Tuesday, August 05, 2008

San Francisco Marathon

The Bay Bridge looms high over the piers

This morning at 2:20, I hobbled off a Boeing 757 at gate B38 in Denver International Airport. I struggled through the terminal, into an awaiting car, and then into bed, where I stayed 'till 1:35 this afternoon. It was a fitting end to a long and eventful weekend in San Francisco, where five of my friends and I ran the San Francisco Marathon.

Rogue Public House and hazelnut rum

Francis and I arrived in San Francisco on Friday morning around 10 o'clock to heavy fog and temperatures in the mid 50s. We traveled into the city, stopping in Chinatown for lunch before visiting the City Lights Bookstore en route to the Rogue Ale Public House, where I enjoyed a hazelnut rum in the comfortable open-air pub (at this point, it was about 104 degrees in Denver - we managed to miss the hottest weekend of the year).

The Bay Bridge

Greg, me, Francis and Julia (L to R) on Saturday at the registration and expo for the marathon

After lunch, we met a couple other friends from Denver for an afternoon of sightseeing and napping in nearby Washington Square before riding the bus to Julia and Greg's place just south of the Presidio. We spent the next 24 hours relaxing, eating, and enjoying being comfortable outside with friends playing disc golf in Golden Gate Park before calling it an early night to rest before the race.

Francis and I left our hotel on Sunday morning around 4:50 and jogged down to the start line. At about 5:10, Francis decided he needed to use the toilet and disappeared. I began to get nervous when the race announcer told us there were three minutes 'till the start, but thankfully Francis showed up soon afterward.

Twain was right

The race went well; the weather was perfect. We paced with the three-hour marathon guy (he held up a sign) for the first 10.5 miles, running along the Embarcadero before climbing up to and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. After making our way back into San Francisco, we made the decision to pull away from the pace runner heading toward Golden Gate Park. We crossed the half-way point at 1:29:48, just ahead of our goal of finishing in under three hours.

Andrew, Francis and Clay (L to R) at Coit Tower on Friday afternoon

The Golden Gate Bridge from Coit Tower

The run through the park was tough, culminating in a 2+ mile climb before dumping us out on Haight Street for a long trek east. Francis started to hit a wall here, but we pushed onward as the course took us down through the south and east parts of the city. I left Francis at mile 24.5 just before running around McCovey Cove at Pac-Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

I crossed the finish line at 2:57:22 and Francis was just a couple of minutes behind, making it in at 2:59:55. He was the last person to run the race in under three hours. We finished #39 and #54 overall.

Margaritas after the race with some new friends (Francis, Natalie, Fabio and me, L to R)

The Painted Ladies (you know you watched Full House)

We met our friends after the race for brunch before a pre-margarita nap. We were in bed early Sunday night nursing our sore muscles and aching bones, and spent Monday hobbling around the city seeing a few sights before learning that our flight home was canceled, and we were re-booked on a later flight that was already delayed an hour. By the time we left the ground in San Francisco, we were almost 4 hours behind schedule, but it didn't matter. If we learned anything, it was that we will run more marathons, and the airline industry in the United States still sucks (especially United).

Golden Gate Bridge on Monday morning. We hobbled a long way down the slope to see that.

Francis making his way down to Land's End.

more pics:
san francisco marathon trip


The Darkness said...

Congratulations, that's a great time (like I would know).

Francis Rengers said...

Hey what fantastic pictures. That is a great memoir of the experience. So glad you put such a nice blog together.