I signed up for Bay to Breakers 2017 a bit last minute. When I asked my coach about it, she thought it would be a good test of fitness and said we’d work it into my 13 mile long run for the weekend.
You can read some fun facts about the Bay to Breakers tradition from my race recap last year.
I woke up and 5:30 and had a giant cup of coffee with 2% milk. Then I had a small bowl of oatmeal with a banana, blueberries, 1/2 serving of protein powder, and peanut butter. I got dressed, rolled my feet out on the R3 from Roll Recovery, and walked Bennie. Have I mentioned how much I love that it is light out at 5:30 now?
I decided to run to the start line for my 3 mile warm up. The start line wasn’t quite 3 miles from John’s house, so I ran down to the Embarcadero and ran along the water until I had clocked my 3 miles, then walked to my start corral after locating the portable restrooms 🙂
I realized I should have brought a disposable water bottle because after the 3 miles I was thirsty, but didn’t have time to go find an open convenience store to buy water. I also felt like COMPLETE crap during that warm up run because my breakfast had not digested. I planned eating 5:30 breakfast for an 8:00am race start, but didn’t take into consideration the warm up run. Oy. Not smart. Luckily I was fine after the warm up run and felt ok going into the race.
I got in my corral about a half hour before the race was set to start. Everyone hangs out and chats, flings tortillas in the air, and bats around beach balls concert style. The 30 minutes flew by and pretty soon they let the elites and sub-elite group go, and then my corral was next. One thing about Bay to Breakers is that anyone can click on any pace group corral they want to start on, and some people don’t realize the corrals are based off a certain pace. So at the beginning of the race there is always a lot more scrambling and moving around to get settled than most any other race.
The first couple of miles were the usual jumble, but I noticed for the first time that the crowds aren’t really that crazy. I guess after running Boston, anything would seem less crazy. Anyway, at mile 2, we started the Hayes Street hill, which is the big climb of the course. The race actually has overall prizes and separate prizes for those that run the hill fastest.
I found these facts about the Hayes Street hill from this Runner’s World article:
“Where It Hits: At the two-mile mark
How Long, How Hard: .69 miles, rising 201 feet. Very steep. The average grade is 5.5 percent, but the steepest portion, between Fillmore and Steiner Streets, features an 11.15 percent grade.
How to Conquer It: “It’s a lot steeper than any of the bigger hills in the major races,” says Peter Gilmore, the top American at 2005’s Bay to Breakers. “There are cross streets, so it flattens out for 20 feet, then goes up again, flattens out for 20 feet. It’s like a giant staircase.”
Hill Story: The race has been around since 1912, but the route up Hayes Street was introduced in 1968, when subway construction altered the course.”
Compared to Heartbreak Hill:
“Where It Hits: The fourth of the “Newton Hills,” beginning just past the 20-mile mark at Grant Avenue
How Long, How Hard: .37 miles, rising 88 feet. An average grade of 4.5 percent, but comes late in the race.”
Thank you Runner’s World for the info!!
I averaged 8:40 for the mile with the Hayes Street hill. I tried to look up to the top and get to each “step” of the staircase, but didn’t worry about slowing down too much. It is another bottleneck of the course where many people are slowing down. After that, you get some nice downhills into Golden Gate park. I let gravity do the work on those.
There was a fair amount of dodging to be done, so running the tangents wasn’t really a thing, which slowed my official time down a lot by adding length to the course. That said, I was pretty happy with these splits.
I tried to take the last couple of miles a bit faster and see how they felt. While they didn’t feel easy, they didn’t feel terrible either. Little bit of pain face. And going to for the Garmin pause at the end of the course.
Runner’s tan coming in strong. Pink legs courtesy of the freezing “beaches” in San Francisco.
Official course data:
After a couple miles, I pulled off the trail and into a neighborhood and called a Lyft back to John’s from there.
I ran Bay to Breakers in 2015 and ran/walked with some friends. It was so much fun! I was recovering from runner’s knee and I remember they kept wanting to jog down the hills and it just felt like knives in my knee haha!! Definitely not comfortable, but a lot of fun. I am so grateful to feel good running downhill and knocking on all the wood it stays that way (and doing strength training).
Then in 2016, I did Bay to Breakers as my first race back after a stress fracture. It was a good way to break the ice and get back out there. However, I remember feeling like it was so hard. The little hills in Golden Gate Park felt very hilly. Definitely much different than the Alter-G running I had been doing haha! This year I didn’t feel there were many hills at all.
It was really confidence building to be able to hold the pace my coach gave me and feel strong at the finish this year and use the race as part of a greater training run. Overall – successful day!