The big day arrived for my first race, May 15, 2011. Dan and I woke up bright and early and got ready to run the 100th annual Bay to Breakers (the longest consecutively run footrace in the world!). Here are all of the rookie mistakes we made:
- We didn’t follow any type of training plan. We just ran a few times a week to prepare for this.
- Our street was horrible to run on in the winter so we did most of our running on a treadmill.
- We didn’t prepare for hills.
- I decided to try a new fuel belt for the first time ever.
- I decided to run with my iPod mini (yes I still had one) because it had a belt holder, even though the battery wasn’t good. I also made this decision because I had nothing to hold my iPod touch. (not really sure why I didn’t buy an armband for my iPod touch!)
I was so new to running that when we got our race bibs in the mail, I had to message Kristen and ask her how we were supposed to wear them (she said I was really cute and the answer was to use safety pins. duh).
We headed outside and towards the start. Our hotel was so close that it only took a few minutes. We missed the beginning of the run when the elites started, but we could hear the announcer counting down from inside our room. As we got closer and closer to the start, people started throwing tortillas around. We were getting pelted left, right and centre by tortillas and people were picking them up from the ground and whipping them around. I looked it up afterwards and it turns out the tortilla toss is a Bay to Breakers tradition where runners toss the tortillas around to pass the time as they make their way to the start line (or wait for the race to start).
As we got closer and closer to the start I realized we had missed our corral and were stuck in the corral below us. This didn’t really matter to me because I wasn’t aiming for a time. My goal was to finish. Little did I know that missing my corral and getting into the slower corral was going to become a trend.
When we started running I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me. I was so excited! However, there were a few things I wasn’t prepared for. I’d never run with such a big crowd before, so that was a little claustrophobic at first. I found I couldn’t maneuver really well around people. I wasn’t expecting other people to be that much slower than me, but they were! I should have known better though because Bay to Breakers is known for its mix of those who come to run seriously, and those who come to dress up/party/run in the nude etc. and then probably for amateurs like us. So, because some people weren’t really conditioned to run the race at all, they would just stop suddenly in front of us. We had to dodge a lot of people and found ourselves running up sidewalks to get around and running in and around the slower runners/walkers while trying to stay together. (For the record, I’m really good at dodging people when I run now. Or I think so anyway.)
As we got further up we passed the salmon running upstream. This is a group of people who dress up as salmon and run the race in the opposite direction (from the breakers to the bay) so they end up running against the crowd.
The weather was originally supposed to be cold with thunder storms. Fortunately for us there was no thunder and lightning (something that could have jeopardized the race due to safety) and it held off from raining. It also wasn’t cold. I tend to overheat when I’m running and about halfway through I was really happy when a little light drizzle rained on us. It was just enough to cool me off and then it stopped raining again.
We passed a lot of high energy spectators and live bands along the way.
Haye Street hill was really difficult for me. It was the steepest hill on the course and I almost had to walk. I hung on though (I might as well have been walking, that’s how slow I was running!). My iPod mini also ran out of battery so I was stuck running without music. I used to run with Kristen without music, but that was 5k, this was 12k. At this point I felt like I needed it to help distract me from my screaming body.
As we approached Golden Gate Park I could see people who had already finished the race walking by wearing the medals. The organizers had kept the medal design a secret and the minute I saw the medals around their necks, I wanted it with every fibre of my being. Another thing that threw me off during the race were the mile markers. Based on the course map, I assumed the mile markers were in miles. Just to double check, I asked Dan “are these in miles?” Dan got confused because it’s referred to as a 12k (not a 7.5 mile run) so he said they were in kilometres. Because of this, I thought we had a lot further to go and it took me way too long to realize that we were almost done. Looking back now, this was another stupid mistake. Who’s ever referred to an organized 12k run as a 7.5 mile run? (maybe don’t answer that, because somebody probably has!)
Then we were there. It felt like an eternity but before I knew it we were crossing the finish line.
At this point we still didn’t have our medals and I was anxiously looking around to figure out where to get them. I saw a random line and got in. Then I realized we were in line to get our photo taken. Because I love cheesy souvenir photos this was also an acceptable line for me.
After getting our picture taken, we finally got our medals! It was more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed (I know I sound a little dramatic, but I worked hard for that medal!). We began to make our way to “Footstock” where we would be able to pick up our t-shirts.
When we got to Footstock, volunteers gave us our t-shirts. Dan and I didn’t stay long though. We took a look at some of the booths, enjoyed some of the live bands and ate some free snacks. We decided we should catch a shuttle bus sooner rather than later and headed out.
We lined up and eventually got on a bus. The bus system was really well organized and I don’t remember waiting long for a bus. Because it was pretty full we had to stand. This ended up being really challenging because my legs were sore, I had to pee and we were going down a lot of really steep hills. I had to keep my knees slightly bent and concentrate on my yoga breathing while hanging on for dear life in order to keep from falling over. When we made it to downtown San Francisco it was a pretty quick 15 minute walk back to our hotel room where we showered and got dressed.
In the shower I discovered the result of my rookie mistake (wearing something new on race day). My fuel belt had rubbed against my stomach right below my belly button. My shirt was a little short and had ridden up so my fuel belt was rubbing for almost the entire race and I hadn’t noticed. I definitely noticed in the shower.
At the hotel everyone greeted us by saying “Welcome back!” I felt really special even though we weren’t the only runners staying there. The first thing we did after showering and changing was go look for food. Once again, I was starving. This time I had a craving for oysters. It may have something to do with Jeff telling us about all of the oysters he ate a few nights before this. We went to Hog Island Oyster Co. and my wish was granted.
Feeling tired after this we went back to the hotel and had a nap. Big mistake. When I woke up my entire body ached and I could barely walk. I was in so much pain. We probably should have walked for a bit afterwards to get the lactic acid moving. Oops!
I was hungry again so we went for dinner. (this was a really long day for me. There was a lot of activity and not a lot of food!)
After wandering around a little we went back to the hotel and called it a night. The next day we had breakfast at Perry’s again (I wanted to try the waffles Dan had on our first morning there).
Before heading to the airport, we walked down the street and picked up a copy of The Examiner, which featured a story on the 100th Bay to Breakers!
So that was my first run. Some of the highlights for me were getting to see the city in a different way (running through it), running with a huge mob of people (it was really thrilling), the feeling of accomplishment when I crossed the finish line and the medal that will always remind me of that feeling. Also the t-shirt. Can’t ever forget about the t-shirt.
Next trip recap on the blog will be of my trip to New York City to visit Alia and eat amazing food. After that, I’ll have a race report on my first 10k, the Toronto Zoo run! More food, running and travel to come.