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Posts tagged ‘San Francisco’

The long road back at the San Francisco 2nd Half

I told myself after I ran the Oakland Half Marathon in 2011 that once I finished I'd have at least one thing going for me: I would never have to run my first half marathon again.

Fast forward to July 27, 2014.

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Catching up (+ the San Francisco Marathon expo)

So ... my blog had a major issue this past weekend. I spent Friday-Monday trying to get it restored. It took a call, several support tickets and a bunch of anguish on my part to bring it back. I lost one of my personally managed sites in the process. It was all sorts of sadness for me, especially because I truly thought I'd lost my daughter's birth story (even though I had backed up the database).

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Jumping on the color-covered bandwagon


More than a year ago, I swore off the 5K distance. It’s not that I don’t have a love for 3.1 miles. I ran a lot of 5Ks in my training to run my first 10K in 2010. I nursed those 5Ks to that 10K finish, believe me. But I realized midday through 2012 there was no way I could run a fast 5K if all my training planes literally had my legs coming alive at mile five.

That’s part of the reason I have a love/hate relationship with the 10K. It’s actually more of a hate/hate relationship. I only run trail 10Ks now. Those are the only ones I feel “worth my time and effort.”

I sound like a pretentious runner. I’m really not. I just kind of gave up on the 5K and 10K being “my distance.”

And we all have a distance we claim as our own. For me, it’s the half marathon. Two years ago I never thought I’d say that. But in the past seven months, I’ve learned to master the 13.1 and make it my own.

So when my running buddies asked me to do a “color run” with them, I initially said no. Color runs are the new mud runs, you know. Everybody is doing them. But not me. No thanks.

I think my resistance lasted for about four weeks before my friend Sam sent me a Groupon deal for the July 6 “Run or Dye” event in San Francisco. It was at a really low price, one that might make me budge. Finally, I did. I actually opted to do a 5K color run over a six-hour endurance run. At least I’ll be done quickly, I told myself.

I’m not even sure what I’m getting myself into.

I’ve heard a mix of good and bad going into these runs. This one is untimed. I’m not even taking my Garmin. I am, however, taking an accessory that doesn’t usually make it into my running ensemble.

Yes. A tutu has been made.

It’s fitting that my June issue of Runner’s World magazine has a runner on the front getting splashed with corn starch-colors on all sides. It lists color-themed runs with zombie runs, foam runs and neon-light runs as a way to “have fun” for a 5K.

After months of serious racing (two marathons in a three-month period and a bunch of other distance races), I’m kind of looking forward to finding my fun again in a less serious run.

So I’ll be heading out Saturday morning with my running buddies and their children to San Francisco.

I had to buy a white shirt. Because I apparently don’t own any I can thrash. Though I’m told that the colors all wash off.


I kind of find it ironic that it says “live love color” and “lasting color” on the shirt when I intend to make it very, very colorful. I also found a pair of hot pink tights to wear, though on second thought I’m not sure if I really will.


I may not be digging the brightness on race morning.

I’ll also grab an older pair of my running shoes. I don’t plan on “running” this race at all. Instead, I plan on kind of slogging (slow+jogging=slogging) through it for fun.

Since this sort of race doesn’t put focus on the time, it will be easy to relax and slow down a little. The last time I didn’t focus on a race time was during a mud run a couple years ago. In that case, I couldn’t. I was stuck behind a line of people in a mud pit for about 20 minutes. My time for the 5K was somewhere around 54 minutes when I finished.

Less serious? Yes. Still difficult? Yes.

This run doesn’t include obstacles, which I’m actually rather thankful for. My core still hasn’t recovered since my January gallbladder removal. (It should be by now, but I’ve been really unmotivated to push myself in that area. I have even less motivation to bring my once-broken arm back to the form it was in, strength wise, when it broke.)

In any case, I’ll get to fulfill my only-recently discovered dream of wearing a tutu while I run. It’s not really a dream. I’ve just never figured it would be practical to do so. I mean, it will likely itch.


