“Oh, I Love The Hills!” (2008 The San Francisco Marathon)

Recap of the 2008 The San Francisco Marathon (03 August 2008)

My children and I woke up at 5:00 AM and immediately started preparing for the race. We ate some “left-overs” from the previous night’s carbo-loading dinner from my wife’s relatives consisting of chicken barbecue, spaghetti, sotanghon guisado, fried chicken, and lots of rice cakes. At almost 6:00 AM, we were already at Mission Street brisk walking towards the Starting Line at The Embarcadero. However, we missed the mass start of the last wave of runners by almost 15 minutes. No problem with that because we had our ChronoTrack D-strip timing chip. So, at least ten (10) runners, to include the three of us, started the race with the last wave of runners at least 1 1/2 miles ahead of us. (We found out later that Dean Karnazes started the full Marathon race at least one hour late!)

By the way, somebody shouted “Bald Runner” when I just left the Starting Line and I just looked at him and tried to wave my hand to acknowledge him. Thanks for shouting my name! The race officials were surprised for hearing such words!

This picture was taken before we left our room at the hotel. My kids, being locals in the US, can withstand the low temperature in San Francisco by wearing singlets and I was wearing a full shirt.

As we approached Mile #2 (fronting the Fisherman’s Wharf) , we could see already the tail end of the last wave of runners and my son and I maintained our pace of 6:05 minutes per kilometer. My daughter was left behind us as she was trying to maintain her pace of 12 minutes per mile. As we had our first uphill at Mile #3 and we were already within the runners of the last wave. We started to overtake the slower runners and had a chance to stop to have our picture-taking with the San Francisco Bridge as the background. We also stopped for our first “pee” session at the Mile # 4. I guess, I was about to get my warm-up at Mile # 4 because of the ideal cool weather condition (52 degrees Fahrenheit), foggy surroundings and an overcast/cloudy sky. According to my kids, so far, this is the best weather condition that they had experienced for a marathon.

At Mile # 3 stop for a picture with the Golden Gate Bridge as the background. Note the foggy background  and cloudy skies.

A pose of my son, John Paul.

My son and I had to stop and drink water in every water station as we were carrying at least 3 GUs in each of our hands which were tied with a rubber band and secured on our wrists. We had to take each GU every four to five miles. When we see that there is a water station ahead of us (at least 50 meters ahead), we start taking our GU and drink water as we reached the water station. I did not bring with me my Nathan Water Belt as I knew that the water stations here were efficient. As soon we we left the water station before the Golden Gate Bridge, my son did not know that I barely stopped to drink water and I immediately resumed my run towards more hills along the way.

Once I reached the Golden Gate Bridge, I was already at the middle of the pack and had to overtake more runners with a very narrow space alloted for the runners. One lane of the bridge was dedicated for the incoming runners and another lane was for the outgoing runners from the Vista Point. The bridge has six lanes and two lanes were alloted for vehicles in each direction. In my estimate, the width of the one lane of the bridge is only good for 3 runners running side by side. With this situation, I had to make a quick move to overtake the runners once there was enough space where I could squeeze my body while I was running along the bridge. It was a nice sight to see a lot of runners infront of my lane and at the same time see the runners at the opposite lane. I tried to pick-up my pace when I left the Vista Point, the northern end of the bridge, towards the San Francisco side and I was about to pass Mile # 8. The lane in going back to San Francisco side of the bridge was not as full of runners than the other side and I took this advantage to increase my pace.

This was the sight of the runners while I was running along the Golden Gate Bridge towards the northern side, Vista Point.

This was taken after leaving the Vista Point and going back to the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Feeling the strong winds that blow on the bridge while running was a wonderful and memorable experience.

After leaving the Golden Gate Bridge, I was already towards Mile # 10 and there was an uphill road (along Lincoln Street) where most of the runners started to walk but I just maintained my running form by shortening my strides and taking one step at a time. I knew that if the hill is high, the road after the peak is another easy downhill road and I can gain more speed in the process. I kept on silently saying to myself my mantra, “Oh, I love this hill”, whenever I approached the hills and I can overcome those hills comfortably. Later, it was all downhill towards Mile # 11.

