’s sister restaurant), but my tummy troubles were still in full effect, so I could only have fried rice and an egg (and only about half of it). Went back to my friends, packed up my stuff and started the drive home in traffic (I really should have stayed for a quick nap!)
Final thoughts on the race: If they keep the new course and organization, I’d do this one again (say what?!). I really enjoyed the new course, the on-course support/entertainment was phenomenal and the Finish Area was much larger/more organized than in years past.