The San Francisco Marathon (half marathon) race recap

Hello! How are you? Me, I’m great. I’m currently lying in bed in shorts, sports bra and compression socks and my race medal because it’s super hot where I live 😂. 

Today I had the honor of being one of the participants at the San Francisco Marathon. I ran the 2nd half. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the event has a full, ultramarathon, 5k and two half marathons. You can either choose the first half or second half to register for. The event is open to 27,000 total runners, making it the biggest race I’ve ever participated in.   It was also the 40th anniversary, which is cool. 


I registered for this race the day I left my job in December. I was an emotional wreck that day because leaving was the hardest decision to make and I needed something to lift my spirits. I chose the 2nd half because I didn’t want to run across the bridge this year and wanted to explore another part of the city. I didn’t really look at the elevation gain and course map when I registered. I just registered and then social media bragged to everyone afterwards, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

I had a blast at the expo and bought a sweatshirt with the 40th anniversary logo on it. The expo was huge and I took a while to walk around and then took myself out to lunch and coffee afterwards. 


I stayed in the city the night before the race so I wouldn’t have to wake up as early and travel as far, and spent some time getting acquainted with the course map that I picked up at the expo.  I talked with someone at the expo about the course and he gave me some good insight. First six miles were in Golden Gate park and pretty easy, then miles 6-10 were hilly and once you got through that you were home free. 


The morning was a bit of a blur. There was a snafu with the garage I had prebooked and the street to get in was blocked off, and then I had a hard time finding the shuttle but I made it to the start line with enough time to go to the restroom, check my bag and eat my clif bar and almond butter. And take a breath and focus. 

I decided the night before the race to focus on small bits of course at a time and broke the race into different chunks to get myself through, which is a practice I need to do more often. 

  • Miles 1-2 to feel out the crowd and see how my legs are doing
  • Miles 3-5 to warm up
  • Miles 6-10 hills
  • 5k to finish, miles 11-13.1

I mostly held tight to that the entire race. It was REALLY humid during the first five miles which really affected my respiratory system since I haven’t completely kicked my cold from my vacation, but it was fine. 

I played a game during the first five miles of the race where I would pick people running around me and try to figure out based off of their clothes, physique, physical appearance and how sweaty they were, if they were doing the full marathon or half marathon. It was a really fun game!  I don’t know if I got any right but it was entertaining and helped pass the time. 

I saw some awesome people on the course. I saw two people wearing their SF marathon Ambassador shirts, two people wearing shorts that they were running for cancer awareness, one guy wearing a shirt saying he used to smoke a pack a day and now he’s doing a 52 marathons in 52 weeks challenge and he’s on week 30. A lot of people wore their race shirts which surprised me. I never wear anything new on race day, and the shirts are long sleeved and it was toasty today. 

My splits were pretty solid through about mile nine I think, but then I felt the need to walk a little so I started to slow down. 

There were so many amazing people out and cheering on the event. People set up their own aid stations in front of their houses!  It was so heartwarming to be cheered on so much. 

I used three gu energy gels during the event. I had two regular and one roctane which I took about every 45 minutes. I brought waternwith me but stopped at every aid station except the last one to drink water and top my bottle off. I needed it for the heat and humidity. A few times I poured some water on my head to help cool me down.  

Once I hit ATT park I knew I was golden and just had a hair more to go. At that point the reality that I had held strong and put out a good performance really hit me. I was so stoked to be almost finished.  Not that I wanted to BE finished (ok yes I did) but because I felt like I had a solid finish to close in on after such a good 11 miles at that point.  Can’t Stop the Feeling came on shuffle at that point. For those of you who followed me during marathon training last year, you know that was my theme song of training. It was a good spirit lifting song. 


I finished as strong as my legs would go and tried to kick it up a notch, but at that point my hamstrings were pretty tight and it was not in the cards to go any faster. 

I was thinking I would finish in 2:45, give or take and I did in fact do about that. Since my longest long runs during this training cycle were only 9 miles and then I went on vacation and missed two weeks of long runs, I am pretty proud of what I did today. 


Something I loved about this event was that because it was large, that I was always around other runners from both the full and half marathon. That’s pretty rare for me since I’m not a terribly fast runner. But it was great. There was so much value in having people around. It kept my spirits high. 

I didn’t stay for any of the festivities post race. It was a little lonely without Mr. FtoF there to give me a big hug and I was ready to get on the road and be home, since I knew it would take at least an hour and a half to get home. I was so hungry but wanted to wait until I got into my hometown to eat so I could avoid traffic and shower. I had a banana and a snack bar in the car. And half a bag of cough drops because I was so hungry…. I just kept eating them 😳

It was a great event. I’m so proud of how I did today. It’s funny that my time today and my Mermaid finish are pretty close in time, but I have such different feelings about both of those events. Total 180 flip from a horrible half at Mermaid to a great day today!

For dinner I’m having a burger, fries and a milkshake. Back to my usual eating tonight. For today, a treat!

And guess what – I get to do 13.1 again in just five weeks!!! I can’t wait!!!

Cheers to half marathon number 9!!

-Vanessa 

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