After running along the 27th Street (Mile # 12), we entered the Golden Gate Park and the next six (6) miles were spent running on those snaky and rolling roads of the park. This was where I started to see and hear load music from speakers being played by disc jockeys  at least in every 500 meters. After entering the Golden Gate Park, the Half-Marathon runners had to take another route and got separated from the Full Marathon runners and our road became wider with lesser runners. Running along the said park was a sight to behold because of the manicured grass and gardens filled with ornamental plants. There were a lot of cheerers along the way saying, “Looking good” and shouting encouraging words. There was a continuous ringing of cowbells along the way at the park and most of the streets where we had to run.

Once I got out of the park, I was already hitting Mile # 19 and started to run along Haight Street which is a straight but rolling street with uphills and downhills.  The said street is 1 1/2 miles and I would overtake more runners, taking advantage of my non-stop running when I was faced with uphill parts of the road. When I reached Mile # 21 at Guerrero Street, I was happy that I haven’t felt any pains on my legs. At Mile # 22, where I expected to have some muscle cramps, I was still painless and without any problem but I started to slow down. It was already a warning for my body to take my last GU and drink electrolytes (Cytomax which is available in the water stations). So, at Mile # 23, I took my last GU and maintained my pace.

At Mile # 24, my son, John Paul came at my side and told him to keep his pace and gladly overtook me and he gained more distance from me. From this point, I maintained my 6:30 mins/km pace. From the AT & T Park (Home of the San Francisco Giants), I could see already the Finish Line and I just maintained my pace and finished surrounded by women finishers!

I finished the Full Marathon in 4:36:23 hours without any muscle cramps or any pains on my legs and without walking along the way. This was an improvement from my Pasig River Heritage Marathon last February of this year. I was able to improve my finish time by almost 13 minutes. If not for those photo-ops, “pee” & water drinking stops, and the traffic of runners in narrow parts of the route, I could still improve more my finish time even with those hills along the route.

This picture is for Bards aka Banana Running! Ha!Ha!Ha! While waiting for my daughter, my son and I ate a lot of bananas and potato chips with lots of water and Cytomax while sitting along the sidewalk.

John Paul finished the race in 4:34:02 hours.

Jovelle finished the Full Marathon in 5:41:28 hours, a new PR best for her!

While walking back to the hotel, almost all the people that we met along the way would say “Congratulations” or “Good job” to us and we have to smile and say “Thanks” while trying to walk without any limp.

The race was an unforgettable experience. My kids told me that they love the course and started planning to run the SF Marathon next year. Of course, I will be with them again!

For the complete results of the race, visit www.runsfm.com.

The following data were taken from my GF 305:

Distance—42.94 kms           Time—4:36:23 hrs

Average Pace—6:27 mins/km      Average Speed—9.3 kms/hr

Maximum Speed—15.4 kms/hr    Total Calories—3,145 cal

Average HR—152 bpm                  Maximum HR—168 bpm

Total Ascent—1,525 meters         Total Descent—1,568 meters

Running Kit—The North Face        Running Shoes—ASICS Gel-Kayano 13

Music—ABBA, Beatles, Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Foo Fighters, Debelah Morgan, Julio Iglesias, Barry Manilow & Michael Buble

27 thoughts on ““Oh, I Love The Hills!” (2008 The San Francisco Marathon)

  1. haha funny pix BR! Great post race nutrition also. I didnt even find the free milo stand yesterday. And even with photo ops in the middle of the race you still finished in 4:36 *bow … we’re not worthy hehehe* Good luck on the trail run! 😛

    bards, thanks for that fast comment! there were lots of bananas, chocolates, potato chips, bottled water & Cytomax at the finish area. i finished two pieces of banana and i thought having this picture with you in my mind! hahaha! nice post on your milo 10K run!


  2. Hi BR,

    Congratulations, the pictures look great and we are happy you are bonding with your kids.

    Regards Mark & Tiffin

    mark & tiffin, thanks. the weather was nice and the support services were outstanding!


  3. Hi BR,
    Congratulations to you and your children on your SFM finish! Great job, I hope I can do the same with my children when they grow up. I can sense that this was a relaxed race for you, complete with posing by the bridge and all. Normally, pictures taken of you during a race show you with your ‘game-face’ on in a running pose 🙂

    levy, we had to leave my wife at the hotel and my son and i took turns to take some pictures with the runners and the GGB as the background. don’t worry, i think there so many professional photographers taking my pictures along the route. i guess, you will be seeing these pictures soon.


