San Francisco Marathon 2002 San Francisco Chronicle Marathon July 28, 2002 Even though I lived in San Francisco at the time, I decided to avoid the hassle of trying to catch a bus or call a cab at 4 am on a Sunday to get to the starting line in time for the early 5 am start, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency the night before the race. This was the view from my hotel window. The official start was at 6 am, but there was an early start at 5 am for those of us who didn’t think we’d be able to finish in 6 hours. I’m glad of that! I wouldn’t have been able to finish otherswise. I gathered with the other “slowpokes” before 5 am at the Embarcadero. The big building in the background is the Hyatt Regency. It was starting to get light when we reached the Marina. We ran right through the Palace of Fine Arts! The Golden Gate Bridge with its head in the fog, at around mile 5. I think this was from the top of Fort Point—a two-mile climb up a doozy of a hill! My ears popped! The bison paddock in Golden Gate Park, at about Mile 10. (Yes, those little brown blobs are bison.) We came out the west end of the park at the ocean, then ran down the Great Highway and back, past this little row of colorful houses. This was between Miles 13 and 14. Over half way there! Then we re-entered Golden Gate Park, and ran all the way through it into the Haight. I was really nervous about running this marathon. My biggest worry, aside from the fact that I’d interrupted my training for it and hadn’t had time to do a 26-mile training run beforehand, was that the course is only open for seven hours (if you include the 5 am early start, which I did), and the traffic barriers are lifted after at most six hours. I was fairly confident about being able to finish in less than seven hours after my 24-mile training run, but I was still concerned about possibly being out there on the course all alone and getting lost after they took up the traffic barriers. Turns out I didn’t need to worry. There weren’t a lot of other marathoners around me for the last hour or so, but there were always a few in sight. And even though the traffic barriers had been lifted by the time I got out of Golden Gate Park (earlier than the 10 am they said the roads would be closed through!), there were still volunteers manning water stations and directing us at turns with their cheerful yellow flags. So there was no problem finding the way. And everyone was so enthusiastic and encouraging! All the way to the end, there were well-wishers cheering us on, and quite a crowd remained at the finish line. It really made a difference to see so many people out there pulling for us. Here, we ran on the sidewalks, from the Haight and down through the Mission. Then we came around the southern end of the city, until we were back at the Bay, and the baseball park came into view. There was a baseball game that afternoon, and we slower runners had to share the sidewalks with the crowds heading for the ball park. I heard some grumbling about the pedestrians slowing us down, but I didn’t mind. I figured, at my speed, it’s silly to worry about a few minutes here and there. Finally, I reached the finish line, on the Embarcadero with the Clock Tower in the background, from across the street in Justin Herman Plaza, where the Expo was going on. I got my photo taken with my finisher’s medal. Afterwards, I walked around for a while at the Expo, ate a banana, got a 20-minute massage of my arms and legs, and then headed back to my hotel. Took a quick shower and changed (into my Chronicle Marathon tee-shirt and finisher’s medal!), checked out and had lunch at the café there (Alaskan Salmon Nicoise! Yum!) before heading home.