San Francisco's Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon started in the dark. Virginia and I woke up at 4:30, got dressed and walked the six blocks to the bus pickup through chilly air. There was a row of yellow school buses picking up riders and hauling them off as fast as people came in. Then there was a group shot with 2L2Q, AKA Too Legit To Quit by Lake Merit. Sorry, I was so sleepy at that point that I just followed her lead. Forgot to pull out my camera. Virginia posted a selfie of us in the line at the bathroom, but it didn't occur to me then either. Then there was the pilgrimage to the start, where they lined us up by start time in herds like cattle. The start itself took at least 45 minutes. We heard the starting gun at 6:15, but that was just for the leaders of the pack. We started in the 15 minute mile group, more or less. Started more than shuffling forward at more than a walk when the woman counted down with us to "Go! Take off corral fifteen! You're on your way! See you at the finish!" Maybe the sky was no longer black, but it was nowhere near blue yet. Probably it was about 6:45 then.

Our goal was to do the whole thing as one fifteen minute mile after another, so we were speed walking already. For the first half mile or so a river of people was passing us. My rule of thumb is "slow traffic keep right", so we hovered near the right lane's right side, about where the door zone for parked cars is. The first part of the ride went through very nice neighborhoods where they didn't want any noise. Beautiful houses one after another on very good quality roads. People were thick around us. It felt a lot like a normal workout with Virgina, except for the large family of friends moving forward together. That all changed when we got to the corner of Haight and Ashbury.


Betcha the light show had been the only light available for the front runners.  Likely they had reached this point an hour before us. It's early morning when mood lights can still outshine the sun!

Those hippies handing out flowers were pure theater. Trade show booth babes doing their day jobs.

A few minutes later Virginia's wrist announced we'd gone two miles in the thirty two minutes since we'd crossed the starting line.

It was still so early that my camera needed to be held still to get good pictures. We'd been moving forward together for at least an hour already.

Not much later we reached the blue mile, our first sustained uphill.


The KIA memories just went on and on. One after another, people of various ages and all colors. Facebook friends with the mother of one of them. Pretty sure a lot of the flowers from the hippie chicks ended up in front of one of these images. A touching way to honor the fallen of Bush's war. Part of the rock and roll tradition.


It went on and on. Americans that had died during our era. About then it started to rain. Even the sky was weeping.


We struggled forward up the hill.


I gather that the honor guard was local volunteers.

Many of them offered lots of encouragement. "Looking good!", "The top is not that far off!", and "Keep going!" Seemed like they were veterans saluting us or something like that.

They had this landing at the top of the hill where people could pull over and take pictures. By this time the light was good.


The Garmin buzzed the three mile mark. Our pace is 17 minutes and 45 seconds per mile. Not bad considering we'd been going uphill for a lot of it.

The front of the pack coming off the bridge was long gone by the time we got up on the bridge approach. Probably the winner of the race was at least near the finish line, if not happy in the beer garden drinking that free beer.


The potholes on that bridge have the ability to twist ankles. Four miles into the trek we're still doing 15 minute something miles.


About the time the buzzer announced five miles into the race we reached the Marin County line.

We left the road at the scenic overlook turn off. After we passed the bathrooms (no lines, but I still had to pull down those tights, etc., etc., etc. Two minute delay to handle business.) I felt a lot better. Maybe fifty yards later we passed the only band we saw north of the Golden Gate. Then it was back across the bridge to San Francisco.


By now the miles were just clicking by. At mile seven we were most of the way back to San Francisco, but still above open water.




Then we passed about half a mile of inspirational messages, one after another.

Wow! An Elvis convention...


I fist bumped with the one on the left without breaking stride.





Wouldn't be San Francisco with out a well done transvestite runway sponsored by an out of state shoe company! About then I got this feeling that I wanted the best time I could get for the rest of the course. Started running for the first time in many years.

We crossed the finish line at a run. My finisher time was 3:41:12. It was several minutes faster than my previous half marathon finishing personal record.

So happy that I got there before the headliner finished their set! That had been one of my goals for the race. I'd wanted that since I missed another headliner in San Jose. After that I turned off the camera and enjoyed getting our free beers with Virginia. We sat down on the thermal blanket on the grass and figured out where they had gone to eat.


It was good to sit and relax in front of food with other people. I felt a lot better by the time we left for the trek home. Special thanks to Lisette and her husband the helicopter pilot for giving us a ride back to the hotel to pick up our bags.


Gotta brag about adding another medal to our growing collection of shared medaling experiences. For sure I wouldn't have done it without Virginia's encouragement.