Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon: Hills to the PR

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The inaugural Rock’n’Roll San Francisco Half Marathon was my third for this year (#21 lifetime… I think). In many ways, it was like no other race: running over the Golden Gate bridge and back, a GoPro camera on my head, a PR despite the hilly course.

But in one way, it was like deja vu all over again. Me, during the national anthem and starting gun, at a port-a-potty line:I borrowed a GoPro camera for this race, so you can enjoy yourselves some awesome photos of the port-a-potties course. [I looked ridiculous — will show you later, lucky you!] We had to stop by a friend’s place in the city to pick it up this morning and that made us desperately late. I made it to the start with barely five minutes to spare.

There were 5,500 runners in this race, and they had a wave start by corral (I was in #5), so my timing ended up perfect… except the only new friend I had time to make before the race was this fellow GoPro paparazzi:We had a good laugh and took pics of each other with our GoPros, like the coolest kids in school.

The best thing about a GoPro camera is you can set it up to take photos periodically (or make a video, but I didn’t think two hours of me bouncing up and down would be fun to watch?) But seeing how I repel technology, I couldn’t figure out the automatic thing and kept reaching up to snap pics during the whole race.Don’t know how it was further back, but the runners in my corral spread out pretty quickly and there was plenty of room to run and enjoy the overcast morning. It was perfect running weather: cloudy and a wee bit chilly, but you warm up quickly once you get going. And despite the steep climb almost immediately after the start (seriously, be ready for it if you ever do this course), Mile 1 came at us quickly:I kept looking over at the li’l bridge as we approached:Mile 3:I thought surely we would get on the bridge any minute now, but no: we kept going around and climbing, climbing, climbing… There were plenty of hills on this course, but the two climbs before entering the bridge (on either side) were the most brutal. I was tempted to slow down and walk, but I my heart rate monitor was at just above 170 on the climbs. I decided that was not lethal, so suck it up and keep going. Finally, mile 4 came and went and we were entering the bridge:And then… this:We came off the bridge to a beautifully long downhill — and more gorgeous views! Then came back the opposite pedestrian/ biker lane. It was fun watching the crowds of runners going one way while we were going the other:Mile 9. At this point I knew I was going to PR if I kept it up, the question was by how much. Then the sun came out — and all was perfect.Somewhere between miles 10 and 11:After one last climb and descent, the final stretch to the Finish line:HusbandRuns was waiting for me near the Finish and taking pics as well! Here I come:[Check out flying dude in the neon green!] And, as promised, a close-up photo of me Robocopping it with the GoPro — and heel-striking like crazy. I’ve improved my running form somewhat in the past few months, but when I’m tired, it all goes to pot.Major PR high:And, hands down, the best views at a post-finish area ever:And pretty awesome bling!My official finish time was 1:55:58, an average 8:51 minute mile. With a total climb of 1725 feet, I’ll take it and celebrate! But for my next half, I am in the market for a pacer to make me run below 1:50. Any takers?

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