Side note: The California Dreamin' Series is running the following three CA marathons or half marys: Surf City in Feb, San Fran in July, and Long Beach in Oct.
But anyways, this is about my experience in San Francisco so let's get on with it!
WARNING: THERE ARE A TON OF PICTURES!
The Two Days Leading Up To Race Day
My brother and I flew up Friday afternoon, and with the flight only about 50 minutes we had ample time to check in to our hotel, cruise down to the Expo, and still have some time to play. We checked into Le Meridien which was very nice and incredibly convenient being down the street from the starting line of the race. We checked in and to our amazement we were on the 13th floor! First of all, we're there to run 13 miles so I thought that was pretty awesome! Secondly, when did hotels start including the 13th floor? Usually buildings skip "13" and go straight to 14. Oh well, I'm not superstitious so I thought it was pretty awesome! Here is the view of the Bay Bridge from our room:
We got settled in and decided to cruise down to the Expo hoping that since it was Friday it wouldn't be as crowded. The line to get our bibs were non-existent, but I did have to wait in the wave change line. With my stupid injury, I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal of 2:30, and with the race time limit being 3 hours from the last wave, I wanted to move up to wave 3 to give myself extra 50 minutes of cushion. I knew I would finish in that time, but just in case. After waiting a good 15 minutes, I got my little green sticker dot (note that this sticker cost me $10 bucks and I probably could have gone to the nearest staples and written "3" on it myself...but I digress) then my brother and I cruised down to the vendors see what goodies we could find. We tried some samples of granola (the Bear Naked with yogurt was tasty), and there were a ton of drinks to try including a carrot juice that I LOVED. My bro needed to get an iFitness belt so we stopped there, and I ended up getting a new one that was water resistant. With my new iPhone I didn't want to take any chances of condensation/sweat/etc. Then we stopped at the Runner's World tent where I met running legend and Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine (one of my FAV magazines), Bart Yasso. We took this gem of a picture:
He was so down to earth and friendly. We chatted for a bit about his new book and the SF course before he was bombarded with a group of like 15 people and I continued on my merry way. My bro and I stopped to look at the blown up course map and a nice couple offered to take our pic:
After the expo we met up with my boyfriend who just arrived, had a drink in the hotel bar, then headed out to Harris' Steakhouse for a delicious dinner. Needless to say, we all had steak. After dinner we went out for a nightcap before going to bed.
Saturday after brunch, the three of us cruised down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 since my bro and I had never been there. It was awesome! It was a great boardwalk complete with shops, corndogs, churros, Sea Lions, a carosel, and a giant noodle!!
In the last picture you can see Alcatraz off in the distance. Tours were sold out for the entire weekend :(
After cruisin around the Wharf for a while, we took a cab to the Metreon IMAX theatre to see Inception, which was (in my humble opinion) one of the best movies of the year thus far! In the words of Lisa, "Sorry Keanu, but I'm pretty sure Leo and Joseph G-L just schooled you in the realm of metaphysical mindbender movies.."
Speaking of Lisa, after the movie we met up with her and David. It was just about dinner time, so we drove to La Traviata for a pre-race pasta dinner.
After a deliciously filling dinner and great conversation, we decided to call it a night. Afterall, we had to be up the next morning at 3:30am!!! David and Lisa dropped my boyfriend, brother and I off at our hotel, we laid out our race attire and gear, and hit the hay by 8:30-9.
Sunday morning I woke up at 3:30am which was insanely early but completely necessary. My bro had a wave start at 5:32am, and Lisa and I were to start at 5:42. After getting ready and wrapping my IT Band, we walked outside to meet David and Lisa. They parked their car and we took my boyfriend's since it was a little more spacious, and David and Sean dropped me, Lisa, and Sam (the runners) off at the starting line.
It was FREEZING! But we were ready to run! Notice the 5 hour energy in my hand below (do I really need it? hahah):
We stopped at the fabulous porto potties and Sam's wave was about to start so he bolted to the corral. Lisa and I were going to find wave 3 until we realized it was wave 4 lining up! Shoot! We missed our wave! No worries though, we lined up with wave 4 and began the 3 minute countdown.
Finally we were off! I took it nice and easy being careful not to strain my knee too much. The first 4 miles flew by...we ran along Embarcadero and past Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, and by Ghirardelli Square where I stopped to take a picture and a nice lady runner offered to take one with me in it:
Then I got a text from Sean saying he and David were just before mile 4, so I picked up my pace a little bit. At this point I was feeling great, and seeing them gave me an extra burst of energy.
I stopped to say hi, give my boyfriend a kiss, and take a couple photos with them.
