#10 in the books … SF Marathon


On an average most runners will log in about 400-500 miles just to get to the starting line in preparation for a marathon. That’s a lot of miles when getting ready for a race that consist of 26.2 miles on a Sunday morning. Like many other runners at the SF Marathon, I logged in my miles and felt good, excited, and anxious leading into the marathon. The SF Marathon was my tenth marathon completed and every bit of anxiety, nervousness, excitement and joy going into was well worth it. I guess it is true it isn’t just the race that people enjoy it is the process of preparing for it that makes it that much more enjoyable. When I ran my very first marathon back in 2004, San Diego Rock ‘n Roll, my goal was to run just one and finish it. Well that journey to complete one marathon has gone beyond that it has been more than something I do, it has been something that has been part of my life. Through the course of the marathon running and training, I have made some very good friends not just with the group of friends who I run with through the week from the Buffalo Chips Running Club, but also runners from other racing teams and running clubs that I get to meet at races and other running related events. Along with the individual benefits of running from the health standpoint and the growth of my individual diets, I feel that running has built a better spiritual and caring side for me. Each race I have ran I always include “RUN 4 WILL” either on my bib or on my shoes, along with the initial “BM” and “DM” (my wife’s initials and son’s initial). Here is a link for the “RUN 4 WILL” meaning: http://chrismalenab.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-i-run.html.

screen shot of my alarm on race day

This year the SF Marathon had the same build up and excitement as in previous years. My 3rd SF Marathon, this time I really knew what to expect. The routine was set, the same hotel (Omni Hotel) and the same pre-marathon dinner (Cafe Vivoli). Most importantly my pre-marathon movie was the same, “Spirit of the Marathon”. No matter how many times I have seen this movie, I continue to enjoy it each night before any marathon. This year bib #30118 was ready to run this course, which started on the  Embarcaderolike years past. 3:55 am came about and my alarm went off. This year the alarm was titled “Get up! It’s ‘WORTH THE HURT’ … 26.2 miles” (see photo to the right). I started my morning off with the typical fluid intake, banana and other pre-marathon calories. Getting my gear on and my shoes tied, making sure my “D-TAG” was looped on, because we all know how much it would suck if we forgot the “D-TAG” for a marathon! For those that do not know what a “D-TAG” is, it is a timing device that is provided to each runner with their bib that is required when running over mats placed on the course to record official times including the start (chip time) and finish (chip time). Just going off of a gun time doesn’t work with races, for example at the SF Marathon the gun time was 5:30 am but I was in Wave 3 so my chip time did not record until 5:42 am, a difference of 12 minutes between the two.
So out the door, I went making my way the 1/2 mile from my hotel to the start. As I made my way to the start line, there were a group of 34 brave individuals that were finishing up their first 26.2 miles as they were running an ultra marathon, running the course twice for charity (https://worththehurt.net)!

the “START”

Finally that 5:42 am came around and Wave 3 was standing under the “START” sign … to kill time Bart Yasso wearing an awesomely decorated lobster shirt kept the runners entertained until we were counted down to the official start of the SF Marathon for Wave 3. Here we went crossing the starting mats to start the 26.2 mile adventure. The race course took us along the Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a tourist staple, being able to run on the streets while it is still dark out is always an amazing thing to me, and credit to spectators they were already out with their signs supporting their friends, family and other runners on the course. The first hills start kicking in as we make our way through (or should I say UP!) Fort Mason. But after clearing that first challenge of climbs, the beauty starts to show as the Golden Gate Bridge is nearing. One of the main attractions of the course is the running of the bridge not just once, but twice with the out and back over the bridge. After looping to come around the bridge, this is where I got a little bit of energy as my legs felt good, but having seen friends running in the opposite direction giving a little fist pump, wave, and words of encouragement for one another go a long way! Now after the bridge, I was focused on getting to the half marathon point feeling good and getting their with running smart in mind. The 13.1 mile mark is found in Golden Gate Park, I hit it at 1:49:23, I was feeling great but still about 2 minutes slower than I was expecting to get to the half way point, but the key here was I felt good and knew I was running a decent race, and those 2 minutes could be easily made up at in the final 10k.

at the finish

From the half marathon point to the mile 20 marker, we ran on and through the Haight Street area and the Mission. Mile 20 is where I was having a bit of trouble last year, and sure enough …. here it went again I got my first signs of cramping, so I started grabbing more liquids and put down more GU packs hoping that it would help me out in the final 10k. I got to the 20 mile mark at 2:51:51 … I was thinking to myself at this point, okay time to gut it out and hope that the fluids and GU will keep me from stopping. The cramps kicked in pretty badly, but I was still determined to run better than my previous years runs, which I was still on pace to do, even with the little set backs. AT&T park was insight, so I knew I was almost there. I just had to gut it out and finish under 3:56 which was my time last year. As I ran under the Bay Bridge, I knew I was almost home, the crowd would get me to finish strong. That it did, I crossed the finish line at a time of 3:53:26, just after crossing the finish line I saw Bethany (my wife), Donovan (my son), and Loren (my cousin). There it went in 3 hours 53 minutes 26 seconds my 10th marathon was in the books (5 California International Marathons, 3 SF Marathons, 2 San Diego Rock n Roll Marathons).

SF 2012 medal & 9 other marathon medals

I will say it time after time, even with the frustrations and high hopes of running a great race after putting in great training runs, and then feeling sore and tired for a couple of days, it is “WORTH THE HURT”. So today, most people would probably think take the day off right? Nope now it is time to get my eyes set for the next one the California International Marathon in December. Now I will be cross training this week and maybe throw a run in on Saturday with the Buffalo Chips, but for the most part it will be pretty low key with running. How excited am I to go after these SF Marathon hills again? Well excited enough that I signed up today for the 2013 SF Marathon! But next year the SF Marathon is being moved to June 16, rather than the last weekend in July due to the America’s Cup race. I hope to see some of you in the future at some of the races. Like always follow me on Twitter @chrismalenab. Good luck in your upcoming races and adventures in running.

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