San Francisco Marathon 2018 (marathon #55)

San Francisco Marathon 2018 #55

This was my 4th consecutive year running TSFM and I swear each time I run, it I don’t remember how hilly this race is. 

Below are the weekend events that I attended leading to the marathon

Friday

Shake out run with the winner of 2017 SFM Jorge MaravillaThe shakeout run was sponsored by Jaybird.  It was a pretty chilly morning; 60 degrees and overcast.  I wore shorts, tank top and my SFM zip up jacket. 

We arrived and signed in and got a nice Jaybird hat.  We had announcements and Jorge spoke to the group and explained logistics.  We got a nice group photo and we off!  Running part of the route of the marathon to Chrissy Field and then headed back.  To our surprise out of nowhere appeared Michael Wardian.  I met him at the shakeout run in Big Sur.  “Hey Mike” we yelled.  He remembered us and we all started chatting.  We asked Michael what he was shooting for to complete the marathon.  He said “My goal is to beat Jorge Maravilla” but he wasn’t sure what he would do as he just ran the Hard Rock 100 miler the weekend before.  We all started cracking up.  I was able to chat with Jorge too.  Pretty cool dude.  I love it when elite runners are easy to strike up a conversation and exchange common running stories. 

Expo:  We headed into the Expo and got our bibs and shirts.  I love the vendors at this marathon:  NUUN, UCAN, Luna bars, Barefoot Wine, Wholly Guacamole to name a few.  I filled my bag with goodies and we headed out to walk to Ghirardelli’s chocolates and Fisherman’s Wharf.

 Saturday:

Shake out run with The Ultra Marathon Man Dean Karnazes. 

This shake out run had triple the amount of people than the Friday shake out run.  It was pretty organized and led by the ambassadors of TSFM.  The course went back towards Fisherman’s Wharf and then back to Fort Mason.  We only hung around for a bit because we were volunteering at the Expo. 

We were greeters and held the “Ask Me a Question” sign.  We got a list of common questions for answers.  We answered most questions and of course there’s always a comedian. “What is the meaning of life?” or my favorite “If 1=Love and 2=money what does 3+4 =?”  I sort of wanted to punch that dude.

It was freezing in the expo.  I ended up purchasing capris ($50), hand warmers and throw away gloves ($5), and NUUN (free bottle if you buy 3 tubes), $15.00. 

Volunteering is expensive.  We met another runner/volunteer who was also holding the “Ask me a Question” sign.  Dexter Emoto from Los Angeles.  He was so funny how he answered people’s questions.  Every time someone asked him a questions, he would reply “I’ll tell you for $5.00”.  He had everyone smiling. He has run 160 marathons and also donated over 100 gallons of blood!  Super nice guy to talk to.  When it was time to leave we got our photo with him and of course made sure we connected on Facebook.

Saturday night we laid low.  Ate our pre-race meal:  Margarita pizza, salad and bread.  I had a beer for extra carbs

Sunday

Race Day – Up at 3:30 am.  Coffee, breakfast, shower, bathroom, bathroom, bathroom, etc.  We grabbed our bag check and left the room at 5:00 am.  We walked to the race start and met a runner who wanted to walk with us. Her name was Carol Gerber from IL.  Whenever I run a marathon I meet someone named Karen, I take this as a sign from sister that passed away when I was a teenager. This time it was Carol, a sign from Kim’s mom that passed a couple of years ago.  It was a nice way to start the race. Kim gave her a hug as parted and we headed to the gate. There was not a long wait for the start.  They had announcements, the Star Bangle Banner and we were off! We started running in the dark with the 3:45 pacer to keep us in check.  Luckily we knew the streets had trolley tracks and we were very conscious of these to avoid falling.  The first couple of miles flew by and suddenly we were with the 3:40 pacer. We both felt fantastic and eventually passed the pacer.  (It was early) Kim looked up and said “Hey is that Joyce Lee”?  We met Joyce last year at TSFM.  We became Facebook friends. Kim and I follow this amazing athlete and are “wowed” by her accomplishments.  Kim ran up next to her going up the first hill (that we referred to as Bitch slap #1) and said “Hey Joyce!  How are you doing?  She looked a bit puzzled and said “Hi”!  Then I caught up and I said “Hi”.  Then she remembered meeting us and we started chatting.  Those few miles went by in a blink.  She’s pretty cool to talk too.  She’s very articulate and descriptive of her past adventures.  She was recently crewing for Patsy one of the “Badwater 135” women.  Patsy finished fifth overall female.  Badwater = Badass; No matter how you cut it!  We lost Joyce as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge as she was in search of a bathroom.  She yelled “have a great race” and we parted ways.

