The funny thing about The San Francisco Marathon’s weekend of events is that of the three years I’ve done it — in 2010 (marathon), 2014 (marathon), and 2015 (5k) — I’ve been pregnant (knowingly or otherwise) 2 of the 3 times. Weird how that happened. Both in 2014 and 2015, I was lucky enough to be a social media ambassador for the race, and this year, once I learned I’d be 36 weeks+ (that’s 9 months, for anyone counting) pregnant, I figured (read: hoped) that I’d be able to *at least* run the 5k. Fortunately, that was the case, and the weekend was a ton of fun, though I’m sure it would have been fun even if I wasn’t able to run. SF tends to put on a good show.
Saturday – shakeout, Dean Karnazes, expo, random interview, and lots of friends
At WTF o’clock I ventured up to Berkeley to fetch Meredith so the two of us could participate in TSFM’s shakeout run with Dean Karnazes and do all the prerequisite expo-ing. Another ambassador, Stephanie, and I were leading the shake-out run, so we had to get to Fort Mason shortly before 8 before our hundreds-strong new running BFFs arrived. I found cheap parking a couple miles away from FM, so Meredith and I just ran down there while carrying all our shit (looking amazing in the process, btw) and managed to make it in time. It was awesome to see so many other ambassadors, many whom I had met last year, as well as seeing other SF buddies like Travis, whom I had last seen at the SLO marathon weekend back in April.
After some quick announcements from TSFM staff member and ambassador-corraller-extraordinaire Michael, our little parade of runners was off. People posted anywhere from 1-4ish miles along Crissy Field, and true to SF form, Karl the Fog even made an appearance. It was a lot of fun connecting with other ambassadors and meeting so many other runners, many who would be either running SF for the first time or running their first marathon the next day (talk about rockstars – TSFM has about 1,600′ of gain! That’s a killer first 26.2 in my book).
Following the shakeout, Meredith, Travis, and I met/chatted with Dean for a minute (who, by the way, was running 90+ miles that day… the shake-out run was merely the beginning for him) and got some pics before heading into the expo to pick up our goodies for the next day’s race. Travis was running 26.2, Meredith the second 13.1, and me the 5k, so it was cool to compare all the different swag items (particularly the shirts). Before long, Erin B from Chicago arrived at the expo, and Meredith and I got to catch up with her for about an hour before my shift at the expo began. Erin had also come into SF for the 2014 race and had run 26.2, so it was nice to see her here again. That’s the nice thing about living in California/the Bay Area — people generally don’t balk at the opportunity to come visit
While Erin, Meredith, and I were chatting, TSFM staff Michelle asked if I could be quickly interviewed for USL TV about the 5k race, so I agreed. I cringe when I watch this, but my four year-old thinks it’s the coolest thing ever, though she kept asking me afterward “who’s Erin?” but hey, whatever. It was fun. I’m always game to talk running.
And then, before I knew it, I had to say my “see you tomorrows” to Erin and Meredith because it was my turn to go volunteer at the expo for a few hours. Some people find expos to be pretty draining, and if I’m racing, I think I’m one of those people; I want to get in, grab my stuff, and get out as quickly as possible. If the race isn’t an A-game thing for me, though, I find expos to be super energizing and dare I say, a lot of fun. Thus, even the tediousness that comes with talking to people about the race day runner tracking app (and showing people how to use their smartphones) became pretty fun. Fortunately, the tracking app actually worked really well on race day, so I was relieved that all the people I helped on Saturday wasn’t for naught. Once my shift concluded, I chatted with more ambassador buddies and eventually returned home to SJ.
Sunday – 5k race, lululemon party, and cowbelling at 12.0/25.0
Another WTF wake-up to head back into SF and before long, I was at the lovely SENS restaurant, site of the Lululemon pre- and post-race party. I dropped my stuff and headed out to the starting area for the 5k, more or less the same place where the 26.2/52.4/first 13.1 racers began hours prior, and got in a 2-mile-and-change warm-up along the Embarcadero, dodging the other ~2k 5k runners and the piles of discarded clothing from the earlier racers. I was impressed with how sweaty I was in a tank, shorts, hat, and a LS and began to consider just racing in a too-small-for-being-9-months-pregnant tank with my LS tied around my waist (winning tons of fashion points in the process, no doubt) because I was seriously dripping after slogging for not even 20 minutes. I found Erin and her husband, Tim, in the starting corrals, and we chatted for a bit before the race got underway after a slight delay due to some MUNI issue.
