This past fall I trained and ran the Golden Gate Half Marathon - 13.1 miles that takes you through Fort Mason, the Presidio, across the Golden Gate bridge, and back to Crissy Fields.
I mostly signed up because a) a co-worker pressured me into it and b) I wanted to prove to myself I still had the chops to run a significant distance.
You see, I ran a marathon in the fall of 2013, right after moving to the Bay Area - the Nike Women's Marathon (back when it was still a full race). I had run about 3 other half marathons that past year (including the Nike women's in my hometown, Washington, D.C.!) and felt ready for the plunge. I trained pretty consistently (albeit by myself), putting in 2-4 hours every Sunday to run around Berkeley and the hills, and during the week through the neighborhoods. I loved it because it oriented me to my new home in a way driving near would have!
Race day arrived - I felt good - really good, for about 16 miles. Then, I noticed a tugging sensation on the lateral aspect of my left knee - that continued to worsen throughout the last 10 miles of the race. I finished, though not in great shape, and basically swore off running for 2 years.
So this race was a way to get back into it and test if I still enjoyed running.
I tried to make it a social endeavor. My company is fond of sending out blast emails about activities, so my co-worker and I sent out an amusing blast to stir the masses. We got about 30 people signed up on an email list that I then formed. There was so much enthusiasm! But it didn't last long. People weren't too pleased to shell out $100 to run around San Francisco, and without that motivation, many dropped out of the running (no pun intended).
But some stayed, and I learned a lot from running with others. The first is that I can run faster that I think with the company of other people. It isn't that they motivate me per say, but I get stuck in my head when I run and I lose track of my pace. Running with others removes that issue. The second thing I learned is that I was pretty insecure about my running speed. That mostly went away too. Third thing I learned is you can run with people who you don't normally have anything to talk about, because you can talk about running. And the scenery. Or the crazies living in the street.
In the end, I didn't grow to love running very much again. Training felt a bit like a burden, needing to get in the mileage each week so I could avoid fatigue during the race. However, what I did recognize I love is exploring new places by foot. There is really nothing quite like it, and running around San Francisco with little hesitation to go great distances allows for some amazing destinations. A city which I only knew by the 4 blocks around civic center for work became a place I knew very well by running it.
Here were the places I loved running in the most:
- Dolores Park (views of downtown SF)
- Billy Goat Hill Park (views of downtown SF, sometimes there is a swing in the trees)
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Coit Tower
- Tilden Park (Berkeley)
- Berkeley Marina
- Around Lake Merritt (Oakland)
- Alamere Falls (Point Reyes)
Race day went smoothly. I felt good for the majority of the race, only getting a little worn down in the last mile. I ran the entirety of the race with 2 of my co-workers, which also proved to be more entertaining than running solo. The weather held up for the first half, but on the second half (and the second run over the Golden Gate bridge), it started to rain and the fog rolled in. It added a nice extra challenge. All in all, it was a positive experience. I'm not jumping to run another race, but I'm glad to have ended my current running career on a positive note.