My morning began with an early wake up, as the elite runners had to be at the Hyatt Hotel by 5:15 am for our 7:00 am race start time. I was late (typical) and therefore frantic as I drove down Market Street, now officially my least favorite street in SF because of its tricky lanes and busy intersections. Thankfully, I made it to the hotel unscathed and settled into my pre-race routine. A banana and a cup of coffee later and I was ready to go! My NBSV teammate Annie and I walked over to the start line with the rest of the elites and began our warmup. 20 minutes later, sweats came off, racing flats went on, one final fix of the ponytail and we were off!
|Elite Women Start|
The Hayes Street Hill was just as difficult as everyone said it would be. The 5 gradual inclines between Laguna Street and Pierce Street, are, well, miserable. I don't even want to speculate as to my mile split over that mile. My plan was to hammer it down the back side of the hill, squeeze the pace along Divisidero and Fell Streets, and then upon entering Golden Gate Park try to catch any of the elite Americans whose fast early pace might be catching up with them. Unfortunately, being all alone I found myself settling into tempo pace instead of race pace. In the final miles, I knew I wasn't going to catch any of the women nor were any females going to catch me, so I was content to tempo the final miles and just experience Bay to Breakers, taking it all in. As the elite men caught me, we exchanged quick words of encouragement - "Good job!" and "Way to go!" as they continued past me. Cruising by Lindley Meadow, the buffalo paddock, the spectators watching from the lawn chairs, the many photographers ready to capture the all the craziness coming after the elite field, I ran hard but joyfully through the park. The Pacific Ocean came into view with a half mile to go and as I made the turn onto the Great Highway, a strong and punishing wind blasted me in the face. The last 400 meters along Ocean Beach were brutal, but one of my NBSV teammates, Billy, was finishing at the same time and generously let me tuck in behind him as he broke the wind. I finished the 12K in 44:17, feeling a little worse for wear due to all the pavement pounding but overall happy and glad to have raced. I was 11th for the women and the 6th American female overall - I'll take it!
|Decked-out runners in Golden Gate Park|
|Making friends on the course|
There's nothing quite like Bay to Breakers - the sheer number of people, the amount of alcohol consumed, the crazy things you witness along the course... Similarly, there's nothing quite like racing in your adopted hometown to really make you feel like you belong. I've been a San Francisco resident for 8 months now and am finally feeling like SF is home (sorry Mom!). It's been a long journey - leaving small-town Davis where I'd lived my whole life to move to SF has been a big change, but I absolutely love it here. Racing through my new stomping grounds of Golden Gate Park felt like the perfect way to say, "I'm home!" Thanks, San Francisco, for the best homecoming a runner could ask for :)