Doesn’t it look so much prettier finished? Maybe not. I think it kind of looks like a 1980s wedding favor. Long live Tulle.

I’m actually kind of nervous about how this is all going to go. I think once you’ve towed the line at a couple marathons, running takes on a different feel. As in: Can I approach a race without that competitive need to beat myself?


Or can I run a race with friends and not feel naked without my Garmin? Will I feel as if I still have a long way to go after I hit the three-mile mark?

I guess I’m going to find out.

A new member of the ’52 Club’

“Worth the hurt” is the motto for the San Francisco Marathon. Today, I know why.

My whole body hurts. It’s not just my super angry IT band and left hip. It’s my lower back, my shoulders and my core. When I finished my 26.5-mile jaunt (that’s what the Garmin tallied) yesterday, I sent a message to one of my running buddies.

“I’m never doing this one again,” I wrote.

She’s pretty sure I will.

After resting my legs all week, which was it’s own cruel punishment, I pounded the pavement of San Francisco. I ran my second fastest marathon at 5:15:46. I’m still a little impressed that it went so well. I told my husband to expect me around 5:30.

“Or later,” I said when he dropped me off near the Embarcedero, which happened to have a full line of portable toilets without any lines outside of the security checkpoint. (This year, there were security checkpoints in place where runners were searched in light of what happened at April’s Boston Marathon).

I timed everything so well on Sunday morning that I had maybe at 15 minute wait in my corral before hitting the streets.

Immediately my leg started hurting, but it didn’t develop into a full-on “why are you doing this???” pain until about mile 18, which is where I normally hit “the wall.” Except my wall wasn’t a wall as much as a lake that I didn’t want to see and a park that I just wanted to escape after six miles.

In any case, I’m completely satisfied with my time. I don’t feel like the last two races were regressions at all. I’m proud of what I did out there in San Francisco, even if some of my miles had the 13-minute mark in front of them.

My finish also means I truly earned my “52 Club” sweatshirt. When I asked my husband to grab me a long-sleeve shirt from upstairs before he went to work this morning, he brought it to me.

“I’m awarding you the sweater,” he laughed.

My three medals above show my progression from 2011 (“I’ll run the second half because it’s less hilly”) to 2012 (“I’ll run the first half to complete the Half-It-All Challenge”) to this year (“Why shouldn’t I run the full marathon?).

A full race report is in the works. I’m just happy to have survived and not done any significant damage to my leg and hip.

Happiness in a little Tiffany blue box

After an incredibly bad week, that included my 10-year-old car being towed away and looking for a new vehicle today in addition to 100 other things, I crossed the finish line at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon somewhere around 2:40 today.

The time comes courtesy of my Garmin. I still don’t have my chip time results on the website.

Last year I finished somewhere around 2:53. So I set a 13-minute course personal record.

I can’t be mad about that. I can’t be mad about how I ran, because I busted to get up those hills, even though I slowed down quite a bit.

I didn’t stay at the finish line too long or partake in a lot of the festivities. I’ve been completely beaten this week. The half marathon was exciting. It was empowering. It was amazing.

It will also get a full recap in another post. But I did well today.

And now I know last week’s horrible half in San Jose was a fluke. I run better than that now. It was warm. I was tired. Things happen.

Today was redeeming. I’m going to celebrate that.

I’ll also be celebrating my sweet new Nike bling. I love how the Golden Gate Bridge, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is incorporated.

Answers to your Nike Women’s Marathon (and half) questions

One of the most common search terms that brings visitors to my blog is NWM or “Nike Women’s Marathon.” I know why. It’s  HUGE race, and not just because of the 25,000-plus women who run it. It’s big because of the money it brings in for charity. It’s also a “desired” destination race for the mega bling finishers get at the end.

Behold, the Tiffany pendant.

