San Francisco

Bay to Breakers 2018 Race Report

b2bMy first race of the year was Bay to Breakers! I’ve wanted to run this race for awhile now, and I figured this would be a good year to do it, with me living in California and my sister living in Oakland. Since I’ve been in Los Angeles for business school these last (almost) two years, I haven’t been able to run regularly and my pace is now nowhere close to where it used to be. I miss running fast and can’t wait until I can start running regularly again!

I signed up for Bay to Breakers back in November after having run three races that month, determined to train better for this race. I, of course, couldn’t resist signing up for the inaugural Breakers Bonus 3k, making the race a 15k!  I managed to work my way up a few up to 6-6.5 mile training runs and figured that it’d be sufficient for a 9.3 mile run.

Anyway, so I flew up to the Oakland Airport on Saturday morning, had lunch with my sister, and then took the BART to downtown San Francisco to pick up my race packet from the expo. I spent $18 to purchase a ride on the Express Downtown Shuttle to get from the finish back to the start, where I would be able to hop back on the BART to Oakland.

Morning: I didn’t sleep terribly well at the airbnb– no surprise, I usually don’t sleep very well the first night anywhere and especially not before a race! I woke up at 6am, got dressed, and ran to Starbucks. It ended up taking a little longer than I planned because I went the wrong way, lol. It’s hard figuring these things out before I have any caffeine in the morning! I had half a bagel, half a banana, and some Justin’s honey peanut butter for breakfast. It was probably around 7:20am and 54 degrees by the time I left the house. The temperature felt pretty good, but I was concerned it’d be windy and overcast in San Francisco, so I went with my tights and quarter-zip long-sleeved top. I ran the 0.8 miles to BART. From there, it was only a 10-15 minute ride to the Embarcadero stop. I was excited to see other runners in costumes (I know, I should have dressed up!) also on the train.

When I got off the train and got to the ground level, I was surprised to see that it was actually sunny! While slightly concerned about it being too warm, I couldn’t help but also feel somewhat pleased. I’ve been really lucky that it’s been sunny every time I’ve visited San Francisco!

20180521_175344Pre-race: I was assigned to Corral C, but decided to go to Corral D instead based on an estimated pace between 10:00 to 11:00-minute miles. Seconds after walking into the corral, I saw my first naked runner just standing there, waiting for people to take photos with him. I was expecting to see some naked runners at the race and it was just as awkward as I imagined, lol. I just avoided eye contact and quickly moved my way up. It was probably 5-10 minutes 20180520_083505before 8:00am when I got to the corral, because shortly after, the announcer was getting the runners in Corral A riled up to start and tortillas started flying through the air. I was pelted 5x on the head with tortillas! The announcer split up each corral into 2 groups, so, according to my Garmin, it was 8:39AM when I finally started the race.

Miles 0-4: The start was slow. There were a lot of people and it took some weaving to 20180520_090927actually run. I was aiming to maintain between a 10-11 minute/mile pace, but mostly going by how I felt. After the first mile, there’s a slight incline, but then when you get to mile 2, it gets really steep on Hayes Street Hill for about 2/3 of a mile (average grade of 5.5%, steepest grade 11%). I may have stopped 1-2 times to walk before deciding that I should try to run slowly. Along that street, there were lots of people that were dressed up having house parties.

There’s a short downhill after Hayes Street to finish off mile 3, followed by a small incline and minor changes in elevation during mile 4.

Miles 4.1-7: At the start of mile 4 was Golden Gate Park! I was pretty excited to get to the park– from there, it’s mostly downhill AND there are some cool sights. I’ve been to Golden Gate Park before, but it turns out there’s some cool stuff that I missed during my previous visits. At this point in the run, my pace actually had started to pick up and I was feeling pretty good, but I decided to stop to take pictures and refill my hand-held water bottle.

20180520_092755Conservatory of Flowers

20180520_094026Rainbow Falls

20180520_095308Bison Paddock

Miles 7.1-9.3:  Shortly after starting mile 7, the large windmill comes in sight. I regret not stopping to take a photo of it! The split for the 15k runners occurs probably around mile 7.4 when you hit the water– 12k to the right and Breakers Bonus to the left. From there,20180520_101334 we ran along the ocean– it was sunny but a bit windy, with no trees or buildings to slow the wind. Whenever the wind would stop for a moment, I would feel too warm, but then the wind would blow again and it’d feel fine. Great ocean views though! There were a lot less runners and spectators at this point, and although I was keeping a decent pace, my feet were growing tired of hitting the pavement and I walked some in miles 8 and 9. The finish felt good– my watch says the last 0.34 miles were run at a 9:37 pace.

