WORTH THE HURT: The 2013 San Francisco Marathon Recap

All dressed up and ready to go!
All dressed up and ready to go!

The morning of June 16 started like almost any other race morning – I set the alarm for an obscenely early time (in this case, 4 AM) and like clockwork, I woke up each hour, on the hour, before it was time to really get up. No worries, since we were staying at the host hotel (the Hyatt Regency – Embarcadero) and the start was about 3 minutes away!

Finally, it was time to get up…and so I did the coffee thing, got dressed, and headed over to Perry’s, where the VIP Party was being held. The coolest thing parts about this party were, as follows:

  • It was inside a building! Warm, with real bathrooms and comfortable places to sitย 
  • Cool opportunity to hang out with my fellow Ambassadors
  • Celebrity sightings – of all sorts! Saw both Sean Astin and Anne Bretan (female winner of the race)
  • Nice spread of foods (I had a bagel with PB – toasted, and banana)
  • VIP bag check

Before long, however, it was time to head to our corrals! I was in Wave 3, which had a 5:42 AM start. It was exciting to see the Bay Bridge and the last glimmers of the night there as we waited to begin the race.

Heading into the corrals

Once the gun went off, the course started through some familiar territory, as we had walked part of the path the day before when we were sightseeing: up the Embarcadero toward the Piers, the Fisherman’s Wharf, a section of the Presidio and eventually, the Golden Gate Bridge!

Course Map.
Course Map (click for a bigger version)

Now, I have to admit – it being my first visit to San Francisco, I was more than just a little excited to run on the bridge…and let me tell you, the experience was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

On the other side of the bridge.

The bridge starts a little before Mile 6 of the course, then you run across, hitting Mile 7, running a scenic turnaround area (as seen in the photo above) and then back across, as you pass Mile 8 and 9. I took a quick glance at my splits after the race and saw that some of my best times were at this point in the race because seriously…you feel like you are FLOATING across this bridge. There is some wind, but it’s more of a magical breeze that transports you! It was the best running moment EVER.


As we headed out of that zone, it was a nice downhill section through the Presidio toward the Sea Cliff area, and eventually, Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park is where the First Half ends, the course splits up, and the Second Halfers blend in…this was orchestrated nicely and I enjoyed the rolling hills of this section.

Very weird image. I think it was around the Park though ;)
Very weird image. I think it was around the Park though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Around Mile 19, you’re out of the park and into the Haight Ashbury area, then The Mission. This part was a bit more challenging mentally, as it was strictly city running with some pretty steep hills. What WAS awesome was the way that the course alternates on certain city roads to alleviate traffic congestion, so there would be parts that runners would be directed onto different streets, only to funnel back in to main courses once we rounded out back near the bay.

Almost finished...
Almost finished…

The last stop on our scenic tour was the AT&T Ballpark, which was a neat sight as well. The walkway was nice and wide, and then we poured back onto the Embarcadero, bringing it home.

Just keep swimming…

I have to admit, that last mile was hard! I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t at the finish yet (I obviously overran the course, because when I passed the finish line, was at 26.67) and was ready for some ice cold water! Those slightly negative thoughts melted away though, as I saw the familiar signage and those magical words: FINISH.

MARATHON #7, baby!
MARATHON #7, baby!

For a split second, I wished I hadn’t walked as much (through every water station and up a few hills in the Mission area) or that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom (I had drank water at every said water stop) or taken pictures along the way, but then I remembered the post I had recently written about my goals for this raceย and couldn’t be upset anymore…after all, I had done what I had come to do: enjoy the race and the day! I went into this race with minimal speed work and just one 19-mile run: this was certainly a testament to my own fitness level and renewed my drive to reach toward a FAST race in the fall.

Worth the HURT!
Worth the HURT!

Striding through the finisher’s chute, I had the hugest grin and I just couldn’t wipe it off my face as I was handed all kinds of goodies: Panera scones, Hawaiian rolls, chocolate milk, coconut water…heaven! After picking up my bag from Perry’s, I called hubs to see how he did (he ran the first half) and then headed back to the room to freshen up and explore on our last day in San Francisco.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day – from the course itself, to the organization…and OH MY GOODNESS the volunteers! There was a massive contingent of amazing, helpful and friendly volunteers, from the water/aid stations, to the course marshals (the Harley Davidson volunteers were THE BEST) and our fearless SFM Ambassador team, it was a weekend I will not soon forget.

