Race Recap: San Francisco Half Marathon

I’m happy to say my first half marathon was a success! Such a success, in fact, that I didn’t get any pictures! Well, I got two of the gorgeous sunrise. You know a race day bodes well when the sky looks like this at 7 a.m.:

Sunrise over Golden Gate Park
Sunrise over Ocean Beach

I took those two pictures, then left the camera in the car for the entire rest of the race. Bad blogger! Haha. So, in lieu of gorgeous race pics, I’ll sum up in actual words but I’ll keep it short, ’cause I know it’s Monday and your brains might not be 100% awake yet 🙂

The stats:

  • Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K
  • 10,000 racers: 6,500 half marathoners and 3,500 5K-ers
  • Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway / Ocean Beach
  • 55 degrees or so and gorgeously sunny

The race:

  • First things first ~ I finished in 1:55:21! Which is way, way faster than I expected, to be honest. I thought I’d come in around the 2:10 mark.
  • The 1/2 marathon and 5K racers all started together, in GG Park.
  • For the first couple of miles, I simply focused on finding good spaces to run in and avoid being trampled.
  • Around mile 3, I got into my groove and started focusing more on my breath, form, and pace.
  • Miles 3-7 were a net downhill and quite easy and zippy. I figure that’s where I got most of my speed!
  • At mile 7, we turned from the park onto the Great Highway, which runs along Ocean Beach, for the remainder of the race.
  • Miles 8-10 were the most difficult, by far. The route itself was still pretty flat and easy, but I was starting to feel tired. I figured I could use a fuel boost, so I ate a Gu but didn’t have any water, which was a bad idea. The gooey stuff stuck to my throat a little, which caused me to slightly panic, thinking, “What if it glues my throat shut and I can’t breathe?” Totally rational, right? I slowed down and walked for about 20 paces until I got some saliva back, and downed a full cup at the next water station. Lesson learned: don’t eat a Gu if you don’t have water on you!
  • At the turnaround at mile 10, I got a new wind. It’s likely the Gu had kicked in, but it’s also because I knew I only had the 3 mile stretch left. From there, the home stretch was flat and fast. I wasn’t sore, but I was eager to finish strong. I kept my mind on my breath and my form, making sure I wasn’t running too fast or too slow. I was pretty sure at that point that I’d finish in under 2 hours, but you still never know, so I just kept plugging along.
  • The final .10-mile stretch back into GG Park was uphill ~ drat! That was definitely a challenge, but as soon as I spotted the finish line, I simply felt relief… and then was stoked to see my final time!


  • The park, of course, was a zoo, with 10,000 participants and friends and family roaming around.
  • I didn’t stop at any of the expo booths, except to pick up my race T, which is a nice dark blue, long-sleeved cotton shirt.
  • No, I was more eager to get back to the beach and meet up with my honey!
  • After a gigantic post-race brunch, we headed home, where I sat on the couch for the rest of the day: repolishing my tired toenails, watching the Super Bowl Madonna, and snacking until I literally fell asleep while still sitting up.

In sum, I feel like I was well-trained and prepared for the race. I’d eaten my regular breakfast of toast with almond butter, a pear, and coffee. Then I ate a (very large) date just before the start, then another at mile 4 and at mile 7. I brought pretzels, too, but didn’t touch them ~ it seemed like the dates were enough sugary fuel for 13.1 miles. I drank water at every water stop except the first two, which seemed to be enough, although I could probably have actually drank more from the cups than I did. But in general, I think I got enough water.

The hills I’ve been running on around here made the ones in the park feel utterly flat. So, as much as I dread them sometimes, I know they are awesome training grounds! The weather couldn’t have been better, nor could the view, and my experience with the race producers (Rhodyco) was nothing but good. I’m looking forward to doing this race again!

14 thoughts on “Race Recap: San Francisco Half Marathon

  1. That’s pretty intense — not everyone destroys their first half marathon at a 1:55 clip. Since you smashed your expectations, I bet you’re looking forward to the next one?

    1. Haha! Yes, I was really surprised AND I’m definitely down for another half. Thanks for your awesome comment! I don’t have another 1/2 on the calendar right now ~ my next scheduled race isn’t until May, which feels like a million years away. I think I’ll spend some time this week looking for another race in March or so. Got any good suggestions?

      1. The only March race I’ve done so far is the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. It’s nice if you’ve ever been to Atlanta. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward urban half marathon with a few hills here and there.

  2. Congrats Andrea ! Loved reading the recap of your race day :o) Defintely makes me want to train and join you someday.Hope to see you soon. xoxo Danila

    1. I’m in SF (which made this 1/2 very convenient!) ~ Davis is not too far, though. I’ll look into that race! I’m sure you will do great!! Thanks so much for stopping by 😀

    1. Aw, thanks so much!! I have plans for later in the year: an 18K in May, a sprint tri in June, and my first FULL marathon in July… but May seems so far away now that I’m thinking of finding a race in late March… Maybe a trail run! We’ll see 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Congrats on the Half! Sounds like a great race. I fuel with dates too – they have worked really well and are so easy to carry.

    I want to run the Nike Women’s Marathon out there one day. Do you know anyone who has done it?

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