July 29, 2012, 5:30 AM-start time for the first half marathon at the Embarcadero for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Marathon.
One of my college friends and I decided to do the First Half Marathon. It was initially a planned mini vacation for my birthday weekend, and my excuse to spend my weekend with friends in Norcal. Someone asked me why I would want to torture myself on my birthday? Haha! I laughed but really didn’t think of it that way. It was more of a treat and a personal challenge for myself, and what better place than up in the bay area crossing the Golden Gate Bridge!
It was another misty, cold, and foggy morning in the city as we started. In fact the sun never really showed up throughout the entire race as expected. But the worst challenges were the numerous hills that literally kicked my ass! I was still feeling it the next day.
The group crossed the Starting Line around 6:30 AM as we waited for other waves of runners to start sooner. I was part of Wave 8- I guess you could call us the slow pokes as we signed up to finish 13.1 miles in 3 hours, which meant running at a 13min per mile pace. I must say I tried to work on my speed and had this as my goal, but towards the end of my training, I only got to about 13.45min per mile. What I really should’ve done was train for those nasty hills! Lesson learned for this race…I suppose this was why The Wall Street Journal called it (in 2010) “the race even marathoners fear”.
There were a couple of hills towards the bridge and the bridge itself was a slow upgrade hill to the other end and back. Then off to the Richmond area, which had at least 2-3 other hills to be conquered! But there wasn’t any giving up then. People passed me, left and right, and at some point I saw the local police taking down signs from the streets as I ran through the 10-11 mile markers. Finally, I saw the greeneries from Golden Gate Park and what a relief! Haha! Another mini hill to the finish!
I finished in 3hours 12min! I am grateful for my overall physical health and spirit. It reminds me that being alive is a wonderful thing as I start another year in life. Happy Birthday to me!
Patty Abrantes is the Director of AADAP’s Olympia Academy and is a pioneering member of Team AMP and a finisher of the 2012 Honda LA Marathon.