This was the first year (in 40 years) that the runners weren’t allowed to run in the traffic lanes on the bridge.  We had to run on the sidewalk.  I was nervous visualizing this to be a bottleneck of runners.  Pleasantly, to my surprise it was not congested at all.  I think it’s because they didn’t let the ½ marathoners run over the bridge.  I loved the new course as I crossed the bridge to the other side.  Then, wait for it…….

We were sent down a gravel maintenance road that had serious ruts with orange cones to warn the runners to watch out.  It was a pretty steep downhill with a serious drops on the left side.  My fear is face planting since trail running and I don’t have a very good relationship.

I made it down that hill and then to get to the other side of the bridge was a serious uphill climb.  We went up, up and up again until we finally got back on the southbound Bridge sidewalk.  In previous years the bridge was difficult, this year it felt marvelous as we were finally off that uphill climb.  It was pretty cool running back around 2 suspension towers on the bride.  Visualize the wind blowing non-stop and then getting to the suspension tower.  As soon took the turn the wind would completely stop and then as you crested the turn the wind picked back up again and pushed you out like a toilet flushing.  Keep in mind the side walk was wet from the fog so it was slippery.

We exited the bridge and started up to the Presidio section. This was another series of up and up and up. When you get to the top the view is breathtaking.  The view looking out with the ocean on the right is spectacular. I remember saying out loud “this is just amazing”.  Then, this foreign dude ran by and saw the ½ marathon 7 mile marker.  The poor guy almost had a meltdown thinking maybe he took a wrong turn.  We reassured him this was not for the marathoners as were closer to mile 12.   

We had a nice long decent down the hill.  This is when I think “Wow, this is pretty easy” only to be smacked in the face by the hills that led to the climb to the Golden Gate Park.  This is where I thought to myself “holy crap, I don’t remember these hills”!  As soon as I thought I had crested the final hill we would turn a corner and yep, another hill!  From behind I heard someone yell “Jeanne – Kim!” It was our friend Ricky Lam, fellow SFM ambassador of 2017. We ran with him for a few miles but he was running strong and eventually ran passed us.  I was starting to feel the effects the hills at this point.  We merged with the second half 1/2 marathoners at around mile 16.  Unfortunately the pace group we merged with was the 3:00 group doing a walk/run.  Then after we passed that group we caught up with the 2:45 group.  Kim was running on the right of me.  It was like slow motion when I turned and saw a woman drop her cell phone. Kim was directly behind her.  She stopped to pick it up and Kim hit her hard and basically ran right over her.  I thought for sure he was down for the count since he was heading face down but somehow he pulled himself up to running again.  I looked back and she was on the ground – WTH?!  A spectator stopped and helped her.  He must had an Adrenaline rush because now I couldn’t keep up.  He was in front of me on a narrow path of runners.  Kim was yelling “On your left, ON YOUR LEFT, ON YOUR LEFT” and they would move over clearing a path.  Then I realized I had to keep up with him because I needed the path cleared for me too.  Ugh.  I started to gas but I kept going. 