Like pretty much any other marathoner, I tend to despise, if not avoid, 5ks, because when I run them, I generally feel like death; I start out too quickly and just faaaaaaade. My pacing is nonexistent, I feel like I’m red-lining as soon as I’m out of the gate, and I so rarely tap my 5k speed that when I do, surely my body gets all what the hell are you doing to me, Erin?! and promptly tries to shut that shit down straightaway; it’s gotta be a defense mechanism or something. Running/”racing” a 5k at 9 months pregnant, however, is an entirely different ball game because there’s absolutely no way that I can redline or finish feeling like I was knocking on death’s door; my body, my huge midsection, the extra pregnancy weight I’m carrying, common sense, my central governor–everything precludes it. I didn’t have any particular time goals for the day (and honestly, it wasn’t until at least 25% into my warm-up that I began to feel comfortable and that a fetal appendage wasn’t jabbing some internal organ or another), so I figured that, pretty much like 99.9% of my running during this pregnancy, it would be exclusively on feel and not determined by clock-watching. Knowing that this 5k wouldn’t kill me, then, I was actually kinda looking forward to the thing and to seeing what was “there” at 9 months pregnant. Probably at no other time in my life will I ever say that I look forward to a 5k.
Anyway, the race — good time. The course was mostly on the Embarcadero, although with a few turns thrown in for good measure, so it made for some great opportunities to see other runners on the out-and-backs. Like I said, any semblance of speed or pacing I could muster was exclusively on feel, and when my watch beeped with each mile marker, I tried to look at the time, but since my Garmin and the mile markers were just slightly off (thanks, no doubt, to some weaving I had to do in the first .2 of the race), I really didn’t pay my splits much mind. It was really cool to yell for the other runners on the OAB portions, and likewise, it was cool to get so much “go mama!” or “go baby!” support from the other runners who saw me running along. I never felt like I was redlining — only that I was running faster than what I have been running lately — but even with a harder effort, I don’t recall feeling like the effort was impossible or unimaginable; I just had to be present. I’d later come home and tell C that running a 5k at 9 months pregnant gave me an unexpected opportunity to practice some serious focus, surprisingly a similar type of focus that comes with the territory of labor and delivery (or as much as I can recall, anyway). A 5k at 9 months pregnant isn’t impossible, but it’s also not a walk in the park, necessarily; like labor and delivery, you’ve just gotta be “present” for the thing.
Ultimately, I fared 23:26 for 3.1 (23:28 by my watch for 3.17, because a) weaving, and b) I started it on the first mat I crossed), which was enough for 22/1,2237 women and 87/1,989 overall. Sweet. This will probably be the only time in my life I negative-split a 5k, too.
Shortly after I finished, I went back to SENS, grabbed some food and a massage, and ran over to mile 25.0/25.5ish, near AT&T Park, to cowbell and cheer my little heart out for the many runners whom I had been tracking all morning. I managed to see nearly everyone I was following — including Travis, Kevin, Keith, Chris, Meredith, my pacer buddies Albert and Linh — which was a blast. I’m unfortunately not sufficiently coordinated to track runners on my phone, spot them in real-life, and take pictures of them as they approach, but suffice it to say that it was awesome to see everyone on their final homestretches of the race.
Once I saw all my runners, I ran back to the finishing area to meet up with Meredith before the two of us returned to the post-party, ate more food, and posted yet another granny-style cool-down (carrying all our stuff), putting her at 17+ for the day and me just shy of 10. It was an awesome morning that capped off an awesome weekend and another awesome year of reppin’ my love for TSFM.
This year’s TSFM weekend did not disappoint, and I’m so glad to have been able to participate in the capacities that I did. I’m already looking forward to the 2016 iteration and intend on running 26.2 — though of course, we’ll have to see where I’m at with postpartum running and such by then. Time will tell. If nothing else, I strongly urge you to consider running SF next year — at whatever distance you’d like — because the race is a well-oiled and more importantly, SUPER FUN!, machine. Thanks for the opportunity, TSFM!