I ran the 101st Zazzle Bay to Breakers 12K which is a race that goes from one side of San Francisco to the other on May 20, 2012. This was probably the most fun race that I have run so far. It’s kind of hard to describe it purely as a “race” because although there were some serious runners, many people doing it were walking it without actually finishing and were just there to have a good time. Many of the runners and walkers were in costume, and it seemed like a strange combination of Halloween and Mardi Gras.
My goal was to finish the race in an hour, but I didn’t quite make it. There are a couple of reasons for that. One was being tired. I think I must have gotten a maximum of two hours of sleep the night before the race. I stayed in a crappy motel, which despite its crappiness still cost almost $200 per night, where the walls were so thin you could hear everything going on in the other rooms, the people partying on the street and the buses that seemed to run all night long. I also had a hard time getting to sleep just because I was excited to be doing this race. In addition to not getting enough sleep, my starting time was screwed up. Apparently, the timing chip attached to my bib didn’t register when I crossed the starting mat which I’m told can happen when a lot of people are crossing the starting mat at the same time and so my start time was defaulted to the gun time. The problem with that is that it probably took me at least a minute or possibly longer to cross the starting mat after the gun which means that my official time is longer than my real time. If I really did finish in just under an hour, which is possible, I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, not making my time didn’t detract much from the fun of the event.
Riding the Muni, one of the subway systems in San Francisco, at 6 AM from where I was staying in the Castro district to the Embarcadero where the race was starting was an interesting experience. The train was packed with people wearing running clothes and costumes of various sorts. Even ignoring the people with costumes, I have to admit that people do look kind of silly wearing running clothes out of context, especially when so many of them are together at once. Someone commented about the Five Fingers shoes I was wearing, and I said that since I’ve been using them I can’t go back to any others. Anyway, I made it to the starting corrals about twenty minutes before the 7 AM start of the race. I was in Corral A, which was closer to the start line and less crowded than subsequent corrals. The weather was clear and the temperature was comfortable, neither of which can be guaranteed in San Francisco at any time of year. The atmosphere was rather festive, and there were tortillas being thrown in the air. One landed near me, and I picked up and threw back into the crowd.
Once the race started, it took a good mile before I get reach an optimal pace because there were so many people. Then about two miles into the race there was a steep 11.5% grade incline over the Hayes Street Hill. Though I had been training running up hills over the past couple of months, this hill just about “killed” me. I think it was partly because I was so tired, and I had a hard time recovering to an optimal pace after this hill. At least, I made it over without walking, and I didn’t vomit like I saw one guy doing. It was mostly “smooth sailing” after that through Golden Gate Park and to the finish. Though I was somewhat closer to the “front of the pack” with the more serious runners, I still saw quite a few interesting things like people running as a group connected together like a centipede, people dressed in salmon costumes running “upstream” in the opposite direction against the crowd, various characters and lots of colorful outfits which I couldn’t tell exactly what they were trying to be. I didn’t wear a costume, just a colorful beanie if that counts…
Here’s how I did:
Overall: 1,726 out of 23,072
Men: 1,458 out of 11,272
M 30-39: 507 out of 3,246
Finish: 1:01:54 (hours:minutes:seconds)
Pace: 8:19 (minutes:seconds per mile) 11 months ago