San Francisco Marathon – PR With $30 Shoes!

Compared to longer trail runs, road marathons always give me butterflies. Just the thought of pounding asphalt for 26.2 makes me nervous about my ankles. But San Francisco Marathon is super scenic (especially the first half) and I was betting on that to carry me through. Partly work schedule and partly summer fun with the family, I haven’t had much time for longish runs since the Coastal Marin 50K. Coming back from a week backpacking in the high sierras, I was wishfully hoping for more red blood cells. Turned out to be an amazing day at the San Francisco Marathon. Sun didn’t come out until 11ish, long after I finished and crawled over to the Beer Garden. Here’s my Strava Activity for the day.

San Francisco Marathon

Given the 5:30am start and difficulty of parking, I stayed overnight a mile or so from the start line, jogged over around 5am and hung out in Wave 2. Saw Kelly & Rida as well as Charles, my son’s track & field buddy’s Dad. Charles was going for the BQ and I think he got it!

Starting line, It's still early

Starting line, It’s still early

Bay Bridge, all lit up

Bay Bridge, all lit up

Given the number of aid stations throughout the course, I decided to go for broke. No water and just a couple of Clif Shot gels stashed in my head band. Turned out that’s all I really needed.

Mandatory selfie at the start

Mandatory selfie at the start

The first part of the race was pretty uneventful and everyone in a chirpy mood. We ran past the piers with a couple of climbs before we got on to Golden Gate Bridge. This always is the best segment of the race for me. Something magical about running across the bridge with the fog making it disappear into the horizon. There were so many awesome volunteers at each aid station! I did wish though, that the organizers would include a soft reusable cup to minimize the garbage that 25,000+ runners were generating. After running trail races so much where you take no-littering for granted, this always comes as a shock.

Running across the golden gate bridge

Running across the golden gate bridge

I was keeping up a pretty good pace, hovering around 7:30 minute/mile on the flats. Vague, non-committal goal (oxymoron?) was to finish between 3:20 to 3:30. Saw the 3:15 pacers go past me half way through the bridge. I felt the first burn on my ankle on the way back from the turnaround. Still 16 miles to go. Oh, about the PR shoes. I am currently on my last pair of Merrell Trail Glove 2 and just not ready to splurge ~$110 on the new model. So I bought a pair of Tesla Baretek Minimalist Barefoot Shoe. At $30 a pair, it was quite the steal. Apparently they are a Korean make. I tested them out on a run and within the first 4 miles, the insole was leaking out from the back of the heel. My first thoughts were, well, I got what I paid for. But I removed the insoles and have been running on a 2mm sole and it works great for track workouts and my usual lunch time jaunts around work. Even if they only last a couple of months, hard to beat the price. I’ve since ordered a few more pairs, just in case Amazon runs out. 🙂

I think I saw this sign a couple of times

I think I saw this sign a couple of times

Sweet downhill on Lincoln Boulevard

Sweet downhill on Lincoln Boulevard

The hills through Golden Gate Park were definitely work and I was kinda craving for some dirt, instead of the asphalt. I was taking more breathers now at the aid station before pushing to the subsequent one.

Overcast keeping us cool

Overcast keeping us cool

With about 6 miles to go, I think I saw 2:40 on my watch. It looked like 3:30 was doable, but given how my legs were feeling, it was going to be close. I was having a hard time keeping my pace under 8:15 minute/mile now. Was so tempted to take the beer some folks were handing out with just 3 miles to go!

Just over a mile to go, these guys were awesome!

Just over a mile to go, these guys were awesome!

The last couple of miles definitely took some digging deep to not walk and just make it to the finish line. As I finally pushed past the finish line, I saw 3:35 on the clock. Took me a while before I realized that clock was started when Wave 1 left. After hanging out a bit, eventually crawled my way over to the Beer Garden and saw that my chip time was actually 3:32 and change! So, looks like I almost made my non-committal goal. Oh well.

Another marathon, done!

Another marathon, done!

With Kelly, Paul & Rida

With Kelly, Paul & Rida (photo credit Kelly)

Did you run the San Francisco Marathon? How did the race go for you?


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