Ever since I heard about the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I have been enamored with the idea of running through the streets of San Fran and, more importantly, receiving a Tiffany’s necklace from a fireman! While I still have not participated in the San Fran race, I was fortunate enough to run in the inaugural Nike Women’s DC Half last year.
Reading Krissy’s recap of the full marathon last year, further solidified my dream to run in San Fran, although I knew I needed to run the first half marathon because I NEEDED run across the bridge. Somewhere along the way, running San Fran someday turned into running this year.
By the time I decided to run, the host hotel was sold out but I was fortunate enough to get reservations at one of the associated race hotels nearby. It was late Friday night by the time arrived and I was so happy to climb into bed.
Saturday morning, I got on a shuttle to the expo. The shuttle left from the host hotel, which was only a few blocks from my hotel. The expo was held at Fort Mason and was on the small-ish side, but that didn’t stop me from picking up a few items. I will say I was a little disappointed in the official merchandise – the majority was geared towards the full marathon, which I get as it is the headline event, but I still wish there was at least a few token half marathon items.
I dropped my goodies off back at the hotel and set off for the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridges are one of my favorite things (not sure why). As I didn’t have a lot of time in San Fran, and not wanting to ruin my legs too much, I decided my one “must-do” would be to find my way to the bluff overlooking the bridge.
Of course my one activity still took some time and before you know it, I was eating dinner and heading back to my hotel room for an early night.
The morning came early and I made my way to the start line. The sun was just starting to come up as my wave headed toward the start line.
The main event is the full marathon and then you can do the first half (which goes across the bridge) or the second half, which starts about where the first half ends and follows the rest of the marathon course.
And we were off!! Down the Embarcadero we went. One of the attractions of racing in different cities, is getting to experience the city a whole new way. This way no exception. How cool to be running down the waterfront. Past Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina. Alcatraz was sitting out there in the distance looking somewhat menacing.
We hit the first hill and I walked it. I knew the hills were real and could potentially drain me. I decided early on to walk the steep hills, and attempt to run the not so steep hills.
Past Crissy Field with the first real views of the bridge!
Up another hill and there was the bridge in all its glory! A little bit foggy, but all in all the weather was perfect for running – not to warm, overcast and with a breeze.
I kept thinking to myself “I’m running across the Golden Gate bridge!” I looked around as much as possible while still keeping my eyes on the ground and in front of me. It was definitely crowded on the bridge deck, plus you had to deal with different surfaces.
And then it happened – a series of unfortunate events that led to my downfall. Literally. A girl darted in front of me and because we were on a grated portion, when I tried to maneuver around her, my foot caught and BOOM! Down went Emily. I got up super quick because embarrassment over having fallen was foremost in my mind. I moved over to the side as much as I could and waved off the concerns repeatedly saying that I was fine. Which I was, other than a few minor scrapes, and my bruised pride. I was almost at the turn around point, and continued walking until once again on the bridge deck before starting to run again.
I was definitely stiffening up after the fall, but other than that. I was fine. I internally laughed to myself. Being the klutz that I am, falling during a race was bound to happen at some point. And now I have a great story – remember the time I fell on the Golden Gate Bridge? And I didn’t fall off the bridge!
The fall occurred just after mile 7. I had been doing decently pace-wise up to that point. A little behind where I would have wanted, but I had stopped for pictures. The first half marathon has a 3 hour time limit and up until that point, I hadn’t worried at all about not meeting the time limit. Enter the worry. But when I got across the bridge, the worry lessened. I had run across the Golden Gate Bridge!!
Exiting the bridge, there was a downhill before an UP-hill followed by a ridiculous DOWN-hill. I think I was more worried about falling again on the downhill! But it had gorgeous views of the water. This has to be one of my favorite courses hands down. Painful, with the hills, but gorgeous!
We hit mile 11 and I looked at my watch. Under 3 hours was fading fast. We were now amidst rolling hills and it was on one of these hills, with my hip screaming at me, that I realized 3 hours was not going to happen. I had a little internal pity party before remembering I RAN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE! And I was going to finish. So what if I didn’t make my time goal?
With my new mindset, I tried to just enjoy the last few miles of the race. We entered Golden Gate Park and split from the marathoners (who would join up with the second half marathoners).
Finally the finish line was in sight! I didn’t really have a finishing kick in me, but I was able to run across the finish line and get my hard-earned medal.
So next up is the complaining portion of the recap. I had heard about the great spread of food and goodies after the race but there wasn’t much left. But maybe the spread was at the marathon finish line. Which I wouldn’t know about because it took close to 2 hours waiting for the shuttle and the shuttle ride back to the other finish line. I had a flight to catch and so hurried to my hotel.
All in all, a great race!