Monday, June 10, 2019

Race Report: Statuto 8K

I ran across this race, put on by the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, when I was looking for stuff 10K or shorter close to home that fit my summer schedule. Despite the fact that it's one of the oldest road races around (run every year but once since 1919), I'd somehow never heard of it. But hey, small, short, community race three miles from my house? Sign me up!

I always felt a little wishy-washy about what to shoot for at this race and what to reasonably expect fitness-wise. The first four months of 2019 were kind of a hot mess, training-wise, but in May actually got my act together and ran nearly 175 miles and never missed a single workout or long run (though I did miss a couple of short, easy runs). Also, I'd never run an 8K, so I didn't have a good sense of what pace to shoot for. RunCoach predicted 7:03 pace for a 35:03 finish, so I decided, what the heck, let's shoot to break 35:00, and if I can't do it, hey! Information!

The race didn't start till 9, which meant I got to sleep in until 7. After grabbing coffee & breakfast I arrived at the parking garage a little before 8, walked over to the SF Italian Athletic Club, got my stuff, dumped what I didn't need back in my car, and headed back to SFIAC warm up.

SF Italian Athletic Club

Bib pickup at SFIAC

These lovable dudes, handing out goody bags full of coupons and salamis (not joking)

Just a quick note about this course. If you know North Beach at all, it goes north on Stockton for a ways, turns right on North Point, crosses the Embarcadero (we had to run on the sidewalk because, other than the SF Marathon, NO ONE gets to shut down the Embarcadero), follows the Embarcadero for 1.75 miles or so, then heads back along the same route. While the Embarcadero is quite flat, the course description emphasized that "The course has a downhill at the start and uphill at the finish."

Now, North Beach definitely has its share of brutal hills, but I don't spend enough time there to know off the top of my head just how bad this particular one was. I always meant to get on Google Maps & check, but it's been a draining few weeks, & I never got around to it. Instead I figured I'd just do my warm-up out and back from the start to make sure I knew how that first/last part went and just how bad that hill was going to be.

Well, the answer, friends, was that it was BAD. Three blocks of very challenging and uncomfortable downhill running right at the start, which of course means three blocks of very challenging and uncomfortable UPHILL running right at the end. GOOD TIMES!

Mentally I revised my goal time upward just a bit. If I ran the first mile well I knew I could pick up a few extra seconds, but there was no way it would be even remotely enough to cancel out trudging back up that thing in mile 5. Ah well, I told myself; at least I know to save a little bit in miles 3-4 so that I can actually get back up the whole thing without walking.

After my warm-up, I did a few strides and dynamic stretches, the SFIAC folks took some pictures at the start, and we were off!

I *always* run the first the first quarter mile or so of short races too fast, and this was no exception; just a minute or so in I looked down at my watch and saw something ridiculous like 6:15 & went "RIIIIGHT, MAYBE LET'S CHILL JUST A BIT." It was hard in the excitement of the start to back off the pace too much, and then suddenly we were all throwing ourselves down that giant hill and it was all I could do to walk the fine line between not constantly braking and taking advantage of the downhill while also not falling ass-over-head and taking out a bunch of other people as well.

That first mile ticked off in 7:01 which felt about right. It was work, but I was still pretty comfortable, actually, and felt like I could do it for a while. After that, though, I have no real idea what my pace was. My GPS started doing all sorts of wonky things, jumping around from 7:30 to 6:55 and back again. Now it's quite possible I slowed down a bit after that first mile, but my effort didn't feel that different so it was very hard for me to believe that with pretty much the same level of effort, still feeling strong, I was suddenly running 7:20-7:30 pace. I don't run on the Embarcadero very much but I don't remember having had crazy GPS issues there in the past, so I wasn't really sure what to make of it. Ultimately, I kind of just started ignoring my watch altogether and running by effort, trying to stay just short of the red line and remember that I had to hoof it back up that giant-ass hill at the end.

I'd seen a number of women take off way in front of me at the start, but spent the first half reeling a number of them back in, slowly but surely. I didn't want to sprint by someone just for the sake of passing them, but with several I found that if I tried to speed up *just* a touch and ever so sloooowly crawl past them, I usually found that they either did not try to stay with me or tried and weren't able to. I think I passed a couple more on the way back and could see at least three more up ahead but soon found that I was not gaining on them and actually losing a bit of ground. I could have run faster that point but kept thinking about that giant hill and how I needed to save something for it, and really worried about tearing after people just for the sake of beating them, only to get dusted again on the hill.

Once we reached the hill, it was all over in terms of trying to pass anyone else; somehow it felt like the women ahead of me had found one more gear as they headed upward, whereas I felt like it was taking everything I had left just to keep my legs moving. Somewhere in the middle of this I heard another woman's heavy breathing right behind me and tried to dig just a little deeper and not get passed. But she had more than I did, and ever so slowly pulled ahead and then away.

I don't remember ever being so happy to get to the top of a hill. Oh my Jesus. Only the fact that it was a race kept my legs moving at the end there, and I gave it everything I had to tear down that last gentle slope to the finish.

Finish line!

