San Francisco Marathon 2019

San Francisco Marathon #5 – Marathon #64

We train in the hills of Norfolk, CT.  It is always so peaceful there. You can run 20 miles there without seeing one car. As beautiful as it is, there is no escaping the elevation gain anywhere you run. All our long training runs there have major hills that we’d refer to as “bitch slaps”.  When we would be close to finishing, we’d laugh and count down how many “bitch-slaps” we had left. I am so thankful for those tough training runs that prepared us for the hills of San Francisco!

This year was special to me because I was selected to be an ambassador for TSFM. I was responsible for promoting their race through social media and to get people to sign up. I had the opportunity to work with Elysha Omoomy, the Social Media Marketing Manager for the race.  She was also responsible for organizing all the ambassadors.  Being on the East Coast was tough as I experience extreme “FOMO” (Fear of Missing out) watching all the CA fun runs and group events on Facebook.  I have to say, even though I was so far away, Elysha transformed this group of ambassadors into a close family. She even included Kim in the group photo!  It was an awesome experience!  I am still trying to persuade her and all my West Coast firends to come run Hartford!

We knew when we left for CA that we would have a busy weekend.  We had signed up to volunteer at the expo Friday, run the inaugural 5K shake out run Saturday, and then the marathon Sunday morning,

The Expo:

This year we volunteered at the booth that was applying the iron-on flags, states and sayings on the race t-shirts.  It seemed pretty easy until we realized 2 minutes before the doors opened that the apple pay card readers weren’t working.  “Cash only” was the only way we’d be able to work.  The lines started, with all kinds of questions and special requests, and then the “loyal runner” incident happened.  We had instructions to charge $5 per selection and there was no mention from the volunteer coordinator that the loyal runners received a free flag on their race shirt.  We had a lot of angry people when we explained they had to pay and there were no free flags!  Then, the race staff came by and told us that they were free. The people that were in charge of this booth weren’t even aware of it.  We got there at 11 and then worked steady from 12-3 until our shift ended.  I was getting hungry and tired as this was not an easy volunteer task.  Three o'clock came and went and our relief never showed up.  I messaged the woman in charge and she finally came back.  I was pretty happy to leave that booth.  We did however, make friends for life with the dudes that were pressing the t-shirt transfers at our booth.  They were pretty funny.  All I can say is don't forget to thank your volunteers!

On a fun note, we were able to see our friends; Les Wright, the race director of the Maui marathon, Thompson Lange from the Big Sur marathon, Katie from UCAN and MaryAnn from West Hartford.  I swear, we run into her at out more of state races more than in CT!  We also made a ton more friends.  I signed up for every raffle and I’m still hoping I won something!  We even got our legs worked on with the Normatec leg compressions and ended up purchasing a set! 

The Race:

My friend Carolyn from Minnesota signed up for the race too. She kept saying “you talked me into this race” and I was somewhat nervous that she’d hate me forever if she had a bad race!  This year San Francisco has been having a spell of warmer (Hot) weather. A few years back we had a warm SFM and it made for a really tough race. We met Carolyn in the lobby and walked to the start.  I had to go to my last year’s blog for the logistics of when we woke up and when we left to walk there.  I recall last year having just enough time to drop our bags and then it felt like we started running with no waiting. So, we fined tuned our timing this year and left 15 minutes earlier to make sure we weren’t rushing. We woke up at 3 am, ate breakfast, went to the bathroom, and then went to the bathroom and then went to the bathroom and then, finally headed out at 4:45 am. And then went again at the start.

The race starts at 5:30 am in the dark. I had a 2008 Hartford Marathon cotton long sleeve shirt that was an old school cotton shirt!  In past SFM races I’ve worn gloves and hand warmers.  I knew that from the start it was going to be warmer this year.  Kim and I packed extra nutrition and salt. We were ready!  We found the 3:40 pacer and asked him his strategy.  His pace band was based on the hills allowing for the slower and faster splits. A pretty cool concept for a hilly course.  

The horn went off and we started running. Within the first 50 feet suddenly everyone stopped and then we started again.  Kind of cracks me up when this happens.  We passed the first timing mat and I turned on my watch. Funny that early on you just don’t know what the race will be like.  There were people yelling “you look great”, all I could think was “I should look great, I’ve only took 5 steps”!

