Location: San Francisco, CA (Golden Gate Park
Date: Late June (June 23, 2012 this year, at the end of SF Pride Week)
Price: $30 by June 15, $35 after (same price for both races)
Deadline: 6/20 to register online; race day registration starting at 7:30.
Sellout Factor: Unlikely; it's a pretty small event.
(Cribbing off of last year's race report)
Parking is plentiful & mere yards from the start. Bag check if you want it, but parking is so close & easy that I just left my stuff in my car. Free brunch post-race (which my co-worker Jimmy perennially helps prepare!) plus a few sponsor goodies (Fuze, chocolate milk, massages, See Jane Run coupons, & a dude giving out candy for spinning a wheel; I missed where he was from). Dj O Miestro was again spinning both before & after. (Which reminds me, I finally get all the "Call Me Maybe" references. Don't hate me, but I don't really see the appeal.) Park bathrooms super close to the start, plus a couple of extra port-a-potties near the finish.
Moderately hilly and USATF certified; mostly on roads & sidewalks, but there is one section going up JFK drive that's mostly dirt (and no small number of rocks, so look out for that). Actually, I don't know if I'd really call it 'hilly' so much as just not flat. It's nicely downhill in the 1st mile, then you get to spend the next mile slogging up that one stretch of JFK. It's not that it's particularly steep (maybe 3-5% grade? I'm bad at grades), just that it's a noticeable positive grade that goes on for a freaking mile. The third mile has a few modest, short ups & downs (and also one dramatic down). Last year the weather was perfect for running (55, overcast, & no wind); this year it was slightly warmer, but also sunny and beautiful.
Here is a summary of my attitude about this race over the last few months:
January - WOOOO, I am super-pumped to race ANYTHING and EVERYTHING this year and I am TOTES RUNNING this AWESOME RACE again that I LOVED!!11!
May - Whew, I'm kind of worn out after 5 months straight of training / building mileage, but PrideRun will be a really good fitness gauge for me after chilling out for a bit in June.
June 9 - Oh hello, four jobs and zero time to run. How YOU doin'?
June 16 - I am totally not wasting money on a race that I am in no way prepared to run well in. Eff that noise.
June 18 - Ehhh....I should be a good sport and run it. It's for a good cause.
June 20 - I feel like crap.
June 22 - Double crap. Plus my legs hate me. But I should still be a good sport.
June 23, 7 a.m. - Someone just kill me. Hey, maybe the 5K will hasten my demise!
So that sealed it. I ate breakfast, threw on some running clothes, stopped to get enough cash to pay for the race, & drove to the polo fields. (Seriously, I felt completely hung over, and while that's never a good sign, it's a particularly bad one when you haven't been drinking.)
After registering, I was feeling thirsty & couldn't find water anywhere. Then I remembered I had soda water in my car, which made me feel a) less thirsty as well as b) more craptacular in the tummy region. After that I shuffled off on my warm-up. No sooner had I turned on my Garmin than it began flashing a LOW BATTERY warning at me.
Really? Et tu, Garmin? I charged you last night specifically because I knew you were out of battery. Argh. (Does the number of potential points of failure in the Garmin 305 power supply system strike anyone else as a little absurd?)
Fine. I jogged my mile & a half (more or less) Garmin-free, & figured I'd use the last little bit of charge to make sure I set a reasonable, non-death-inducing pace in the first half mile of the race.
My warm-up sucked, by the way. While I stretched, I brooded about how I'd been so excited to run the 10K here last year and how little enthusiasm I'd been able to muster today. Poor, poor Angela. Your life is a hard one.
New for this year at PrideRun were--TA-DA!!--pacing corrals! By which I mean boxes drawn on the ground with chalk & labeled with paces. To stand in (on?) the first corral, your mile pace only had to be sub-7, which I was still pretty confident I'd be able to do. In addition to maybe 10 dudes, there was only one other woman in that corral, so I figured I'd maybe just try to keep her in sight.
(Do you want to know what I was thinking as they counted down to the gun? "When this is over, I am sooooo going back to bed." Not kidding.)