  4. sobrang sikat ka na talaga… pati sa States eh may sumisigaw ng pangalan mo hehehe 😀 congratulations on the great run… as showed by the pics. It really seemed you were enjoying every minute of it… congrats!

    loony, this marathon was a long, steady and easy run for me in preparation for my first ultra in 3 weeks. the guy who shouted was johnny sy, one of the bloggers, who ran the 5K race.


  5. Wow! Congratulations to ALL of you for a RUN WELL DONE 🙂

    tfm, thanks! maybe, someday you’ll have a chance to run this marathon, too!


  6. Congratulations on a good race! It looks so inviting to be running a marathon there with all the gorgeous photos you took. The best of course are the ones with your kids beside you enjoying the same thing you love to do as well. All the best to you and your family!

    prom, on the first few miles, we were together but we agreed that each one of us should finish the race. my kids are already “veterans” in marathons and they are already addicted to it. and they have lots of stories to tell to their friends. thanks!


  7. Hi BR! Congratulations to you and your kids for a great run. Your pictures make me really nostalgic for SFO. At ang ganda naman ng finisher’s medal ninyo! Nakakainggit! 😉

    mesh, SF city is totally different from LA and the people here are warmer and more friendly. i know you can run this marathon by next year by the looks of the training you are putting in your legs. you can get that medal soon!


  8. Congratulations BR! great recap, great pictures!. Indeed you had a great time running with your kids. I can see it in your smile.

    junc, indeed, i was smiling from the start up to the finish line because of the different body figures of lady runners infront of me! hahaha!


  9. what a great run you had BR… I assumed is one of the best run you ever had. The best part is also running together with your kids. Its a family run. Have a nice week ahead and congratulations!… see you again next time…

    iban, thanks! you are right, this is the best marathon race that i ever had, not because of my time and the pleasure of running in san francisco and the golden gate bridge, but the pleasure and happiness of running with my kids.


  10. Hi BR!! Congratulations to you and your kids on a great run!! I was the one who shouted Bald Runner at the start of the race. Me and SFRunner have been searching for you since the start of the race. I was glad I caught you as you started your race. Unfortunately, we were unprepared — I was in fact with an ABS TFC camera crew. We could have caught you on camera were we better prepared — you would have come out on Adobo Nation. Maybe next time. Have a great vacation and I look forward to catching up with you when you return to Manila.

    johnny, we had to walk, instead of jogging, from the hotel and we started late. anyway, thanks for shouting my name at lalong napabilib ko mga anak ko! hahaha! this marathon race is a “low-key” activity and it is dedicated to our runner-bloggers in the philippines so that i can show them that a 56 years old retiree can easily finish an international marathon. i know most of them are already inspired to experience an international race for them to see how professional the race are organized here. i hope to see back in manila.


  11. Wow BR, congratulations. Sharing the same passion and running with your kids must be very fulfilling for a father. I salute you for that. I am sure this was your best run ever.

    runmd, that’s true! so far, this was my best marathon race so far! it was nice experience running with my kids. thanks!


  12. Congratulations great time !!! I really wish i did make it to the SFO – Marathon but my trainning wasnt doing to well anyway there is next time.
    You did Fantastic !!!

    patrick, i am sure you would had made a PR run here basing from your finish time at the manila half-marathon. the cold weather and the festive mood here greatly helped the runners finish the race comfortably. anyway, there are more marathons in the future. thanks!


  13. Wow! You finished 4:36 while enjoying your 42k run, without any pain or cramps… Hep, hep, hurrah! But I know the best experience of all is being able to do this with your 2 darling kids.

    Hope to see you BR, and the other runner bloggers in future races. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. I will now start my 10k training for the Nov. 16 New Balance Power Race.

    Again, congrats!!!

    nora, thanks! the experience travelling from LA to SFO with the family and running the marathon with my kids were indeed memorable. anybody could run the marathon with the proper training and positive attitude and i know you can make it. good luck on your training & happy running!


  14. Congrats BR on your great race time plus quality/bonding time with your children! Godspeed on your next race!

    rayabe, thank you very much & keep on running!


