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Mermaid Run San Francisco: Sirena 10

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of Fort Point

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!

Participant shirt, Finisher Necklace and my bib

Participant shirt, Finisher Necklace and my bib

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!!

Pre-race photo op

Pre-race photo op

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.

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

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.

My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

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.

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking

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.

The view from Vista Point

The view from Vista 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.

I am a Mermaid Athlete

I am a Mermaid Athlete

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.

In front of the Palace of Fine Arts post race

In front of the Palace of Fine Arts post race

Oh and if you’re wondering, I did have that bacon after the race.

Live Ultimate Quarter Marathon

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November 2010 I ran my very first 10k at Crissy Field in San Francisco, since then I’ve run a total of three 10k’s there and every time I’m in the city I run Crissy Field if there is time; it’s my favorite course.  I was excited to see that there was going to be a new run, the Live Ultimate Quarter Marathon/5k on June 30, Tony and I registered right away.

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A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field

Parking was plentiful when we arrived at Crissy Field about an hour before the 8:30 start time.  We made our way to the start area, across from the Sports Basement where they had late packet pick up as well as various sponsor booths set up.  We had picked up our race packets the day before so we took our time taking pictures and enjoying the view.  Tony, being just six weeks post op rotator cuff surgery and is still in a sling so we decided that he would walk and I would run the race.

Me and Tony before the race

It was a very warm 65 degrees as we lined up towards the back of the starting corral.  The race started right at 8:30, with all runners (quarter marathon and 5k) starting at the same time.  The course was extremely crowded as we ran the first three quarters of a mile along Old Mason Street towards the Marina, then we turned towards the bay and ran down the path of hard packed sand and pebbles on Marine Drive towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I quickly fell into my pattern of running 3 minutes walking 1.5 minutes.

As we approached mile 2 the trail became uneven asphalt with various potholes, it is important to pay attention while you’re running which can be difficult with the sheer beauty of the course.  Although it isn’t the halfway point of the route, once you pass the Warming House at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge it is the turnaround point as you head back towards the Marina.  At mile 3 those that were running the 5k took a left along the path on Old Mason and ran into the finish; at that point crowding wasn’t an issue anymore and you could run without having to go around other participants.  It was an unusually warm day in San Francisco and between miles 2-3 and 5-6 the sun was beating down and I noticed I wasn’t the only runner dripping with sweat.  Running along the Bay miles 1-2 and 4-5 we had a breeze to cool us off.

There was one water stop along the course right about mile 1.5 which was also mile 6, I heard some grumblings about there only being one stop but even with the heat I found it sufficient as I normally don’t hydrate during any run 10k or less.  Once I got to mile marker 6 I knew there was only a little more than a half mile to go, I took my last walk break and ran the rest of the way to the finish line.  I finished in 1:21:51,I collected my medal, my timing chip was removed from my shoe by a volunteer and was able to get a banana and a couple of Live Ultimate Green Teas for Tony and I and I headed back to the finish line to wait for him to come in.  I didn’t have long to wait as Tony came in at 1:39:33, a great time for walking the whole race his right arm in a sling.

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Overall it was a well put together event, it started on time, the course was clearly marked, there were plenty of volunteers as well as emergency personnel on hand if needed and there were plenty of after race refreshments.  I would have liked to see more than one volunteer at packet pick up and I was very disappointed with the sizing of the participant t-shirts, although stylish and extremely soft the men’s ran large while the women’s ran at least two sizes too small.  I would also suggest starting the race in two waves, allowing the Quarter Marathon runners to start 10 to 15 minutes before the 5k to alleviate course crowding.  I hope Live Ultimate continues this race each year, it would make my must do list.

 

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Me and Tony post race

Hemingway Run:

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Heather in the Middle

I blog about Running and CrossFit and finishing in the middle of the pack....mostly