I’d recommend this race to ANYONE and would love to answer any questions you might have about it – and if you ran it…leave me a comment and let me know how you did!ย 

* Pictures are still being uploaded on marathonfoto.com – I just pulled these to start with because I was so darn excited to share ๐Ÿ˜‰ I WILL be buying that last photo, I can promise that! ๐Ÿ˜€





    • Thanks, Chris! It was awesome to meet you and BIG CONGRATS on your awesome marathon time! You are a true rockstar!!!!!

    • You can do it! Pick the best race for you and it’s a goal I know you can accomplish! ๐Ÿ˜€

  1. Congrats! Sounds like an amazing day, Krissy. That fast fall marathon will totally be yours! Your recap makes me want to run this race, despite my intense hatred of hills ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ Embrace the hills, lol! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Really though, they just add to the challenge here. The race course is incredible.

  2. I’ve done the first half before, and it was great! Love bay area running weather!

    I am still amazed that people can eat meals before running. All I can stomach within the hours before a race are gels and chews, and not very many of them at that…

    • I just get really hungry while running! This is probably the main reason I am interested in training for an ultra… lol!!

  3. Woo-hoo, great race and love the report. The pics are great and I think you were right to take your time and really enjoy it, what with the 19 mile (what?!!) long run and all. I don’t think you would have had such a good experience if you’d tried to push it. I LOVE San Francisco but haven’t been in a long time. Your report makes me want to go back!

    • Thanks for the nice comment, A! You definitely should go back!! ๐Ÿ˜€ It is definitely amazing – and I agree, here I am, a few days later, feeling great, and feeling awesome about the decision I made to take it easy!!

  4. Wow. What a beautiful race! I love that you stopped for pictures and to really absorb and savor everything around you. We went to SF for our honeymoon and it would be incredible to run at least a half on the Golden Gate Bridge. Congratulations on a job well done!

    • Wow! That would be a great honeymoon – what a fabulous city. Thanks for the nice comment ๐Ÿ˜€

    • THanks, T! I heart you right back! Cannot wait to run with you in you first half marathon ๐Ÿ˜€ SOON!

  5. Congrats Krissy!!! I loved running in San Francisco too. Minus the hills of course. I hated the hills in Golden Gate Park. Those were not fun! I am surprised that they had traffic lanes blocked off on the bridge. We had to run on the outside of the traffic.

    • SF is amazing! I guess I am used to the hills so they weren’t so bad, but anytime you’re running 26.2 on low mileage, it definitely can hurt – lol, I’ll remember that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. The first half ROCKED MY SOCKS. I cannot WAIT to go back next year. Maybe for the full ๐Ÿ˜›

    Krissy — GREAT JOB! You’re my running hero and I hope one day we get to actually hang out IRL rather than me just accosting you before I don’t know the DC NWHM ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thanks, Jen! I know you’d love running across the bridge! Definitely a runner’s high moment that stays with you โค

  7. Great job! I have only been to SF for a wknd trip once a few years back and I remember some of the areas you mentioned and they would be perfect running areas! Looks like a great trip, race and experience!

    • Steph – you totally should! It is an amazing, beautiful race with the friendliest people ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Awesome!! Congrats!! This race (well the half anyway) was already on my list but your pictures definitely solidified it!! How cool to run across the bridge?!?! (On a previous trip to SF I biked across the bridge, so now I need to run across it! That way when I’m on Soarin’ I can tell whoever is sitting next to me – I’ve run across the bridge!! Now I tell them I’ve biked it! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    • Thanks so much, Karen! It was such a blast, you should definitely run it someday!! โค

    • Thanks, A!!!! And you rocked it so much!!!!!! Wish we could have met, but I know our paths will cross again soon – the running world is small and awesome โค

  9. So yeah, I’m a bit behind on reading blogs, but I wanted to say CONGRATS on this race. I saw much of what was going on via Twitter and it sounded like such an awesome experience. Definitely makes me want to do this race sometime! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much, David! It was definitely an incredible experience – this race is one I would recommend to EVERYONE.

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