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Biofreeze San Francisco First Half Marathon

This past July, I was planning to go to San Francisco to cheer for Andrea as she ran a half marathon. It would have been a new experience for me to go on a runcation in which I wasn’t running, but a different decision was made. Since this trip fell in the middle of NYC Marathon training season, I was trying to figure out when I could get a run in during the trip when Andrea suggested I run it with her.

The San Francisco Marathon is interesting because there are three races running concurrently (with staggered start times). There is the San Francisco Marathon itself, which is a full 26.2 miles, and two half marathons. The first half marathon starts where the full marathon starts and ends at the halfway point of the marathon, while the second half marathon begins at the halfway point and ends where the marathon does. Andrea had chosen the first half because it was supposed to run over the Golden Gate Bridge, but unfortunately the course was changed and only the full was able to, but we looked forward to running it regardless.

It was a new experience showing up to the start line of theĀ Biofreeze San Francisco First Half Marathon and it being cold and drizzly. Most of my races in these conditions tend to be in early Spring or late Autumn, so it was a pleasant surprise, since I find I excel at running in temperatures similar to ones at the start of the race.

With San Francisco Bay to our right (where it would remain for most of the race), we lined up and prepared for our 13.1 mile journey. With the start of the race, We headed north in the Embarcadero and curved around west to North Beach. While the race so far had a slight incline, we hit our first hill in the Marina District, which was one of the few hills we would hit that had a downhill after afterwards. Passing through the Presidio led up to our first major hill in a lead up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Seeing it as we were running was cool, but it was a bit disappointing that we would not be running on it this year as the course took us around beneath the bridge. After an out and back and curving around at the base of the bridge, we were treated to a major downhill run that felt unique after spending the previous six and half miles going uphill. After about another mile, we left the coast and moved inland for our final five miles.

From the bay, we headed south for a mile to the entrance of Golden Gate Park. Once we entered the park, the three races overlapped and signs gave directions, but the initial signs only had arrows for the full and second half marathons, which was a little confusing for those of us doing the first half marathon. Myself and the runners around me followed the signs for the full marathon and we began to finally see first half signs, letting us know we were continuing in the right direction. The race continued in a loop around the western half of Golden Gate Park for the last three to four miles.

I have been trained to conserve energy for at least half to three quarters of a race before pushing harder and ending the race with very little “left in the tank.” Normally I follow this advice, but with all of the hills, I ran more conservatively and although I didn’t know it prior to the race, the final two miles were all uphill. Even as I was heading to the finish line, I held back a little bit as the hill didn’t seem to be letting up, and didn’t until I passed the finish line.

When I agreed to run the race with Andrea, I had no clue what running in San Francisco was like. I knew about the hills and how bad some of them could be, but I had no clue what a race would be like there. I was able to finish theĀ Biofreeze San Francisco First Half Marathon in 2:17:01. It felt good to finish such an uphill race in that time and can’t wait to see how that will translate to flatter races as the NYC Marathon looms closer.

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