San Francisco Marathon (Best Experiences Ever)

Waking up around 2:45 a.m. was interesting. I met up with Linh and Amy to carpool with them up to SF (I am a nervous driver once we get into the city, so I’d much prefer someone else driving).

We got up to the pacer tent and hung out for a bit.



[Most of the photo-creds go to Linh (on the way right)]

They had some bagels and bananas and such, so we got our fuel on and slowly entered in for the wave starts. The 4-hr full marathon pace group and 2-hr half marathon pace group (ME) started right on time in wave 4 (6:52 a.m.).

I got to run with the 4:00 pacers, Linh, Tammy, and Di!



I also got to run with DEAN KARNAZES, the Ultramarathonman!!!



All I could say was “WOW!” when I realized who we were running with… and then I just ran in silence because I was so amazed that we were running with DEAN KARNAZES. He and Linh are buddies (they kind of bump into each other during races, haha).

Guess what. He is SO nice, approachable, and humble. If you ever spot him in these local races don’t be scared to say “Hi”… if you can muster the courage.

Oh, yeah. Dean ran to the start of a full marathon before the actual full… meaning he ran more than a marathon by the time he caught up to us. And then after the race, he ran home. INCREDIBLE MAN. ULTRAMARATHONMAN.

After that, the pacers ran together on the Golden Gate Bridge:


That part was pretty fun because we got to cheer on people, high-five the runners going in the other direction, and enjoy a non-windy run across the bridge!

Going back across the Bridge, Tammy and I started running a bit ahead of our pace time. Whoops. I was a bit too excited with all the cheering, the beautiful sites, and the hills didn’t do much to slow us down.

I really should have previewed the entire half marathon course so that I could know if there were going to be more big hills to Golden Gate Park or if it would be a nice downhill. It pretty much ended up having mostly downhill (after a certain point), and I found that I was WAY ahead of my pace time.

As a pacer, being ahead by that much (4-5 minutes!) is a no-no. I felt awful thinking about those who may have been trying to hang on to our speed. I slowed it down, cheered, let them know that I’m ahead of my pace, and LUCKILY, the racers knew there were other 4-hour pacers behind them, so they knew they weren’t behind pace.

According to my Garmin, I finished 1:59:13. I wanted to finish about 10 seconds under. Next time, if I do the same distance, I’ll nail it.

As soon as I crossed, I ran to the shuttle. I probably should have grabbed something to eat, but I was scared that I wouldn’t make it back in time to catch the super fast pacers (I’m talking 3:00 and 3:10 pacers!).

Got back with like 5 minutes to spare, and I started running the course backwards. While back-tracking, I was on the lookout for any pacer and any Running Addict. I got a few awkward looks, but I just made sure to stop and let the police officers and course monitors know what I was doing (that I wasn’t delirious from being tired, or something).

My plan was to jog backwards and find Amy and run with her (keep her company since there was only one 2:30 pacer).

There were a couple of splits along the course where they send runners on different roads around the block. Since the runners were coming from two different directions, I had to decide if I would hang out at one of the locations where they reconvene or if I would just choose one and head back. I hung out at one corner for a while and got to spot several of our pacers!



When I saw the Marcia and the 2:20 pace group, I knew I was close to the 2:30 group! I almost missed her, but I was luckily about to see the orange pacer shirt out of the corner of my eye:


She was on pace and I relieved her of the holding-stick duty for little segments.


It was nice to be headed back in the direction of the finish. I was super hungry, hahaha.

When things started getting more scenic, I was so excited and happy! Tammy and Linh met us a little out from the finish line to let Amy know the course was a little long.


Amy ended up crossing five seconds under her pace time. That was PERFECT pacing! WOO HOO!

After the race, I had some beer:


^[BTW, Chad ran his first full marathon today, without taking it too seriously, and KILLED IT by running it in 3:44! Congrats, Chad!]

