The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon 2019 recap

Hi! How are you? I’m great and had a lovely weekend at The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon weekend. I’m excited to recap such a lovely weekend.

The race offered a Saturday 5k, a Sunday marathon, two half marathons (the first half of the marathon course or the second half), a 5k and an ultra which starts at 11pm Saturday night. For the ultra, you run the marathon course backwards at 11pm and then you run it with the marathon runners at 5:30 when the race starts.

I was registered for the Saturday 5k and the Sunday 2nd half. I’ve previously run both half marathons.

Saturday, July 27

On Saturday, I woke up at o’dark thirty and made my way down to San Francisco to participate in the inaugural pier to pier 5k! The race started at 7:00 am but I had to be there at 6:30 because they invited me to sing the national anthem! When I got there, I was very excited to see and meet the Ambassador team which I was on this year. They’re all wonderful people and I’m very grateful to have been on the team. I had applied a few years ago and didn’t make it on then, but the timing was perfect to join this year. Very grateful for that.

At 7:00 we were off and I logged a delightful 3 miles solo. I love running in San Francisco so much. I wish I could do it more.

I also ran into my fellow Mermaid Series Ambassadors Dawn Marie and Michelle!

After that I drove down to get some breakfast and meet up with a friend for lunch. We had a picnic at a park so she could bring her puppy 🥳

After that I checked into my hotel, laid out my clothes and waited for two of my friends to come to the hotel so we could go out to dinner!

I chose to wear my Wonder Woman goodrs because my sister, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, told me I had to push through this race I had been feeling ill prepared for. She is going through so much right now and I wanted to make her proud.

After a while my friends came by and it was time for dinner… sushi!

I love sushi. What do you like to eat before a race?

Then we decided to share some ice cream at one of those places where they make it in front of you and roll it up. I’m glad we shared because even the few bites I had were overwhelmingly rich!

Then since the alarm was set for 3:50 AM, we went back to the hotel and went straight to sleep!


I had no real goal for race day except to tackle the hills, run even splits and have fun. I estimated I would finish around 3:10 if I ran easy pace.

The alarm went of SO. EARLY. I love big races but hate the logistics of getting to a start line of a big race. Next year I plan to run the marathon at this event and will splurge on a start line hotel!

Another friend met us at the hotel and we hopped in the car. The plan was that we had a parking spot booked at the finish and we would take a shuttle to the start of our race, the 2nd half marathon. We had to be at the shuttle stop no later than 5:45 in order to be shuttled to our starting line. By the skin of our teeth we made it.

I was again invited to sing the national anthem at the start which was amazing. Very grateful for that. I sang at 6:40, and 10 minutes later the race was off.

From the moment I woke up my stomach was feeling off. I think the early alarm and eating much later than I usually eat dinner really affected me. I was feeling unsettled for a while. I realized on the way to the race I had forgotten to take my Ucan. I usually drink it before races since I can never stomach food. I don’t know if that would have made me feel better or worse, but I went in to the race with nothing in my stomach for breakfast.

Finally after my stomach pains went away after a few miles but for some reason then some hamstring tightness began. I’ve literally never had that during a race or a run!

My friend Kerri very graciously offered to run the whole race with me. I know I slowed her down and appreciate so much that she sacrificed her own race to run with me. About mile 3 we decided to choose a friend of ours and run each mile for them. It was a fun way to pass the time!

The bulk of the climbing is in the six miles of the course in Golden Gate Park. Once you come out it’s pretty flat with some rollers. By the time we got out of Golden Gate park around mile 6 or so, I knew I was going to be able to coast through the 2nd half since the hills were over. I was wrong.

As soon as we got into the Haight Ashbury and ran past the McDonald’s that isn’t there anymore (that I used to go to as a kid!), I felt it. THE HEAT! San Francisco isn’t a particularly warm place thanks to Karl the Fog, but it was an exceptional day. I knew once I hit the road I was screwed because there was no covering for the rest of the race. I was right.

I immediately started feeling sick and hot. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and drinking water but I could not stay cool. I stopped at every aid station to dump water on my head, and some SF resident sprayed us with her hose. My pace got slower and slower and I was feeling horrible. I was so ready to be done and cooled down.

It was a lot of fun though to talk to people along the course. We were mixed with half marathon runners and marathon runners and chatted with many of them along the way. At one point I let myself have a quick dance break at an aid station, and sang along at every place anyone was blaring music. It was so fun! Life is better with dance parties.

Eventually I saw the Bay Bridge which meant we were closing in on the finish! Thank goodness! As we rounded past Oracle Park where the SF Giants play, they had a DJ playing some tunes so I stopped for a quick dance break (life is better with dance breaks!). Finally near the very end, there was a drum line. Let me tell you. I LOVE DRUM LINES ON RACE COURSES. I love it SO MUCH. Eugene marathon has it, Santa Rosa marathon has it and it makes my LIFE! Since my time goal was basically out the window, I decided to stop and dance with them. Remember? Life’s bette with dance parties.

Finally was closed in on the finish. I was so glad to be done! As soon as I crossed the finish though I felt sick again, bent over to catch my breath and the medic came over and gave me some ice. She could tell I felt icky. The ice and a bottle of water really saved me at the finish from getting sick.

I got my medal and of course needed a finish picture.

Then we headed back to the hotel where our cars were and showered. That was the best shower I had ever taken.

As for my 3:10 finish, that was horribly wrong. With how sick I was feeling and the extra walking I did as a result, I finished in 3:26. I was really disappointed to see that finish time, but I am glad I had a slower finish rather than DNFing from pushing too hard and getting sick.

Next year I plan to run the marathon and can’t wait! Maybe the ultra in 2021!!

I’ll get my fix though with all the great people from this weekend because the same crew puts on Berkeley half in November! They are letting me stay on for that ambassador program too 🥰. Join us with discount code AmboVanessaW15 for fun.

Cheers runners and happy San Francisco Marathon weekend!

My first 50k recap.

This post will not do any justice to how my first 50k went. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This event broke me down to my deepest, darkest place. I was miserable. I cried. I broke down. I wanted to give up very early into the event. But I didn’t. So let’s talk about it.

I went into this race feeing less than ideal about my training since I got really sick for two weeks right at a peak point of my training. I missed work, I missed a 30k training run and a half marathon training run I had on my plan. I was still coughing on race day. I really wanted those big miles during my training but I didn’t get them so I was anxious about this event.

My husband had the weekend off because he wanted to do the event as well, so at o’dark thirty we loaded the car up and drove to the race. We got there about 5:45 (race started at 7) so we could get our bibs, set up our tent and be ready. The race we did was Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen. The way the race works is that there is a 6 hour option and a 12 hour option and you run loops. The loop is 3.37 miles long and at the last hour of each event, they open a .42 mile loop you can do. In addition to the endurance events, they have a morning 5k/10k and an afternoon 5k/10k. Near the start/finish area you can set up a little camp area for any items you want or to just hang out.

I went in to the race thinking I needed to do 10 loops, 33+ miles, but to really get to get to my mileage goal I only needed to do 9 big loops and 2 small ones.

After many pre race selfies, we were off. I had lots of friends doing the race and a friend working the aid station near the camp area.

I finished the first loop with a few of my friends and greatly enjoyed it. There is an aid station about halfway through the loop where we quickly stopped except they were chopping pickles when I was there and I couldn’t handle the smell and had to leave!!! 🤮 On the way in from the first loop I saw Coach Patrick, my running coach! He was there with a group of people from his training group. We got back to the start/finish area and my friends stopped back at the tent to put on sunscreen or change clothes. I stopped at the aid station for Pb&J and kept going and told them they could just catch up to me. I knew every second was going to count for me and I wanted to lose no time.

The second through 6th loops were fine. I changed shoes at one point and cruised through, stopping at the aid stations to eat pb&j, salted potatoes, quesadillas or grilled cheese and a few chips. I was also taking in chews and Tailwind from my pack. I quickly realized though I was not taking in enough fuel. I was burning through it faster than I was taking it in, and around the 15/16 mile mark I was really feeling awful.

When the race got really tough I was reminded of a quote I heard recently “Some women fear the fire. Others become it.” -Rh Sin and when I was struggling I quietly said to myself “be the fire”. If I ever get a tattoo it will say those words. It was the mantra I needed to push through.

My 7th & 8th loops were painful and when my spirit was tested. My feet were blistering over so badly, my little bones in my feet were screaming. I saw my husband during my 7th loop and I started bawling. I didn’t think I could do it. I couldn’t finish, and I told him I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to give up so badly. I was trying to smile but I was struggling. I don’t even know what he said to me in that moment but whatever he said was the right thing.

I finished the 8th loop and my friends told me, you have an hour and a half to finish the big loop and two small loops. I did some quick math and that meant I had to pump out 20 minute miles. My feet slowed me down so much during my previous loop that I was exceeding far beyond that- so I made what seemed like a stupid but ultimately the only reason I finished this race… I put on my Oofos flip flops and decided to power walk the last four miles in flip flops. This is not at all how I envisioned my epic first 50k finish to go, but when you are down to the wire and running on nothing but sugar, bread and cheese, you aren’t necessarily thinking rationally, but I picked up those miles faster than I needed in order to finish. Yes, in sandals.

As we closed in on my 9th loop my watch kept screaming low battery. There was no way I was going to have my watch die during my first 50k and not have credit for it, so I grabbed my power pack and my charger and we gave it a quick charge… which was good because when I plugged it in it it told me 1%. I kindly (maybe not so kindly, I had no mental space left haha!) told all my friends I wanted to finish my two little loops alone and they were more than happy to be at the finish line to wait for me and cheer. I was pleasantly surprised with how short the first little loop was and knew I only needed to do one more to finish. My Garmin hit 31.5 just a hair before the finish so I turned it off, and I cried as I trekked to the finish line, knowing I had pushed through the hardest, most draining thing I’ve ever done. I had 13.5 minutes to spare. For reference, I thought I would finish in 10 hours. I was very wrong 😂 but I didn’t even care.

As I came into the finish area all my friends had signs for me, cheered for me and told the announcer it was my first 50k so they cheered and announced it for me! My friend Tommy was handing out medals and gave me mine. There were no words to explain what I felt in that moment. It was unlike any finish line experience I’ve ever had. It was a test of not just my physical limits, but my mental ones too.

The whole time I was running I kept saying I hated running and it was stupid 😂. I said I was going to quit running and drop out of all my Ambassador programs. Then as soon as my butt was in this chair I asked if anyone wanted to do a group run run in two weeks, and what 50k I should do next. So yes, I did have a good time.

I do want to do another 50k but I need some time away from it. I need to lose some weight and train on the trails more. My next few races are road half marathons which is probably a good thing, to keep me back in my comfort zone for a little while.

But I’ll be back for you, Ultrarunning. I promise.