Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Race Report: The Giant Race Half Marathon

What's this? I ran an unplanned half marathon? Yep! How fun is that!

It all started with my post when I mentioned that I had an 18mi run coming up. Naomi kindly suggested that I run the Giant Race half marathon with her that weekend (as bandit) to log some of the miles. I looked up the course and it seemed like a good idea since it was just an out and back along the Embarcadero where tons of people run anyway. And even if I couldn't exactly run with her, it would still make it more fun to run with a bunch of people. So that was the plan!

And then miraculously, my two lovely friends, Aron and Alyssa, both had giveaways on their blogs for a FREE entry to this sold out race that were sponsored by the Got Milk Refuel with Chocolate Milk campaign. (BTW - we were given chocolate milks after the Cleveland Half Marathon and it was like heaven! So I fully support this.) I'm sure you know what I'm going to say next, right? I WON A FREE ENTRY!!!! Thank you, Alyssa!  I was super duper excited because now I got to be a legit runner and use the aid stations and the portapotties and finish inside the ballpark and get the medal and the T-shirt and most importantly, get the Tim Lincecum bobblehead!!!!!! Wheeeeeee :) :) :) I'm not even a baseball fan but that is some serious loot.

Race Morning

My plan was to run 5 miles before the half marathon to get my 18 mile long run in. Then I would be free to enjoy all the post race fun. The race started at 8AM so I figured if I planned to run at 6AM (but most likely a bit later - I always have to give myself buffer time, haha), I would have plenty of time to run at a comfortable pace (11-11:30min/mi) and still have time for bib pick up, potty stop, etc.

As I was driving up, I noticed a problem - it's still dark at 6AM! Ay yay yay... thankfully all the volunteers were there so I decided to go ahead and get my bib, which was a smart move because the lines were really long by 7:15ish. I tweeted for a bit and then eventually it was light enough that I felt OK to start my run.

I mapped out an out and back 5mi run south of the ballpark. Originally I didn't want to run the usual Embarcadero route because I wanted to save it for the race. Well it only took me about a half mile along my route when I realized that um, this might not be the safest option for me considering I don't know the area and nobody was around. Plus I had been watching too many Law & Orders that week and I didn't want to end up being the body that some other more fortunate runner discovered. (Yes, these are the morbid thoughts that go through my head when I run.)

So I changed course a little bit and ran up and down 3rd St and then for the last couple of miles I did do an out and back past the ballpark to more familiar territory. I ended the run at 4.9 miles.

Distance: 4.9mi
Time: 52:57
Pace: 10:48 min/mi

I was so glad I had arrived early because as I was finishing my run around 7AM, there were looooooooong lines of cars in both directions heading to Lot A and as I mentioned before, the lines at bib pickup were also long (and still long during the race start!) So if you do this race in the future, arrive early!

Gear check was pretty convenient. I normally don't use them anymore but since I was warm and they were right there, I decided to check my jacket which went into purple Fedex canvas drawstring bags. (I don't know why I get excited by these bags vs normal plastic ones, I already have plenty.)

I then got in line for my second portapotty visit and that's when I ran into Naomi, Courtney, and Aron. Here's a cute pic of us pre-race... Aron and I had both done pre-runs which is why we look a bit warmer than the other two ;)


Eventually it was time to head to the race start which was outside the ballpark. Here's a pic of us runners getting ready to line up in our corrals. You can see the ballpark on the left of the photo.

Luckily, I found Naomi in the start corral (we got separated when she went to check in her stuff) - definitely fun to chat with her before the race!
The Race

And off we went! I tried to keep up with Naomi for a little bit at the start but once I glanced at my Garmin and saw that I was running in the 9s, I had to back off and stay with my more comfortable ~10:50 pace. Maybe if I was running just the half, I might have tried to hang on for a bit longer but I wasn't going to mess around with an 18mi training run.

Even though I am super familiar with this course, I still really enjoy it (same could not be said for say, the LG creek trail). The weather felt great so I was having a nice run.

Around mile 4 was the Fort Mason hill which is where I planned to take my Gu. I walked the whole thing like I did in my 16 miler.

A little before mile 5, I spotted a crowd of runners all taking pics with someone. He looked like a young Santa Claus with a dark beard. I didn't get why all these people were taking pics with him... I mean, it's not like he was Mickey Mouse or something.

OK I'M JUST KIDDING! It was that "Fear the Beard" guy (in Audrey speak). Or was it? I did see a runner earlier on the course that was wearing a fake Brian Wilson beard so I was immediately suspicious. But sure enough, it was him!

