San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon

I ran the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon on Sunday and was 1st Female, in 1:20:08. I felt good the whole race and thoroughly enjoyed the event! I ended the week with 57 miles, my highest since Grandma’s Marathon 5 weeks ago and I’m feeling strong.


We left for San Francisco (from Mountain View) on Saturday afternoon via the Caltrain. We hit up the expo just before closing, around 4:45pm. I picked up my bib, met up with some Oiselle teammates, had some Thai food for dinner, and picked up some snacks (soft pretzel, 2 bagels, and some almond butter) at Whole Foods. The pretzel and one bagel were for an evening snack and the other bagel was for breakfast in the morning! We did more walking than I’d usually want to do before a half marathon, but this race was all about fun and seeing how my body felt, not running a PR.

Bret, Michelle, Emily, me, Robin, Paulette!

Bret, Michelle, Emily, me, Robin, Paulette!

I was once again behind on sleep, so my goal was to try to get 9 hours the night before the race. I ended up with 8 which is the most I’ve had for awhile, but woke feeling a bit tired. Still, I got up with my alarm, 3 hours before race time, and had that bagel with almond butter and a k-cup of whatever coffee the hotel had in our room. An hour later I had maybe 4-6 more ounces of coffee shop coffee.

My bud Robin, Jeff and I got an uberX to take us about 3/4 mile from the race start and we walked the rest of the way. We used the restroom, did a short warmup (actually only a half mile for Jeff and me because we didn’t do bag drop yet and warming up with a bag is annoying!), and got to the start line. I was able to high five Michelle, Bret and Robin before the gun. It was hotter than expected and Michelle told me it was about 85% humidity and I made the last minute decision to ditch the singlet and run in the Scantron bra and competition brief.


I was going to wear my Garmin during this race so I could have splits, but as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, it’s on its final days and although it was fully charged when I left the hotel, it went dead before the race started so I went without. I spent the first 1-3 miles (not sure how far because I didn’t see mile markers or have a GPS watch) with the 2nd place woman. We chatted briefly, and she was really sweet! I always enjoy a little small talk in the early miles of longer races. I learned she trained some with Lauren Fleshman after college and I later found out (while googling her – yeah, I admit that!) she ran at Princeton just like my older brother and husband and overlapped with them one year there.

The next few miles were uneventful other than the crowds we were fighting. Something I should explain about this race is there is a full marathon option, a 1st half marathon option (where you run the first half of the marathon course) and a 2nd half marathon option (where you run the second half of the marathon course). I ran the 2nd half marathon which starts almost 3 hours after the marathon start. So, we start and join up with marathoners in the 5.5 hour range. The cool thing about that is you pass people the entire race. The part that makes it rough is the roads are crowded and I found myself weaving a lot, taking the curves long, completely stopping at every water stop (because there were big backups and I take in fluids at every stop), and sometimes just coming to a dead stop because you are behind someone who suddenly stops with a tight muscle or someone who moves unexpectedly for some unknown reason. I gave and got a lot of unintentional elbows on race day, but I think it’s something everyone expects! I’m sure I ran quite a bit longer than 13.1, but I enjoyed having people around, cheering for others, and having them cheer for me!

Around some unknown mile, maybe 7, a guy ran up beside me and asked if I knew I was the first female. We chatted for a bit and I found out he has a son who was born just 3 days after Wells! We talked about training after having kids, goals for the current race and goals for the fall. We leapfrogged back and forth (it was hard to stay beside each other and pass full marathoners) and I eventually lost sight of him and I’m not sure if he finished in front of or behind me. When we were together, he looked at his GPS watch and said we were on a solid 1:18 pace. I was feeling good and happy to hear that.


All of a sudden, maybe around mile 8, we were running in the bright, hot sun. I didn’t feel too hot, I just remember thinking it was gorgeous! The crowd support was awesome. It was a great day to race in San Francisco! As people around me cheered more and more that I was the first woman, no one else in sight, I decided to run it in a little easier and enjoy the day. I didn’t completely shut it down, but I did slow down and enjoy the sights around me. I rarely take the chance to do this and it was a nice change (probably won’t do it again for awhile, either!)

This race was by no means "comfortable" though, as evidenced by my multiple pain face photos.

This race was by no means “comfortable” though, as evidenced by my multiple serious and pain face photos.

Hello, tongue! This is the face I oftentimes find myself making as I pass people on training runs. #awkwardTonguePhotos

Hello, tongue! I’m actually glad the photographers caught this face a few times! This is the face I oftentimes find myself making as I pass people on training runs. #awkwardTonguePhotos

Somewhere in the last 3 miles, I saw a Oiselle singlet ahead of me and started cheering! It ended up being Sophia who ran the 1st Half Marathon and was running a few more miles with a friend. That was the first point in the course where I was feeling a little lonely as I found a clearing in the constant group of full marathoners and it was so nice to see her!

With about a half mile to go I heard the lead cyclist calling in to someone at the finish line that the female winner, #252 – me, was approaching. I have to admit, that was exciting to hear. I felt like I was just gliding into the finish and I couldn’t wait to break the tape. Before I knew it, they were announcing my name, I saw and heard Paulette screaming for me and I was finishing!


