Sunday, April 19, 2015

And the Sun Rises - Rock n Roll San Francisco 2015

Our third consecutive race weekend for our 4th Rock n Roll for 2015 was in our backyard. After rain in New Orleans and DC and most of the weekend in Dallas, we were back in California where it hasn't rained in forever. Even though we didn't have to fly anywhere, the time share at Inn at the Opera with Shell Vacations is located a couple blocks from the finish line so we turned it into a long pseudo-staycation weekend. The drive in was just as scenic as most of our airport landings.

It took us a few u-turns to find it. We were welcomed with fresh baked cookies at the desk!
San Francisco City Center. The finish line is on the other side of this building.
Expo Friday was the usual light crowd. We still get slightly chilled when we walk by the Hall of Fame banner with our pictures on it at the entrance. The ladies in the pic walked in with us and mentioned that they swept the series back when there were only 6 races. Times, they do change. We grabbed a yummy dinner at the Green Papaya and finished up work at the hotel. Thanks to our employers for allowing us some flexibility!

San Francisco was our fourth Rock n Roll race of the year. It was also the last race where we'd have to wait for our bonus Heavy Medal in the mail. This time around, we'd earn the Groupie Medal. Starting in Raleigh, we get to pick up the Heavy Medals after the race!

Saturday was the obligatory time share breakfast/sales pitch. Every time they dangle an incentive, we list all the race locations we have and how far every single one of their resort destinations are located. They really don't have much extra to offer. The cookies were good though. We did the usual second day catch up with the out of towners at the expo. About half of our usual group were in for SF including Joe, Kevin and Sherri. We stopped by the Cako shops for a quick bite before meeting Al and Caryn back at the hotel. They were coming in late from a bridal shower and brought some leftover treats. They know us well. Susan turned in early as Caryn, Al and I caught up over a few slices at Pronto Pizza.

Rock n Roll San Francisco has an early 6:30 AM start. There's also a 6:15 start for folks who are looking at 4+ hour finish for the half marathon to give them time to get to the Golden Gate Bridge before the cut off. The shuttles from the Civic Center finish area to the starting line on Ocean Beach ran like clock work. Temps were in the high 40's before sunrise and warmed to the mid 60's by the time we finished. Other than a space blanket at the start, it was pretty much perfect race conditions. Just a few pics to share from the race itself for Ron:

Early morning light and iPhone selfies don't mix. Sorry about the shadow, Caryn!

There wasn't a cloud in the sky the whole race. It made for a slightly chillier day, but compared to DC and Dallas, it was downright balmy.

Rock n Roll has installed Selfie Stations for most of the races this year. This was was classic San Francisco.

At the top of the King of the Hill segment. Whoever had the fastest time coming up from mile X to this archway won something from Competitor Group. I'm hoping that included oxygen and complimentary de-fib.

After years of doing Nike SF, I realized that coming up the other direction on Lincoln gave you a much better view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was spectacular this morning.

Al was testing out a new app called Periscope where you can stream live broadcasts to your twitter feed from his iPhone. The hearts kept popping as he showed his followers the view from the roadbed of the Golden Gate Bridge. Technology is pretty amazing.

As was the sunrise over the City as seen from the road bed.

Score one for romance! At the Vista Point turnaround on the north end of the Golden Gate, a couple was getting married. They along with their entire wedding party were in the race and we found out later that the bride and groom had finished the Oceanside Half IRONMAN triathlon the day before. If you can go through that kind of adversity together and still say 'yes', I'd say marriage should be a piece of cake!

Susan's race took on a decidedly different feel. After the last few races in DC and Dallas, she found herself taking it easy and just enjoying the ride. She also found out that apparently if you wear the race shirt from the prior year, people are more likely to stop and ask you for advice on the course. This happened to her twice this race.

"The first question came in the Golden Gate Bridge. We were making our way back in the sidewalk and had a trickle of people streaming by us in both sides - on the sidewalk on the left and on the road to the right. One nervous runner slowed to ask me if we had missed the cut off and we were going to be turned around. She was particularly depressed after having come so far to be possibly turned around. I explained that the race officials were in the process of reopening the Bridge, so the last of the people who made it across on the roadbed while additional runners had been diverted into the sidewalk. I told her she had nothing to be concerned about and she merrily went on her way."

"A couple miles later as we descended the hill to Crissy Field, another runner slowed to ask me why there were no bands along the course. She said she had done other Rock n Roll events where there was a band every few miles. I explained that this was normal for this race. Out of respect for the Presidio residents between Golden Gate park and the Golden Gate Bridge, there was a set of jugglers and circus performers (like last year) and the first band we had encountered was on the far side of the bridge at Vista Point. The next music entertainment was at Sports Basement making this race less of a Rock N Roll and more of a Rolling Hills event. Those of you who need music to keep you going should plan to bring your own in this course next year."

"I confirmed I didn't have a practical joke played on me where someone had stuck a note on my back that said, "Ask me." I'm glad that camaraderie on the race course is alive and well and that we can all help each other out there on the course - real time and for next time."

We spent some time with Joe after the race. He mentioned that while he was out in San Francisco, he'd really like to stop by AT&T Park, the home of the Giants. Al arranged for a tour and lunch afterwards.

The StubHub VIP seats

Lunch at the Public House with March Madness going on in the background.
One final thought went through Susan's mind as she cruised down the last downhill to the finish line and the same thing crossed my mind as we walked through AT&T Park with Joe. 2015 has been higlighted with spending time with George and the End Hunger fundraiser in New Orleans, honoring Joe's 100th Rock n Roll in DC and dedicating our Dallas race to Beth, we're reminded that we're a part of a huge community of marathoners. Every race is a chance to connect with people who've become your family. After having done more events than we can easily count, we realize it's more about the experience rather than our finish time. Take a moment to think to yourself, if you saw someone in the middle of the race who needed your help, would you stop to help? How do you want to be perceived by others? As Boston Strong brought to light, the running community is united and we have more in common with one another by uniting together to take a stand for good.


Good luck to all our friends racing and supporting in the 119th Boston Marathon tomorrow. While it doesn't look like the skies are going to cooperate, remember how blessed you are that you'll be on the roads to enjoy whatever the day brings.

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