I hate to say it, but there’s no angels singing or anything when the hot firefighter hands it to you. But it’s beautiful. And amazing. I never owned a Tiffany necklace until I was handed this one. I still have the little blue box.

So in honor of the Nike Women’s Marathon, I’m going to answer some questions I’ve received via email over the past few weeks from nervous runners gearing up to run the 13.1 or 26.2 miles through San Francisco from Union Square to Golden Gate Park (and a lot of places in between).


Not like any expo you’ve likely been to. There’s very few vendor booths selling marathon swag. There’s a lot of “girly” stuff happening instead. You can get pedicures. Neutrogena has a counter and reps will give you pointers on skin care. There’s no race gear for sale. Instead, you have to go to Nike Town across the street.

Nike Town in itself is a mad house. Grab what you want quick, because it will go fast if you don’t.

The biggest thing is that last year Nike started a system where numbers would be assigned upon check in. I ended up with a very low 162 because I went to the expo on Thursday. I recommend going to the expo on Thursday if you live nearby. Why? There’s usually a little something special happening at it. And it’s light. Very light when it comes to people. I didn’t have to wait at all to get my bib.

Nike+ members got an extra disposable backpack for check in. I’m not a Nike+ member, though I now have it on my iPhone. I just got a florescent green bag, but still pretty hefty.

Overall, it’s nice. But I think I ended up spending a lot more money than I really wanted to. And a lot more than I’ve ever spent at an expo because Nike stuff isn’t cheap. (That said, ever since the Saucony disaster earlier this year, I’m staying brand loyal to Nike for the shoes.)


Yes. But the system is crazy. You have to remember what bus you checked in at. I’m hoping this year will be different because of a new corral system. We’ll see. We literally walked through a forest of buses last year looking for the bag my friend checked. I had my husband bring me my bag at the end, so I didn’t check anything.

Then, when said friend got her bag back, something had been spilled on it. Not really what you want after running for a long time.


One word: Bad. But NWM promises a revamped system this year to ease the congestion and, hopefully, the number of walkers getting mixed in with runners at the beginning.

In late September, a new corral map was posted to the Nike 26.2 Facebook page.

It looks promising.

If you click the image, it will take you to the PDF corral map.

That said, people will lie. This happens in nearly every race. Some walkers will say they run at a nine-minute mile pace just to get more time. Then the runners who run 10-12 minute miles, but still run, are stuck behind the walkers, weaving in and out of the way.

It sucks, yes. But it’s a big race. It happens.


At the start, no.  Everywhere else, yes. My two friends and I spent nearly 45 minutes in a portable toilet line that wasn’t moving. At all. People were crowding other people. Some runners were just jumping into the toilets before another one could. It was pretty brutal.

Brutal enough that I took matters into my own hands. When everyone was crowding up to move into starting position (again in very unorganized corrals last year), I noticed a toilet with green above the handle. I jumped in. It seemed everyone else was concerned about starting. So I commandeered a bathroom.

I’m not even ashamed.

The rest of the way, there seemed to be ample enough toilets. The longest lines were at the top of the biggest hill on the half marathon. That’s near the Golden Gate Bridge.


If you haven’t trained for them, of course. I earned my Nike entry last year as part of a sponsored team. I didn’t know I was running the race until about five or six weeks before. At that point I was training, instead, for a PR at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which I got (and it was my standing PR until only recently).

There are very few hills on that run.

This year, I’ve increased resistance on my treadmill. I’ve also spent some time focusing on the muscles in my legs that propel me up hills. Proof of my work going well was a 2:32-ish finish in the 1st Half Marathon of the San Francisco Marathon.

A plan of attack: The hills near Fort Mason aren’t horrible and there’s a nice downhill after. The hills before Golden Gate Park are a bit painful. Slow and steady if you’re a running like me (10:30-11:30 minute half marathon time for miles).


Last year, Gatorade was provided on the course. This year, it’s Nuun. That said, water is available as well.

