Race Recap and Review: San Francisco Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco

#5/13 of the 2013 Half Marathons

It seems like I learn something new in every race. Whether its being unprepared for the weather in Dallas or knowing that I’m not very good at evening runs as shown in Vegas and the New Year’s LA race, there’s always something that comes up.

This one? Be patient and watch where you’re going, or else an injury is inevitable.

Race Weekend

With a Rock n’ Roll event finally in the Bay Area, there was nothing really new or special to prepare for logistically. The course itself was also completely familiar too, since I ran the exact same course back in November with the US Half Marathon.

The US Half Marathon previously hosted two races on the same course in one year, once in April and once in November. The one in April has since been absorbed by Competitor Group into the Rock n’ Roll Marathon series. With this, I was able to use my wonderful 2013 Tour Pass to register for this race for free! Pretty nifty.

Saturday morning, after I dropped off Michael and Shirley in Berkeley, I drove over into The City and met with Kasey at the SF Ferry Building for the Farmer’s Market. We lounged around and sampled some pork rinds and burgers from 4505 Meats, and the Porchetta sandwich at Roli Roti.

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From there, we met up with Michael and Mona and headed over to the race expo!

The Expo

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The expo was held at the Moscone Center North, home of many developer conferences that are held year round by the big Silicon Valley giants, and now the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series. I much preferred what the US Half organizers did instead, which hosted packet pickup places at various stores around the area. But with that, you don’t get to see the Geico gecko, the Jamba Juice roulette wheel, and the latest Brooks offerings. Yes, Rock n’ Roll screams corporate.

Like the Pasadena Expo, this was a very small expo, probably only taking up half of an exhibition hall. And as always, it was very well organized and had lots of swag.

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After some tomfoolery around the city, we gathered in the Sunset District for some great Chinese food at San Tung Chinese Restaurant and Purple Kow for dessert in the Richmond District. Needless to say, if I weren’t running a half marathon the next day, I would’ve done it anyway. There was so much food!

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From there, we dropped off Kasey and Mona over in Daly City, and Michael and I drove up to SoMa to Amy’s place to stay for the night.

Race Morning

Almost exactly like the US Half in November, I got up at 5 and parked at the exact same spot as last time; street parking right outside the finish line. Bag check also wasn’t necessary since I parked at a much more convenient place than what Rock n’ Roll suggested.

Remembering the parking issue I had last time, I paid for my parking before starting to run.

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Ahh…cloudy sunrise.

The US Half is usually capped at 5,000 participants, and Rock n’ Roll was able to increase it to 5,500 given the same course. This was probably optimal, since several parts of the course (especially on the bridge) is extremely narrow and only has enough room for about two runners side by side.

The race started at exactly 7:00am, and I started at 7:08 in Corral 8 (out of 25!).

The Course

The course is extremely familiar, and begins at the Aquatic Park. It then follows along the Marina into Crissy Field, through the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then back to Marina via the Bay Trail, passing Fort Mason.

By  no means is this an easy course. It’s pretty hilly, has sudden turns and drops, and is especially windy on the bridge. I wasn’t expecting a PR, but with my injury on the course considering a PR soon became water under the bridge (heh).

As a second time runner in this course, I definitely feel like this course is for the photogenic runner; you’re on the waterfront with nothing but spectacular views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. And this definitely was the case. As I was approaching the bridge (which by the way, is uphill both ways), many runners stopped to take photos. On both sides. They also don’t bother to get off the course either.

I wrote about the course in more detail in my US Half Marathon post.

Logistically, Rock n’ Roll didn’t have the bands or as many water stations as they normally do, and this was expected. Most of the course was in National Park/Monument territory with noise restrictions. They did the best they could given the course, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to change it next year so people can “rock” more while running their races. I personally don’t care too much about the course entertainment; I’m here to run!

The Injury

I guess this time, instead of “rocking” the course as Rock n’ Roll wanted me to, I “rolled” it instead by rolling my ankle. How on earth did I do this?

Well, it’s because many runners decide to place themselves in corrals they don’t belong to. Assigned to Corral 12? Don’t put yourself in Corral 5 if you can’t finish a half marathon in the time people in Corral 5 usually do. You can pretty much get a rough estimate what finish times people have in each corral.

Anyway, I was starting the race, and a half mile in the course takes a steady downhill around Fort Mason. With these slow corral placers everywhere, I was weaving around these runners to maintain my pace. In the process I rolled my ankle. It didn’t seem very intense, but the pain did sustain itself through out the course. I didn’t hear any pops, cracks, or anything of that sort, and concluded that I should be able to continue with the half marathon and run through it.

This is not recommended. I don’t recommend doing what I did. If this happened again, I probably would’ve stopped and not run any further. Every downhill portion of the course really hurt, and I seriously was concerned that my ankle was going to give out at any moment. Immediately after finishing the half marathon, I went and got medical attention. The medical staff felt around my ankle and foot, and concluded that since nothing snapped or popped, my ankle was just strained from running 12.5 miles after rolling it. Had I stopped running this race, I probably would be fine and could probably run the next day.

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What’s done was done, and the staff just iced my foot. I limped around and collected the post race foods.

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I finished at 01:53:10, or 8:38 / mile. Definitely slower than what I’ve been normally running, but consider my ankle wasn’t performing optimally for the entire course, I’d say I did pretty well. This is also a course record, since the last time I ran this course I got a 01:54:00. I’m definitely improving as a runner!

After I rested up, I did the best I could to walk to my car and try to drive back to SoMa. My ankle was sore to the point where I had difficulty driving and simply walking. It wasn’t until I sat around in Amy’s place just getting off my feet was I able to drive normally and back down to the South Bay.

Of course, what would a race weekend be without the Man vs. Food meal? Michael and I left the city as soon as we could before the Giants game started and met up with Lena, Chris, and Chelsea at Ike’s Lair in Redwood City for the Kryptonite as well as Yumi Yogurt. I’ve normally had Ike’s for lunch at work before, but this was different. This was a post race feast, and I devoured 3/4ths of the sandwich quickly while hanging around and catching up with old college friends.

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Yes, both trays is one order

As always, running in San Francisco is a lot of fun, and minus the injury, I had a great time on this course. Fortunately, my next half marathon is about a month from now, so I’ll hopefully have fully recovered by then and get out to run some more!

Once again, a big thank you to Amy for letting us stay at her place, for Kasey and Mona for having a great time in the city, and to Michael for dealing and physically supporting me after my stupid decision to continue running on a bad ankle. Thank you to all the course volunteers, the medical staff, and everyone else involved!

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3 thoughts on “Race Recap and Review: San Francisco Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

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