The horn went off and it became abundantly clear that I would not be keeping the other corral 1 woman in sight, at least for now. She was past me & gone in 30 seconds. On the other hand, no other women passed me, so I just tried to find the men that were going about my speed & stick with them.
Using the Garmin to set up my pace proved tricky since the first mile was downhill, so I ignored it until we got to the uphill section and I went from seeing numbers in the 5:30s to ones in the 7:15+ range. This was equally unhelpful, so I resigned myself to pretty much running by effort for the rest of the race.
By the time I was most of the way up that hill, I was remembering vividly how much it had SUCKED last year & how sad I'd been about the fact that I had to run it again (10K does two laps of the 5K course), and feeling soooooo glad I was running the 5K instead this year. But I was also starting to feel new levels of physical terrible-ness, and won't deny that there was a tiny voice inside of me going "Maybe we could just stop here & go home? I mean, actually finishing races is kind of passe...". Another woman passed me on JFK, but at that point there was no question of trying to speed up & chase after her. I'd have to get her later or not at all. And truly, I thought I was doing pretty well, all things considered, to be 2/3 of the way through the race & only have two women ahead of me.
In that last mile, all I wanted to do was finish strong. I caught up to the hill passer & stayed right with her for a while, but soon she started to drop behind me so I was solidly in second again. I ran, you know, hard-ish, but was definitely not trying to kill myself and definitely not feeling up to the whole last-10%-of-the-race-kick-it-into-5th-gear thing. When I rounded the last corner & saw 21:30 on the clock, I more or less just coasted in, since finishing under 22:00 had been the closest thing to a goal I'd had going into it. (My official time was 21:36, just *barely* squeaking in under a 7:00 pace!)
Unfortunately, the impression of "just coasting in" was not the one I gave. My stomach had been unhappy pretty much the whole race, and as soon as I crossed the line I could feel myself about to dry heave. There may or may not have been just a teensy bit of projectile vomiting in the finish chute. This brings my finish line heaving streak up to 2.
I knew I'd been second overall; then, sure enough, it turned out the chick who beat me was in my age group, so second in the F 30-39 group as well. As I've noted over and over again, the thirty-somethings can hustle! (I think she was maybe 21:10ish, so it was nice to find out I hadn't been epically crushed.)
The Moral of This Story:
1) When you are under-trained, in less-than-great shape, and feeling shitty, you should *definitely* crash that race you were feeling iffy & unenthusiastic about, because you will probably podium.
2) Sometimes races surprise you. Even once I was in the car on the way to the race, I was still having trouble figuring out why I felt so strongly that I should run it, even given all the circumstances. I kept coming back to "I should be a good sport and not be a diva who insists on only racing when I know I'm in top shape." But I couldn't figure out why I felt that way until later.
Honestly, I think it's because I always get something out of racing. Sometimes something surprising. Today, what I got out of it was an appreciation for how far I've come even in the last two years. In August 2010, I gave 110% on a completely flat course when I was well-trained and feeling great and got a PR of 22:00. Today, in June 2012, I ran under-trained and feeling terrible on a tough course with basically no Garmin and coasted the last half mile or so for a 21:36 finish. Just imagine -- if I hadn't run the Big Bear 5K in May, this would've been a new PR! Now that is kind of awesome.
I didn't pre-register so I didn't get the sweet logo tech shorts or the neon orange drawstring goody bag (stuffed with samples & coupons, of course), but they looked pretty awesome. You can kind of see them here:
I doubt I would've worn the shorts much (I'm really picky), but I really like the shirt from last year so if there was a shirt again I would probably pre-register.
Like last year, lovely medals three deep in each age/gender group by decade as well, plus a little extra swag for top three male/female overall.
For coming in second, I got gift cards for Road ID & See Jane Run, & also $50 cold hard cash, which recoups my reg fee plus $15. This race also brings my winning-practical-things streak up to 2, which is a little more exciting & classy than the other streak I mentioned.
Yes, the course is kind of tough, but I really like this event and I will probably run it again in the future (hopefully in better shape next time). :)