I always carry my own Gu and a water bottle. I suggest some hydration system in this race. Why? Because the first water stops are ridiculously crowded. Not even in a “I’ll go to the end of the table and it will be fine” way. It’s majorly crowded.


If you have no other way to get back, yes. If you are crafty, it’s really easy to catch a bus from the Ocean Beach (where the race ends) down Geary Boulevard and back to Union Square. Or to BART if you are having someone drive you in from the East Bay. A bus ticket only costs a couple dollars compared to the Nike price for a shuttle ticket.

Yes, it’s public transportation. But I’m all about cost saving.

That said, my husband has a knack for finding parking spaces when no one else can. So he drops me off in the morning and picks me up. He’s become really good at it because I run so many races.

When I lived in Oakland for graduate school at University of California, Berkeley, I often turned to 511 for information about buses and BART. I recommend it.


Nope. And honestly, this is always a question on days of early races. In only one case have I seen BART change a race schedule to accommodate a race. The service was limited. I live near the end of the line in Dublin/Pleasanton (in Tracy) and it would literally be a quick hop and skip over the Altamont to take BART. But, alas, no BART early on race day.


All parking in San Francisco is bad. But it’s worse around the finish. Consider that Ocean Beach is a pretty popular destination, Cliff House is nearby and Golden Gate Park always has a lot of people and it’s even worse. Plus, the neighborhoods are packed full of residents’ cars. So if you have someone coming to pick you up, be prepared to trek it out.


For some reason, I get asked this a lot. I don’t immediately eat after a race, so when someone hands me a banana I usually hoard it for the ride home. I was told they had bagel, juice and other stuff. I don’t think I looked hard enough for it, because I didn’t get any.


Crazy. I say that lovingly because a lot of people are taking photos and celebrating, but they are also interrupting the flow of runners just finishing. The T-shirt tables are unorganized (or they were in 2011). No one asks you to verify which size you signed up for, so it’s kind of a free for all.

Last year, I heard a group of men who ran complain that they didn’t get a separate medal or different shirt. It’s a women-focused race dudes. Seriously.

If you blink, you’ll miss something. I nearly missed being handed my space blanket. And don’t expect a singular finish-line shot unless you are an uber competitive runner. There’s always going to be someone around you. I was dodging people up to mile 10. Then I gave up and just went with the flow. My heart race and anxiety were getting the best of me.


Cheesy as it is, Nike was the one race I wanted to do when I started distance running. When I hit my first run over 10 miles, I said I would run Nike. And through serendipity, I got in even after I was rejected from the random draw.

This year, I earned a spot through the lottery with my running group.

And I’m excited about heading out to pound the pavement in San Francisco again. It’s one of the most scenic places in California and has quickly become one of my favorite places to race in.


No problem. If you have a question not listed here, shoot me an email using my contact page. I’d be more than happy to answer. (Even if it’s about the sprinklers coming on in Fort Mason, or tripping in potholes along the road, etc.) Just shoot me a line.

A half-marathon victory

I’m not going to lie: Sunday was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time.

It may sound like hyperbole, but it’s the truth. From waking up feeling good, to deep relaxation on the 50-minute ride to San Francisco, to being smart enough to stop at a super secret public bathroom so I wouldn’t have to wait forever at the start line, to the pretty lanterns above my corral — the 1st Half Marathon of the San Francisco Marathon was a race of redemption for me.

I am thankful that after months of self doubt and second guessing, I feel as if I’m finally coming out of my running slump.

I ran strong and I felt absolutely unstoppable at the end, even with the major hills that slowed me a little.

My morning started off with a 5:30 a.m. view of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. My husband dropped me off near the start line in downtown and I walked over with a huge group of people, including a man wearing jeans. I keep hoping he wasn’t actually going to run in them, but I know sometimes people do.

Based on a 2:25-2:30 finish, I was in corral six. There were two more corrals behind me, which meant that, no matter what, I’d have time to run the course if I needed the full three hours. I honestly wondered whether I would a couple months ago. I kept telling myself that, with the hills, I’d be closer to my Nike time last year of somewhere around 2:53.