20180520_161455Post-race: I felt pretty good at the finish, although it didn’t take long to start feeling cold from the wind! After getting both of my medals, I managed to get some yogurt, flaxseed milk (not that good), and sparkling watermelon water before I gave up on the crowds and headed for the shuttle. Getting on the shuttle was a pretty easy process– they had lines of buses waiting to pick people up, so the wait wasn’t too long. There was some traffic getting downtown, so it was a 40 minute ride on the shuttle and then a short walk to BART. While waiting for the train, I saw a girl in a costume that was throwing up in a trash can while her boyfriend (in a matching costume) held her hair and comforted her. I’m going to guess they didn’t run, ha. It was almost noon by the time I emerged out of the 19th/Broadway BART station to meet with my sister for a post-race lunch at Montclair Egg Shop!

Since this is the first 15k I’ve raced, it’s technically a PR. Wohoo! I’ve indicated below when I stopped for pictures during my mile splits.

Bay to Breakers 2018 photo wpSplits:
12:50 –> Hayes Street Hill
11:37 –> Conservatory of Flowers & water refill
9:41 –> waterfall
11:14 –> bison
10:37 –> ocean view
3:15 (0.34 miles)

Bay to Breakers + Breakers Bonus (15k)
May 20, 2018
Official time: 1:45:26
Pace: 11:19/M
Overall: 1420/2294
Gender: 453/927


San Francisco (Half) Marathon 2012

This was, by far, the best race I’ve ever done.  I was unsure about what to expect with the hills and all.  Like many other runners, I’ve been shy to share my race goals, but since I actually hit my goal, here they are:

A) Sub-2:00
B) 2:08
C) 2:12

I really didn’t think I could hit A, was really hoping I could beat my first half-marathon time (2:08:03), but I felt there was a chance that the hills could slow me down and in which case, under a 10:00/M pace would be great. I suppose D was to just finish, haha. I was ecstatic that I finished in under 2 hours!!

1) 9:08
2) 9:01
3) 8:57
4) 9:07
5) 9:22
6) 9:38
7) 8:52
8) 9:05
9) 8:34
10) 8:44
11) 7:51
12) 8:48
13) 9:05
13.29) 7:58

Pre-race: I jogged/walked the 1+ mile to the race start early in the morning when it was still dark outside. It was exciting to see all the other runners! While I was looking for the UPS truck for my bag drop-off, I heard a voice yell out, “RUNNERS COMING THROUGH! MAKE WAY!” I was confused until I realized the ultra-marathon runner’s were coming through, approaching the finish! Their race started at midnight. Wow, so hard core and very inspiring.

I turned in my warm-up bag and headed towards the Wave 5 start. When I registered, I had put down 2:15 as my estimated finish time, putting me in the 2:11-2:20 group.  Someone else had told me that I would feel better starting in a slowing group and speeding past people than starting in a faster group and getting passed up.

It was in the 60’s that morning so I wore my new Athleta shorts (with a pocket in the bag for my Gu), a gray tank top with pink edges from Target (haha), Pearl Izumi sleeves, Drymax socks, and my Brooks PureCadence. I can’t believe I didn’t take a pre-race photo!

Miles 1-4: The start was flat and as usual, everyone was going out fast. I had to REALLY make an effort to try to ‘slow’ my pace and while my plan was to start around 9:30, I ended up going faster. Then I reminded myself that the course was flat in the beginning anyway so I would likely slow during the uphill. I let myself go a little faster.

Miles 5-8: Water break in mile 5 and big hill in mile 6, as clearly reflected in my pace! 309 feet of elevation, 65 feet of descent in mile 6. I had decided that I was not going to walk any of the hills. I was determined to keep running, even if I had to slow down a lot. There was a girl that was yelling out encouraging words on the hill, “Almost there!!” or “High knees!” and once she reached the top, cheered! Despite the burn in my legs, it did put a smile on my face! If I hadn’t felt the need to conserve my energy, I would have cheered too. I sped up once it flattened out in mile 7 on the bridge. It was an amazing feeling, running over the bridge. The fog prevented us from seeing very far ahead, but there was just something majestic about looking up and seeing the famous bridge. It was on the return portion of the bridge that I realized my pace was faster than I had expected and there was a chance I could hit sub-2:00. It was a little tricky maneuvering around people on the bridge since the lane wasn’t that wide, but I did the best I could. I just kept telling myself to keep my turnover up and take smaller strides. I took small gulps of my Triple Espresso Gu once I got past the first half of the bridge, knowing that there would be water soon. It was just a slight downhill but I took advantage of it and let my speed pick up. I can’t even remember who told me now, but someone had told me to just let gravity carry me downhill, so, I did. Quick water break in mile 8 once we were on the other side of the bridge.