My official time was 34:52, so under the 35:00 I was hoping to break, but I also noticed that my watch clocked 4.81 miles rather than the full 8K (4.97 miles) I was expecting. I don't know how much of that is small community race/short course vs. all the crazy GPS issues I was having. Checking out Strava, I saw that people got everything from 4.77 to 4.94, so who knows. I do, however feel like my first downhill mile (7:01) was probably my fastest, and giving the giant hill at the end, it's really hard to believe I *AVERAGED* 7:01 pace the whole way. (If you Google Maps-it, the turnaround is at a spot that seems right on the border of 2.4 and 2.5 miles, so that was no help either.) So, yeah; if it really was 4.81, then that's 7:15 average pace, which would be quite disappointing, though there is the giant hill to take into account. So, my guess is that the actual distance was somewhere in the middle, and so was my pace, and that's probably as much as I'll ever know.

In terms of finish placement, the women's field was definitely speedier than last year! In last year's results, my 34:52 would have put me 3rd woman and 2nd in my age group; this year it got me 9th woman and 6th in my age group! Which just goes to show that there's no way to predict these things; places are all about who else shows up.

    Overall: 32/147
    Women: 9/65
    A/G: 6/24

It's also a good reminder of something I saw the amazing Steph Bruce post about yesterday (seriously, what timing)--how, any time she has a bad race, her agent reminds her that there's only two things you can control on race day, your attitude and your effort, and if you can walk away proud of those two things, then there is literally not one more thing you possibly could have done on the day. And regardless of the actual distance or how fast I actually ran, I feel like I can say I'm proud of my attitude (just go out and do your best, whatever that is, & run hard to the end) and I'm proud of my effort (I never gave up & did run hard all the way to the end, other than trying to save a little for that last hill, which was out of trying to be smart, not wimping out).

No race pics, so please enjoy yet another sweaty selfie.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: San Francisco, CA

Date: First Sunday in June (Sunday, June 2 this year)

The Deal:

"The Statuto Race commemorates the creation of the first Italian Constitution (Statuto Albertino) and is a running tradition in San Francisco going back almost 100 years. The first Statuto Race was held in North Beach in 1919. It has been run every year, except for one year during World War II. This year (2019) marks the 99th edition of this iconic race!"


8K Run:

  • $45: Early-bird price until March 31, 2019
  • $50: April 1 - June 1
  • $60: Race Day

2M Walk

  • $30: Early-bird price until April 30, 2019
  • $40: May 1 - Race day

Deadlines/sellout factor: The field was limited to 250 and I heard someone saying that they had 240 people signed up.

Field Size:

  • 8K finishers - 147, which seems super low relative to what I heard about 240 people being signed up.
  • 2M finishers - Not currently listed on the results page. But maybe it's a 250 limit for both races, and this is where the other 103 were?

Staging, Parking, etc.:

The race starts & ends at the SF Italian Athletic Association on Stockton Street in North Beach, which is pretty nice because everyone has access to a nice indoor area for bib pickup, leaving your stuff, and stretching/staying warm, and there was also water & snacks plus access to real actual indoor bathrooms. (Is this what it's like to be a pro at a big race?? Ha!)

I spend almost zero time in North Beach these days but it is common knowledge that parking there can be absolutely MONSTROUS. That said, I'd never tried to park there at 8am on a Sunday morning and wondered if it might actually not be as bad as afternoon/evening (from whence my experience comes). The race website listed two quite close parking garages though, one of which is open 24 hours, so I just decided to park there rather than attempt looking for street parking.

Finding & getting parked in the garage was super easy & cost me $10 all told, though I also noticed as I walked the 2 blocks to the SFIAC that there seemed to be plenty of nearby street parking, so if I run this race again it's nice to know that's an option.

The Course:

From the website: "The 8K starts at SFIAC, goes north on Stockton, turns east on North Point, and continues south on the Embarcadero sidewalk to Bryant Street and returns along the same route. The course has a downhill at the start and uphill at the finish. The 2 mile walk follows the same course, with its turnaround point at Pier 23 instead of Bryant Street."

Like I said, it's almost completely flat, *except* for those extremely steep 3-4 blocks right at the start/finish. So hold a little something back if you care about going fast.

They might have closed Stockton and North Point for the race, I'm not totally sure (though we were instructed to run in the street) but they definitely had police at all the intersections stopping traffic for runners. No one ever gets to close the Embarcadero for anything that isn't the San Francisco Marathon, I don't think, so we ran on the sidewalk with pedestrians, which was actually pretty okay. There was a bit of weaving involved but not more than you'd normally do in a moderately crowded race and I didn't feel like it slowed me down much.


From the website: "All registrants receive a 99th Statuto Race t-shirt, post-race refreshments, and a goody bag. In addition, all registrants are eligible to win great prizes in a raffle that will take place after the awards ceremony (must be present to win).​


For the 8K run, trophies will be awarded to the first overall male runner, first overall female runner, and the first SFIAC dues-paying club member. Medals will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place men and women in the following categories: 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+. All awards will be based on chip time."

I'd also like to point out that the swag bag included an Italian salami. Yes, you read that right. The SFIAC does not disappoint.

If you decide to run:

  • One GIANT hill near the start/finish.
  • On the Embarcadero, you run on the sidewalk, so be prepared to dodge pedestrians.
  • Don't miss out on the Italian salami!

Overall Assessment:

Other than the stupid hill, this was a well-organized small community event and a lot of fun to be a part of. I might need a year to forget about that hill, but I'd consider running it again!

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