Monday, July 30, 2012

I conquered those hills of the San Francisco Marathon in under four hours...

Yesterday I completed my first ever San Francisco Marathon (my third in total), conquering all the hills in under four hours and today my blisters have burst and my joints ache, but I feel a wonderful sense of achievement

Claiming my SF Marathon medal and the LA/SF Marathon Challenge medal
After San Francisco Marathon
Up at 4am to eat some food for the race, my wave started at 5:52am, so it's quite an early starting marathon. My strapped knee held up and as we climbed the first hill on the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge I wondered how many more were to come. The answer was, lots.

Before the San Francisco Marathon
Before San Francisco Marathon
It was perfect running conditions yesterday. It was overcast and lightly misting (without any strong winds), helping to keep the runners cool but not chilled. Running over the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty spectacular, especially with the pylons wreathed in fog. 

I was expecting there to be a bit of a 'bounce' to the bridge, but it was just like running on standard asphalt. Lots of people stopped to pose for pictures, but I kept running and even skipped my run/walk breaks as the flow of human traffic was going at such a pace.

The Ferry Building near the Start Line
Ferry Building San Francisco
The first five miles my breakfast kept threatening to make a reappearance (you really do have to eat so early to let it digest) and by the end of the 26.2 miles I was sick to my stomach of running blocks and gels.
San Francisco Marathon start
In addition to the marathon there were also two half marathons being run, with one wave starting with us by the Ferry Building and the second half commencing in Golden Gate Park. After my first 13.1 miles, it was a bit disconcerting to see all those fresh faced half marathoners racing past, but at least they were easy to spot and actually it gave my competitive streak a little boost as they flew by.

At the half way mark I also knew that completing the marathon in under four hours was a real possibility, even with all the hills.
San Francisco Marathon banner
Going up all the hills in the first half were hard enough and then we hit Haight Street around mile 19 and we got to run down some really steep inclines on legs which felt a bit like jelly.

At mile 20 I thought, "just another 6.2 miles", but it's amazing how long and challenging those last few miles feel.

In my mind I knew once I saw the Bay Bridge the end was nigh, but even passing under it, that last stretch took everything I had. With ten minutes left to make a sub-four time I really did push my hardest on legs which felt they were wading through cement.

The last dash to the Finish Line
San Francisco Marathon runners
Head down I crossed the Finish Line in 3:57:09 and I was so pleased (and relieved).

I claimed my two medals, one for the San Francisco Marathon and the other the LA/SF Marathon Challenge for completing the two consecutive Californian marathons this year.

Charlie was there to meet me at the end and wrapped in a foil sheet we headed back to the hotel for a nice ice-bath. Before we got there though, I was hit with a real wave of emotion, which I'd not experienced during the course for a change. I think mainly due to the lack of supporters along the course, which is normally very moving to see all the hand-made signs and hear all the words of encouragement.

Today we have another day in the City by the Bay to recover and enjoy the sights and great food. All the more satisfying is knowing that the San Francisco Marathon has been ticked of my bucket list and I won't be rushing back to run it again anytime soon...

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