Giant Race Half Marathon Recap

In case you don't read this blog obsessively, I will start out by repeating that I ran The Giant Race half marathon in San Francisco on Saturday, after winning an entry on Wednesday (read: 3 days prior to the race).

The entry was generously provided by the Refuel With Chocolate Milk campaign.  And oh yes, there was plenty of chocolate milk after the race.

I woke up at 6:35 a.m., consistent with my risky almost-missing-the-race-start behavior.

I ate some tart cherries and cherry juice; a banana; red bull; and licorice.  The Gentleman and I were out the door before 7:00 a.m.

The traffic-free trip over the Bay Bridge got us near the start line at the Giants AT&T Stadium at about 7:15 a.m.  We parked on the street, and I jogged about a mile to the extra-crowded starting area to begin the hunt for my Bib.

The start and finish of the race.

You see, the plan was that since I was entered so late, I had no choice but to pick the bib up before the race.  Never my first choice, but as I said, I had no choice.

So, from 7:20 a.m. until 8:02 a.m. (ALERT, ALERT, race start time was 8:00 a.m.), I wandered from wrong line to wrong line, trying to figure out where to get my bib.

Once I was in the right line, person after person was turned away as their name was not found on the registry list.  I knew that did not bode well for me.

Indeed, my name was nowhere to be found.  And unlike the others before me who were turned away, my name was also not on some extra-special back-up list that we were sent to another table to find. 

I explained my situation: I won an entry 3 days prior, I received a confirmation but no bib #, etc.  Their response was "I believe you, but there is nothing we can do".

So at 7:58 a.m., I resigned myself to not running the race.  We decided I would drive back home and go on a solid long run in our hood.

At 8:00 a.m., someone working at the bib table found it in the goodness of their heart to give me a bib number.  I grabbed it, pinned it on in some sort of disarray, and paced towards the start line where the Star Spangled Banner was being sung.

The Gentleman's view of the start off yonder

I snuck in to the 1:30 pace area near the front of the pack, looked down and realized I had no chip on my shoe like everyone else, and with my hands shaking with anxiety peeled my chip off my bib and threw it on my shoe.

I stood up, and we were off!

The weather was perfectly overcast.  I was very, very confused while standing in all those bib lines as to why all these girls were *shivering* like it was 30 degrees.  It was a comfortable 60 degrees, and unless I have a thicker blubber layer than the average girl, I'm not sure what was going on.

For the first quarter mile, I let everyone shoot past me and caught a comfortable stride.  I felt slow, like I was running in slow motion.  I was completely content with that, and kept telling myself, "run a 6:40 mile or slower, do not go out too fast.  Run 6:40 or slower, run 6:40 or slower."

Gentleman didn't see me until he heard me laugh at him as I ran by.  Where am I?

Aha.  There am I.  Bright green.  Dang I look short...

I was satisfied that I was taking it easier than I had on my last 3 half-marathons, where I shot out at between a 6:19 and 6:35 min mile, which could only be sustained for the first few miles.

Garmin beeped at mile 1: 6:25.

Aghhrhhgrffr.  Ok, well, I feel great, maybe I've just magically gotten faster!? No big deal, I'll reign myself in a little.  Steady, steady.

Runners around AT&T Park, mile 1


Mile 2: 6:25.

Dammit, all these 10kers surrounding me are making this pace seem very normal.  While running by the Ferry Building and the other piers, I continued to try and slow it down, as I knew this pace was not sustainable.

Mile 3: 6:35.

Ok, I was getting there.  Still feeling great, totally comfortable.  No hamstring pain. 

A little thirsty; the first water stop made me and the surrounding 10kers laugh out loud with confusion, because the volunteers were sitting on the ground pouring water into cups.  They definitely weren't ready for us.

Mile 4: 6:44

Here is when my hamstring screamed for the first time.  I pouted.  I decided to drop out.

Truly, in the middle of this mile while passing Fisherman's Wharf, I decided to earn my first ever DNF and drop out.

I figured I would push it a little more until I knew it was time to pull over and stop; until my hamstring demanded NO MORE.  In the meantime, I adjusted my stride (never do this!! it only leads to other injuries!!) to try and minimize the aggravation to that hamstring.

Mile 5: 6:58

My focus on the hamstring was interrupted by the very steep but thankfully short Fort Mason hill.  I took it very slow, then glided down the hill, happy to have a sub 7:00 mile on a super-hill mile.

The steep but short hill is hit twice

By this point, I was running solo.  There were 2 guys I had my eye on about 10 yards ahead of me, and as far as I could hear there was no one behind me.  And no women as far as the eye could see.

