Rock’n Roll San Francisco: Race Weekend Recap

May 29, 2018   /   byrunningwhilevegan  / Categories :  Running, Travel

Gearing up for Rock’n Roll San Diego next week has me reminiscing about our last RnR half marathon a month and a half ago, in San Francisco! I’m definitely adding this to my list of “Races I Would Like to Do More Than Once”.

Gorgeous day, gorgeous views, and you can see the runners below us on their last few miles!

RnR San Francisco was on my must-do list, as I’m originally from the Bay Area! I lived in San Francisco for four years before moving down to LA, and I was so excited to run in my home city! I grew up in the far, far East Bay, bordering the Central Valley, about 60 miles from SF. My mom grew up in Redwood City, where my grandma still lives, which is about 26 miles south of SF, in the Peninsula. Not only was I stoked about running in SF, but also spending quality time with my grandma, as all of my immediate family now lives in SoCal.

Blurry yes, blurry highway vagabonds.

The race was on Sunday morning, and though we had plans to leave Friday morning, I was offered a paying gig in LA that would last until about 5pm Friday evening. We made the decision to stop halfway between LA and Redwood City Friday night, and continue our trek in the morning. That way my grandma wouldn’t have to worry about leaving anything unlocked, or waking up past 11pm (possibly midnight or 1am, if we stopped along the way), and we’d be a little fresher in the morning with only three hours left of our road trip, as opposed to the full six hours. It was going to be a long day regardless, driving north to hit up the expo in San Francisco for our bibs, and then heading south from there to get to my grandma’s. Plus, I obviously had a few vegan places picked out for us to eat!

See Mike?! I told you Bay Area vegan food was bomb!

Mike and I stayed in the Travelodge by Wyndham in Coalinga, for $56 total, which I booked through Priceline. Coalinga is about three hours outside of Los Angeles, and three and half hours from SF. The area did smell of livestock, and it was in a truck-stop heavy place. But we loved our room! It was very spacious and clean, and the price was perfect. Plus, free breakfast in the morning (we love free coffee and bananas!). We’ve stayed places with a lot less for a much steeper price. We would definitely stay there again if we wanted to break up the road trip up north. We will def come more prepared next time, as amenities nearby (bottles of water, toothpaste, candy and even Taco Bell in the Truck Stop) were super overpriced! Shockingly so!

The next morning we had grandiose plans of an early departure, but slept in and left at check-out. We were off to Berkeley, for Flaco’s and Timeless Coffee! I had my heart set on showing Mike as many of my old vegan spots as possible on this trip! With time limits and the fact we were staying in Redwood City, these were the only two we ate at; good thing they were both at the top of my list!

Flaco’s Taco Plate, with Timeless Coffee’s Caramel Turtle Cheesecake and Berry Cream Cheese Danish! Home at last!

After lunch we were off to San Francisco! We got stuck in some gnarly Saturday afternoon, Bay Bridge traffic. Mike never gets stressed out, but he was getting worried we wouldn’t make it to the expo in time to pick up our bibs, as RnR races have no morning of pickup (save for a location or two within in the series). I don’t know why I wasn’t worried about it, as I’m usually the one to panic. Long story short, we made it with about an hour to spare. Street parking was hard to find, but not impossible – we probably parked about a quarter mile from the expo.

Almost impossible to take a great pic next to these things, but we still always try!

I enjoyed this expo, located at Pier 35. It was a smaller expo, but I liked the exhibitors! I don’t expect free stuff at these things, but it’s always a plus, and we got some cool swag the exhibitors were passing out – gum, a face/hair buff and Ripple samples. Nothing tremendous, but still cool on top of the race tech shirts! Around 5pm we were off again, headed to my grandma’s house with a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for dinner ingredients!

Before these ingredients become spaghetti and garlic bread! Half marathon carb load session going down!

