Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
I did it! A new postpartum half marathon PR! 🎉
Going into the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, I wondered if I’d be able to pull off a postpartum PR. I logged quite a few miles in January, but many of the miles were walking miles. I questioned my ability to run faster, especially over the course of 13.1 miles. Even as I stood in the starting corral I wondered, “Can I really pull off a sub 11 minute pace for 13+ miles?” Well, as state above, I did it! Now, let’s start from the beginning.
First order of business was laying out all of my race day gear for my traditional flat runner pic.
Before I knew it, race morning had arrived and my alarm was set for both 3:45 and 3:50am. I got up, got dressed, and was out the door by 4:15ish.
According to my GPS devise, it was going to take me about two hours to arrive to my destination. I made a quick stop about halfway for a coffee and crossed the Bay Bridge into San Francisco a little after 6am.
A couple great things about the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon is that the race offers bib mailing and there’s free shuttles to the start line. I, therefore, didn’t have to worry about trying to attend the race’s expo to pick up my bib, nor worry about how I was going to get to the starting line! I was able to easily find a place to park within 20 yards of the shuttle pick up point. By 6:47am, I was on the shuttle and headed to the starting line.
After getting off the shuttle, my first stop was finding a bathroom. I was thankful to find a plethora of porta potties!
Next, I headed to the gear check area to drop off my zip up sweatshirt. It was still chilly, but I knew that I’d warm up quickly once the race started. The gear drop off area was well organized and provided runners with a clear bag to drop off their gear.
Once I left gear check, I made my way to the starting line where I met up with Vanessa.
After a brief hello and cheering on the start of the 5k, it was time to line up in the starting corrals. Since I was aiming for a postpartum PR, I decided to line up in the 10 minute/mile corral. As I stood there in the sea of runners, I still questioned my ability to maintain a 10 something minute per mile pace for 13+ miles.
Besides water and fuel, chapstick is another item that is a necessity while I run. Sadly when I opened my chapstick while standing in the starting corral, this is what I found…
Yup. I had reached the end of the chapstick tube and the little bit of chapstick that remained was stuck to the lid of the chapstick. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Hopefully this isn’t a sign of what is to come.”
The first seven miles went pretty well: 10:03, 9:42, 10:29, 10:39 (If I remember correctly, I took my first walk break at 4 miles), 10:29, 9:41 (there were some downhill portions coming out of Golden Gate Park), and 9:46. Then the course took us out along the Great Highway along Ocean Beach. My next three miles were 10:54, 11:08, and 10:58. At mile 10, we turned around and headed back towards Golden Gate Park along the Great Highway. The bad news about this is that we were now trying to run into the wind as opposed to running with the wind at our backs AND the wind was picking up the sand which was blowing in my eyes, nose, and mouth! I was thankful to have my visor and sunglasses to try to shield my eyes. As for my mouth, I ended up untying the long sleeve shirt I had tied around my waist and tied it around my face instead to provide a barrier between my mouth and the sand. I was really regretting not bringing my Buff.
My final three miles were 12:17, 12:06, and 12:28. I was still rather pleased with these times despite going into the wind and dealing with blowing sand. I clocked in my final .28 miles at 11:09. I knew that I was close to getting a postpartum PR, so I was motivated to finish strong!
Once I crossed the finish line, I snapped my customary jump shot, picked up a bottle of water and mylar blanket, and made my way towards the finish line festivities. Since this was my first time running the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, I was unsure of what to expect for the finish line festivities. I spotted a long line soon after I was given my mylar blanket, so I stood in the line assuming it was the line for the finish line t-shirts. As I got closer to the t-shirts, however, I realized the line wasn’t for the t-shirts, but for the gear check. When I got into line, the line was probably 50+ people long. It was pretty crazy. When I finally made my way up to the gear check area, I realized why the line was so long.
The gear check area post run was a hot mess! The problem didn’t seem to be in a lack of volunteers. The problem more seemed to be in a lack of communication to the volunteers and someone to help direct the traffic of all of the finishers.
When I finally got my checked gear bag returned to me, I quickly threw on my zip up hoodie. By this time, my sweat was drying and the cold wind was still blowing which pierced through every layer of clothes that I had on! I quickly walked past all of the post race vendors, grabbed a few freebies, snapped my San Fran Half medal pic with one of the iconic Golden Gate Park windmills, and began walking towards the shuttle busses.
After walking for about 10 minutes, I began questioning if I was headed in the right direction. I tried asking people walking around me, but no one seemed to know anything about the shuttle buses. I looked up how long it would take me to walk to my car and it said it was going to be a 25 minute walk uphill. Ugh. I spotted a Lime Scooter and got really excited, but then I saw that it was locked up against a street sign. Ugh. At this point the wind was still blowing strongly, I was still really cold, and I really just wanted to sit down somewhere warm and out of the wind!
Just when I was about to find an Uber, I spotted the shuttle buses. Wow! They were seriously located about a mile from the finish line! Lesson learned. Next time I’ll either park in Golden Gate Park or park at Ocean Beach. Both of these places probably would have been more convenient to get to post run. The good news? I eventually made it back to my car and began the 2+ hour trek back home.
Remember how I said there was blowing sand? It’s common for my face to be crusty after a race from dried, salty sweaty. As I was feeling my face, however, on the drive home, something felt different… there was sand stuck to my face! Further investigation led me to find sand in my ears, nose, down my shirt, and in my shoes! The sand went everywhere!
Would I run the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon again next year? Yes, absolutely!
Check out my race recap video below!
Until next time,
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