I briefly considering joining the mess for a pic but 1) I'm not really a baseball fan,  2) I was in my groove and didn't want to lose any momentum, and 3) I'd hate to irritate any REAL Giants fans with such a photo. I could just hear it now - "Audrey got a pic with Brian Wilson? She's not even a Giants fan!!!" It would be like someone I know being nonchalant about getting a pic with Kristen Stewart or Andy Cohen.

But I knew SOMEONE would be all over this opportunity and sure enough she was:
Pretty cute pic, dontcha think? I think this should be her Christmas card photo this year.

And I guess if you were part of the faster crew, you actually got high fives from him!
Now that's pretty awesome. I still can't decide if he planned to be part of The Giant Race course entertainment or if it was just a coincidence since I've been informed by others that he actually lives in the Marina. Either way, it's pretty cool because he had to have been out there for at least half an hour.

A little bit further down, I spotted my old roommate Pete on the side of the course. I guess it's not that big of a surprise since he lives in the area and his running club runs there on Saturdays but still, this is the third time I've run into him at a race. The last time was out in Castro Valley! As I shouted out a greeting to him, I yelled out, "That Wilson guy is back there!" As soon as the words left my mouth, I immediately shut up and hoped no diehard Giants fan heard me... I don't think they'd appreciate him being called That Wilson guy. Haha!

Eventually we got to the turnaround at Crissy Field and headed back. At each mile marker, I reminded myself that I logged five more so it was fun to see all the miles click by. I walked up Fort Mason again and took my other Gu. Speaking of Gu, I don't recall spotting any on the course until past mile 9 when we were over the hill (literally, not figuratively). Doesn't really seem like the best spot for them in my opinion. I was already Gu'd up but I kept hearing a conversation I had with Layla in my head when we discussed that if a Gu is offered, you take it. "That's $1.25, sure I'll take one!" I ended up taking two.

Once I got to mile 10, I changed my Garmin setting to show the average pace instead of current pace.  I didn't want to have any real race goals since it was a training run but I did think it would be nice if my half pace was sub-11:00 min/mi. And not Garmin pace, but "on the record" chip time pace. And at mile 10, I was a little over 11:00 and since I knew I would be logging more miles on my Garmin compared to the race distance, I knew I would have to add some seconds on top of that.

I was 15 total miles in and I really wasn't sure if I could push harder but I tried my best.  At least I knew the course was flat for the rest of the way.

I must have really been in the back of the pack because at this point there weren't that many runners around me.  Until we got to mile 13... ay yay yay. I guess having to merge with the Kids Run at the See Jane Run half in the last mile was good practice because in the last mile at The Giant Race,  I got to dodge the 5K walkers... with strollers!

RACE DIRECTORS: PLEASE STOP MERGING WALKERS WITH RUNNERS IN THEIR FINAL STRETCH! Or at least have some volunteers to help clear the path, good grief. At least I knew to stay out of the way of the elites running in the opposite direction of the main pack of runners.

Eventually the AT&T ballpark was in my sight... so exciting! The course led us right inside the ballpark and the finish line was right there! Of course, there were still plenty of walkers taking over the whole path. Once I'm in the finish line stretch, polite (most of the time, anyway) Audrey goes out the window - I'm on a mission and nobody is getting in my way! Thankfully, I didn't have to elbow anyone but did have to bark at someone to step aside. This would have been an ideal place for race volunteers to separate the walkers from the runners. But I really didn't have it that bad. I encourage you to check out Courtney's artistic rendition of her finish line experience (just come back here when you're done, ok?).

Official Results 

Split Times:

5 Km: 33:41 Pace: 10:51
10 Km: 1:07:55 Pace: 10:56
Turn Around: 1:14:48 Pace: 11:00
10 Mi: 1:50:17 Pace: 11:02

Finish time: 2:23:41
Pace: 10:58

YAY!!! I got my sub-11 pace!!!

And if you're curious...

Garmin distance: 13.21 mi
Garmin time: 2:23:44
Garmin pace: 10:53min/mi

Post Race

There was some great energy inside as the stands had a bunch of peeps cheering on their loved ones. It was just fun being inside the ballpark - reminded me of getting to run through Anaheim Stadium during the Disneyland Half. It definitely made it easier to deal with the post-race congestion that first started with collecting the medal.

Me and my medal! Woo hoo!

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I got a text from Naomi who was still on the field so I was able to get a pic with her and our medals too.

