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

4 08 2008

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

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