Mile 6: 7:03

Eh, don't remember what made this mile slower.  Can't really remember a single thing about it.

Mile 7: 6:55

Hamstring is unhappy, and I kind of hate running around Chrissy Field.  I know it is a popular route, but the never-ending gravelly trail that is often whipped by wind is one of my least favorite areas to run.  I was thinking that once I hit the turnaround, I could consider finding a medical stop and dropping out so someone can get me back the start. 

The turnaround was right around mile 7.

BY THE WAY, I have heard from multiple sources that somewhere around here, Brian Wilson was cheerleading by giving high fives.

Allow me to gently give you a high five, ma'am
He was sure as a beard NOT around when I was passing through.  Hurts my feelings that he was too busy for the front pack.  I'm sure his high five would have given me beard-superpower for a 5:57 mile.

Mile 8: 6:56

Something interesting happened at Mile 8.  A pain came along and superseded my hamstring pain, to the point that for the entire mile, I forgot about my plan (or maybe my need) to drop out.

I had to go to the bathroom, like NOW.  Oh, and to backtrack, I knew this would happen; I could tell I had to go a little before the race started, but thanks to the bib debacle, did not have the time.  I anticipated a bathroom stop along the route.

Finally, I spotted a port-o-potty.  Unfortunately, I also spotted a very thick crowd of half-marathoners stomping out their 5th-6th mile in the opposite direction, so that port-o-potty stop had a line.  I gritted my teeth and passed that thing.

Mile 9: 6:49

Must. Find. A. Port-o-Potty.  guess it helped me pick up the pace.

Where Art Thou!?!?!

Mile 10: 6:59

This mile contained that same steep but quick hill, and luckily I didn't lose too much time.  I took the hill very slowly again, and then flew down the other side.

I did, however, lose time when I spotted another port-o-potty around mile 9.8.  I jetted in, and my Garmin went on auto-pause, so my 6:59 mile doesn't reflect how much time I lost.  I'm thinking 30-40 seconds?

Listen, this may be TMI, but 'tis the true life of a runner.  Bathroom stuff happens during races.

So guess what happened? NOTHING.  NOTHING HAPPENED.  I sat there, mentally ticking away the seconds I was losing, while nothing happened.  So I burst forth from the port-o-potty and chugged back to the course, thinking 3 miles of miserable stomach pains is just 3 miles.

Mile 11: 6:44

Trying to make up for lost time, I picked up the pace a bit.  It was also back to a flat course.  Still consumed by my bowel issues, I was fully unaware of whether my hamstring was even still attached to my body.

Mile 12: 6:50

I'm thinking, maybe I can make it under 1:30:00 and call it a decent-yet-somewhat-horrible run?

But then again, I have no idea how much time I lost in that bathroom.  Could it have been 2 minutes?! yeesh.

Mile 13: 7:10.

Everything comes crashing down here in a cesspool of pain.  I suddenly notice, near the very beginning of this mile, that the entire length of my upper left leg from my lower hamstring up to the underside of my butt is on FIRE.   Really not comfortable.

I mentally give in to the pain and decide I don't give a $#!t about coming in under 1:30:00.  I don't care about running this last mile fast.  I just want to be done, and to chug some water.

Mile 0.27: 1:45

I don't know how this happened, but the small crowd of people/volunteers standing in front of the sharp right-angle turn into the Giants stadium for the home stretch stared at me silently as I ran past them.  Then I realized I had passed the entrance, spun around and turned into the stadium.

That's me on the jumbo-tron

It was very quiet in there, as only the first 50 or so half-ers had made their way to the finish.

As I was handed my water, medal, and Chobani yogurt, I was saddened to find how much I was limping.  It hurt much worse now than it had even in that last mile, where adrenaline was still hiding the pain.

Two days later, my leg is doing very well.  I took a warm bath after the race, and that helped a LOT.  I managed to run a slow 10 miles this morning (Monday) pretty much pain free.


13.27 Miles.
avg pace: 6:49

My bib is currently in limbo and unattached to my name, so I have no place/official chip time.  I have been in contact with peeps who are working on it.
My projection, based on the information available on the results page, is that I will be:

8th place woman out of 1398
2nd place in age group out of 349

I'll take it.

As a final note: I heard that the half marathon later got so crowded at the finish that runners couldn't walk through the finish line!! Astonished, I told the Gentleman, who said "I would have taken off my chip/shoe and thrown it through the finish".  hahaha.  Did anyone try that I wonder?