2015 is my third year with the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco half marathon. The race organizers got some things right from the first year, including runner transportation from the finish line to the start and copious amounts of pre-paid parking nearby. Some things took just a little bit of a learning curve (such as teaching newer runners what a “bus box” is so they stopped freaking out and claiming they were “diverted” or “cut short”).
This year I made the very silly decision to run the second Livermore Half Marathon on Saturday and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco on Sunday. I’m not sure I noticed the dates when I signed up for the events more than six months in advance. Yes, wine was involved–I’ll write more about Livermore later. Livermore and the after-party demanded a post-event shower, which demanded a post-shower nap. Suddenly it was time to leave for the expo if I wanted to get there before it closed. Yikes!
A quick trip to San Francisco later, I grabbed my bib and shirt. Per usual, no line. Next a walk through the Brooks shop with Rock ‘n’ Roll themed merchandise, Moving Comfort bras, and the very best shoe porn.
I’m quite proud of escaping without a new running wardrobe, since I love the blues and greens in this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll collection. The expo had a few things that were new to me, and some of the usual vendors. To my delight (and my wallet’s demise), there were also some surprises.
True confession, I am a sucker for the Clinique bonus. Since I needed a new eye crayon and a less harsh lipstick for everyday wear, this was pretty much perfection. The best part is that it was right next to the booth I was actually looking for: Go Tape.
A friend turned me on to Go Tape. I’d tried kinesio tape a few times before, but somehow it just peeled right off around the edges so by the time the race rolled around it was less like tape and more like decorative flaps. Go Tape is sticky and stays put, so I was really happy to see them taping at their booth.
I had my shoulders taped by one of the pros taping that day. My tape-r was also an athlete. Turns out her “day job” is working as a doctor in the pediatric ER! I found out she had a sports injury while in school and was really frustrated that the kinesio tape available to her wasn’t sticky and would peel off before she was done with it. That’s why she loves to spread the Go Tape love. Clearly other runners have caught on, as people were still trying to get in line to get Go Tape-d even as the dudes in uniforms were trying to kick us all out of the expo. I grabbed a quick bite and a drink with another one of this year’s Rock ‘n’ Blog team, but naturally totally neglected to photograph it. Drat.
Thanks to pre-paid, guaranteed parking and a seamless shuttle system, I arrived at the starting line plenty early. (Earlier than I like to get up, in fact.)
The course starts right out at the beach, along the highway (which–fortunately for us–was not covered in sand as we started). That means less-than-gentle ocean breezes blowing through our bones as we waited and huddled for warmth.
It was a chilly morning, with many people opting to keep their “toss” layers instead of tossing them. It wasn’t long before we had all crossed the start and were working our way through the neighborhoods.
No bands in the residential areas, as no sane people are up at this hour (just runners). Everyone was looking forward to those gorgeous views of the Golden Gate, and we had scored some sweet, clear skies. We got a teaser look through the residential areas, before we hit…
A Hill. Not just any hill, but the great big one leading up to the smaller one that is the lead-up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately for the runners, this section of the course was OWNED by the San Francisco November Project. (If you don’t know who they are, you should.)
There were costumes, noise makers, signs, and plenty of hands to high-five, plus the bridge teasing us in the background.
These are people who voluntarily get up at obscene hours for group workouts, so they understand the special kind of crazy that is running races. Mad props, guys! You made my race.
Just past the November Project there was a designated selfie-station, complete with props and a faux Instagram frame.
Since I live close enough to go running in the Presidio pretty much any time I want to, it is easy for me to forget that this is DESTINATION race; even people who don’t stop for pictures stop for pictures.
The course went up to the Golden Gate Bridge, and over it and back again. My phone’s battery was starting to run low, as was my energy (because running back-to-back half marathons with hills was not my best idea). I feared dropping the phone off of the bridge! Since you had to run out-and-back across the bridge, I had the opportunity to wave and yell HI! to my fleet-footed friends.
The course wound down the bridge exit and across Marina Green. Even with the Bay breeze’s chill in the air, there were at least a half dozen other things going on: big cycling event, smaller charity run, farmer’s market, and an assortment of random runners, cyclists, frisbee players, and very happy puppy dogs. Past the parks and back into the urban heart of San Francisco, around mile 9 I decided that coffee was definitely in order. (Hey, it worked for me in Dallas!) It wasn’t until mile 12 I found my opportunity to buy a hot mocha from a local establishment. I even got the extra whipped cream.
Since I was seriously lagging, I missed all but the end of the concert (which is fine, as I was post-run-dazed and trying to absorb caffeine). The finish line had the usual assortment of salty things, bananas, chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, and the Michelob Light beer tent (which I skipped since I don’t do beer). There were also some fun additions, including a Sambazon mobile cafe! After thankfully accepting some bottled samples, I checked out the available açai bowls.
This was the first year I knew plenty of other people running, but didn’t traverse any significant portion of the course with someone I knew. Overall I think the Rock ‘n’ Roll crew did a great job with this race, and the gorgeous weather didn’t hurt. Now if I could just convince them to coordinate with the Livermore Half Marathon so I don’t end up with back-to-backs in 2016…
P.S. If you want to read more from the Rock ‘n’ Blog team, here are some options: