Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Most Discombobulated Morning Ever (aka Strawberry Hill 5k+ Race Recap)

We've had some nasty monsoon-like weather here in San Francisco lately. Yesterday morning I went out for an 11-miler along the 2nd half of the San Francisco Marathon course and somehow managed to finish it. Granted, I couldn't feel my hands and it honestly took me minutes to fumble my keys into the door to get back inside, but I ran the whole thing -- and I finished much quicker than I felt like I was moving.

This morning, my blogger buddy The Girl in Chucks talked me into running the Strawberry Hill 5k in Golden Gate Park so we could finally meet up in person! While it was still very cold this morning, at least it was sunny. I decided to run to the start to get in a warm up (and also to hit the 5 miles I was supposed to do today), so I left pretty close to the start time in hopes to not need to stand around long. I put on some warm running clothing, stepped out my door, and realized my iPod was waterlogged from yesterday and didn't want to play.

Not a big deal. I don't mind running without music.

A half mile from home, my Garmin chimed the "Battery Low" signal. I charged it immediately after my run yesterday -- what did it mean battery low?! I was hoping it was a mechanical issue from being in the rain and it was just playing games with me. I clicked it off, deciding that if the battery was indeed dying, I'd rather have my mile splits for the race than my warm-up miles.

I tracked down The Girl in Chucks, wished her a good race while shaking her hand as the airhorn was blown, and we were off. I really did cut it a little too close this morning.

Lots of people at the low-key DSE race.
A mile into the race, my Garmin chimed "Battery Low" again and promptly died after the first mile (which I finished in 7:21). Fair enough, I suppose I had my warning.

I guess I'll run without my Garmin now, too. Isn't this how people have run for the last couple thousand+ years?

The Strawberry Hill 5k is probably one of the hardest 5ks you could run here in the city. It runs a lap around Stow Lake with a roughly one-mile uphill grade that corkscrews around Strawberry Hill (one of the best vantage points of the city, alongside Twin Peaks), one mile following the same tracks down, and then the last mile is a mix of sharp, steep inclines with some gradual downhills around Stow Lake Drive. It's a really hard course. And, it's mostly on dirt in the woods, which, thanks to the recent rain, actually meant running in thick, sticky mud.

Yeah, I didn't really get the course either. Just imagine that it's mostly an uphill climb.
I felt like I was going at a good clip up Strawberry Hill, until, I ACTUALLY HAD TO STOP TO WALK. Yes, ladies and gentlemen: I walked during a 5k. At the very top of Strawberry Hill is a steep bank of narrow steps that you basically have to use your hands to climb to the top. It's made of woodchips and makeshift wooden stairs, and with all the people around me stopping to walk to the top, I followed the leader.

I booked the downhills as fast as the mud would let me and saw the clock say 23:59 as I crossed the finish line. Not bad for a hilly, muddy 5k, I guess. I'll take it. And then the DSE announcer told us that the course actually measured out to be 3.3 miles rather than 3.1. Based on some rudimentary math of my average pace, this would have put me into finishing the "real" 5k in 21:50 or so -- which would have been awesome for a hilly, muddy 5k that involved a few seconds of walking.

Gah, I wished my Garmin was working now!

Me & The Girl in Chucks after the hardest 5k ever.
I'm tempted to try another 5k in the near future, of course, to see how fast I could potentially do it. But story of my life, huh?

"Everyone's a winner at DSE races!"
3.3 miles: 23:59 (7:16 average pace)
Air Temp: 40F, sunny

Heeeeeyy, product review/giveaway coming up this week (if I find the time)!


  1. What a great recap and an awesome time! I really would love to run with you at some point! We have a similar pace! :)

  2. Congrats Alyssa! Sometimes those crazy days are the most fun after all is said and done. Did you get your Garmin working again?

  3. Alyssa... huh. It's never occurred to me that I didn't know your first name until now. lol

    My Garmin has pulled that BS on me too. Right after it did that, the next time I tried to turn it on it wouldn't come on and I had to reset it. Hasn't done it since.

    Sounds like a hell of a race! One of these days I want to do one of those Warrior Dash or Muddy Buddy races that are SUPPOSED to be all muddy and stuff. Sounds like a good time to me!

    BTW, how's your leg doing?

  4. What is up with Garmin this weekend?! Nice job a day after 11 in bad conditions. I want to explore GGP, I'm gonna have to get advice from you and Roadbunner on where to go.

  5. nice job!!! and who cares if you took a walk break, you still pulled out a great time!!

    and i've had so many of those runs where i can't feel my fingers when i get home. i'm so ready for spring.

  6. Nice run, well done! I think I’ve said it before but I’ve never run a 5k race. There is only one official 5k race in SA that I know about, the rest are fun runs. Official races here are from 10km upwards.

  7. That course map reminds me of those circle mazes that used to be on restaurant placemats when we were kids

  8. Weren't we just talking about how RIDICULOUS a 5K up to the top of Strawberry Hill was?! Tsk tsk. Ha ha. I love running hill repeats up the hill and recovering back down. The place was closed the last week and now I have to wait for it to dry out. I am not as hard core as you to slide down.

    Uh-oh... I see a streak of 5K's coming up like the halves... First the rainy hilly one...

  9. Definitely email me when you come up to Seattle. I know it's hard to squeeze everything in when you are visiting people but if it works for you to sneak out for a run, definitely let's try to do it. Let me know what part of town your friends are in & I can try to find someplace close-by. I have some long runs coming up so it would be great to have company :)

  10. Mud Hills and walking with that time? Good Lord, you are that awesome, your awesomer then awesome (which I totally already knew...)

  11. Ha...I didn't even notice the vantage point. No idea if I was running through anything pretty or not. I really need to do that run again and take a better look! ;)

    Really awesome time, btw. No wonder you were so had already been standing around for over 10 minutes by the time I came in!

    You should check out RunKeeper, if you have a droid (I didn't quite see what kind of phone you had)...maybe it would make a good Garmin back up? GPS, distance, pace, splits and audio prompts/coaching if you want them.

  12. Mud, hills, walk - and still 7:16 pace???? WOW! Those Bay area hills are really keeping you flying!

  13. Hey there - new reader here! (Only that's not really true. New commenter is probably more accurate.) That course map cracks me up! Also sounds like you kicked some serious ass!

  14. I thought the hardest 5K you ever ran was the one we ran together because you had to run with me and listen to my constant yapping the entire time. I couldn’t run at your pace if I was running down hill with the wind at my back.

    Nice report.


  15. Holy moly, that is INTENSE! I seriously hope that there aren't any parts of the SF Marathon where we have to scale hills on all fours! Awesome work kicking this 5k's butt!

  16. Awesome time girl, seriously! And no shame in walking. Fell runners do it all the time, and they are some badass mofos, so you're in good company :-)

    And isn't it funny how we freak without our gadgets! I hope your iPod and Garmin recover though. 1 run without them is a novelty, but anything more than that is too much!

  17. that course route looks so crazy for a 5k! nice job on getting 'er done!

  18. I just ran across your blog and almost cracked up - your profile is almost identical to my "About Me" section on my blog. Main difference is mine mentions how I'm below average in athletics. Great job on the 5K that sounds pretty tough. I look forward to following your adventures in the future.