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
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.