Now here is the part that concerned me. I read about this in the race instructions so at least I was prepared. After running the half marathon, you had to walk around the field, and then immediately go UP THE STEPS to the concourse level to get the rest of the goodies (as shown in the left of the photo below). Say what now?
Naomi is to the right of the balloon arch... do you see her? :P
Once you're on the concourse level, the congestion continues as you work away around the entire level to get your goodie bag, the race shirt, and the bobblehead. Egads.
I got CRAZY excited when I saw the bobbleheads! For some reason, I thought they would be these little doo-dads in a plastic bag or something. But no, they were legit fancy schmancy souvenir items in a box! Wheeeee....

FINALLY we got out of there. On our way out, we spotted the Got Milk? booth. We didn't check them out (looks like they were offering free massages) but I had to take a pic (or well, ask Naomi to take it) since technically, they did sponsor my participation in the race. Thanks Got Milk! :)

The Fed Ex gear check trucks were conveniently located right outside so after we picked up our stuff, we were free to get our lunch on! Courtney was nice enough to wait for us so we met up with her there.

We ended up having lunch at MoMo's - my first time there! That's a super nice place and I felt kind of bad for dining there in my sweaty state but it looked like it was all runners there so it seemed OK.

While we were there, I had to yank the bobblehead out of the box and check it out! Isn't it so fun?


Naomi was kind enough to inform me that Tim Lincecum is half filipino. My mom will be happy! :P

On our way back to our cars, we passed all the peeps waiting in line for the 6PM Giants game. The bobblehead is the giveaway for the game attendees so I heard people had been waiting in line at 10AM to make sure they got theirs. Here they are around 1PM that day.

I think running a half is a more fun way to secure the giveaway :D

Here's a closeup shot of the medal. I kept the plastic wrap on until I got home. :P Not really intentionally and I actually dislike when they give us our medal still in its wrapping. Guess I was too lazy to take it off earlier.

And here's a pic of all of our loot! I stole Courtney's photo because it looked a lot nicer than the one I originally took.


All in all, it was a super fun morning! And a FABULOUS way to log 18 miles.

Total for the day...

Distance: 18.12 mi
Time: 3:16:41
Pace: 10:51 pace

Pretty darn cool! :D


Alisyn said...

Hooray for a free entry! Congrats on running in such a fun race. Man, the crowd looked intense! Great job!!

Average A said...

You are so adorable and I'm so glad you won -- I don't think anyone else would have had as much of an appreciation for this race as you did. :) I'm so sad I couldn't run it -- looks like your swag was great!

(I'm also so glad to see it all worked out -- after our contact told me he needed more info from you while I was traveling, and then his out of office popped up, I had visions of his giveaway being a scam... I am glad it was not!)

You had a massive awesome long run, and congrats on your sub-11 pace! Your training is going so well, it's so exciting to watch! :) Keep it up!


naomi said...

I am so happy this race was so much fun for you! I definitely had a blast with you that day

esbumich99 said...

Just when I thought you couldn't be any cooler, I look and see that you also have an awesome blog, NICE! :)
Emily B.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Congratulations on a great 18 miler.

Totally laughed at your comment about the Embarcadero vs Los Gatos Creek Trail - I'd totally love the LG Creek Trail after spending too much time on the Embarcadero earlier this summer.

Sounds like a fun race (minus the cluster fk at the end). I'm totally jealous that you got to see Brian Wilson!

Angela said...

Sounds like you had a blast! I really wish I'd been able to run this one, in spite of all the craziness at the end. Maybe some other year. :)

Kristen said...

What a great day of running for you! Even better it was free! This race looks like so much fun. I agree, I would rather run 13.1 miles for a bobble head than wait in line for 8 hours.

You are going to do so well at your marathon!

Alisa said...

Great work lady! Your speed is coming back :).

Justin and I need to do this race next year especially if *swoon* I'd get a photo with BW!!!! Swoon swoon swoon! Go giants!

Maybe Justin and I can work this into a vacation somehow--hmmm wheels are turning.

Layla said...

Nice job! Your marathon training is going great, and this run is the proof!

I'm cracking up that I got mentioned in the cheapskate section -- hahaha! I actually turned down free gel this weekend, because I was in the midst of a huge race meltdown and was thinking of taking up golf instead. Oh, and it was Hammer, which I don't like for some reason I don't recall.

Nicole said...

Way to go Aud :) :) I love half marathons- seriously LOVE them!

Courtney said...

great job girl! you are awesome.

RoadBunner said...

Great job! Okay, so I am just going to say that if I had seen the Beard guy standing there I would not have 100% of been sure it was him. And I certainly don't know his name (ducks a blow from Naomi).

I totally think like you and Layla!! Whenever I grab gu's on course I think about it being $1.25, too!!!! If it is a "fun" race I will even stow it away for use another day if I've already gu'd up like you did.

You are getting your speed back for sure!

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