Wednesday, June 19, 2013

100 Marathons x2 - Wipro SF 1st Half Marathon

"Run in Feet. Dream in Miles"(tm)

I don't see very many new sayings on race shirts or spectator signs these days. I saw this one on the back of a Los Angeles Running Club shirt and really liked the way it sounded.

The Wipro San Francisco 1st Half Marathon was a "rest race" for us. After three consecutive Half Marathon PR's for both Susan and me, it was time to be a tourist in our home town. 
2013 was the first time Susan and I did the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon. Susan has done the 5K to finish the Progressive Marathon and I've gone out to cheer people into the finish. The race is usually in late July, and conflicts with our Team in Training schedule but with the America's Cup in San Francisco this year, the race was moved to June. 

Our amazing string of weather luck continued. The fog rolled out early and we had crystal blue skies from the starting gun for the 1st Half at 5:30 AM. They made a huge deal about extra security this year in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy. The volunteers were very efficient though and we got to our corrals for the early start without incident. Word was that the shuttles to the 2nd Half start line in Golden Gate Park had some issues with drop off locations, but nothing that ruined a race. The 1st Half start held to a 5 minute delay between waves to allow a lot of room on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was worth the wait.

A totally gratuitous bend in the road at Crissy Field that I'm certain was there for the photo op.
After living in the Bay Area for 35 years, I've only walked on the Golden Gate Bridge twice. Both times were in 2013, and both times during races. Talk about opening your eyes, especially on a day like this.  The wind died down going up the hills out of Crissy Field, but picked up just enough at the Bridge to cool us down after the climb.

Seriously, what's there NOT to like about racing on the Bridge?

The race was full of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics. Just about all of them will be at Rock n Roll Seattle next week. I don't know why I even bother asking the question. That's Asylum country up there.

Coming off the bridge, we got a taste of why they call this "The Race that Other Marathoners Fear". Having done the Nike Marathon course 8 of the last 9 years, we were dealing with the hills pretty well, but having them at mile 9 was a bit annoying.  Everything, it seems, is relative.

By this point, I was checking my SF Marathon app to see how Endorphin Dude and Nadia Ruiz were doing on their 100th Marathons and posting screen shots of their split times on Tony's Facebook wall and the Marathon Maniacs pages. Nadia was running with her father and taking it easy. Tony was going for broke at a pace that would crush his PR.

I barely even remember finishing the 1st Half other than they were running dangerously low on Irish Coffee. We finished comfortably within the 3 hour cutoff and waited in line for the shuttle back to the Embarcadero trying to catch Tony's finish. We didn't make it, but someone else posted a finish video. Tony beat his PR by 4 minutes on the site of his first full marathon 3 years ago. His next goal is to break the 4 hour mark in St. George in October.

Post-race, post-burger, post-gelato, post-emotional breakdown photo op with our caped hero.
Nadia finished in just under 5 hours. It was a easy pace for her as she was running with her father, Jorge, who started her on this path. With this race, Nadia will enter into the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest woman to have completed 100 full marathons.  She has her sights set on a sub-3 marathon and doesn't think she's reached her potential yet. 

Two completely different starting points - coming off the couch and starting as a near-elite. 

Two 100th Marathons. 

Two inspirational marathoners.

Crossing the finish line for them really was a matter of Running in Feet...and Dreaming in Miles.

It makes me humble to have the privilege to share the course with them.


The Wipro San Francisco Marathon started in 1977 and is typically late July to August. In 2013, there were 5,762 finishers in the Full Marathon (with a median time of 4:30), 5,952 in the 1st Half (2:19 Median time) and 3,096 in the 2nd Half (2:10 Median time). 

The Marathon starts on the Ferry Building at Market Street and runs along the water on the Embarcadero past Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, Fort Mason, crosses the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point and back before turning down Baker Beach and into Golden Gate Park where the 1st Half Marathon finishes. The 2nd Half starts by winding through Golden Gate Park, and runs east through the city streets to AT&T Park, turning north to finish back at the Ferry Building.  The 1st half has a 3 hour chip-time cut off. The 2nd half has a 3:30 cut off. (Course Map for 2013)

Weather: Temps range from high 50's to mid 60's for the 5:30 AM start warming about 10 degrees by finish time for the full. Fog is pretty much a given this time of year for the 1st Half but we lucked out this year as the fog burned off early. Hold on to your hats as you cross the bridge.

Things to do (or at least what WE did): The World Champion San Francisco Giants were on the road this weekend, but between the Museum District, North Beach, Alcatraz and all the tourist attractions, there is plenty to do, see, and eat. We spent the weekend with Caryn and our favorite food critic Al, so we were properly fueled, before and after, and carried the momentum into a weight loss challenge that started two days after the race.

Course setting: City streets with awesome views of SF for the most part. There may be some slight hills.

Support: Eh to Very Good. The Marathon and 1st Half Marathon start at 5:30 AM and have water and electrolyte every 2.5 miles. GU is available at the Vista Point on the far side of the bridge for the 1st half. The "Eh" part was that the 1st Half was necessarily quiet due to the route. Some DJ's and some early risers with boom boxes were up, but the 2nd Half had more of the official entertainment locations. 

We've signed up for the SF 2nd Half Marathon in 2014 to complete the "Half it All Challenge" and are keeping the option for doing the Full Marathon in 2015 for the 52 Club medal and sweatshirt.  For the truly hard core, there is a "Worth the Hurt 52.4" double marathon that starts at midnight before the race. Participants travel the course in reverse and must make the 5:30 AM start time in order to be eligible for the regular marathon and complete the double.  Wipro also sponsors the Los Angeles Marathon and offers bonus swag for completing both in the LA/SF Challenge. We haven't made up our mind on LA, but signed up for the Oakland Running Festival Relay and the Berkeley Half Marathon on November 24th to hit the Half Fanatic Mars level.

Find us on Facebook at Marathoning For Life

Clockwise: Endorphin Dude's epic congratulation card. Joanna in the starting corral. Sara in front of Cupids Arrow. Caryn and Al's two designs of the Half it All medals.

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