As usual I hadn't trained adequately, but I did treat the event as an actual race rather than a 7.46-mile-long drinking party. I was assigned to Corral C, the 10-12 minute milers, as I planned to finish at the slower end of that range. A friend and I hoped to meet up at the start, but she got there long before I did and I did not want to fight my way to the front of the group, so we planned to meet at the finish line area instead.
Rainy weather and possible thunderstorms were predicted, so I wore long tights and my sturdy windbreaker over the official race T-shirt; a far cry from two years ago when it was 85 degrees out (too hot for comfortable running!) and I ran in a sequined Fredericks of Hollywood bra and running shorts. I don't mind running in the rain, having even completed my first half-marathon in a steady light rain (in San Diego, of all places). But thunderstorms usually keep me inside, so it was only the thought of participating in the centennial and hot-tubbing with my friends after the race that got me to the starting line at 6:30 a.m. on a chilly Sunday morning. My left knee had also been bothering me since the night before, and continued to do so on the 30 minute walk to the start, which worried me.
No rain fell at first, and in fact the sun came out just before the official starting time of 7 a.m. I moved forward slowly, hoping that the tortilla-tossers would stop once we got to the starting line. I know it's a tradition, but I really hate getting hit by flying tortillas! Plus, my Camelbak hip-pack was leaking, so my lower back and butt were getting soaked with cold water. I never rely on the water stops to have enough, and the pack also contained important things like my cell phone, keys & ID, MUNI pass, some cash, and two vanilla Clif Shots, one of which I consumed while waiting for the race to start. The two cups of tea with sugar and soymilk I'd had at home and the two packets of flavored brown rice syrup would be adequate calories to get me through this race; I have trouble running with any solid food in my stomach.
After about ten minutes I finally made it to the starting line and began to run, dodging slower people all the way. Runners were told to stay to the left and walkers to the right, and I obeyed this rule as much as possible, even though many others didn't. For runs that take me much more than an hour, I use the Jeff Galloway run-walk method. My interval of choice is nine minutes running and one minute walking; my watch has a handy interval mode which helps me count down the time. Running ten or eleven nine-minute segments with breaks in between is a hell of a lot more manageable for me than facing an uninterrupted 90-100 minute run. I made my way over to the right just before each walking segment, and migrated back to the left when resuming running.
My knee stopped bothering me after the first two or three miles, which was good as then I faced the infamous Hayes Street Hill. I wasn't really that worried about it, even though my running segment started near the base of the hill, so I knew I wasn't going to walk it. I ran very slowly however.
I enjoyed seeing all of the costumed runners, and the few nude ones; wish I had the guts to do that myself (of course I probably wouldn't in 50 degree weather regardless!). The salmon swimming upstream (running the race course backwards) is always a fun sight. And the few live bands were great; I enjoyed those much more than the music blaring from speakers along the course.
The crowd around me never really thinned out for the entire race. I had trouble fighting my way over to the right at water stops, as I wanted to drink a cup at each one to conserve my own water supply as long as possible. Had a couple of near-collisions with other runners going against traffic at these stops. No stumbles or fumbles though, thankfully.
A little rain fell around mile four, but stopped after only a few minutes. I was feeling pretty good during the middle part of the race, and confirming my time at each mile marker to be at about 12.5 minute pace. Started to feel a bit of intestinal distress near the end, but I didn't want to stop at any porta-potties. I have an unbroken record of never stopping at a porta-potty during any race, regardless of length. I don't want to use one of those things unless I'm quite desperate.
I smiled when I saw the ocean in view, and kept smiling all the way to the finish line, which I reached in 1:34:11 (as confirmed later on the official results page, though I can't access it from my home network for some reason due to a DNS error). I exchanged texts with my friends, and we met up at another friend's house a few blocks from the finish line, skipping the Footstock post-race gathering which was over a mile away. Unfortunately this meant that I missed out on getting the very nice finisher's medal, which I thought was going to be handed out at the actual finish line. I really wish the race organizers would find some way to have the festivities closer to the finish line, but they moved it even further away this year, so I'm not hopeful.
Had a very nice soak and chat in the hot tub at my friend's, and also soaked up the sunshine which was now out in abundance. A great post-race tradition which I hope to continue for years to come.
ETA: Totally forgot to mention another fun moment. Running past the bison meadow at Golden Gate Park, some runners were debating whether or not the buffalo were real. Granted, they weren't moving very much, and who expects to see buffalo in the middle of San Francisco! Gave me a good laugh though.
ETA2: Got race results link working finally, after switching DNS servers.