We finally left the park which is another climb.  Visualize those streets in San Francisco. Straight up and then flat, then straight up and then flat.  This is where we met Mike.  He reminded me of the guy “Dude, from the movie “Dude, where’s my car”?  He had long hair and was a big guy.  I recognized him from the Expo.  I said “Hey weren’t you at the Expo?” and he said he didn’t recognize us.  Kim said “You were the dude wearing a Boston Marathon Qualifier sweatshirt” and he said “Yes, man, that was me”.  This guy was pretty fun to run with for a few more miles.  He kept yelling out silly things to people like “hey, I’ll give you $20.00 for your bike!” He cracked me up.  Keep in mind we were climbing up still.  Kim was ahead of me and yelled “Jeanne, are you okay”?  I had no energy left to yell back and whispered “yes”, Mike would yell to Kim, “she’s okay”, I’m her voice right now!  We finally got to mile 20 which is downhill.  You’d think this would be wonderful, but it’s actually pretty painful.  Kim said “Jeanne, we have the downhill and then we can go into auto pilot and finish, this is what we worked for.  I really didn’t have any idea my pace because I messed up my watch and hit the lap button early in the race. I didn’t know until I said “We only have 5 miles to go” and Kim corrected me and said “No, its 6”.  My watch was ahead one mile.  I must have screwed it up when I took off my throw away clothes. 

Finally we are in the last few miles where I really needed to put my head down and use my “tricks” of mental toughness.  I was counting steps, singing songs in my head and just plugging along to finish.  Kim yelled to me “Jeanne, stay on track, you’re running in your comfort zone and you’re about to finish your 2nd fastest marathon”! WHAT??? I had no idea!  I tried to relax my body and go into auto-pilot mode.  I had my eyes closed on and off to relax. 

 He kept yelling back to me “don’t fall off track”, “this is what we live for” and of course the biggest motivator “Jeanne, everyone is tracking us”!  I was good though and just kept plugging along.  Thinking of all my friends that I dedicated miles too. This is pure mental toughness.  This is where it all works! There is something very special about running with someone (or a pacer) or a motivator.  They become the person with the purpose and they pull you through or when they fail suddenly I am the motivator and I’m pulling him through. Together we are bulletproof. I love running with Kim.

The final part of the race is AT&T Ball Park.  This is the part I don’t like year after year.  This is because there are high curbs you have to jump up and jump down and then jump up again.  The sidewalk all the way around the AT&T Park has high and low spots.  It was difficult to run on because it catches you off guard with tired legs.

We are so close to the finish I can taste it.   

Just a few more turns, stay positive, don’t give up!

You got this…

Then you can hear it – the finish line announcers.

Jeanne Corey and Kim Marchand from Winsted, CT they said it!

Kim grabbed my hand and I picked up my pace.  We crossed the finish line smiling.  I hugged Kim and couldn’t believe my time.   It took years for me to break 4 hours.  Then I used to say “If only I could break 3:45 and I did it!  Then I was shooting for anything under 3:40 and I pulled off a 3:39.  I had my PR last year in Minnesota of 3:33.  I finished 3:35 in San Fran.  It was overwhelming.  I just couldn’t believe it.  Hard work, dedication, run in your comfort zone and don’t stare at your watch.  Run by how you feel.  If the weather is on your side and you’re trained, healthy and injury free anything can happen.  Never give up on your dreams. I’m living my dream right now. 

Post-race

There was no finish line food tent.  As you exit the finish line there is chocolate milk, kind bars, bananas and water.  They provided a capital one tote/shopping bag to carry your stuff. 

The post-race festivities were fun.  They had Lagunitas beer and new this year they had barefoot wine spritzers.  The Wholly Guacamole was back too.  When I went to get on the guy said “here – take the case we need to get rid of them”.  So, we did what we typically do at a race expo, we took 3 cases. 

We met a really nice guy, Kevin Chow at the beer garden and gave him a case.  In return he gave us beer tickets and of course we made sure to connect on Facebook.

I give the San Francisco marathon five stars.

Perfect running weather, beautiful challenging fast course, great expo, cool organized shake out runs, and very good options to provide runners when they had to change the course.  It’s not often a race will provide a full refund to runners due to the race logistics changing.  I would definitely run it again

Finished!  3:35:16
Finished! 3:35:16
Shake out run!
Shake out run!
1st time running even splits

1st time running even splits

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