Social Racing – Rock n Roll San Francisco Half 2016

After 4 races close to personal best age grade ratings (60+%), it was time for a fun race. Rock n Roll San Francisco is the only event we’ve raced every year and with any luck, we’ll be official legacy in 2017 when we hit five in a row. It’s also a hometown race. Between a timeshare two blocks from the finish line, taking Bart into the city and the Global TourPass, the only thing we had to pay for over the weekend was food and race swag.

That makes for a lot of food.

Friday April 1st: Expo Day 1
We arrived at Moscone North at the open (well, actually, before the open). We were wearing our 2014 Hall of Fame tour jackets and our 2016 Tourpass lanyard and security let us pass 30 minutes before the 3 PM official start. We were pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be in yet, but we made the most of it. Many thanks to the CGI staff who looked the other way.

I considered doing cartwheels or break dancing, but remembered ‘nothing new before race day’.

The merch and expo sections weren’t open yet, so we went back out to wait with a few of the RNR loyalists from the Black Sheep Run group. Amy was coming to San Francisco for the first time. Mitch has run every race so far in 2016 and is (by our stats) in the top 15 lifetime for RNR. He should hit 75 half and full marathons later this year.


First step: Sign up for RNR San Francisco 2017! The best price of the year is usually at the expo from the previous year. $50 for another chance to cross the Golden Gate Bridge with 10,000 friends? That’s a no-brainer. We also signed up for October’s RNR Vancouver 10K and Half at the prodding of Lisa, our Vancouver Ambassador of Rock.

As we were shopping, we met Henry. He recognized us from our blog and is shooting to complete 20 races this year. He told us we inspired him to get on the Rock n Roll circuit. That’s an incredibly humbling thing to hear and I’m looking forward to catching up with for the next 10 races leading to San Antonio. I’m betting he inspires a few friends to follow him in this craziness.


Saturday April 2nd
Susan stayed home to make up for the half day on Friday, but I wanted to get into the city around lunch time to catch up with friends coming in from out of town. Brian Kelley (Pavement Runner) hosted a ‘build your own Remix’ 5K for about 40 runners in the #WeRunSocial group starting and ending at the expo under beautiful conditions. Also on hand was Michael Hawley (@pointonemiles) who was in the Brooks Zombie commercials that aired during the Olympic trials. I don’t think I’ve seen the two of them at the same race since our Moving Museum race with George Melichar back at RNR Chicago 2014.

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Pavey with Ann Wessling. The 5K was a big success (and there were cupcakes!)

Al and Caryn joined us late that afternoon. Caryn has been working hard at short distance speed and is shooting for RNR San Diego as a trial race. Dinner that night was at Ristorante Umbria. I met a fellow at the bar who turned out to be the Senior Director of special events for the San Francisco Giants. He gave me his business card and said to call him if I ever wanted to front row seats to a Giants game. I plan to take him up on that!  Gary, our race walker friend from Portland, his cousin, Laura, and her husband, Marty joined us. Susan had a great time talking to Laura about Bichon Frise breeding. Ann dropped by for a visit as the expo had just closed up for the day. Food, company and conversation was fantastic. We stayed at our timeshare at the Inn at the Opera, two blocks from the shuttle pick up and finish line. Look for the fresh baked cookies every day at 4 PM!


Sunday April 3rd, Half Marathon
The 6:30 AM start on the other side of the city put our wake up time at 3:45. Susan has a pretty long pre-race stretching routine, but seeing how it pretty much has controlled her plantar fasciitis, it’s well worth it. I keep telling her she needs to blog about it and with a few months with only one race, we may get around to it. We were out the door in disposable layers at 4:45 for a two block walk to the shuttle line.

While waiting for Kamika, we ran into our friends Diane and Shawna from the Forward Motion Race Club. Because of  the Three Musketeers, I’m now checking the age group leaders after every Rock n Roll. Diane and Rosaura both won their age groups in SF. Shawna finished 5th in hers. The bus ride over the hill took about 25 minutes. Kamika thought we were going slower because the school buses probably weren’t used to carrying grown up sized passengers up the hills.

Good notes for next year. Uber can drop you off right next to the start line and if you use Uberpool, you can get there for about $8. Also, skip the porta potties in the lot near where the buses drop you off and head straight to the ones near the start line. I walked into a perfectly clean one with no line at 5:45. Finally, putting a space blanket UNDER a disposable long-sleeve shirt is much more effective than wrapping it around you.

Obligatory start line pics. Kamika took the early start so he could get to a noon flight. Karin got over her cold/allergy enough to run the race. I was on photo duty this time so Susan could make sure she was on track to beat the 6 hour cutoff in Victoria Falls this June.