Miles 9-12: I was feeling pretty damn good about how things were going in the last third of the race and my motivation was high. I knew there was another big hill, a downhill, and then rolling hills with a gradual ascent to the end. Again, I wanted to speed up to prepare myself for the hill, and I ended up keeping a pretty good pace! Mile 11 Had the long downhill and I just flew down, again, keeping my turnover up. The last mile or so was the toughest. My legs were getting tired and going uphill was definitely a mental challenge. My pace would slow down going uphill and the second I had some relief and was going downhill, I’d let my speed go back up. I had to tell myself, “just another mile!” Once I was past 13 miles, I pushed myself to pick up the pace. And of course, once I neared the finish line, I pushed it harder to finish strong! I even posed with my arms up as I crossed the finish. 🙂

I was so elated when I looked down at my watch and saw my time!!! I got my medal and a blanket thing before grabbing a water and walking over to get my photo taken. You know what was the most awesome feeling? I saw a crazy long line for the bag pick-up and realized it was for Wave 4. As for Wave 5 pick-up? NOBODY. Hahah, sweet. The people in my wave were mostly still on the course! I felt pretty bad-ass, not gunna lie. Then, I went through to pick up food and Irish coffee. They had bananas, apples, mixed fruit cup, cereal, Zico water, chia seeds, packets of nuts, Lara bars, and yogurt. I drank some Irish coffe, ate a banana, put on my warmup clothes, snapped some pictures with my phone, returned some texts, and walked to the bus line. It hit me how tired I was once I was on the bus, almost falling asleep, haha. I picked up some chocolate milk once I got to the marathon start/finish but couldn’t get into the section with the jamba juice! It was just as well though– my stomach was starting to hurt. 😦 I did talk to a marathon runner who had run SF a few times and had hit his goal of sub-4:00! Haha, one day…

By the way, NO BLISTERS!! These Brooks are a keeper. 🙂 Anyway, I stuck around to wait for my friend Alice to finish the second half– she ended up finishing it just over 1:50!! It was finally time to go and her boyfriend drove us back. Unfortunately, my stomach was not feeling great for a few hours and I had to skip the celebratory brunch, opting to curl up on the couch and snack on French bread and ginger ale. Eeks. How do I prevent an upset stomach post-race??

Sunny San Francisco Part 1!!

Having arrived in San Francisco Friday night, I had a full Saturday to rest up for the race on Sunday.  Naturally, I did nothing of the sort, and instead, walked around the city for 7 hours.  It was my second time to visit San Francisco and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore!

I arrived with plenty of time before my dinner plans on Friday night so I wandered to a coffee shop and people-watched!

Interesting observations:
* double date with all 4 wearing fake mustaches
* Asian guy with a box on his head (both his hands were full)
* a guy drove up to the intersection and got out of his car just to take a picture

I finally met up my friends from my hometown, Sarah and Daniel, at Piperade for dinner. I normally wouldn’t drink so soon before a race, but I figured a glass of wine wouldn’t hurt, right?  Dinner was good but it wasn’t as good as I expected.

Starting from Alice’s lovely apartment in North Beach, I wandered over to La Boulange to do more people-watching while enjoying a smoked salmon egg sandwich (YUM!) and a cappuccino for breakfast.  Alice recommended the place– it’s her regular coffee stop.  Next was Chinatown for delicious egg custard. Golden Bakery was closed, so I pulled out my phone and yelped the next best thing.  Seriously, I’m extremely thankful for my phone.  I would have looked much more touristy with a map in one hand and BART/MUNI schedule in the other.  It would probably take also take me MUCH longer to get anywhere. Luckily, AA Bakery was close by and after shelling out $1.00  for my egg custard, I was satisfied.

Next, I bused it to the San Francisco Marathon Expo! Picked up my race bag, tech shirt (love it!), bib, pace bracelet; bought official SF marathon arm-warmers for $25; and explored the many vendors.  It was either a 2:00 pace or a 2:15 pace for the bracelet, so I grabbed the 2:00 pace bracelet.  That was my ultimate goal, sub-2:00!  Not likely, but doesn’t hurt to try, right?  I purchased $30 polarized sunglasses too– I’ve been meaning to get some for at least a year!  I tried on some Newtons as well, but I’m definitely not going to need any new shoes any time soon.  I just love going to race expos.  There’s just this exciting energy and even though there’s all these strangers, you feel connected to them because we’re all there for the same purpose: to run!  Love it.

After walking back and forth between bus stops, I eventually caught the right bus and made my way to the Ferry Building for some food! By the way, CRAZY lady on the bus, saying inappropriate things to no one in particular.  It made me very uncomfortable.

Anyhow, ended up going to Boccalone for salumi, Miette for macaroons, and Pepples Donuts for a mini doughnut!  I wanted to try more but I was pretty full from eating earlier.  Also, phone battery was dying and my legs were starting to get tired from all the walking…uh oh, need to take it easy before the race!!

I rested up, watched the Olympics, and waited for Alice to get back so we could grab dinner together and load up on some carbs.   I set out all my race stuff for Sunday and set my alarm for 4:00am.  Unfortunately, I didn’t end up going to bed until close to midnight.  Eeks!