On Sunday, I ran the San Francisco
Half Marathon 15-Miler. Even though I read numerous race recaps, Aron’s fantastic course preview (bookmark this page and read it if you’re ever doing this race!), and reviewed the official course countless times, I still managed to miss the turn-off for the half marathon finish line and continued running with the full marathoners for almost another mile.
The good news is that I was on track to set a new PR in the half marathon despite the challenging, hilly route, which means the changes I made to my training are working. I felt amazing the whole run – in fact, I think I might have conserved too much energy in anticipation of the infamous hills and probably could have pushed myself more earlier in the race.
The bad news is that I still feel like a total schmuck. I keep picturing the course signs in my head, wondering how I could have ended up going the wrong way. Looking back on that final [extra] mile, I don’t know how I missed so many clues that I had ended up on the full marathon route. Clues like:
- the signs themselves – the course was very clearly marked.
- the water stop (I even remember thinking, “Weird – why is there a water stop with only about 1200m to go?”).
- that no one else was noticeably picking up the pace.
- that it felt like the longest mile ever.
- that everyone else had a different bib color than me.
I’m not sure when it finally clicked that I’d gone too far, but I finally looked at the guys next to me and asked, “This is the full marathon, isn’t it?” Internally, I kept willing him to shake his head and say, “No! You’re right where you need to be!” but instead his eyes filled with pity as he explained that I had gone the wrong way.
Instantly, I burst into tears as hopes of setting a new personal best in the half marathon slipped away. Slowly, I turned around to make my way back to the course and to the finish line. When the balloons above the finish came into view, I picked up the pace to cross the line feeling strong. I’d had a great run on a beautiful course, and I wasn’t going to let a little mix up ruin the experience.
As the volunteer hung the medal around my neck, I felt more tears fall down my face. I was upset and angry and disappointed, sure, but I kept trying to remind myself how wonderful the race itself had been. I’d had the privilege of running through some gorgeous scenery along the waterfront, through the Presidio, and over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, all while pushing myself on a challenging course.
I’ve certainly learned my lesson to pay better attention in split races, and I already have plans to redeem myself by running the second half of the race next year as part of the San Francisco Half It All Challenge.