SF2HM: Pre-race Rambles

In less than 34 hours, I’ll be toeing the line at my 7th half marathon. I’ve only ever run in San Francisco once, back in 2007, so I’m really looking forward to exploring a new course in the city across the Bay.

In an effort to keep my race recap to-the-point, I thought I’d write a post about my last-minute race preparations, the expo, and general thoughts going into Sunday’s race.

1. Last-minute preparations:

  • I’ve decided on my race outfit: purple Lululemon tank, Oiselle Rogas shorts, and Zoot compression socks.
  • I’m 90% certain that I’ll be running in my Merrell Pace Gloves on race day.
  • I’ve decided not to listen to music so I can focus on my form and my surroundings. My earbuds have been acting up, and I don’t regularly rely on music, so it’s probably for the best.
  • Since there is no BART service on Sunday mornings until 8am, I have to drive into the city, park downtown, and take a shuttle to the 2nd half start in Golden Gate Park. I wasn’t sure how crazy the parking situation would be, since the shuttle pickup is in the general vicinity of where the full marathon and 1st half marathon starts, and the waves for those two races start at 5:30 a.m. So, I did what any anal retentive thoughtful person would do: I reserved a parking spot through GottaPark. It seems like a pretty cool service; I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • Due to increased security measures, they’re screening all of the sweat drop bags, which are (inconveniently) made of an opaque black material. Although I’ll end up being at the start in plenty of time to deal with bag check, something about it just rubs me the wrong way. So, I’ve decided to forgo the bag check. I went to the Salvation Army on Monday, where I scored a sweet, mint green fleece for $2. The good news is that all of the throwaway sweats from the race will be donated to thrift stores. Win-win!

2. The Expo was scheduled for today and tomorrow. I was originally planning on going tomorrow so I could attend the tweet-up/meet-up. Alas, I forgot about the expo when I organized an outing to eat dim sum. Sorry, Expo (and blogger friends)…I cannot resist the siren call of dumplings. Luckily, I have a very flexible work schedule, so I left early and took BART into the city. The Concourse Exhibit Center was a 20-minute walk down 7th St., which was much less sketchy than I imagined.
20130614-223518.jpgAnyway! So I got there around 4:15 p.m. and it was empty. I got my bib and my (too small) t-shirt in about 5 minutes. The neat thing about the drawstring bag is that you could write your bib number on the back with a Sharpee. Although I don’t intend on using the sweat drop, I wrote my number on my bag just in case. I also picked up a 2 hour pace band from the pace team table, even though there should be a 2 hour pace group on Sunday. You know, just in case.

Then I was corralled through the SFM merchandise area, which to be honest, was a bit lackluster. The only things that caught my eye were the “Worth the Hurt” hoodies, but I wondered if non-runners might assume you’re a masochist or something… which I guess isn’t that far away from being an ultramarathoner, but I digress. I also saw cheap, but cute silver necklaces with 26.2 or 13.1 engraved on them, which didn’t look very cute at all after I saw that they were $50-60. I’ll probably be doing a lot of Oakland vs. SF comparisons, so let this be the first one: Oakland Running Festival merchandise is way better than the SF stuff. Oakland 1, SF 0.

I proceeded to walk around the Expo, picking up some bib holders for my Spibelt (to be tried at another, non-goal race) and a tube of Nuun, my first ever. There were vendors selling everything from sunglasses to earbuds. It seemed like there were a lot less clothing retailers than I’ve seen at other expos — I wonder if that was on purpose, so that people would buy more SFM merchandise? I also saw a Gypsy Runner booth, which unfortunately was not being manned by my Gypsy Runner. I ate my share of samples (Clif Bloks, Clif Bars, Picky Bars) and drank my fill of Nuun (fruit punch, FTW).

My haul from the Expo.

My haul from the Expo.

It seemed like every major California half marathon and marathon had a booth at the Expo. Most were just giving out information, but a couple (Oakland, San Jose Rock n Roll) were offering discounted registration. Other things at the expo that I saw but did not take advantage of: tech alley (various techy stuff to help runners), acupuncture area, yoga/meditation area, and a video tour of the course on a big screen, with couches. They also had leftover “vintage” (i.e., past year’s) race shirts for $5.

In summary, here are my thoughts about the Expo:
– Location: It’s a far walk from BART. Free street parking is available, but hard to find. There was a shuttle from one of the race hotels to the expo. I don’t know if they were free or not.
– Venue: Some things were spaced really far apart — the SFM tables, for example,  while other things seemed crowded together, like the first group of vendors.
– Organization: The signage was huge and it was easy to find where to go. I liked the one page map with race info on the back — it was an efficient use of paper.
– Selection: About what you’d expect from a big race expo. There were plenty of last-minute supplies on hand in case you forgot your favorite gels, socks, etc.
– Race goodies: The drawstring bag is OK/nothing special, though my cat seems to like it a lot. The shirt is WAY too small, and it looks short too. I’m debating whether it will be worth it to try to exchange it after the race or just stick it in my drawer, never to be seen or worn again.