Kim started to take off his throw away shirt about mile 1 and all of our nutrition fell out of his race ready shorts!  I pulled off to the side while he ran back to recover our nutrition.  I wasn’t sure if this was a sign that it’s not going to be a good run!  We have walked to Fisherman’s Wharf many times and it’s a long walk, but when we were running, I said “Kim, it’s amazing how fast it takes to we get here when we are running” and he replied, “yeah and we are all running in the same direction”.  We headed up over the first “bitch-slap” hill by the expo towards Chrissy Field.  Last year at this point we had run into our friend we met in CA, Joyce Lee.  She was pacing this year, so we were hoping we wouldn’t see her since she was pacing 4:20!  I looked up ahead at the Golden Gate Bridge and noticed there was no fog this year.  I turned to look at the San Francisco bay and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises.  I wish I had my phone to have captured it.  Next, we headed toward the “out and back” section on the lower south end of the bridge. This was where we saw MaryAnn from West Hartford running on the side of the course heading towards the bridge! We yelled “MaryAnn!” and she yelled back “Jeanne and Kim, I was looking for you two”!  Boy did that put a smile on my face.  I knew on the way back we’d get to see her again.  We started the climb up to the Golden Gate bridge on a loose gravel trail that seemed to go up forever.  I kept looking for MaryAnn, and then finally, there she was!  She yelled “The honeymooners”, we high fived her and continued our climb.  Finally, we turned the corner and headed to the walking path onto the bridge.  I could hear one of the volunteers yelling “next stop, Golden Gate Bridge”.  Having no fog this year made for spectacular views.  I was hoping to see a whale like we did last year.  I knew what was ahead as soon as we got to Vista point from last year’s race. Vista point is the turnaround point at the north end of the bridge.  To get to the other side of the bridge, the course goes down a steep rocky narrow path that has some cones where there were huge ruts.  I feel fortunate that I didn’t face plant or twist an ankle.  As steep as the path is on the way down, it seemed much steeper on the climb out. Kim is a much stronger hill climber and he started to pull away.  I put my head down and just pushed until I turned and got back on the bridge to head back over.  I picked up my speed and felt like someone was pushing me.  We had a nice tail wind.  Before we knew it were off the bridge heading to mile 11.  It’s amazing how fast those miles flew by.  Our next climb up was heading up the California Coastal trail where the views of the coastline were just spectacular.  Kim mentioned, "that area way down there as far as we could see is where the historic Sutro baths were located 100 years ago".

The next section has some serious down hills and all I could think to myself was, “boy we are going to pay for these downhills” and I was right. Again, I was thinking about Carolyn, hoping she wasn’t cursing me as she ran up these hills.  We were in the section where there are a series of rolling up hills.  Just when you regroup after the climb, you look and there’s another hill.  Finally, we turned a corner and headed to the Golden Gate park.  There was a woman yelling “You conquered those hills, you’ll conquer these next hills now”.  Ugh, I forgot how hilly the park was!  I like to take the race into sections; Golden Gate bridge, hills through the Lincoln Blvd, Golden Gate park, the downhills at mile 22 and then the AT&T ball park which is so close to the finish.

I had been pretty nervous about this race as the last 3 marathons I ran I had gotten very nauseous and even sick to my stomach at the finish.  I tried fueling differently at Big Sur after listening to the speakers talk about how much we should fuel.  Today we had our first Honey Stinger at mile 11. Oops. The miles had flown by so fast, we were 4 miles past our first intended nutrition break.   Then at mile 12 they were handing out GU chews/chomps.  I have never taken them before, but I did look up the nutrition and calories at one of our trainings.  1 serving is 4 chomps and has 80 calories.  The next water stop I took a chomp and gave one to Kim.  I’ve always been afraid that I’d choke on them. I was pleasantly surprised that I able to chew it and down a water easily.  At each water stop we would take a GU chew/chomp. The water stops were 1-2 miles apart, so we averaged 4 chomps an hour from this point on.  They also had UCAN hydration on the course which I’ve never taken during a race.  I noticed Kim was drinking it, so I started drinking it at each water stop.  I never got nauseous.  I never felt tired and the miles were starting to fly by.  I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch at this point. I really think this makes for a good marathon as I was running in my comfort zone.

I knew that I had a few more sections to get past!  We finally got out of the Golden gate park and merged with the half marathoners.  This is frustrating as they tend to just stop and walk unexpectedly and as a result, we almost plow into them.  There was a young girl with head phones approaching and Kim yelled, “on your left” and most of the people would move over.  Not this girl, she just kept walking and Kim came right up behind her and yelled pretty loud “on your left” and finally she heard him and moved.  Keep in mind this is a very narrow path until we get out of the park.  Finally, the Golden Gate park was behind us!

Next, we had a series of down hills and I started smiling.  I felt awesome.  I knew that I was going to finish at a decent time if I kept up my fueling.  We finally got to the AT&T park and ran around the building.  Kim kept checking on me, “Jeanne, how are you doing” and I’d say, “I’m good”, and then he’d say, “just stay on auto-pilot”, and “we got this”!  My watch chimed 26 miles and I swear that .2 felt like another mile.  “Where is the finish line”!  Kim looked ahead and said, “that’s not the finish”.  It was a really cool BioFreeze cheer section where they had drummers that were AWESOME!  I could hear the finish line announcer and looked ahead.  I saw it!  The finish! Kim grabbed my hand as I ran through smiling!  Marathon #64 done!  I finally got my groove back. Finishing feeling strong  

After we finished we took some photos, watched the award ceremony.  Michael Wardian won the Ultra.  This guy is amazing – he ran the marathon 2 times starting at 11 pm and ran it again at 5:30 am.  He did the first marathon 3:02 and the second 3:08.  WOW. 

We had a beer and headed back to the hotel.  Later I looked up the results and found out that I placed 2nd in my age group.  I looked again, I was 2nd out of 64 women.  This was at my 64th marathon and I was born in 64. When I place, I feel bad because I am running side by side with Kim.  He's a much stronger and faster runner than I am.  When I checked the results, I said to Kim "If we didn't run together you'd place in your division too".  His response is "But then it would be no fun running without you". I just love him!

San Francisco marathon #5 done!  I’m not sure if we’ll be back again as it keeps getting more expensive to travel to this area.  I’ve run it 5 consecutive years which is enough unless of course, I did win one of those raffles that were giving away a comp entry!

Jeanne - Marathon #64

Kim - Marathon #78

Jeanne & Kim = 142 together ❤

Finished!
Finished!
2019 San Francisco Ambassadors
2019 San Francisco Ambassadors
Expo fun
Expo fun
The start
The start

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