What a gorgeous day for a race. When I got there at 6:30 it was still chilly and foggy, but the fog burned off and it warmed up just enough to be a perfect running day. The race started at 8, but I pulled into the parking lot at 6:30, still needing to pick up my bib and not wanting to be stressed out by getting lost or not being able to park. The parking was nearly a mile away from the race, so I was glad to have plenty of time to park, collect my stuff, and head back to my car to get ready.
We had many spectacular views of the Golden Gate during the race, but this early morning foggy picture is the only one I snapped. There was no time for pictures out on the race course! Other gorgeous sights from the pre-race morning include the Palace of Fine Arts (from the back) one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco:
And Alcatraz. It always seems so close to SF to me, I find it hard to believe prisoners couldn’t make that swim.
I collected my bib and goodie bag with no problems, and no lines. We got a great “Mermaid Athlete” bag and a really cute t-shirt. It isn’t a tech shirt, but it’s soft cotton and nice and long. Definitely something I’ll wear. I headed back to my car, at which point I discovered that my ipod was totally failing. I have an older model of the ipod shuffle, where Apple stupidly put all the controls on the headphones. The actual ipod is just a 2” piece of metal with an on/off switch. My headphone controls wouldn’t let me change the music at all, and I couldn’t run the race listening to my “chill out playlist” which is what came on first. I tried to take it as a sign that the race was going to be so awesome that I wouldn’t want to be distracted by music. Luckily my technological difficulties didn’t extend to my Garmin which I got turned on and synced up with no problem.
I pulled on my arm warmers, (I wore shorter capris, a short sleeved shirt and arm warmers and was perfectly comfortable for the whole race) ate a half packet of cherry sports beans, and headed back to the start line. When I had pulled in first thing that morning, I thought I’d gotten prime parking because I was parked right by a bunch of white tents. As I walked closer, I saw this:
And, since it was 6:30 and I’d been up since 4:45, I thought “wow, how forward thinking of Men’s Health to sponsor an all women’s race…” Yup. I’d had my coffee and everything. I had to walk through the Men’s Health Urbanathlon (what on earth is an Urbanathlon anyways?) to get to the Mermaid expo. Luckily the Men’s Health setup had a ton of new porta-potties set up without a line. This was super convenient until about 7:30 when the guys on site saw all the women and locked out the porta-potties with cable ties (not cool, guys!).
I made my way to the starting area, and had to smile at everyone and their costumes. There were lots of sparkles, lots of tutus, and even two women dressed as Waldo. This Mermaid series also had a mini mermaid race of 1.5 miles for the younger girls, so there were a bunch of kids there too, plus some young ones also running the 5k. It was a great mix with great energy. I met up with Alisyn and some of her friends at the start line. The one warning I’d been given about this race was that it was very walker friendly and the start could be a bit of a mess if you started too far back. Alisyn and I hung out right on the start line with some super enthusiastic girls and their moms. Next thing I knew, we were counting down, and then we were off!
The first mile I felt great. Isn’t that always the case? It was much quieter than I was used too. There were maybe 20 people in front of me, and we were all pretty strung out. I’m used to being smack in the middle of the pack at races, and I felt a little out of sorts without anyone immediately around me. The views of the Golden Gate were spectacular, and I came past the 1 mile sign just as my Garmin beeped 7:47. I was pretty pleased with the mile split. My race plan had been to go out fast and just try to hang on, and I’d at least succeeded with the first part of the plan! The second part would prove to be more difficult. At mile two I started to really miss my music. We were still pretty spread out in the front of the race and we turned on to a dirt path that my legs didn’t love. I just couldn’t seem to turn my legs over at faster than an 8:30 pace, no matter how much I tried. I sang in my head, I thought 24, I thought about having to write that I didn’t get a PR on this gorgeous (and totally flat!) course, but I couldn’t turn my legs over any faster. Beeped at the mile 2 sign in 8:32.
For mile 3, I just hung on. I had no one close enough to me to really “race” and while I tried to catch the next girl in front of me, she had a pretty decent gap on me for a 5k. I dodged some puddles and some morning dog walkers, and my legs were just determined to stay at a more comfortable pace, no matter how uncomfortable I was with it. Mile 3 in 8:49. The last 0.2 towards the finish was a giant horse shoe, and unfortunately the horse shoe was on some seriously muddy grass. Lots of soggy steps, and absolutely no traction or energy transfer. The mud ate everything up! This was a bummer for me because I usually have a pretty strong finishing kick, but I couldn’t use that to my advantage today. I was tempted to do a mud slip’n’slide across the finish line, but I resisted. Last 0.11 in 0:41.
I crossed the finish line in 25:46, and my Garmin had the course at 3.11, which is as perfectly as I’ve ever run any course (my first marathon experience was actually a 26.7 mile ordeal). I crossed the finish line disappointed. I hadn’t had any real problems, but I was still 0:47 shy of my goal. I tried to find some perspective; I’d taken 51 seconds off my time since the Walnut Festival 5k! But I was still bummed out. I took advantage of finishing so early in the crowd by hitting the massage tent.
I’d never done ART before, so it was an interesting experience. She worked on my left IT band and hip a little bit, which felt good (same side as my wonky knee). Still, nothing can compare to the 20 minute finish line massage after the See Jane Run Half Marathon. After the ART, I went over to check out the official time results which they’d just posted. That’s when I got a shocking surprise that made the day a whole lot better. I’d finished 3rd in my age group!
Suddenly I was excited again. I’d never placed before! Getting third out of 61 people in my age group seemed pretty cool to me.
I went home and immediately registered for the December 10th 5k out in Walnut Creek. (Walnut Creek Half Marathon, 10k and 5k). In the meantime, I’ll be hitting those mile repeats, 800s and 400s hard over the next month!