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The 6:15 start is available for those who may not make the 7:45 AM diversion before getting on the bridge (or for those who have to catch an early flight!)

This is where we bring up the elevation map. Right out of the gate, we take a right turn up Balboa and climb a 15% grade for five blocks and go uphill for a good mile and a half.

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The second hill was Lincoln Boulevard on the western approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, but having the folks from Wear Blue: Run to Remember was a perfect inspirational boost.


This is the view from the top of the hill. The clouds lifted just enough to see the bridge.


I’m glad I don’t try to push this race. Views like this are memories to last a lifetime.


I hooked up for a short stretch with former Team in Training teammates Myra and Anna-Marie. The out and back gave me a chance to see Diane, Karin, Pavey, Michael, Al, Caryn, Amy, Mitch, Melinda, Kamika, Jennifer, Henry, Naked Kyle and his Naked girlfriend, just to name a few. Next year I need to get the head-cam back so I can capture the whole bridge experience.


A lot of people complain about the congestion on the bridge and rightfully so. This is not the ideal PR race for middle of the packers, so as long as you get to the bridge, you might as well enjoy yourself. We were early enough to the turn to stay on the road bed and about half way back, we had 2.5 southbound lanes to ourselves.


Susan had a solid, steady race. The orange Fellow Flower got the usual cheers and compliments.


My iPhone died in the middle of the return trip on the bridge so I swapped with Susan’s. Coming down to Crissy Field, we saw the jugglers and stilt walkers. The stretch was always one of my favorites when we started training with TNT.


I’d been keeping a good pace doing sprint between photo ops and had I really cared, I’m sure I could have walked a sub 2:30. But at the 10 mile mark, I just wanted to stop and wait for my wife. We enjoyed a good last 5K and encouraged each other up the long climb on Polk Street to mile 12 before the downhill stretch into the finish line at Civic Center.

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Had Ann not been on break when we finished, I would have attempted a cartwheel. I’m sure it would have been painful to watch.

Ann was busy at the stage presenting a check to Drew Thomson, the Transamerica Tomorrow Chaser, who passed over 5,500 people after starting dead last in the corrals. For each person he passed, Transamerica will donate a dollar to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I love this program and I wish it happened at more races.


Our 100 Half Marathons Club singlets are wearing well. The bright colors are really eye catching and I got a few inquiries during the race. Hopefully we’ll get a few more members!


I also finally met Jeff Calene. Jeff was one of the 6 people who finished 20 or more Rock n Roll races in 2012 and by our count is #4 on the unofficial all-time list with 84 half and full marathons. He is shooting to hit his 100th at Rock n Roll Las Vegas this November.

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With most of our friends having to get back to work or catch flights we spent the afternoon with Joe and Karin, walking Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghiradelli Square and grabbing a VIP-sized lunch at the Fog Harbor Fish House. This was the first week after a long delayed opening of the crab season in San Francisco and I counted 4 dishes with some crab content. Joe also picked up a new nickname – “Lazy Cioppino”.

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There’s no time report this race. It wasn’t really the point. Let’s leave it at ‘we met our objectives and look forward to Nashville’.  We have two months to San Diego where a new course still looks like a potential PR and another month to our sixth continent full marathon.

In the meantime, I intend to spend as much time as we can with friends.

Notes from the Road:
I love watching Double Weekends shape up on Facebook. Carl, Ilona, Jim and Kamika hit the Run the Bluegrass Half in Lexington last Saturday. Kentucky was Kamika’s 49th state for half marathons. Carl, Ilona and Jim completed the Lex2Knox challenge at the Covenenant Health Knoxville Half on Sunday. Kudos to Carl for planning ahead on the customized text on his bib.


Jim Diego ran the Bluegrass half and then the Knoxville 5K and full marathon. The elevation profiles looked looked like an EKG. He’s working on singing the National Anthem before races and may end up being the first to do that in all 50 states.


Kamika flew in late to RNR San Francisco. He picked up his Roadie 5 race Heavy Medal and looked like he made it home in time for family dinner.

De Moe and WC/PA friend Esmail did the Grizzly Peaks race the day before. After those hills, RNR SF might have been considered a recovery run!

We won’t be in Raleigh this weekend which is a bit of a bummer because we raced the first two years and another potential legacy race would have been nice. Vacation time just doesn’t always make it possible though, so we’ll be looking for race finish pictures when we roll out of bed on Sunday morning. If you see Kevin Gonzalez, be sure to congratulate him on his 100th Rock n Roll race. He, like Joe Harris, isn’t counting the 2012 Brooklyn 10K in the total so his ‘official’ 100th will be in San Diego in June.

Note to the RNR Gypsies: Feel free to Facetime call us if you have time at dinner Saturday.

This is a social sport, after all!

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