February 1, 2015

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon

February 1 in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. I had never spent much time in Golden Gate Park before so I registered for that reason alone. I had no intentions of training for a personal best at this event but thought it would be a nice scenic course to make an easy run out of it.

Getting here was my biggest worry. There no easy public transportation options to get to the park. Jen and the kids were hanging back to get ready for Superbowl festivities. Driving to the city for an 8am start time that would have limited parking options was a major concern. My first plan was to park on the finish line side then walk/jog the 3 miles to the starting line area. I opted to just get to the one parking garage when they opened at 6am, take a nap and just hang back until the start time neared. There was plenty of parking at that hour and I was probably safe for another hour thereafter. Tough to say for sure though.

My intentions were to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt but at the last minute, I changed into my long sleeve that I’ve been training. My thinking was that my body wouldn’t feel right in the short sleeve, that early, that cold. I don’t know why I reverted… I need to remind myself to suck it up and stick to my short sleeves. I always regret it around mile 9. Lesson learned.

The race was packed with runners. Being Super Bowl morning didn’t deter anyone. Between the half and 5k races, there was almost 10,000 runners! I’m not a fan of big races like this simply because the first few miles you’re bobbing and weaving runners at all different paces and positions. It’s distracting and throws me off my game a bit.

The course was stunning showing of the best of San Francisco

It started running through the city a bit where you got a great sense of the community in San Francisco. Lots of people out with their coffee just watching and cheering on runners. Then it went back through the park. I couldn’t believe the sights. Beautiful park structures, museums, massive windmills, waterfalls and simply massive redwoods. At one point we ran by what I thought were the biggest cows I’ve ever seen then realized they were buffalo! There were actual buffalo! Once you reach the west end of the park, we ran down Pacific Coast Highway, right along the beach. It was simply stunning.

This was the part I struggled with though. I hate seeing out-and-backparts. It’s demoralizing seeing the other runners coming against the pack knowing you have miles before you even get to the turnaround point. This was also the point where there were the most cheering squads giving runners just what they needed to keep one foot in front of the other.

Once you reached the park again, you turned in for the final stretch toward the finish line. They were quick to hand out medals, water bottles then corralled runners through the street to pick up their finishers shirt. You continued down the street to collect all the free swag, snack and other goodies. There was a LOT too.

I wish Jen and the kids actually came out because the finish was right on the edge of the park were there was so much to see. Crossing the street and you were right there on the beach. The kids would have had a blast.

They ran buses that took finishers back to various parts of SF which I was grateful for. My legs were spent and the idea of walking/running back 3 more miles to my car didn’t sound enjoyable. Just before I entered the parking garage, I got talking to a runner who did just that though. Man, there’s some hard-core runners out there!

I’ve run San Francisco before though it’s always been on the other side of peninsula. This was refreshing change of scenery and arguably even better. The race had everything you want: a gorgeous course, plenty of aid stations and bathrooms, great swag, shirts, medals, plenty of great sponsors and vendors and massages. The only thing missing was beer but there was brewery just up the road so there ya go!

I will most definitely run this event again next year and be sure to hang out afterward to enjoy the area.

  • Official Time: 01:41:35
  • Average Pace: 07:46/min/mi
  • Overall: 816 of 4,788
  • Gender: 638 of 2,465
  • Age Group (30-34) 106 of 378

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