I signed up for the corral during a particularly optimistic moment apparently.

It was dark at the Embarcadero.

I thought it was kind of funny my shoe laces, despite the sun not yet rising, were still bright as ever. I immediately went to my corral, despite having more than 30 minutes to wait. I was told race officials actually close these corrals. The bathroom lines were LONG everywhere. I’m convinced there were not enough bathrooms at all. Every stop had a line of 10-20 people.

The sun was coming up a little in this self photo with the bridge behind me. I was feeling good. I don’t know why, but I was feeling as if I could run on and on. I didn’t know if I could, though.

The time ticked on in corral six as Bart Yasso, the chief running officer at Runner’s World magazine, bantered with the emcee. It honestly wasn’t that long between the 5:32 a.m. initial start and my 6:12 wave start. And the San Francisco Marathon officials were prompt in their starting times. No kidding. We literally went off at 6:12 a.m. That’s probably the first time that’s happened at a race.

We weren’t actually lined up at the actual start line all that long. But here it is. There weren’t a ton of people in my corral either, or at least with all the space it didn’t seem that way.

With a quick countdown, we were off.

Mile 1: 10:13 — It didn’t feel as if I was running in the 10s here. I was just trying to move along the waterfront without tripping over someone. Good thing about this race is that there are so many fewer people that walk than Nike. That’s great because the Embarcadero has changing surfaces, including some cobblestone.

Mile 2: 10:18 — My heart rate was great, feeling good. Started thinking about the second mile in races in general. It tends to be pretty tough for me sometimes.

Mile 3: 11:47 — The first hill. Not huge, but the moment I started moving up, I had a sharp pain in my left glute. I wasn’t sure what it was, but thought, maybe, it could really derail the race for me. I went a little more conservative. I did a Gu at the first water stop.

Mile 4: 10:47 — Downhill through Fort Mason where the sprinklers had been on just before. I kept hoping I wouldn’t slip. I didn’t, but it seemed like an unnecessary hazard.

Mile 5: 11:27 — And we’re climbing again. Up a huge hill. By this point, I was feeling really good. Five miles in under an hour? I was amazed with myself a little. Go me! (Super fast people are probably laughing when they read this, but a lot of my problem is thinking I can’t run fast. I’m trying to get over that.)

Mile 6: 13:34 — OH. MY. GOD. HILL. I remembered it from Nike. I took little baby steps for the most part, then started moving up in more of a walk. This was the ascent to the Golden Gate Bridge too. Once I got near the bridge I started stepping it up, not believing I was almost halfway done. And still feeling good.

Mile 7: 11:45 — I remembered, as I entered this mile, that I needed to do another Gu. I didn’t get to until the Marin County turnaround.

Mile 8: 12:01 — I kind of had to go to the bathroom, but couldn’t because there were SO MANY people in line. Seriously. And there were people using the actual bathrooms too. Fail. I know there are a lot of people running, but maybe invest in more portable toilets?

Mile 9: 11:37 — Back across the bridge after a Gu. I did notice the three-percent elevation climb and downhill on the bridge. No horrible, but not great either. I just kept on running. Scary moment near here, though. A car seemed to move into/close to the “buffer” lane. Suddenly all the runners heard tires screech. Everyone around me turned around thinking someone was hit. That wasn’t the case, but it was troubling.

Mile 10: 11:47 — Continuing up that huge hill after the bridge. I looked down and was still coming in under two hours. AWESOME! I remembered my time on the easier second half course last year was 2:35:30. I wondered, could I get that?

Mile 11: 11:09 — A nice downhill here after reaching the top of the hill.

Mile 12: 12:04 — The ending uphills begin. In retrospect, I was supposed to do a Gu at mile ten, but forgot. I think I was on a runner’s high and thought “I can do this!” and didn’t bother. It started slowing me down here.