After the race I immediately downed 2 boxes of water (I think they were each a quart), a banana, and some Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator (they had a booth after the finish line and I wasn’t too proud to keep filling the tiny cups they provided until I felt I had almost a real serving! HA!) Jeff and I got our gear from gear check and headed to the beer garden for our one free beer. We both enjoyed our IPAs, while chatting with other runners we met in line. Then we found some Oiselle team friends and talked a bit about our races before I realized we had to get running back to the hotel before checkout. Ahhhh!




A lot of people asked me “was the course hilly?” Well, it was in San Francisco so I think you know the answer! But, the course skipped a lot of big, steep uphills and favored more long gradual uphills and steeper downhills. I have to say I’m horrible with downhills, in particular steeper downhills, so the downhills were probably my least favorite part of the course. Other than that, I really enjoyed every minute of this race!

Thanks for all the encouragement and well wishes! My next race (unless something else pops up!) will be the Deschutes Brewery Twilight 5k in Bend, OR on 8/14! Guess that means I’ll hit up the track for a few workouts sometime soon!


33 thoughts on “San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon

  1. First you look like a total boss. Second I could not be happier for you Jen. You are a true inspiration and this was fantastic to read. I’m glad you did so well post grandmas and I can’t wait to see you qualify for trials.

  2. Great recap Jen, and what a fun race! Congrats on the win and I’m so happy you could run joyfully in my favorite city :) BTW, you were killing it in the bra and briefs – you look great! Keep on rolling and congrats again!

    • Thanks, Kristy! I bet it would look even better with your photo-editing skills! I should send all my pics to you before posting! I gotta get back to Pittsburgh so we can run!

  3. Congrats on the win and a great post-marathon race :) I actually had a fueling question for you. You always have such a specific fueling plan and I was wondering how you figured out what works best for you. I’ve tried practicing fueling on long runs but races seem to be a totally different beast and I’ve had a couple rough 13.1 milers where I didn’t eat enough. Do you practice fueling during workouts or have you just figured out what works for you through experience racing? Thank you so much if you get a change to answer :) Good luck going into your training for the Deschutes 5k!

    • Thanks Carly!

      Fueling is probably my weakest part of my running plan, but I *do* feel like I have it pretty well figured out for half marathons. I guess it has been mostly trial and error. I know I need quite a bit of calories (especially since I’m still breastfeeding) and my body loves carbs so I sometimes do a bagel with some protein and fat (almond butter) to keep me full. I make sure I get at least 500 calories 3 hours before the race. I also do 2 picky bars and a packet of Generation UCAN when I have them on hand but since I’m traveling and don’t have everything I’d have at home, my bagel is always a good standby! About 30 minutes before the race I take a gel (Vanilla Bean GU seems to work for me). Then during the race I take in water or electrolyte drink every single stop. I also take another GU around mile 7. This has worked really well for me, keeping me energized and feeling strong. Oh, and I can’t forget the coffee. I usually have somewhere between 10-20oz black coffee pre-race but I’m trying to scale that down.
      I don’t practice fueling during workouts – at least I haven’t in the past, but I’m going to start this current training cycle. I figured everything out through racing. I used to get really nervous before races and couldn’t force much breakfast down and had a few “hungry races” which didn’t feel good and decided I needed to stop worrying so I could fuel better. It was all trial and error and practice on race day. Unfortunately, I still have fueling issues during full marathons which is why I’m going to start fueling during practice now. There are only so many marathons I can run a year and I want to get the fueling right next time! :)
      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. What an awesome race! Holy cow, all those pictures are freaking model material!!! Amazing! Love the smile, you looked like you were just on cloud nine! Congrats!

  5. congrats on the win! you look strong and i’m super impressed with your time, given all the slowwing and stopping. you’re definitely in great shape – can’t wait to see how big a PR you’ll get this fall!

  6. Hollie had it right… You are (and look) like a boss! Congrats on an awesome race. The pics they got of you are great and capture the work and pure happiness of the race. I usually get so annoyed when I catch up the other racers and have to do the weaving thing, so good for you for taking it all in stride (pun intended, haha.) You are quite the inspiration! And DAMN. Those abs!

  7. hi! Just started following your blog! Looking forward to reading your posts. Wow on winning, that is awesome!!! I am currently training for my first marathon in November and am running my 6th half marathon next weekend.
    You go girl! What running shoes do you wear?

    • Hi Michelle! Thanks so much! What marathon are you doing? And what half? Good luck next weekend!

      I wear Asics Gel Cumulus for training and have been racing in the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. I love them both. I’ve been a long time Gel Cumulus user and just recently switched to the flats within the past few months, but I love them!

      • Hi! I am running the arroyo creek half in Simi Valley, ca on Sunday, hoping to PR and the Santa Clarita marathon in November! So excited! Just curious on shoes, I used to wear asics now I wear brooks, they fit me better.

  8. So awesome, and very proud of you as always. Never cease to amaze me. I do have to say that I am glad I am not the only one who sticks my tongue out. My mom used to joke that I couldn’t do anything without sticking it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve This Math Puzzle to Prove You\'re Human *