The San Francisco Half Marathon with Lululemon

August 3, 2016

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Before I moved to San Francisco I read about the half marathon and was tempted to sign up, knowing it would be taking place just a month after arriving. As tempted as I was, I didn’t sign up since I hadn’t been running much and wasn’t feeling that comfortable in the city. Where could I do my training runs? How far is it to the race start? What’s the route? Could I handle the hills? After many years of running NYC races and being very familiar with the courses and terrain, signing up for the SF seemed like too much too soon.

But then my friend Meghan convinced me to throw out all the doubts and sign up to run. Meghan was flying in from NYC with lululemon to run and how could I say no to joining her on the course? Just five days before the race we registered. Even though there were a million reasons to not run, I’m so glad I decided to go for it. The experience was incredible!

While not an official race sponsor, lululemon played a big role at the race. They outfitted all the race pacers in bright tech shirts that could be seen all over the course. Not to mention, Meghan helped me pick the perfect race day outfit:

lululemon running

Hotty Hot Short with mesh paneling, breathability and a zippered back pocket / Fast Lane Singlet with just the right amount of flow / Run Stuff Your Bra which is supportive and super cute, a rare combo / Cardio Cross Trainer Headband / Swiftly Arm Warmers (available in select stores) that I would never have guessed I would need for a July race, but here I am in San Francisco constantly just a tad bit freezing

Lululemon Running Support

lululemon supports the SF November Project and hosted the runners at a pre-run pasta party and had the best cheering section out on the race. One thing that surprised me about this race was the lack of crowd support, so seeing the November Project cheer section was very welcomed mid-race.

I love that lululemon supports the SF running community, not just on race day, but 365 days a year. You can join the lululemon run club for runs from the Cow Hollow location Mondays at 6:30pm and at the Grant Ave location Thursday’s at 6:15pm. As a newbie to the city, I’m absolutely going to check these out. I’m also tempted to check out November Project. Have you ever done their workouts? Seems so intense in the best way possible.

november project

Photo via @lululemonSF

My Race Experience

The race had three options, the full marathon, the first half, or the second half. Even though the first half started at 5:30am and was the hillier of the courses, I chose that route as it seemed more scenic and included a run over the Golden Gate Bridge. How could I miss that?

The race started about a mile and a half from my apartment and I figured I could easily grab an Uber to get me there. Nope. The surge was 6x and the nearest driver was coming from Oakland. In a panic, I woke MM up at 5am so he could drive me. #1 fiance right there! He barely even complained 🙂

I arrived at the race at 5:25 and my wave took off just after 5:30. Luckily, the race was very relaxed and all I had to do was jump in the corral and start running. I’m used to big races having metal detectors and long walks to find your corral, but this race set up was a breeze. I usually get to races super early so I felt a bit stressed getting there so close to the start, but it all worked out fine. In fact, it felt great to not nervously wait around longer than necessary.

Meghan and I ran the first 5k together then I urged for her to leave me behind (she’s speedy!). We ran the first 5k at a 7:40 pace and having not properly trained, I didn’t want to overdo it and slowed myself down to high 8’s.

As expected, there were some serious hills. But those hills led to incredible views and were well worth it. There was a huge hill leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge and brought us into crazy amounts of fog. Even though it was a totally clear day where the race started, the bridge had a low fog hanging over it, which actually was perfect for running, it felt like misting sprays the entire time!

We entered the bridge around mile 5 and after running over it, hitting a turnaround, and going back over the bridge, by the time we were done it was mile 10. I loved running over the foggy bridge and doing such an iconic stretch made those 5 miles fly by.

San Francisco Half Marathon

I thought the hills were done after the bridge, but I was very wrong. Perhaps I should have paid attention to the race map but sometimes ignorance is bliss. As a mostly flat-road runner, I really felt the hills but kinda loved it.

I finished the race is 1:54:07. Given the hilly course, not properly training, oh and spending the day before the race in Sonoma wine tasting, I was quite happy with my finish!

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I’m so glad I did this race and would highly recommend it to others. The biggest downside of the race was the lack of cheering crowds. I’m not exaggerating when I say most roads had zero people cheering. There were a few tiny pockets of cheerers but it was pretty bleak. I think I’m spoiled from NYC running. The upside is challenging hills, the amazing views and the bridge run.

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Next weekend I’m heading up to Vancouver to run the lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon. The SF race got me newly excited about the half marathon distance and I can’t wait to do it again so soon!

A huge thank you to lululemon & the SF half for giving me such a great race experience!

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