Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Good, the bad, and the ugly--Bay to Breakers Race Report

Okay, here it is. Sorry I took so long to get this up. I've been so tired and busy after my hectic weekend! I gave my first lab meeting today. It went very well! Now, I can relax a little.

The Bay to Breakers race was fabulous. My family and I drove up Saturday and stayed the night. They got a hotel room right next to the start. That was so awesome. I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of a loud, scratchy speaker outside, "Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4...." It started the adrenaline pumping right away. The hotel had a pre-race breakfast prepared in the lobby. I changed several times--it was a lot warmer than I had thought it was going to be! Warm, partly sunny after a morning rain, high 60s. My dad and sister and I lined up in the "blue" zone. It was crazy. Everyone was in costume (we didn't dress up this year; next time!), and people were starting to throw tortillas. They were flying around like alien frisbees. We had to watch our step b/c they made the road verrry slippery. We found a spot that wasn't a heavy tortilla zone and waited, avoiding the tortillas. One hit me in the ear; that hurt! Then the beach balls began flying! I got a pic of my dad and sister being hit by a beach ball. We're still trying to figure out how to upload them off my dad's camera fun. Those will be posted soon though.

Then, the naked people started showing up. My sister started freaking out and pointing, and I gave her a quizzical look, trying to figure out what the big deal was. I turned and looked (unfortunately) and saw a guy wearing nothing but a shirt. At first, I thought it was a costume. "Is that real?" my dad asked. I thought it might be a strap-on. It wasn't. It was so gross. For one thing, it was hard. And he was waving it around like he was real proud of it. Obviously, there was no one around him. All I can say is, Ewwwwww!

The horn went off, and we waited. Nothing happened. I guess with 50,000 people, it takes awhile to get moving. It didn't take us too long though. I had decided to warm up with my dad and sister and walk with them for a bit before taking off and running. I could then meet up with them later. It was cool. We saw the most awesome costumes. Smurfs, Elvises, penguins, Fandango puppets, a Mini cooper, a giant Chipotle burrito wrapped in tin foil, centipedes, superheros, Star Wars storm troopers, etc., etc. There was definitely a quorom of naked people--all very unattractive. Wrinkled, fat, and wearing nothing but fanny packs. And, yes, there was obvious chafing. The sharks were funny. They all followed each other, circling random people, policemen, firemen, the naked people. They were great. I loved the salmon swimming upstream (running the route in the opposite direction). That was just awesome. My favorite was the group of people wearing nude shirts and shorts with picket signs that read, "Nudists on Strike". That's just awesome.

I took off around Hayes street, just before mile 2. Hayes Hill is the famous, 11.5% 0.5 or so mile hill. It's awesome. Because it was near the beginning, and I had been walking, I felt very fresh. I took off, darting in and out of people. Somewhere near the bottom of the hill on the other side, I found a spot and fell into a nice pace. The miles flew by. I felt fantastic. I had never been so entertained. Plus, the adrenaline was pumping. I was running fast the whole time without any effort. It was the best runner's high ever. I had so much to look at. The costumes, the bands (playing awesome music--I loved the one dressed up as Hassidic Jews playing Yiddish music in a real upbeat, rockin' way), the very spirited (and drunk) onlookers, etc. After the Hayes Street Hill, the entire route is a luxurious, gentle descent through gorgeous Golden Gate Park. It was gorgeous. Very green and moist after the morning's rain; it smelled like wet grass and dirt. There were flowers, streams, waterfalls, trees, and best of all, a pasture of protected buffalo. Who would have thought? All of a sudden, I had reached mile 7. Already? I wanted more! I've never felt so good at the end. Then, I saw the waves crashing on the beach. It was a fantastic sight. I flew past the finish.

This was the first race where I didn't care about the time. There was no pressure. It was the most fun I'd ever had. Because I'd walked the first 2 miles, I didn't overdo it. My foot and knee felt fantastic the whole way. I finished in 1:34. Without the walk, I finished the final 5.5 miles in about 50 minutes. Not too bad. It was a great workout too. I got my "long" run in, spent time with my family, and had a great time.

The worst part was the organization of the after-party (Footstock). It was a mile from the finish, and there was no water beforehand. Plus, the bus that took you back to the start was at Footstock so you had no choice but to walk the extra mile, which was exhausting b/c it was unexpected. I had to pay an astronomical $7.50 (normal bus fare, $1.50) to be bused back to the start (in addition to the entry fee). The bus took forever--the line to get on, the ride (it went on a ridiculous, circuitous route; I think the race was shorter!), and, it didn't even drop us back at the start. It dropped me about 4 blocks away. I then had to navigate my way back to the hotel. What the f*#%? The race directors definitely have their work cut out for them. They really blew it. However, despite this, I still had an awesome time.

The good? The race and all the people.
The bad? The post-race events and organization.
The ugly? The naked people!

10 comments:

punky said...

wow, sounds so fun, wish I could've been there to run it with you ... thanks for giving me the lowdown on the costumes! So creative! makes me miss the city...

theseamonster said...

Holy smoke, what a crazy race. Thanks for your great report and how cool that it was an awesome run. I worked in downtown SF on two prior occaisions but missed this. Next time you're there, maybe you can do critical mass: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Mass

Jenö said...

That race sounds nuts! 50,000 people sounds amazing - I'd love to try running in a crowd like that, although my preference would be no nasty naked folk/ Glad to hear you had a good time!

bunnygirl said...

I've read about this race, but this was my first time to read a race report from an "ordinary" (non-reporter type) runner.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with all of us unfortunates who weren't there! And I'm glad you had a good time!

jessie_tri_mn said...

What a blast! Despite the ugly naked folks, that is. That one guy must've been turned on by 50,000 runners.

Crazy times indeed!

Mon said...

There must be some kind of story to this race, but it sounds like a good time!

Jessi said...

Hilarious! Sounds so fun! I love the idea of the salmon swimming upstream and might have to steal it for a fun run up here (I'm a marine bio grad student in Washington, so it's extra relevant :).

My best friend lives just outside of SF - I am going to seriously think about flying down there for the race next year.

qcmier said...

That guy must really love to run.

Chris said...

Ugly naked guy being a little creepy aside, great race! It sounds like you had a great time. :)

Jack said...

Wow that sounded like a crazy race, I bet it was fun despite the creepy naked dudes running around. Some people should just leave their pants on. That post-race organizaton sounded like a nightmare, I wonder what the organizers where thinking - oh wait maybe that's the problem = thinking.