They were giving out a whole lot of goodies after the race, like chocolate milk, yogurt, coconut water, and King’s Hawaiian rolls:


I didn’t actually get to go through the food area, but Linh and Amy gave me a bunch of their goodies. Gobbled up a yogurt and some chocolate milk. Perhaps they saw how hungry I was, hahaha.

All-in-all… my pacing execution was not the best. I will definitely be sure to do course previews for the whole course next time. I hope I made up for it with my “pacetographer” thing, haha. That actually added an additional 12.25 miles.

According to my Garmin, I ran about 25.5 miles today. It’s not bad because the second half was me jogging, walking, cheering, tralala. Oh, but my left ITB is a little sore from the extra miles. Oh, well. Nothing a bit of foam-rolling can’t fix up!


Let’s do a quick run-through of this race:

Course: Gorgeous! There are a good amount of hills, so be sure to have some training in hilly areas. The first two and last two miles were pretty much flat. I didn’t get to do the loop-d-loops in Golden Gate Park, but I bet there were a bunch of rollers. Don’t go too fast on the downhills in the first half. Your legs will be trashed in the last 10K!

Organization: In my opinion, it was pretty well-organized. Since I was a pacer, I guess it was a little different. The wave starts might make it confusing when you’re on the course… in that many runners had to ask what wave we started in to know if they were on or off pace (something I noticed because I was pacing this race and not racing it). There will definitely be times on the Bridge when it feels really crowded and you’re touching people’s elbows and butts. Jk, just elbows. Also, there was a lot of heightened security so coming in and out of the main areas could have taken a while if you were running late. The shuttle back to the start area for the first half marathoners was well-organized. It left right away and we got there in good time.

Weather: Freaking perfect. The skies were clear, there was no fog, and it was a cool morning. I’m sure if you’re running the last 5K of the marathon, every little breeze will feel like a pounding headwind. For me, it was a welcome cool breeze, hehe. I have heard that in other years, it was rather really foggy or cloudy. This year’s race was also earlier than the previous years, so it stayed cool until the end.

Volunteer/Spectators: In the second half, there were a lot of spectators and people cheering from the sidewalks. As far as volunteers and aid stations, there were plenty! They were spaced out appropriately and they all had medical aid stations.

Post-race: Kind of congested, but like I mentioned before, they offer a LOT of things to eat and refuel. Be sure to have a meet-up spot if your friends or family are going to be there. If we did not have the pacer tent, I would have been so lost… and kind of scared… in that crowd.

Swag/Expo: Lots. And the expo’s huge. Be sure to allot a lot of time to go there because there will be traffic and it will take time to find parking. Otherwise, enjoy the time there because they have a lot of vendors and samples and such. The shirt ran really small this year. Maybe I’ll fashion mine into… something else. And the swag for the pacers was awesome! Those Lululemon long capris were insanely comfortable!

What makes this race unique: Running on the actual road of the Golden Gate Bridge. They close off one side for runners. It’s pretty darn cool! You also get to see a good amount of the city… which means you get in a good amount of hills, too. It is also a great summer marathon to run because you don’t have to suffer with the heat of other summer races. SF stays cool and sunny during this part of the year! And after the marathon, you have a huge range of yummy places to eat 🙂


OMG long post. It was a long day, but a wonderfully memorable one. I feel so blessed to have had this experience to pace the SF 1st Half, as well as have my fellow Running Addicts community to run with. The way we support each other and cheer for each other makes any race ten times more awesome!

I hope you enjoyed this post and had a wonderful Sunday 🙂

6 responses to “San Francisco Marathon (Best Experiences Ever)

    • It really was fun! It’s the most fun way to volunteer for a race. Usually, it’s not too hard to maintain pace, but this route had hills, so it was a bit more difficult. Overall, I learned a lot and had a great time!

  1. Hi Michelle, I think we met at the Pacer booth on Friday (I was the 2:10 pacer for the 1st Half). Great job yesterday, it was such a beautiful day!

  2. Pingback: San Francisco Marathon + Half Weekend | blessed with thunder thighs·

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