There is always that race you get excited for. This last weekend was one of those races, The SF Marathon (#TSFM2014). This was my 5th running of this particular marathon and 5th consecutive. When I first ran this marathon in 2010, I fell in love with this marathon for many reasons, from the organization, to views of the city and the friends I have made through the marathon. It has allowed me to make this marathon as a reunion rather than just another race.
The race weekend for me started for me on Saturday with a later than causally late appearance. With work to start the day after my shakeout run around my neighborhood, I didn’t get into the marathon expo to pick-up my race swag until about 4:55PM … the expo closed at 5:00pm. Talk about cutting it close right? I mean I had to cut the hello’s short and get my stuff. After I grabbed my bib and shirt, I was able to say hello to Lark (TSFM) and Ciara (TSFM) who do a tremendous job with the marathon and whom I have been fortunate enough to get to know over the last year. I also excited to see Erin who waited around until I got there after working her ambassador shift from 12:00-4:00pm at the expo.
After grabbing my goodies from the expo, I headed back out to find my wife and son who have been along on this crazy running journey I have been on. We found our way to check into the Hyatt on Embarcadero. After putting our stuff into our room and getting our little guy into the BOB stroller, we headed off towards Union Square.
On the other end of our 1-mile walk we met up with fellow TSFM Ambassador Meg and her husband for dinner at Cheesecake Factory. While there Wes came by and said hello to us, since his hotel was down the street from where we were getting our grub on. With a nice view of Union Square with some basketball events going on the 8 stories below us, we enjoyed a little food and some beverages before calling it a night, getting ready for our early start on Saturday morning.
With my 3:45AM wake-up, I got my things gathered the night before, had my morning smoothie and threw down a cup of coffee while walking the 1/4 mile to the start line area. At the start line area I would be able to say hi, give high-fives and hugs to friends at the TSFM Ambassador tent. Here I was able to say hi to fellow ambassadors Erin, Meg, Wes, Albert and Alysin. We chatted it up, hung out and wished one another happy running.
As 5:32AM started to approach, it was time to get my “game face” on and start heading to the wave 2 corral area, which was just in front of the ambassador tent. At the start area, I made my way to the 3:10 pace sign being held up by Max. Max would be the one heading us through the course and completing the course within 3 hours 10 minutes. For me this is my BQ time along with other runners in the pack. Albert who was pacing the 1:35:00 half marathon group, made his way to the start as well. This allowed me to run with a familiar face and someone to chat with and keep me honest for my first half of the marathon.
Before the start of the race, my goal was to run negative. With this being my 5th TSFM, I know this race pretty well as far as what to expect and where and when I can kick the pace as bit. Running with Albert would keep me around the 1:35:00 mark at the half point where I could do a systems check and determine how I would approach the second half of the marathon. The only hold up would be my concern with the pace leader Max. As we started the race, I asked him what his PB was and I found out it was 3:01:xx. This concerned me because the time he was pacing was not too far off of his PB, also he had only run the course once which was a few years back.
With the race moving along, I opted to stay closer to Albert than with the 3:10 pacer. This was all just for personal preference of running and talking with someone I knew. Before mile 5, I already had to feel that I needed to make a pit stop. I made my stop and gradually caught back up with Albert over the last mile or so in front of us. One thing I have learned is to not “sprint” to catch up to the group, but it is easier to gradually catch-up rather than exerting too much energy to make up ground from a stop.
While on the Golden Gate Bridge, I was able to get back to the 1:35:00 pace for the half (breaks down to about 7:12/mi). This is the enjoyable part of the race for me. The out on the bridge allows me to see the lead runners including, badass runner and friend Charlie Johnston. On the back, I was able to see many familiar faces including Kevin, Rich, Rachelle, Erin, Meg, Fox, and Stone, just to name a few.
As I ran with Albert through the first half of the marathon, things seemed smooth, they all seemed to click, I was running comfortable up and down the hills that the first half had to offer me. Then suddenly after crossing the first half mat just over 1:35:00, my stomach started to not feel right. I was hoping that it would kind of work it’s way through. Within a mile of the first half marker I was quickly looking for bathroom.
Once I was back out and running, I was confident that I could get back into my rhythm and find my way to slowly pick up the pace and get back to where I needed to be for this race to hit my 3:07:00 goal that I had for myself. Within 2 miles I was already feeling some rumbling in my stomach and in need of another bathroom stop. This would be the most stops I would make in any of my races including my 2 ultras that I have completed.
After my 3rd stop, I was still hopeful that maybe I could find a way to get through this thing and maybe push the pace as little bit more and hammer it to the end because there would be no way that I could have to use the bathrooms once again. I got back to it pushing the tempo a bit, but not much longer around mile 18 I was already feeling my stomach again! At this point, I started to think, maybe I need to DNF at this point and just pull myself from the race and get taken back to the finish line area.
Just past the 18 mile marker I was able to find another set of port-a-potties to use. This would be my 4th break of the run. At this point, it was hard for me to get moving again to even try to push the tempo to a pace to get me back on track for a 3:07:00 finish.
Luckily, I am a bit hard headed and stubborn to not stop, so I opted to continue on in the race. I pushed some slow miles with some of the effects of whatever was bothering my stomach. While other miles were a little faster, but at this point I think mentally I was removed from hitting my goals in regards to time I just wanted to finish the race. At no point in the race did I feel tired of fatigued it was just all stomach issues. It happens and luckily it’s just running and I have something to work for in a few weeks when I tackle the Santa Rosa Marathon.
After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal with an official time of 3:27:32, I found my wife and son and we moved on from the race. This finish time was well slower than my course best which I ran last year at a time of 3:09:27. With work and other plans, I didn’t have too much time to hang around and chat with people. The only person I saw at the finish was Erin who I was able to quickly introduce to my wife and son.
With a short trip back to the hotel, we prepared for our lunch meeting with my father-in-law and brother-in-law. I was also excited to end a bad race with some vegan donuts at Pepples!
After 5 consecutive years of running The SF Marathon, I think this might be the final go around for a while as I look to take on other adventures in running in different locations. The SF Marathon and the folks there have treated me well, given me the opportunity to represent a race I enjoy and love running through the ambassadorship program, I have made plenty of life time friends through the race and it will always be one of those races I enjoy doing.
What do you have coming up for races? Did you run The SF Marathon? How did you do?