San Francisco Marathon 2010
The experience of distance run in an absolutely unknown place (not quite, though), amidst a diverse crowd was worth the effort.
My preparation started 24 hours before the start of the actual run. On Saturday morning, I drove a cute Chevy HHR (rental car that I currently use) alone to the Marathon expo in San Francisco (65 KM away from the hotel) to collect my running kit. Expo was of more or less same size as Mumbai Marathon's. The timing chip that the runners have to attach to their shoe, to get tracked, was more sophisticated. Expo had a lot of Hi-Tech gadgets for runners. But, quite expensive for a visitor from Bangalore :( So, stared at them for an hour and headed back to Sunnyvale.
As usual, followed my strict routine on the day before the run. Lot of fluid intake, absolutely no solid food after lunch, early to bed etc., I had to reach San Francisco by 4:45 AM (Run starts at 5:30) So, woke up at 3 AM on the D-Day, and started driving by 3:45 AM. Thanks to the amazing freeways, I could cover 65 KM in less than an hour. All the major roads around the venue were already closed to vehicular traffic and GPS directs me through only those major roads :( After circling around the venue for 10-15 minutes, and using the knowledge acquired from roaming around a couple of weekends, I could find a parking lot a few blocks away. So, reached the start line by 5 AM, as planned.
I joined the 3rd wave of runners starting at 5:45 AM. Weather was very cold for a South Indian. The 3rd wave of runners have an estimated finish time of 4 hours, which means, they run a lot faster than me. So, I kept to a side of the road and stuck to my own pace. The first few miles of the course overlaps with famous 49-Mile Scenic Drive, that covers popular tourist places like Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf etc.,. A decent uphill from there takes us to the entrance of Golden Gate Bridge, the symbol of San Francisco. The bridge was covered with clouds. Though the bridge was an uphill from both sides, the gradient was moderate. So, running on the bridge was fun. It was an out and back course on the bridge, and we were soon back to the city. After a couple of miles of ups and downs we reached Golden Gate Park, a well designed park of 1000+ acres size. This is where the exhaustion started. Though mostly flat, I had to reduce my pace by more than a minute per mile. The last 6-7 miles were through down-town. There were cheering crowds all the way through down town, but, not much fuel left. So, my pace further dropped. Though it was confusing for the cheering crowd, we hated those down hills in the last few miles. With paining knees, running or even walking the down hills after 20 miles was torturous :) Finally reached the finish line 5 hr 45 min after starting, well with in the time limit (6 hrs) to receive a finisher medal :)
Timing chip data:
Slightly better than last Mumbai Marathon, considering the San Francisco hills evened out Mumbai's heat.