Thought for the Day

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

San Francisco Chronicle Marathon 2002

What could be better than a marathon through The City, the city by the bay, the city they built on rock and roll, sex and drugs, free love, China Town, the Bank of Italy (now known as the B of A), the Barbary Coast, earthquake and fire, and yes, Gay Pride? Certain parties who shall remain nameless have intimated that the Chronicle Marathon in San Francisco might not be one of the most carefully organized and managed events. I have to say that it isn't perfect, but it's a magical place, for a marathon or anything else. This is a world class urban marathon.
The Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, Aquatic Park, the Maritime Museum, Fort Mason, Marina Green, the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, the Great Highway (on the Pacific coast), more Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, China Basin, Pac Bell Park, the Bay Bridge, Pier 39, the Ferry Building. That about sums it up.
I was concerned about parking before the race, and it took me a while to get parked that morning. I parked in the Embarcadero Center, close to the start, but I was afraid it was going to cost me an arm and a leg. It was only when I was leaving that I found out marathoners got free parking there for the event. It was only on Monday that I found out that some time in the last week they updated the maps on the web site to include information on parking, as well as lots of other information that hadn't been there before.
There were plenty of porta-potties, almost no lines, but the start area was kind of narrow. I had prepared for that pre-race evacuation that's necessary for me to avoid that embarrassing marathon running hazard we talked about recently. I ate enough roughage the day before, and I set my coffee maker to have a pot ready when I got up.
I had to leave home at 3 to get to San Francisco for the 6 am start.
For some reason, the coffee came out weak, it turned out too weak to give my guts the required stimulation to do their job on my first visit to the can.
Walking around near the start before the race, I found a coffee shop that was just opening. I got a cup of good, black stuff and got back into line. I had just finished my coffee and gotten to the door of a porta-potty when the race started. I was unconcerned because of the chip timing. I did start to wonder, though, while I was taking care of business, how quickly they turn off the start. When I did get out to the start, though, there were a couple of runners who had just started, and more, who looked like serious runners, who were just hanging around stretching. I decided I had time to warm up and stretch a little, so I did, and that explains my late start.
I hit the first mile in 7:17. A little faster than I should have been going, but I was pretty much alone. There was no one to pace myself with. As I caught up with people, I knew that I was actually ten minutes ahead of them all. They were running slower than my pace, so I couldn't stay with them either. Honestly, though, I knew I was going too fast at the start, but it's what I felt like doing. If I do more long runs, I'll be able to keep going that pace longer.
They do this weird thing in races in San Francisco. SF is full of one- way streets. To "facilitate vehicle traffic" for the Bay to Breakers, they alternately open two parallel streets to cars then runners. They do this in one place for the Bay to Breakers. They did it in four places for this marathon. Theoretically, the distance is the same whether you go around the block on one side or another. But it changes the elevation profile of the course for different runners. It also makes it tough if you're trying to run with someone. If you get separated, you could go completely different routes. Since I started almost 10 minutes late, I was usually around people running slower than I was. The first time the course split, around mile 8 in the Richmond District, I found myself running alone for almost a mile. It was very disconcerting running with no one ahead of me. I could have pretended I was winning the race if I'd though of it.
When I had to merge back in, a guy who had run down the other street actually stuck his arm out to keep me from going in front of him. So I ran behind him for two steps then passed and continued to move up.
I don't know what he was thinking.
So this is turning into another one of those posts that is so long I can't expect anyone to read it, and it's getting close to a week since I ran the race.
The weather was wonderful except for the headwind on the Great Highway, from mile 10 to the half. That took a lot out of me.
The half marathon had way more runners than the marathon, and they start it at just about the same time that the MOP from the marathon gets to the half, which means maximum crowding. After running through all of the slowest people in the marathon, I found myself dodging through a huge crowd of people only doing the half, and doing it slowly.
Other than the last three miles, which were flat, most of the pace fluctuations are due to hills. They changed this course to make it easier, but they could not make it easy. It is still one of the tougher marathons.
The last few miles I was just out of gas. My split for mile 25 was a little faster than the one before and the one after because I tried to pick up my tempo to finish strong. I was able to speed up for maybe a quarter mile, but I couldn't hold it to the finish, and I ended up even more exhausted. By the end, I was just hanging in there.

Here are all my stats. Sorry, no heart rate, but I can report blood glucose readings, which I don't see anyone else doing. :-)
Basal rate is the amount of insulin given hourly by my insulin pump.
Bolus was a dose of insulin to correct a high blood sugar, possibly caused by the adrenalin rush of starting a race.

Basal Rate: 0.2 U
BG:______103___(15 min pre-race)
2._(missed it)
3._____22:07___7:25 (2M ave)
10K.___47:42___(chip time)
Bolus:___0.5 U
HM.__1:41:13___(chip time)
Food: 1 PowerGel
30K. 2:32:26___(chip time)
Food: 2 Glucose Tabs (just felt like it)
M.___3:42:50___(chip time)

BG:_______88___(10 min post-race)