Mile 13: 11:59 — More uphill, as my body was getting tired (only a little), definitely need to remember that to finish strong I need to do the Gu.

Mile .26: 2:18 — I’m obviously over, which is because I wasn’t running those tangents well on the hills, but I look down and I’m still coming in under my time last year on the EASIER half.

Official time: 2:32:45

I couldn’t believe it. I’d run better on tough course than I’d been able to run in nearly every race before. I came in only seconds after my Oakland Half Marathon time and that course is nowhere near as hilly.

What’s changed? My diet is different. But I’m also doing more incline training when I run on the treadmill. I’m also running smarter and adding speed workouts to my training. It appears to be working.

I grabbed two bottles of water. I was thirsty, even though I carried my handheld. There were only water stops every two miles. A lot happens in two miles, even on a cool San Francisco day.

I was particularly glad to be handed a space blanket. The fog on the bridge left my hair soaked and my clothes damp. I put back on my long sleeve and wrapped myself up after I went and grabbed this special medal:

It’s my “prize” for running the 2nd Half Marathon last year and the 1st Half Marathon this year. I know the pictures aren’t great, mainly because I was trying to take them at night, under a lamp. It’s a huge spinner medal, with images from both runs on either side of the spinner. I wore it proudly around the finish line area.

Speaking of which, the 2nd Half Marathon was happening right around us, along with full marathoners running nearby.

I wasn’t even in pain. I’m thinking my Nikes LunarEclipse +2’s are much more awesome than I thought. My husband and I had planned to hike in the Marin Headlands, back across the Golden Gate Bridge, but instead decided on a trip to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. We walked around checking out the place for nearly two hours.

Then, hungry, we headed back to the East Bay where we stopped at one of my favorite pizza places in Oakland, Lanesplitter on Telegraph Avenue. During graduate school I lived right down the street from Lanesplitter. I spent many nights eating pizza while working on my master’s project for UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

I think it’s fair to say Lanesplitter got me through graduate school.

You can see why. Amazing salads. Huge slices. After a half marathon? A major win.

I’m still excited, days later, about my run in San Francisco. I’m hoping to take that excitement into the Brazen Racing Summer Breeze Half Marathon this weekend. But I think it might be asking too much for another performance like that.

Right now I’m just happy to know I still have it in me. I can still do it. And that makes for a good day indeed.

Prepping for the streets of San Francisco

About a year ago this time, I was toying with the idea of starting a blog. I kept thinking to myself that I should write about all the races I do and the expos I attend. I didn’t want to because I wanted to brag. I did so because I kept wondering, when I was going to all these things, what I should expect. I wanted to know how long waits at expos were. I wanted to know if certain races were worth he money. I wanted to know how difficult courses were from honest people, as opposed to race organizations.

I found all those things on blogs. I started reading more and more running blogs over the past year. I remember walking through the San Francisco Marathon expo, picking up my bib and shirt for the second half marathon, thinking it was time. By September, I had started a blog. That half marathon would the last I’d run without “documenting” it.

So today I found myself coming full circle as I waited in line at the expo for the 1st Half Marathon that I’ll be running. I immediately started taking photos of everything, as I’ve done for the past year or so.

I was near the beginning of the line as the expo opened at noon. My husband went in to work in Richmond, across the bay, today so I took a ride on BART over and did a little shopping before doing the 1.1 mile walk to the expo. It’s kind of off the beaten path, accessible by public transportation, but just as easy to get to by walking.

In the line, I was in front of a guy complaining about the line being long and a “six-hour wait.” The expo wasn’t even open yet. Dramatic much dude? Yes, yes he was. More annoying was that he was talking about topics that just seemed like he was bragging to everyone around him.

After only about twenty minutes waiting, including about 10 when the expo wasn’t open, I was within the first three batches of people to go inside.

This expo is held in probably the biggest location of all expos I’ve been too. The SF Design Center is a long hall, which makes it easy to navigate through if people don’t stop right in front of you. (That happens. A lot.)

