Saturday, June 18, 2011

Zombie Runner Half Marathon

Trail race in San Francisco, June 18, 2011

What a challenging race for my first trail half marathon. I didn't see the elevation chart until a couple of days before the race. If I knew what it was going to be when I found this race a few months ago, I might not have signed up!

I drove from Aptos to San Francisco very early this morning. I ended up making pretty good time, getting there at 6:45 am. I had to sit in my car for a little bit until packet pickup opened at 7. When I got out of my car, I saw that Jen and Jenni (two other half fanatics) had just arrived too. We picked up our gear, then hung out near our cars for a bit. After a couple of photos, I went in search of a bathroom. They had just 3 porta potties for us, but it was a small race. I am glad I went early, because as I walked to the race start at 7:50, there was a huge line.

The race director gave us some instructions about looking for flags before starting the race. We headed south for a little bit, then turned around and headed back towards the Golden Gate bridge. About a mile into the race, a large group of runners merged in with us. It became hard to see who was part of the race and who was just out running. I've never had that in a race before!

Around mile 3, I was running along at a great pace and enjoying the nice flat, gravel surface, when I realized I hadn't seen a course marker for a while. Lots of people running in front of me, so I kept going toward the base of bridge. I get towards the end when I discover that it's a dead end. Lots of other racers were in the same boat as me. We started running back the way we came, figuring we missed a turn some where. As other racers came towards us, we would tell them to turn around. A lot of people who had been behind me caught up to me. :( This detour added half a mile. Bummer. Around Mile 4 we started to climb up the mountain. Steep dirt trails and steep steps. Great views though. At the top, we ran through a path right under the bridge to the other side. A bit of flat trail for a while until we encountered more steps. There was a stretch for about a mile or so that was single track (very narrow) that didn't allow passing. I got caught behind some runners here. It was frustrating not being able to get around them! It was also scary because there were parts were there were no bushes or trees on the right side of us. Just steep cliff.

I'm a little hazy on some of the descriptions at certain mile markers. We did encounter about half a mile of deep sand that we had to run through. This ended at the first aid station. I thought we would turn around here, but no. Only the 10K runners headed back. The half marathoners continued on. A climb up a hill lead us to a neighborhood. We stayed on the paved streets for a bit until we entered the Lands End part of the Coastal Trail. Many, many up and downs for the next 4 miles. Very steep climbs and downhills that I couldn't even run down because they were so steep. We turned around just before The Cliff House and then ran all the wonderful steps and hills again. :)

When I got back to the aid station near the sand. I filled up with water and grabbed a handful of M&Ms. I walked the sand portion back. Just didn't have it in my legs to run it. I ran the short, flat part, then had to walk the next mile that was all up hill. I managed to run at a good pace all the rest of the flat parts. A few people passed me on the steep down hill leading from the bridge, but I managed to catch up to the during the last mile, which was nice and flat. :)

Time: 2:41:40 for 13.6miles (extra .5 because of the wrong turn)
127 out of 156; 11 out of 16 in age group

Overall I am happy that I ran this race. The time is no where near my normal half marathon time, but as I understand it, most people are slower on trails. I would like to run another trail race one day, but I'll train for it next time! :)

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