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Bay-to-Breakers 12K - RunOther

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San Francisco, California
United States
Total Time = 1h 08m 11s
Overall Rank = 2956/
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 179/
Pre-race routine:

I didn't sleep much the night before, so it felt reeeeeeeeeal early when the alarm went off at 6 a.m. And then again at 6:15. I finally got up at 6:30 and was very glad I'd put my stuff together the night before, because I was out the door in 10 minutes. BART was running early trains just for the race, so it was fun to ride with a bunch of other racers. I got to the start line at about 7:15, which was plenty of time to grab a place at the front of the "Zone 2" group, which is where the walkers/paraders line up (behind the Zone 1 serious runners). I noticed that a lot of Zone 2 people were milling about the Zone 1 area, and I considered sneaking up front with them but eventually decided it wouldn't make any difference since there would be thousands of people ahead of me anyway.

It was cold before the start and I was glad I'd brought a long-sleeved shirt. But the time passed quickly -- people were throwing tortillas like Frisbees and tossing around balloons and plastic blow-up balls. There were tons of people in costume, which is always a kick to watch. A few minutes before the start I noticed a couple of people start stripping off all their clothes. The race technically doesn't allow nudity, but whatever, it's a tradition.
Event warmup:

Nothing other than trying to keep warm for 45 minutes. I didn't want to lose my spot and end up at the very back of the paraders.
  • 1h 08m 11s
  • 7.46 miles
  • 09m 08s  min/mile

I made the game day decision to treat this race as a particularly intense tempo run. I'd been going back and forth on whether or not to "race" it, but with all the crowds I knew I'd just get frustrated, and I also wanted to enjoy the craziness.

With that in mind, I kept a pretty easy pace for the first few miles. The crowds could've been worse -- I'd feared that I wouldn't even be able to run for the first mile or so, but everyone started running pretty much as soon as we crossed the start line. I was dodging in between bodies a lot, but it was fun. The spectators were fantastic -- I especially liked the disco zone a mile or two in. Of course, everyone loved the naked people. Some of them were fast! It looks super uncomfortable, but whatever, they were having a good time (Not *that* kind of good time. Um, not that I noticed.).

The crowds would open up every now and then but get clogged up again on turns or at water stops, and the Hayes Street Hill was *packed*. I definitely slowed down there (my pace for mile 3 was a sad 10:24), but kept passing people for the most part.

The race finally started opening up after Hayes Street and I let loose. I considered the first three miles my "warmup" and the rest was going to be my tempo run. It helped that the course is mostly downhill for the last four miles. I was getting kind of hot by then, and it felt pretty humid in Golden Gate Park. My new sunglasses fit much better than the old ones but they were fogging up so much that I finally took them off.

I felt a little pukey in the second half, which may have been because I was pushing harder than I'm used to (sub-8:30s), but also could've been all the crap I'd eaten the day before. I felt fine at the end.

I missed most of the best costumes by running the race, but I was pleased to see so many strong runners were wearing crazy outfits. There were women in flowing dresses and guys in tutus. For a long time I kept pace with a guy wearing a ginormous cowboy hat, and I crossed the finish line with a guy dressed as a sheep.
What would you do differently?:

Race it! Definitely I'd sign up earlier and get a spot with the "real" runners at the front, and then fight through the crowds, instead of mostly going with them, for the first few miles. I'd also push harder, faster after Hayes Street -- looking at my mile splits, it took longer than it should have to start really moving once I was out of the crowds.
Post race
Warm down:

I grabbed a bottle of water and made the loooooooooong walk back to the expo grounds. I think it was about a mile and a half? It felt good, actually, and I was glad I had my sweatshirt because I started getting cold right away. After using the restrooms I briefly considered checking out the expo or even making my way over to the race to watch some of the paraders, but decided I'd rather just go home and hopped on one of the first buses back to BART.

On the bus, I overheard a woman on a cell phone making plans to meet up with some friends still doing the race. She was going to take the bus back to the start then run to meet up with them. We were done and they were only about two miles into the race. Yeesh. That's a hell of a lot of people.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Getting stuck in the crowds. Treating the race as a training run instead of a race. I'm also coming off of some high-mileage running weeks, so I wasn't expecting a particularly great run. I would have liked to have been a little faster, but I'm OK with this time.

Event comments:

I'd been to Bay to Breakers a couple times before as a spectator, but never a participant. I was very surprised by how well organized it was (although I probably shouldn't have been since the race has been going on for 97 years). The race started right on time, and while there were certainly thick crowds, they weren't nearly as bad as I'd feared. Support for the race -- from spectators and volunteers -- is fantastic. You can even get a printout of your results just a few minutes after the finish line.

Last updated: 2008-05-13 12:00 AM
01:08:11 | 07.46 miles | 09m 08s  min/mile
Age Group: 179/
Overall: 2956/
Performance: Average
Course: A fairly straight line through San Francisco, from about the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach, with one major hill at about 2.5 miles. The race is supposed to be 7.42 miles but Garmin said it was 7.59. I trust Garmin.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-05-19 2:09 AM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Bay-to-Breakers 12K

2008-05-19 12:22 PM
in reply to: #1410019

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Northridge, California
Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K
Great report! After two B-2-Bs, I'd definitely recommend you take another crack at it (and race it) and start up near the front of Zone 1. My wife and I were way back (about 2/3 of the way back Zone 1) last year and it definitely made for a frustrating first three miles if you were of a mind to race the course. Getting there at 6:45 was plenty early this year and I still enjoyed the people-watching aspect while still getting in a good race. Good job...sounds like you got the full "Bay to Breakers" experience!

2008-05-19 12:59 PM
in reply to: #1410019

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Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K
Nice report, Erin. Too bad we ddn't hook-up at footstock, but it was a madhouse.

Great training for your half Mary coming up... nice!
2008-05-19 1:43 PM
in reply to: #1410019

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K
Good job!
2008-05-19 2:00 PM
in reply to: #1410019

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K

You didn't sign up early as a runner 'cause you really just wanted to run with the naked people

That's okay, Erin, as you said--this is Bay to Breakers and it's a tradition!

Super, super job, and excellent pace for a tempo run, as it were. Glad you liked the race and had a blast!

2008-05-19 2:44 PM
in reply to: #1410019

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Liverpool, New York
Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K

Nicely done!

Sounds like you are glad you decided to go for the race after all  


2008-05-19 4:05 PM
in reply to: #1410019

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-05-19 5:07 PM
in reply to: #1410019

Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K
Great Job. I've always heard about this race. I should come up one year and do it.
2008-05-19 5:32 PM
in reply to: #1410019

West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Bay-to-Breakers 12K
Nice race!  Sounds like a fun one too
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