And now may I present the race recap that I started writing nearly two months ago about the race that I ran over three months ago. Um. So sorry?
Although I have only been running for a year or so, there is one race that I have always wanted to participate in. As a native San Franciscan, I knew that I somehow would have to find a way to walk, run or crawl the course one day. Having been so un-athletic and insanely opposed to running for most of my life, I always assumed I’d probably be crawling. Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way at all, as I surprised my family and myself this past May by running the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers 12K footrace.
The Bay to Breakers race is exactly what the name implies. It is a race from the San Francisco Bay across the city to the Pacific Ocean (the breakers). It originated back in 1912 as a way to boost morale in the city, which was still trying to recover and rebuild after the 1906 earthquake. The race is 7.46 miles (12K) long, and the course definitely has some challenging aspects….namely, Hayes Street Hill.
Can’t visualize it? Check out this video:
Awesome, right? Right.
While I have run several 5Ks in the last year, I was still pretty nervous about B2B. It was a distance further than I had ever run before and I was wondering if I really had it in me. In the end, I decided to be like Nike and “just do it”. I mean, if there was ever a year to run the race, it was 2011. 2011 marked the 100th running of the race and to celebrate they decided that for the first time ever the race would have finisher’s medals to commemorate the event. What? Did someone say bling? I am so there!
Thus, bright and early on Sunday, May 15th, I hopped out of bed. And when I say early, I mean it. It was 4:30am!
I left the house at about 5:45 (later than I had planned) with a piece of peanut butter toast in hand and headed straight for Church Street station. A quick Muni Metro ride and walk brought me to the entrance of my corral, Corral C.
I think I forgot to mention that people dress up for this race, didn’t I?
I think I also forgot to mention that people often wear nothing to this race.
I have no pictures of that.
Anyway, before I corralled myself, I decided to hit the port-o-potties. You see, at home before I left, I hadn’t had much luck…well..getting things moving. Though I had never had any gastric issues during a run, I’ve read enough to know that it is definitely a plus to get that out of the way before you get out on the road. I still didn’t have much luck, but I wasn’t too worried. I just went ahead and saddled up with my fellow Corral C’ers.
While we waited, we were entertained by the annual tortilla toss. For some reason, people apparently toss tortillas around at the start line. I have no idea why. I am a newbie. I got pelted a few times. It was strange…as were so many other things I saw during this race.
I only had my cell phone with me, so my tortilla photo attempts really didn’t turn out too well.
In between tortilla dodging, I signed up for FourSquare (so that I could check in at the start line, of course!) and spent time taking pictures of myself. Boredom leads to narcissism, you know…cough.
I still can’t believe I had the balls to wear a horizontally stripped tank top. Yikes. Thank goodness for race bibs to hide a gal’s spare tire…
Aside from tortillas a-flyin’, beach balls a-bouncin’ and my impromptu photo shoot, we also had giant speakers relaying what was happening up at the actual start line to keep us entertained. First they counted down the start of the female elites. Then the male elites. We were getting pumped. Then corral A went and the walking started. Then it stopped. And started. And stopped. And started. There were a lot of people to get up and through the start line before it was our turn. We got there eventually though.
The beginning of the race was really surreal for me. I couldn’t believe I was finally running a Bay to Breakers race. Normally I spend Bay to Breakers Sunday irritated as I try to figure out how to get to work for my Sunday opening shift with all of the road closures. It was nice to not have to fight the crowd, but for the first time actually be moving with them!
The first mile went well, as did the second. It was the first time I had ever been in a corraled race, and as it turned out, I really liked it. Normally when I run a DSE race or most other races, they are free for alls. I find that I run so hard at the beginning and I wear out pretty early. Being with people who signed up to run the same pace as I was running made the experience so much more comfortable and pleasurable.
At this point I was feeling good, but as I looked up ahead, I started to get nervous. There it was. THE hill. Hayes Street.
I thought about a strategy…run walking…what should I do? In the end, I just went for it. Run up the hills, walk across the intersections.
And I (along with about a gazillion other people) made it! And got Nesquik! w00t!
I nabbed the Nesquik as we rounded onto Divisidero and then started chugging it as we made another turn onto Fell. It tasted delicious, but turned out not to be all that awesome of an idea. At first it was fine, I ran happily along the Panhandle (my regular route!) and then we got down to Stanyan and entered Golden Gate Park. I was pretty excited to be just about halfway done with the race, but I also was feeling a bit queasy. My stomach was rumbling….in that way that runner’s stomach’s rumble.
I thought about trying to push through, as I really wanted to finish before 1:30. I slowed down to walk. I thought about stopping as I passed some port o potties. Then I thought about how I wish I had stopped instead of just thinking about it. Luckily, there were tons of opportunities to visit a port o potty this year. You see, due to a decent amount of participants winding up drunk along the way, people tend to start relieving themselves…well…everywhere. They wanted to fix that this year, so they upped the amount of port o potties and they started giving out wristbands to those who “eliminated responsibly”.
I decided at some point between miles 4 and 5 that it was time for me to become a “potty hero”.
Now as I mentioned, people who used the port o potties all got bracelets to celebrate their…achievements.
(I grabbed this off of the net somewhere back when I started this post…I don’t remember from where. So sorry if it’s your pic!)
I figured, well, hey, if I had to become a “real runner” right now and I’m going to lose my time, then at least I will get a bright neon green wristband.
There were no potty hero monitors at my stop. I was. so. bummed.
Luckily, Zazzle was ready to remedy the problem:
Well, at least they SAID they were going to. I never got one. Just sayin….
Anyway, I became an unadorned hero and continued on my way, feeling MUCH better.
The rest of the race was a breeze. I might’ve been a little bit tired, but I was having fun and there was never a shortage of things to look at. Once you get to mile 6, there’s a happy downhill to the ocean, which is just how I like it. Plus, you get to see buffalo.
Ah. The ocean!
(Okay, I cheat…this picture is from way after the finish line…but who stops with only .4 miles left to go to take a picture?)
As we turned onto the Great Highway I got pumped. I could SEE the finish line. I tried to kick it up a notch, but I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t have much left, so I settled for jogging over the finish line with a huge, goofy grin on my face. I had just ran the farthest I ever had run before.
And it was awesome.
My official time wound up being 1:35:22. I was sort of disappointed. I mean, I didn’t make it in under 90 minutes. It was the damn port o potty break that did it. But then again, I wasn’t -that- upset. I mean, I just ran Bay to Breakers for the first time…what’s there to really be upset about?!
After the race I started off towards “Footstock”, which is a kind of post race party thing that people get all jazzed about. I didn’t have much interest, and wasn’t even going to go, but there was something missing….my bling! I had to head down there to get my medal, so you better believe I high tailed it over as fast as I could make my way through the crowd!
The bling actually turned out to be pretty sweet looking!
I hung around Footstock for a bit, and then I walked (seriously! 3 miles!) home. And ate a huge breakfast. And slept. And it was good.
Anyway, if you ever are able to run B2B, I highly recommend it. I don’t know if I’d do it every year, or anything, but it’s definitely an experience to be had.