The first thing was bib pickup. Because the expo had just opened, I forgave the girl who told me I was in the wrong line when I wasn’t. She fumbled through the bibs and took awhile to finally get mine. No big deal. Then I headed over to the shirts.

I hate to say this, but shirts are always a point of contention. They can often be the reason people don’t sign up for a race the next year. I’m not even kidding. I’ve seen people post comments on Facebook pages saying they wouldn’t be back the following year because the race shirt had “cheapened” the experience. Do those people follow through? I don’t know. But they sure make a fuss.

I’ll be honest: I’m not in love with this year’s shirt.

That’s what I saw when I first walked up to the shirt table. The shirt is a nice blue color, but has huge writing on the front. It also has the lead sponsor’s logo, big, on the sleeve.

You can really see the deep blue color of the shirt in the above photo. The “13.1 miles” is printed on the back, right-hand side. I don’t have a qualm with that, not at all. I also like the wraparound graphic with the Golden Gate Bridge, which I’ll be running this year for the first time ever.

But it’s kind of busy. I’m a fan of simple lines, something well-designed and not an overt advertisement for a specific race. That said, I was a HUGE fan of the 2011 design.

I still wear it all the time. I’m actually planning on wearing it as an upper layer for the race since we’ll be starting before dawn. I liked it because the print was simple. Plus, the race organization’s imprint was small on the back while also being specific to the 13.1.

My phone is obviously showing the colors a little off. The orange shirt is more like the color of the first than the close-up shot. In any case, I love that shirt. I love the color. I love the print. I’m probably in the minority here, though. A lot of people commented immediately after the race last year that they hated the shirt.

When voting opened this year, people actually said they wanted blue or something closer to the previous colors. They also complained about the long-sleeved aspect.

The biggest difference this year is branding. Last year’s marathon and half marathons didn’t have a sponsor until nearly the end. That’s likely the reason for the increased sponsor-name everywhere. In any case, I likely won’t be ordering a second shirt this year. Does that mean I won’t sign up next year? Of course not. Race shirts are hit and miss. You can’t please everyone. And I’ll wear it. It just won’t be my go-to shirt during the winter.

I walked around the expo after picking up my reusable race bag. This year, organizers made a good change by moving the official race merchandise to the end of the level with bibs and race shirts. Last year, it was incredibly close to the rest of the goods. It made for a cramped, uncomfortable experience.

The problem with all the “official” merchandise is that there’s not a lot of half specific stuff. I don’t like wearing a race shirt if I didn’t actually “run” what it says on it. Even my Brazen shirts that say 5K/10K/half marathon are a little weird to wear. I often feel the need to tell people which I actually ran. (I do this ALL the time with my Nike Women’s Half zip up, which I still want to get embroidered to say “13.1.”)

I did pick up a pricey, but nice water bottle.

I then walked the concourse a little bit, but didn’t really go crazy. I tried some Clif Bar samples. I chatted up some race officials from various races. I was tempted to sign up for Oakland Half Marathon on the spot, but there’s also a code to do it in the virtual race bag. I’ll likely sign up using that over the next couple weeks.

I stopped by the Sweaty Bands booth and picked up two new ones: a sparkly black one and a light green one.

I really like the ones I bought last year, even though I don’t wear them often.

Then I came across a booth for a product I’d seen reviewed on some blogs lately. The Clean Bottle is a cool concept. Both the top and bottom screw off. I scored four today for $20. (Compare that to the $24 I paid for the official race water bottle that I can’t even run with and will likely be bottle for work.)

One of the bottles is the “in hand” model that I can put my iPhone in and hold while I run. Like my Amphipod bottles, the bottles can be used interchangeably with the others. I’m looking forward to trying it out on a run next week. I won’t be using it for the half marathon, if only because I don’t want to try something new on race day.

I know one thing: It’s likely this will be my treadmill running bottle.

