Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lovin' the Bay area -- San Fran Marathon recap

Jen and I are back in the Chicago area after a wonderful jaunt in San Francisco and the Napa Valley wine country this past week. We had a memorable time touring the entire area. Some highlights:

We toured five different wineries and tasted countless delectable varietals of wines. (It pays to be in the industry.)

We saw Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows, one of my favorite bands, perform at the Greek Theater in Berkeley on UC's campus- after spending the day touring that interesting town. What a great show and a great venue.

We saw beautiful scenery in both rural and city settings - including breathtaking views of San Francisco from various angles; not to mention beautiful views of wine country from atop Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, CA.

We stayed in a fabulous spa/hotel on Bodega Bay, which is a quaint little out-of-the way bayside town to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We even rode horses on the beach looking out into the bay.

We saw all the major landmarks in the city. (The one disappointment was that the Alcatraz tours were sold out for the entire 7 days we were in the area.)

We saw the comedian John Heffron (Last Comic Standing champ) and laughed our butts off.

Oh, you asked about the marathon? I almost forgot!

Well, I finished in a respectable time of 3:06 after putting up a 4 1/2 min positive split.

I finished in 86th place out of 5093 in the total field. You can see my splits (which are quite jumbled due to missing mile markers) and further race finish details here.

The hills caught up with me late. The Golden Gate bridge out-and-back (miles 6-9) was the steadiest, longest up and down and, while I didn't know it at the time, it may have been my undoing. Unfortunately, the damn fog prevented any reasonable view of the city.

Tack on mile 10 right after the bridge which was a killer, steep downhill. I ran it in 6:28, which shredded my quads, then I had to pound back uphill on 11. Though the hills varied in size/grade, it seemingly was an unending cycle.

When a well-intentioned spectator tells you "it's all downhill from here" at mile 20, he or she is not telling you the whole story. While the total elevation change is downhill, there are still numerous ups and downs. I was slipping into the 7:30+ pace range the last few as I clung on for dear life.

I said I'd be surprised if I didn't put up a 3:05 or better and I came up short, so, there you have it... I am a bit surprised -- especially after a 1:31 first half! Nevertheless, it goes to show how the hills can zap you if you are not trained for them, which I simply couldn't do enough of where I live.

Anyway, that's three marathons down in 2009 and one to go. Here are my two remaining major goals for this year:

1. Put up a new PR for the half marathon on September 6th (

2. Break 3:00 again at Chicago on October 11th. I feel the need to tear up a flat course after San Fran and Boston on the last two!


Neeraj Rohilla said...

Great job on the Marathon. I am surprised by your Garmin splits. So, due to tangents and lateral shift one can run an additional ~ 0.4 mile in a marathon.

Next time I have to keep an eye on those tangents as I don't run with a GPS device.

smitty said...

Nice job on the marathon. Unfortunately, running up an incline requires additional effort and no matter how good of shape you are in or how hard you train for hills, you still have the gravity to contend with. Try running 400 meters on a downhill slope, then on a flat surface. You will naturally run faster on the downhill. It's not because you trained for downhill, but because gravity is helping, and the reverse is true for uphill. I always take several factors into consideration when trying to determine my target pace comparative to optimal conditions; these are course difficulty (elevation, surface type, etc.) temperature, and wind speed. Again, excellent job on the race, and compared to SF, Chicago will be a walk in the park, barring brutal heat for the 3rd year in a row...

jen said...

Congratulations! Amazingly fast time on a very difficult course. You're incredible!! Sounds like it was a very memorable trip. Love the photos- your wife is stunning!

franko said...

Neraj, GPS accuracy can vary by 2%. Usually it seems to result in an over estimate of distance. I would guess he is running the tangents well and the .4 is because of GPS accuracy.

MinnesotaRunner said...

Awesome job! My wife and I plan to run the SF marathon next year for our fifth anniversary. I'm weary about the hills, but can't wait to try!

monicac2 said...

A time of 3:06 compared to your prediction of 3:05 (or better) is spot-on, and is amazing!! You did a great job on a very tough course. Berkeley is my hometown, and I saw my very 1st concert (UB40) at the Greek Theater many moons ago.

I am running Chicago as my very
1st marathon. When you finish, I should be at about Mile 10! LOL.

Love2Run said...

Nice job on a tough course. Chicago should be a walk in the park after that and your recovery looks great!

Darrell said...

Great effort up there in SF. It was sure nice weather to be running if not for viewing in the morning.