Last Sunday I participated in my fourth Mermaid Run in San Francisco. The Mermaid Run is my favorite event of the year for many reasons, in 2010 the Mermaid Run was my first 10k ever, it takes place in my favorite city in the United States, the course is stunning, the weather is perfect for running, it has a smaller participant field, it is one of the most organized runs I’ve participated in, the energy is amazing and the swag is awesome!
2013 was an exciting year for the Mermaid Run San Francisco, they added a new distance, the Sirena 10, a 10 mile option. More exciting than the increased distance was the course, it would include an out and back along the Golden Gate Bridge. I could not pass up an opportunity to run across the bridge, Sirena 10 it was! Registration opened up right around my birthday so my Son gave me one of the best gifts ever, registration for this run….thank you Rob!!
This year the race was being held on Sunday morning so I arrived in San Francisco early Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the Sports Basement Presidio to pick up my packet which consisted of my bib, participant shirt and a Mermaid Run headband. Packet pick up for this race is always well organized and efficient so I was in and out in 15 minutes leaving me with plenty of time to enjoy the city before grabbing some Korean hot pot for dinner and calling it an early night so I would be well rested for my run in the morning.
My hotel was a little more than a mile from the start at the Marina so getting there in plenty of time for the 7:30 am start was problem free for me, a 15 minute walk down Divisadero Street and I was there. It was chilly and windy waiting for the race to start but all of the runners and spectators were having a great time chatting and enjoying the amazing photo ops the Marina has to offer. This year the three distances (10m, 10k & 5k) had staggered start times to account for the difference in the course for each distance, right at 7:30 the Sirena 10 runners were off. We headed out Yacht Road and on to Mason Street towards Crissy Field, right away I noticed that there wasn’t any crowding on the course and was extremely thankful in the staggering of start times. I passed the 1 mile marker before I knew it where we took a left on Crissy Field Avenue towards the Presidio. This is the part of the course I had been dreading, the next two miles would get us to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and that meant one thing, uphill. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the one thing I love in a course is lack of hills but once I made my way up Long Ave to Presidio Promenade/Bay Trail to Fort Point Historic Site and caught my first glimpse of the bridge, the hills were forgotten.
Many of us stopped to take pictures with the amazing view of the bridge behind us before continuing on to mile 3 and our run across the Golden Gate Bridge. I am not going to lie, this is what I had been waiting months to do. Many years ago I had walked across the bridge and last summer Rob, Tony and I rented bikes and rode from San Francisco to Sausalito but I wanted to run it, and run it I was about to do……well after I took in the absolutely AMAZING view, took a handful of pictures which included a shameless selfie or two.
Right about mile 4 I found my happy pace and started making my across the bridge. I was in awe of not only the view but also the amazing women that were already making their way back across towards the finish. I happily clapped and cheered on the lead runner and several of the others behind her as I made my way to the end of the bridge on to Vista Point and mile 5, the turn around point.
Heading back towards San Francisco we were running towards traffic, I had quite a few people wave and honk as they passed and I got a little excited when the Bacon Bacon truck drove past, thinking to myself that bacon after the run sounded good. The run back felt effortless to me, I was truly lost in the moment and taking it all in. Before I knew it I was at the end of the bridge and mile 7. One really great thing about having to go up hills at the beginning of the race is that they are downhill on the way back. It was back down Bay Trail and Long Avenue then we merged in with those running the 10k on Marine Drive, we made our final turn at the Warming House at Fort Point and ran the last two miles into the finish where we received our finishers necklace and post race refreshments.
This year by far was my favorite Mermaid Run! The course was stunning, all I kept thinking to myself while I was running is how lucky am I that I get the opportunity to run in such an amazing city with such magnificent views and have perfect running weather in early November. With the hill factor I was concerned that I would be off my pace and have a much longer time than I wanted but much to my surprise that didn’t really happen, I was only 5 minutes off my normal 10 mile time. I definitely rode my runner’s high well into the day. The Mermaid Run San Francisco remains my favorite event of the year and you can bet I’ll be back next year, I hope the Sirena 10 will be as well.
Oh and if you’re wondering, I did have that bacon after the race.