  15. Hi BR, congrats on a good run on a relatively challenging course! It must feel great to run on the Golden Gate and one day I hope to do the same.

    carlo, running at the GGB with a narrow lane and lots of runners was a great experience. plus the cold wind blowing on your face was unforgettable. of course, you can do it, too! thanks!


  16. Congratulations, BR … and also to John Paul and Jovelle! Such a beautiful running family. That’s priceless!

    Thank you for sharing us again the pictures and the nice description of your San Francisco Marathon experience. So, what’s next? If it’s around LA, i.e. Calabasas Ultra, Long Beach GK Heroes Run, Santa Clarita, Pasadena’s 1st marathon, etc., I’ll try my best to come and cheer you.

    I’m filling up one door-to-door box of usable shoes for your Donate-a-Shoe project. Please let me know whom and where to address it.

    My club’s long runs (at least 10 miles) are on Sundays (8AM). If you are interested to join our runs, please contact me. We will be at Legg Lake in South El Monte this Sunday and at Azusa Canyon West Fork on 8/17. THX.

    delq, thanks for the congratulatory wishes! i’ll be running the bulldog 50K ultra trail in malibu creek state park, calabasas on the 23 of august. i hope to join you on the 17th. please send the box to:
    Bald Runner’s Events
    c/o Captain Ferdie Espejo
    115 2nd Floor M.H. Del Pilar cor. E. Angeles St.
    Sto. Tomas, Pasig City 1600 Tel # (0632)-497-6442
    thanks for the shoes! happy running & God bless!


  17. it must be special to run a marathon with your kids.

    congrats on the finish. looks like you guys were blessed with ideal running conditions.

    although i do mostly trails, sfo is one of those road races which i would like to do one of these days.

    eric, thanks! the weather was perfect for a marathon. my son said that our practice run at the malibu creek state park (25K) a week before the marathon made him stronger and finish the race comfortably. i have the same observation, too! i have the impression that ultra trail runs are addictive which makes a full marathon a mere easy 10K run! i am going back to the bulldog trail within this week and try to run the full distance.


  18. Haha.. Sir, I guess it’s obvious what I’ll say and you maybe already tired of hearing it but..


    Long Live!!!


  19. Congrats on the marathon! It would be interesting if you could do an article on your family bonding while you’re there. Its very impressive that you got that time while being able to have photo ops as well. : )

    We just came back from our club crew world championships in Dragonboat (CCWC) in Penang. Drago Pilipinas managed to get into 2 finals positioning us in the Top 18 for our events. There were almost 4000 participants, 20 in one crew.


  20. Hi BR,

    I am just pausing long enough to say “I’m glad you had a great time at SFM”. Congratulations to both you and your kids for making SFM a great family affair.

    I’m also happy you tracked down Dean Karnazes and had your photo taken with him. He’s pretty down-to-earth, isn’t he? Hope you had time to check out the streets of San Francisco.

    I’ve been to the PI, but my time was not my own from the start. Too many reunions and friends that made my trip there more like work. Sorry I couldn’t get away to see you in MM.

    Happy running, live well and prosper!



  21. aldz, thanks! btw, if you are interested to try training for an ultramarathon event, i just created another blogsite for ultra events & training at http://www.baldultrarunner.wordpress.com. check it out!

    markfb, my bonding with my family while i am in the US is very simple–lots of conversations, dine-out & watch movies together, run together with my kids, we discuss about my blog, shop with them, they act as my official drivers & tourist guides, they are my no.1 critics, and my advisers/consultants! i am glad that you performed well in your international competition & congratulations, too! i’ll be making a post on my personal evaluation of my performance at the SFO Marathon. see you soon!

    qrunning, dean k is really a friendly and warm person. there is no dull moment with him and very accommodating. i had a chance to see him at badwater before the start of the race. the ultra guys are really simple, friendly, and approachable people. i like their positive attitude. have i known jamie donaldson, i could had made a brief chat & photo-ops with her, too! i knew that you were too busy during your vacation in cebu. anyway, there is always next time. good luck on your training!


  22. Hi, BR. Just for follow up. Let me know if you can make it in joining us to run West Fork on Sunday, 8/17. Let me know if you need a ride. Also, you may email me at delq331@msn.com for details. Thanks.


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