Needless to say, after visiting with my grandma, making and then eating dinner and getting ready for the race in the morning, we did not get much sleep. We were worried about street closures, and just how long it would take to get to the starting line. According to my Garmin, I got about three and a half hours of sleep, getting up at 3:30am. The race had a 6:15 start time, and we wanted enough time to beat the street closures, get parked, and get to the starting line. I believe we left my grandma’s at about 4:15/4:30am. Thank goodness everything was smooth sailing and we made it in plenty of time. I had purchased a parking spot for us through Spot Hero, as one less thing we’d have to worry about race day morning – San Francisco parking! RnR did offer parking spots for purchase at Pier 39, but I was on a very tight budget after quitting my job in February, and by the time I was ready to purchase one, they were no longer available. So that is an option as well! So from 5am – 5pm our car was safe at the Marriot on Columbus Ave, for $32.50. We didn’t stay in the city til 5pm, but it was nice to know we had time on our side after the race. Parking was easy – we had time to stroll, meet up with a fellow SoCal runner  and now new friend, Jessica, and get ready to run SF!

About three miles in and feeling good! Enjoying the views and the weather!

The race itself was one of my fave races of all-time! The starting line was located at Pier 39, and the course took us up Bay Street, to Marina Blvd, through Chrissy Field, up and over the The Golden Gate Bridge, under it on the Marin County side and back over, to finish at Ghiradelli Square. I was told this year was a new course, and less hilly than previous years. Even “less hilly” in SF still means hills! I told Mike the course takes place in areas that locals don’t necessarily spend a ton of time (unless you live in the Marina), so a lot of the sights were new to me. I lived in the Haight/Ashbury when I lived in SF, and spent most of my time in my neighborhood, in the Tenderloin, the Sunset and The Mission. I absolutely loved running over the Golden Gate. My grandma was actually at the opening of the Golden Gate in 1937 – I have roots in this beautiful city, and no matter how long I stay away, it always feels like home.

After running across the bridge and back! It was spectacular, and I’m so thankful I got these photos during the race!

The race was challenging, and parts of the course were steep, but I loved it. We had just run LA Marathon three weeks prior, and if you can tackle LAM, this race shouldn’t be a problem. I was also surprised at some of the terrain, not only running over the bridge itself, but trail-esque parts of the course! It wasn’t just road! In that respect, it didn’t feel like previous Rock’n Roll events I’ve run! (RnR SF marked my third this year, and my seventh overall.) The weather was absolutely perfect! I was worried about being cold, but it seemed unseasonably warm that day! I really wanted to run with Mike so we could take it all in together, which I’m so happy we did, but was a challenge for me. We run at very different paces. I’m no speed demon, not at all, but the vibe a little further back from the middle-of-the pack runners is different than I’m used to. It’s more about the scenery, and taking lots of pictures, as well as running in groups. I get frustrated easily, yikes, and frustrated I did get. I tried to catch myself, but Mike noticed, and I didn’t want to ruin the race for us, so I eased into stopping for pictures and paying attention to the beautiful scenery. We were also trying out a run/walk method: 1:00 of running with 30 seconds of walking. Galloway Method is something we’ve both been interested in, but hadn’t tried yet. You’re not supposed to try anything new race morning, but neither of us was going for a PR, and we are comfortable with the half marathon distance. Since we’ve gotten back home, I’ve adjusted the intervals to fit my own pacing needs( 2:30 on/30 secs off), and I’ve really been enjoying it!

Mike, myself, and Jessica! When I read online Lombard Street was only a few blocks from the finish, I knew we had to take some photos there! Lombard Street is on our finisher medals, after all!

The last stretch to the finish line was downhill! We finished in just under three hours, and we were ready for our medals and post-race beer! Mike finished Nola in the same time, but Nola was flat and SF was pretty hilly – that kind of improvement is pretty exciting! I love, love, love the medals from this race – the pastel color scheme and Lombard Street make them really special! Mike, Jessica and I all took pictures at Lombard Street after Mike and I finished our beers. Mike’s photo made it onto the Rock’n Roll race series official Instagram!

Mike and I found a bar near Pier 39 with Sunday morning happy hour specials, sipped on a craft beer, then headed back to my Grandma’s house. We stayed until Tuesday afternoon, listening to my grandma’s stories about growing up in the Bay, about my grandpa, ate Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls, and chilled. It’s always hard to leave, but Mike had a job interview Wednesday, and I was about to start a new job. I already can’t wait for our next trip up, hopefully before RnR San Jose in October!


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