Monday, July 30, 2012

San Francisco Won Me Over: San Francisco 5k

Saturday at the Golden Gate Vista Point

The getaway house

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend in Los Gatos and San Francisco.  A friend from my running blogging community was in town for the weekend, and offered to pick me up from Santa Cruz and take me to San Francisco.  While I have spent now two summers in Santa Cruz, I had yet to visit SF, so I jumped at the opportunity.  Plus, the SF Marathon/Half/5k races were on Sunday.  The half was a bit expensive ($110), but I felt like I could afford the 5k.  Why not - it would be a great way to see the town and catch up with some friends.
We had an amazing weekend.  We spent Friday night and Saturday morning in Santa Cruz, and I got to show off my UCSC trails.  Then, we headed out to SF for the day, both to go to the expo and to do some sight seeing.  It was great going over the Golden Gate Bridge, and stopping to see the town.  So beautiful!  I had never been there before, and I really enjoyed exploring another new city and part of the country.
The Golden Gate Bridge was so beautiful!
It was also great at the house we stayed at.  My friend's brother-in-law has a lot of money and has built an ellegant summer home.  We enjoyed the hot tub, the view, everything!  It definitely allowed for a relaxing weekend, and got everyone relaxed and ready to go for the race.  We even did a pasta dinner (w/gluten free spaghetti), which was a lot of fun.
Look for the yellow shoes...working my way to the front
I woke up on my own just minutes before my 4:40AM alarm went off, which I took to be a good sign.  I was amazed at how just a couple of good nights sleep (improved from last week, which was very hectic at work) could do the trick.  We pretty much rolled out of bed and got in the car, and ate breakfast on the road.  I had more than enough extra time to warm up and get settled in.  The weather was perfect: 55, cloudy, a little misty, and just a little wind.  I got in my 2.5 mile warm up, and took my place at the start.  I had looked at the result times from the past few years, and figured that I was likely to place in the top 10, so I might as well take a spot near the front.  There were only a few girls who "looked fast," so I was fairly optimistic.  While I have been running regularly, I haven't done any track work and was not looking to PR.  After all, 19:39 only came after months of hard and intentional work.
The gun went off, and when I went to start my watch, the memory was full!  I had forgotten to clear it.  Silly me (seriously - this is the 3rd watch issue I've had in a race).  Oh well.  I decided to just run by feel, which has worked before, and see what happens.
I quickly found myself in about 5th place, and felt really good.  At this point, it was my goal to get in the top 3, and take it from there.  Within the first mile, I was in third, and feeling like I still had another gear to move.  Then, I moved to second place, and was within 100 feet of first.  Oh my gosh, could I actually win this race?  I've only won one race before, which was really cool, but it would be amazing to do it again.
I really felt that while the pace was hard, it wasn't grueling, and that I could shift gears a bit.  I finally pushed hard enough that about halfway through the race (remember, I am running by feel, not checking mile markers or anything), I took the lead.  Man oh man, I hope I can keep this, this feels awesome.  I could hear a woman breathing behind me, but she wasn't right on my shoulder.  I felt like rather than pressing the pace, I should just hold steady, and if she kicks, I'll have enough energy to respond.  But she didn't, and I could hear her less and less.  Finally, we had a turnaround, and at this point, I could see that I had at least 100 feet between me and the next woman.  And the people on the other side of the turnaround started to yell, "First woman" and clap their hands for me.  I'm not going to lie - that felt good and was encouragement for me to keep going.  I peeked back a couple of times (which I know tactically is bad, but I wanted to make sure I was keeping first place - I was not going to have anyone blow by me).  As I could see the finish line in the distance, I was getting excited, as I could actually envision myself winning the race.  And while there was no tape to hit as I crossed the finish line, I yelled out a huge "YEAH!" while I finished because not only did I win the race, I PRed!
19:33 (6:18 pace)
1st woman out of 618
19th overall out of 1018
A marathoner, a 5k winner, and a half marathoner all walk into a bar...
Oh my gosh, what a cool feeling!  I had won a race in San Francisco and PRed at the same time.  I was so happy.  There was no one at the finish who I knew, but it didn't matter - I was smiling all the same.  I then wanted to make sure that I got in my 12 miles for the day, so I ran around the pier/wharf area for over an hour.  No music, nobody else, just a little inner knowledge that I had accomplished something pretty cool in the morning.  It was my own private tour of SF, and I just took it all in, with a little smile. I then met up with some of my friends (including one who ran a 1:34 half), and gleefully told them about my victory.  We all went to the award ceremony, where I was presented with a huge bouquet of flowers, and an IOU about a plaque.  I've never won a plaque before, so that will be cool.  And Mr. Peanut presented me with my award.  After that, I caught up with more friends, including a breast cancer survivor who finished the marathon in 4:46.  We had a great time just celebrating each other's accomplishments.  After we left San Francisco, we did lunch at an In and Out (a burger place on the West Coast), which tasted so good!  Then when we arrived at the Los Gatos house, we did some relaxing in the hot tub and enjoyed a little California wine.
Big smile after the award ceremony
What an amazing experience.  One of my favorite things about a good race is then catching up with my important people: parents, grandparents, boyfriend, best friend - even though they weren't physically there to share in the experience, I chatted with them and they shared in my joy.  Somehow, it means more when others are excited too.  Having that support system in place can really make a difference.  I tend to make an effort to also talk to my loved ones the night before a race, in order to relax and settle down, and I do believed that it has helped my performances on race day.
It is hard to articulate in words how I am feeling right now.  There is a ton of joy.  My day turned out so much better than I could have expected, in part because I surpassed all of my own expectations.  The whole weekend was amazing.  San Francisco won me over...and I won it back!


  1. Congratulations! That is a tremendous accomplishment! LOVE the pics :)

  2. Wow! First off, huge congrats on the win and the PR! Clearly your summer running routine agrees with you. Second, glad to hear the rest of your weekend in SF was a good one!