At least Sasha is enjoying the stuff

Caution: SFM swag may cause crazy eyes.

3. General thoughts going into the race:

  • I’m trying to walk (run?) the thin line between being confident, but not overly so, as well as being courageous, but not in a foolish way.
  • I haven’t decided whether I want to cover up the pace on my Garmin. Maybe I’ll do it after the first couple of miles, if it’s not too much of a hassle to move the piece of electrical tape around.
  • My plan is to start behind the 2:00 pace group and keep them in view for the first couple of miles, then spend a few miles catching up to them. Hopefully I can keep up with them for a majority of the race and surge ahead with a mile to go.
  • Weather looks good for Sunday morning, if a bit windy. Luckily, the winds will be coming from the W/NW, so there will be a tailwind for a good portion of the race.

I’m sure I have more random thoughts floating around in my head, but that’s all for now. If you want to stalk track me in real-time Sunday morning, here are a couple of ways to do so. My wave starts at 8:23 a.m. Thanks for all of your encouragement and support so far! I hope I’ll have good news to report on Sunday!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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12 comments on “SF2HM: Pre-race Rambles
  1. Mike says:

    The expo is an unusually long walk from BART, isn’t it? Good call choosing Friday over Saturday… that place will be an absolute ZOO tomorrow. And speaking of zoos, did Icebreaker have a booth like they did at last year’s expo, featuring a muscled-up black fellow wearing only tighty-whities and a giant ram’s head? That, was intimidating.

    I think the fact that nobody who lives in SF will be keeping score and comparing their marathon to Oakland’s, would suggest that SF wins that competition hands-down?

    Knock ’em dead and have a great race on Sunday… after all, PR-actice makes PR-erfect!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Mike! No crazy ram’s head at the Icebreaker booth, just 2 normal looking employees. And touché re: keeping score between Oakland and SF. I won’t do that anymore… at least not publicly on the blog. 😉

  2. Cathryn says:

    I totally agree about the SFM merchandise although I haven’t seen this year’s selection and am only basing my comments on last year’s. At Oakland, I saw loads of stuff I wanted to buy but am not in love with Oakland, so I didn’t. I was hoping SFM would see and learn from an excellent example there. Also, ref necklaces, try Erica Sara Designs – she will hand engrave you a charm on a chain – she mocked me up an SFM one that I haven’t commissioned yet, and they are much cheaper and much nicer! Also…Nuun All Day is much nicer than normal Nuun, I discovered it this week and will be chugging it all day today. It’s less sugary. And finally…I’m in wave 2 (I was gutsy/foolish when I signed up) but hopefully I’ll see you milling around. Coral top with ‘Baby or Warrior’ foolishly/inspirationally on the back 😉 Enjoy the dumplings x

    • Jen says:

      What, I can’t believe you’re not in love with Oakland!! Haha, just kidding. I’m glad that you agree about the SFM merchandise. I’ll have to look into Erica Sara Designs — I would much rather pay an artist/craftsperson than buy some mass made thing at an expo, so thanks for the recommendation. I’m still not 100% sold on Nuun, just because I think electrolytes are over-hyped, but I liked the flavor and the slight bubbly-ness of it. Hope to see you tomorrow – if not before the race, than after at the Beer Garden?!

  3. JoeM says:

    Hi, there. I am running the 2nd Half tomorrow as well. I am a bit stressed out on the Shuttle situation from Spear and Howard out to GG Park. Hopefully all will be smooth. Enough buses, all on time, etc. Have fun and a good run! Good Luck to you!

    • Jen says:

      Hi Joe! Yeah, I’m also feeling a bit uneasy about the shuttle situation — I’ve definitely heard a lot of horror stories about race shuttles in general (but not for this race, fingers crossed!). I’m hoping that since there’s less 2nd half runners overall, and that there are so many different ways to get to the start, that it won’t be a huge ordeal. Anyway, hopefully it all works out. Good luck to you too!

  4. Kimra says:

    Aaaaah, Nuun WAS there?? I totally missed them on Friday — I was hoping to find them and get some watermelon since it’s been sold out everywhere I usually shop. Grr.

    ANYWAY, good luck! I’m also running the 2nd Half but running easy, so I’m sure you’ll be done before me! But if I see someone with your outfit description around the start line before 8:23, I’ll say hi!

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, it was easy to miss some of the vendors. Sorry you missed out on your opportunity to get your watermelon Nuun.

      Definitely say hi if you see me! And have a great race!

  5. […] the days leading up to the race: I’ve already written about my goals, expo, and race strategy. On Saturday, I carb-loaded with dim sum at lunch and homemade veggie stir-fry […]

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