I didn’t spend a lot of time at the expo this year. I looked at some Nike clothes. I was tempted to try on some shoes, but after what my feet went through with the Sauconys earlier this year, I didn’t want to go there.

Overall it was a quick trip in and out of San Francisco. The lines weren’t long, only because I went early. I wasn’t easily tempted to buy anything. The things I bought I needed. I head back the the Market Street area and the BART station to meet my husband back in the East Bay.

But not without stopping for some pre-race fueling with cupcakes.

I think it’s a little dangerous to have a cupcake stand right next to the entrance to the BART station. I was doing so well and then I saw that. And they had S’more cupcakes. And ones with sprinkles.

At least I’ll burn it off (kind of) at the race, right?

I’m a little scared of the hills, but have been doing resistance training this time around. I’m more scared of running across the bridge because of my fear of heights (yep, even on a bridge), but I’m ready to get up and get going for this one. I’m even more ready to be done running before it’s even 9:30 a.m.

Here’s hoping for a good race.

37 miles and then the letdown


So, last week was a banner week in my running. I’m not even 100 percent how I pulled it off either. I ran a half marathon on Sunday, which isn’t counted in the numbers.

Then I ran two miles because I was really tired. I made it a mission to run further the next day. Five miles worked for me. Then I just kind of kept building, outside of my no-run Thursday.

I was slated for 15 miles on Saturday. Jeannie and I got 10, which, for our first run outside in a good while, was good enough for me. We’re hoping to do the full 15 this weekend. It’s kind of my last chance for a long run before taper for the Big Sur 21-miler on April 29.

I even had enough energy to go to San Francisco on Sunday night for a social media workshop.

We stopped and ate, quickly, at Pier 39. Then we spent twenty minutes trying to drive less than two miles. And then Thomas had to drop me off at the bottom of a hill, only we didn’t know it was a hill then.

I took a picture of it as I was leaving because walking up it was nothing for me after a 10-mile run on Sunday.

I was so proud.

I even took a photo of myself with more of the hill behind me.

Then the week started. It’s technically spring break for me from school. So I have a little more time to devote to my 40-hour which turns into 50+ hour a week full-time job. Well. It’s weeks like this I forget how I’m able to do both.

I’ve had some personal defeats this week. I ran only five miles yesterday. I’m hoping for eight tonight.

But I found out earlier in the week that my swim school had close, permanently. That means no more swim lessons on Tuesday and Thursdays.

As much as I want to say “well, I can devote more time to marathon training” I know that I also really enjoyed the swimming and I had come incredibly far in a short time. I’m trying to figure out a gym membership to keep going.

But I’m not 100 percent sure I want to do that before the marathon.

It doesn’t help that I’m tired. In the too exhausted to do anything way. When I was paying to swim and someone was actually there waiting for me to show up, I was, well, more inclined to show up.

A pool at the gym? Alone? I’m not sure I want to take that route either.

So I’m not sure where I stand right now after last week’s stellar performance. I need more consistency in my workouts and in my running.

I just don’t know if I have the time for that. Or the will.

An early present

After careful consideration and a lot of thought, today, I did it: I registered for my second Bay to Breakers.

It’s a little special this year because it’s on my 28th birthday. My friends don’t want to do it. So I’m running it with my brother.

And my husband is leaving town that weekend to watch a solar eclipse. (On my birthday, yes.)

So I’m not even sure how we’ll be getting to San Francisco quite yet, but we will get there. I’m thinking of dressing up like Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I already have the Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and a Nike running skirt, so I’m well on my way.

My brother ran a half marathon with me for my birthday last year. Then he ended up in the hospital with stress-induced heart issues. I thought maybe I shouldn’t make him run another half marathon. And Bay to Breakers is kind of a nice, noncompetitive environment.

So we’re all set…kind of. We’ll figure out the logistics later.

But we’re registered. For Corral C. (Also my corral last year.) And I’ll be going back for a crazy year two.