2013 Race Reports: Wipro San Francisco Marathon, 2nd Half (San Francisco, CA – Repeat State)

Race: The San Francisco Marathon, Second Half

City: San Francisco, CA   Date: 06/16/2013

Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)

Weather: Gorgeous, as usual, but cold, cold, cold at start: mid-50s in Golden Gate Park, even at 8:30 am.

Course:  Rolling hills through downtown San Francisco

Summary:  Gluten and I are officially broken up now… no backsies. I mean it this time.

Prologue

I understand what is meant by the phrase “I left my heart in San Francisco”. I do love that town, at least, what I’ve seen of it so far. It is unique. I have very fond memories of the San Francisco First Half I did in 2012, so when my friend (who lives in the SF area) suggested we do the second half, I didn’t hesitate a bit to register. There’s a special medal, he said. You get to see the other side of town, he said. You get to finish flat this time, he said.

You had me at San Francisco.

Pre-Race

One of my good friends from high school now lives in the Bay Area – a little north of town – and offered to let me stay with him. I took him up on his offer and suggested this race to another 50-stater friend of mine (he’s doing fulls). I flew out two days before the race so I had time to adjust to the time change, recover from the flight and spend a little time with my friend who now lives in Santa Rosa. He offered to show me around the area and do some sightseeing. He picked up and my 50-stater friend and me from the airport, dropped my friend off at his cousin’s house in Berkeley, and went to his house to settle in and have some dinner. My high school friend has now done 3 full marathons, recently one in Paris, so we talked about that most of the night – I’m so proud of him 🙂

He is a wine expert, and as such, a food expert, so he took me to one of his favorite places in Santa Rosa. He ordered pasta and I got a gluten free pizza. He offered a taste of the pasta – which I took (and it was good!) – and I thought all would be fine. And it was. So far.

The next day, my 50-stater friend met us at my high school friend’s house and we did some sight seeing through wine country. He took us to vineyards , showed us some of his (incredibly hilly) running routes and routes from previous half marathons, and finally, we went to the Charles Schultz museum (or, the outside of it, at least). We dropped my 50-stater friend off and had dinner – again, he offered me a taste of pasta, which I again took (and again it was awesome), then we went back to his house and prepared for the race.

Race Day 

The second half didn’t start until 8:30, but we had to drive into town (about an hour), account for traffic, park, take the bus to Golden Gate park and generally get our stuff organized before the race. Thankfully, my high school friend is just as into getting to races early as I am, so we agreed to leave around 5-5:30. Still on East Coast time, I went to bed around 8 (11 my time) and slept great until about 2 am when I woke up with the worst stomach cramps I can remember having in a long time. I fought it and went back to sleep, but woke up every 20-30 minutes after with GI issues… let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.

I was indigent, though… Damn it, I flew all this way. If I have to walk – or even crawl – 13 miles, I will. I am NOT going to let this be a DNF race… or worse, a DNS. I, at one point, officially let go of my goal of getting a 1:55:00 or better in this race. I just wanted to finish it without somehow demonstrating my GI issues.

Thankfully, I got it all out of my system by the time we were ready to leave, but I looked rough. I was pale and clammy. My friend made some eggs and I had some orange juice and that seemed to help a little, but I was still queasy and now starting to feel dehydrated and I knew that would be bad juju for me, so I downed some water and Gatorade before we left… which meant I had to pee every 5 minutes. Better than the experience I was having a few minutes before that, so I was OK with it.

We got to town and transferred to Golden Gate park and on top of feeling queasy, I was also freezing cold. I knew it was going to be hot at the finish, so I wore a tank top, but it was in the upper 50s for the start, so I was miserably cold. Thankfully, they had heaters around the park, so after we checked our bags, we huddled as close to one as we could until it was time to get into the corrals. I was in corral 2, he was in corral 3, so about 10 minutes before start, we wished each other luck and headed into our respective corrals. To keep my mind off how I felt, I struck up conversations with others in my corral: I now want to do the Giant Race (thanks to the lady who told me how awesome it was) and I was one of a handful who were earning the special medal this year for doing the two half marathons in consecutive years. They were all impressed that I flew out from NC to do the race two years in a row, and we all wished each other luck as the race started. They were a great group of folks and I enjoyed that conversation immensely.

Despite how much I enjoyed the conversation, I was really ready to run. I took it slow because I wasn’t sure how my stomach was going to take things. The first four miles were just around and through Golden Gate Park, so I didn’t really remember being all that impressed with the scenery – and, because I was concentrating more on my stomach – and hydration – I wasn’t really looking for anything.

We ran under the pedestrian bridge out of the park and then began 8 miles of non-stop rolling hills. One after the other. They weren’t big. They weren’t steep. They weren’t long. But… they were constant. You turn a corner – oh look: more hills. As far as the eye can see… I was also starting to lose steam and decided around mile 7 to take a Gu. In retrospect, that wasn’t a great idea, but at the time, I thought I’d be OK because I had a 20-oz bottle of water with me. Friends, the key to Gu is to make sure you’re *not* dehydrated before you take it. It went in OK and I downed half of that 20 oz water right away. I also took two cups of water from the water station and another cup of electrolytes, and started on my way. 10 steps in – ok. 20 steps in – ok. 50 steps in – 0k. 100 steps in – ok. 101 steps in… not so fast… My stomach cramped into a rock and I almost doubled over from it. I drank more water and slowed to a walk until the cramping went away. From this point on in the race, I stopped at EVERY water stop and took two cups. I stopped to walk during those, too – even for 30 seconds – just to make sure I was OK.

When I finally got through town to mile 11, we were up near the bay and the route started to flatten, so I started feeling much better. I finally got to enjoy my surroundings and got to see some of the town – passing the ball park and soaking up the sun by the bay on a beautiful San Fran morning. I crossed the finish line just over 1:54 and I could *not* believe it. I felt horrible for all but 2 miles of that race, but once I finished, I felt great. I not only finished it, but I did so inside my goal time (still not sure how), and learned how to overcome some things mentally that will definitely help me in training for my full marathon in 2014.

Learnings

I absolutely, positively, under no circumstances ever eat pasta. Ever.

From now on, carbo loads will *only* be rice and potatoes. Sorry wheat…

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4 thoughts on “2013 Race Reports: Wipro San Francisco Marathon, 2nd Half (San Francisco, CA – Repeat State)

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