Monday, March 21, 2011

12K Across the Golden Gate Bridge was Fun

Walking toward the Golden Gate Bridge about a mile into the race. The hill from down here up to the bridge was grueling!

Though it was cloudy when we left the hotel for the Emerald Across the Bay 12K Race Sunday, we were pleasantly surprised it wasn't raining. (It poured the night before, we got soaked and had been pretty cold when out sightseeing.)

We took a trolley to Aquatic Park to catch a shuttle to Sausalito where the race started. The race would return us to the same place where we caught the shuttles. We arrived earlier than needed because we aren't used to relying on shuttles. Luckily, there were lots of busses, and though the volunteers made sure the participants in the first wave got on first, it didn't take long for us to board and head across the bay. (A few participants who had done the race before said the crowds were much smaller this year.)

The drive to the start was beautiful.

The bus dropped us off, and as we approached the start, there were several groups of port-a-johns and a table with water. We could only progress so far toward the starting line until there was a “wave checkpoint.” Only those participants in the first wave, wearing yellow race bibs, were able to pass. After that wave started the race, then those in the second wave were able to pass. After the second wave started the race, we were able to head to the starting line. It was so well organized and made for a lot less congestion throughout the entire event.

While we were standing around, the sun came out, and I warmed up pretty well, especially since I was wearing a black trash bag.

At the start, local doctors led us in warm ups and stretches! It was fun! Some of the announcements were different. The heavy rains the night before washed out gravel in a few places, and there were branches down, so be careful.

The first half mile or so was downhill with wet roads and lots of huge nuts all over meaning we had to be careful where we stepped. Shortly after the start, the rain began. I can't remember whether it was sprinkles or what, but it was raining at at one point early on, a huge gust of wind blew Deb's hat right off her head!

The biggest hill of the race led up to the Golden Gate Bridge and started less than a mile into the race. The hill was so steep I needed to rest on the way up! This was about the time the rain started again.

We finally made it to the top and were able to get onto the bridge. Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was very cool! We could see sunshine off in the distance and knew eventually the rain would stop. At the beginning of the bridge it was chilly – the wind gusts and blowing rain were horrible!!! It seemed as if we were on the bridge forever and since it is 1.7 miles long, well it was a good chunk of the race. Near the middle the rain eventually stopped and we could see sun off in the distance. (We were hopeful!) We did notice there were several suicide hotline phones on the bridge and luckily, neither of us felt the desire to jump or the need to use the phone.

After we left the bridge, we went below it to go past Fort Point, past a nature preserve and along the ocean (Crissy Field) and the Presidio. It was very pretty. As we progressed there were tons of walking paths along the shore and beautiful homes across the street from the water. If I lived here, I think I would walk along the water here all of the time.

At some point along this side of the bay there are photographers who take pictures with the bridge behind you. As we turned the corner, we were looking stupid and missed the photographers. So, we asked for a “do over,” and went back, came around the corner and smiled and tried to look like we were racewalking! The photographers were great and took a ton of shots of us!

From there it was a straight shot to Aquatic Park and the after-race party! At the finish line we were just directed to the party. As we approached, there were tables with finisher shirts and there were plenty of sizes left. The long-sleeved cotton shirts are cute, and I decided to take a small. (I'll try to remember not to put it in the dryer.) We received a bottle of water, then walked around the soggy park and received bags of Emerald nuts, Kettle chips (baked), and a few other samples. There was music playing and I heard there was beer available, though I didn't see any. There were not many people hanging around but I think when the weather is nice, people probably stay longer.

At the after race party. The sky
is VERY gray, getting ready to rain.
We had our picture taken near the ocean, got a picture or two of Alcatraz which we could see well from the shore, then it started raining. Actually, it started pouring!

We rushed off as fast as we could to catch a trolley and went back to the hotel.

According to my watch, our finish time was 1:55+. Considering more than two miles we were slower than 16 minutes per mile, I'm not really surprised. Actually I was more surprised that we walked two miles under 15 minutes! Our fastest was 14:10! Since it is still technically winter in Ohio, we had not done any hill training and it has been a little while since I've done any speed.

This is probably one of the best organized races I have ever completed! The waves were done well, they moved a lot of people very efficiently on the shuttles, there were plenty of port-a-johns at the beginning. We were told that there we not as many people as typical for this race, which could add to the fact they handled the crowds well. When we finished there were plenty of shirts in a variety of sizes, too – I have to wonder if that would be the case if there were more people.

Despite the rain, it was a good race and I would recommend it for anyone wanting a chance to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

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