Sunday, August 5, 2012

San Francisco first Half Marathon done! (Maybe…)

Mrs Notthat likes bling. The bigger and flashier the medal the better. And the people that run the San Francisco Marathon and Bridge Tour know that, and have come up with a devious plan to get people back the following year:

• If you finish the first and second Half Marathons in consecutive years, you get a bonus medal with a center bit that spins.

• If you finish the first and second Half Marathons and the Full Marathon in consecutive years, you get a bonus sweatshirt. (Yes, they missed the bonus bling boat with this one.)

• If you finish the first and second Half Marathons and the Full Marathon in the same year, you will get locked up since that's clearly not vaguely possible.

Since Mrs Notthat also likes a bargain, she jumped at the chance to save a few dollars and registered both her and the blog for the first Half Marathon. (It wasn't until much later that I knew I had been registered. I do not like road races, especially massively crowded ones like this one, so she took the "do it then ask for forgiveness later" approach.)

As race day approached, a couple of things became apparent:

• We had double-booked the weekend, and were both set to run the Brazen Bad Bass Half Marathon the day before this race.

• Mrs Notthat was not going to be at her best due to a bad cold that had hit her earlier in the week leading up to race day.

Due to the cold thing, Mrs Notthat dropped down to the 5K at Bad Bass, but since I am freakishly healthy, I ended up doing the Half Marathon there.

The Half Maniacs picture at the expo, which I photo-bombed since I'm not actually a Half Fanatic yet. Eventually I'll get around to signing up.
After we finished the Bad Bass race, we cleaned up a bit and then headed up to the city for the expo to pick up our bibs and do some last minute race shopping. I was slightly concerned about how this would go since I had never gotten the pre-race email, which the race people insist you must print out and bring with you to pick up your bib. (Mrs Notthat emailed them to try to sort this out, but got an email back saying they were getting lots of emails and hers was going to be ignored.)

In any case, it all went fine - nobody cared about printed out emails and they had computers where you could look up your bib number.

Mrs Notthat and I waiting for our newly adapted seventh wave to start.
One issue with this race are the logistics - with the Half Marathons, your start and end locations are not even vaguely close to each other. This means you need to park near the Full Marathon start area, then catch a bus, either at the end of your first Half or at the start of your second Half.

Needs Cool Name (the grandkid's dad) made this whole process much easier by dropping us off near the start line, then parking near the finish line. He then used his bike to meet us as we went on to and came off of the Golden Gate Bridge. So the race should have been pretty much stress-free for us (Weird Haired Mom - the grandkid's mother - also did the first Half Marathon).

Naturally, that was not to be, and that was all my fault.

The first issue was that, once we got there, I noticed that my timing tag was no longer stuck to the front of my bib. This meant I wouldn't get an official time, and worse, that this race might not count towards my quest for the spinny medal next year.

The second issue was that earlier, I smuggly watched as Mrs Notthat and WHM stood in a long port-pottie line, happy that I was fine and didn't need to do that. Until about 20 minutes before our wave started - I suddenly had to go very badly. So I stood in a port-pottie line, did my business (my apologies to whoever had to go in there after me), and hustled over to the wave area.

To make the starting process easier, you are assigned to waves based on your projected finish time. WHM told them a time that got her in wave three, while we used a realistic time and were in the sixth wave. (There was ten minutes between wave starts, which meant she would have a thirty minute head start on us.) I entered the wave area where Mrs Notthat had been patiently waiting for me and joined the back of our wave, only to be told that they arbitrarily were going to make us (and others at the back of the sixth wave) start with the seventh wave. (There are eight waves total.)

Starting in a later wave doesn't really affect your race time, but it does affect a couple of other things:

• There is a cutoff for running on the road part of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you show up too late, you have to use the sidewalks, and deal with the tourists. The later the wave, the greater the chance this might happen.

• There is a general course cutoff time, and again, the later the wave the tighter this will be.

• The later the wave the greater the chance that they will run out of food and such at the finish line.

All of this is why WHM (and MANY others) pretended to be a Kenyan when she registered, just to ensure they would have more time on the course.

The first Half Marathon course is by far the most popular since it is far more scenic than the second half course and includes the chance to run on the road across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mrs Notthat hugging the curb. The runners had two traffic lanes - one for heading out and the other for returning.
Mrs Notthat charitably decided to stay with me, both because of her lingering cold and because of my timing chip issue, since this way we would know exactly what my start and finish times were.

There were a HUGE number of runners, so it was unlikely that we would see anyone we knew. And then I passed The Walking Diva!

I don't know if this guy ran the Half or Full Marathon juggling these balls, but it was astonishing to see.

It really is pretty cool to run on the deck of the bridge.

And to get taunted by another runner we ran into that we knew - Nerak (not her real name).

That's NCN taking a picture of me coming off of the bridge. He actually had the police called on him by some woman in one of those houses because he was making too much noise while cheering. Bizarre.

The finish line. We actually did pretty good. I suspect Mrs Notthat might have set a new PR if it hadn't been for her staying with me, but as it was, we finished with a sub-2:45 time which was pretty good considering the race we did the previous day.

A coworker of mine, Nala (not his real name), also did the first Half Marathon. Last year he did the second Half course, so this year when he finished he got his fancy bonus spinny medal. Mrs Notthat is VERY impressed.

Super Crew NCN with WHM and Haiyr (not her real name, sitting in blue) discussing bridge strategy.

A total surprise seeing Nairb (not his…) and a daughter in the finishing area. By the way, those attractive foil blankets are not just for style - once you finish running a race, if it is cool at all (and it certainly was today), you get cold very quickly, and these things are surprisingly effective at keeping you warm.

Two happy burritos!

The shirt, medal, and unused timing tag (which I found at home - I suspect the dogs knocked it off my bib during the night while busily protecting us from imagined dangers).

In the end, the event was not the horror I had expected. For a road course, it is pretty good, with some nice views, some hills, and lots of cheering as you go along.

The only real negative (and another vote for lying about your finish time so you get into an earlier wave) is that they ran out of the Irish coffee we were supposed to get once we finished. It was cold and we were both craving something warm, but instead we were rudely told there was nothing left. And we were far from the last finishers - how this could happen is beyond me; they know how many runners there are and should be able to easily predict how much of this they will need. (There was plenty of other food, which was nice.)

I filled out a form for the timing company explaining my timing tag issue, but have heard nothing back. I still have hopes of getting an official time, but won't be that bummed if it doesn't happen.

Unless it keeps me from getting my bonus spinny medal next year. (And we are already signed up for the 2013 second Half Marathon. This Half is not nearly as pretty or popular - no famous bridge to cross - but it's also a much easier course with fewer hills.)

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

PPS: Next year's race is in June due to the America's Cup thing going on later in the summer. We are gambling a bit that this isn't going to conflict with something else that might end up going on that weekend.


mary ann said...

Brrrrrrr, it looks cold, but what fun to run on the bridge!

woggingtortoise said...

Very sweet of Mrs. Not That to give up her race.

I heard there were many timing issues this year. I heard that the 1st Half time was off by 2 minutes, and many folks who did the 5k are missing their times. Hope it will be resolved soon.

Bummer about the Irish Coffee. I share your pain; I also didn't get any last year also when I finished the 1st 1/2 as they ran out. I also can't figure out how they could run out as they'd know how many folks are running.

Great pics.