Me and my wonderful boyfriend:
Me and David, one of my oldest and dearest friends:
Then I continued on and still felt great. Just before the bridge my knee started to ache, but it was a dull ache and I was about to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, so I ignored it. "I'M ABOUT TO RUN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!" I was so pumped! That was one of the big incentives to sign up for the race, and of course CA Dreamin. Just before stepping on the bridge, I hear someone yell out "MAGGIEEEE!!!" and I notice it's my brother FLYING in the other direction having just crossed the bridge and back. He was flying he was running so fast! I shouted back at him and flailed my arms like a lunatic. I was so proud of him! It was his first half marathon and he was kicking ass!
After seeing my baby bro and feeling a rush of excitement and motivation, I made it the bridge, and with my handy dandy new iPhone with a front camera, I was able to make sure that both my face and the Bridge were in the picture and I took this little gem:
The bridge was cold and foggy, but it WAS SO COOL! I didn't even feel like I was running, it was more like floating along thinking "Wow, I'm actually running across the Golden Gate Bridge." Here's a pic I grabbed from the race website:
It wasn't until I was running back across the bridge (it was an out and back over the bridge) that my knee really started giving me trouble. I walked several times while massaging it and stretching it out. Along the course there were signs posted of fun facts and quotes. Around mile 9 I saw the perfect quote for me:
I was going to finish no matter what and if I had to walk, I'd walk, but I would keep going. And that's what I did. After seeing this I looked at my Garmin and realized I could probably finish in 2:45 so I started running. Well there was a massive downhill around mile 10, and despite my Dr. and physical therapist telling me to NOT run downhills as that puts a ton of pressure on my ITB and patella, I ran downhill. What happened after that? Well, let's just say by mile 10.5ish I felt like my knee had exploded inside my skin and was radiating sharp heated knives. I was dying. I took this picture:
But this is more like how I felt (courtesy of App of the Dead):
I ended up walking the next two miles (which were rolling hills) with some intermittent jogs, but the pain would only come back to stab me. Finally around mile 12.5 I thought "You will finish running and you will finish strong. You're almost there! You trained so hard for this, you can do it!" So I started running and when I saw the finish line I started sprinting. I was in so much pain I wasn't sure if I'd even make it to the finish or if I would just pass out. But, I made it! Sean and David had a perfect picture spot and took this one of me crossing the finish line...enough said:
My Garmin said I completed 13.14 miles in 2:59, which I was pretty happy about considering I stopped to take pictures along the course, spent a good 1-2 minutes at mile 4 with Sean and David, and then ended up hobbling along because of my injury. According to the chip time, I ran 13.3 miles in 3:01. Either way, I don't care how short or long it took me to finish, all that mattered to me was finishing with my little injury, and that's what I did :)
About 30 seconds after I crossed the finish line, I got to Sean and the crew (Sam and Lisa had already finished) and I started to cry. Not like big sobbing rolling on the floor tears, but more misty "holy hell this hurts kill me now, but hooray I finished" tears. I drank some water and stretched, and the pain started to dissipate. I grabbed my medal and my cape, and hugged everyone. Seeing my brother and Lisa wearing their medals and smiling with pride and accomplishment made me so unbelievably happy and proud! They did it! They dominated their first half marathon! Here we are, all smiles :)
Me and my baby bro:
After getting our free Irish coffees, scones bananas, and fluids, we decided to cruise back to the starting line to check out the free goodies and claim our free beers at the beer garden! I am SO thankful my boyfriend had his car because the shuttle line to go back to the start had to have been a 3 hour wait. After a goofy car ride, we made it to the start and claimed our glorious brewskies!
At this point we were STARVING, so we headed to Buena Vista for brunch which happens to be the originator of Irish coffee! It's first come first serve at Buena Vista, so we had a seat at the bar and ordered an Irish coffee while we waited for a table to open up. David self-photo-taking abilities and took this gem of us lined up:
Once we got our table, I looked at the menu, saw eggs benedict and bacon, and I was sold. I was a hungry monster...can you tell? :-P Haha
Here are some less beast-like shots:
With my love:
With my baby bro:
Irish coffee mustaches!After a completely satisfying brunch, Sam Sean and I went back to the hotel to shower before our flight. Our flight wasn't for a few hours, so we stopped at the pub across the street for some beers (hey, we were thirsty ;) ). David and Lisa stopped to meet us before they began their long drive back to SoCal. First thing I did when I got home was hang this little beauty on my wall :)
All in all, I had such an incredible weekend exploring the City By The Bay and running the absolutely fun and scenic course that is the SF 1st Half Marathon. I'm already thinking about running it again next year!! Hopefully without any ITB/knee issues :)