I'd have posted this sooner, except things have been crazier than usual. And by that, I mean that I took a weekend adventure, and had to dive headfirst back into my life (or rather, classes). Where did I trek, you ask?
I had never been to SF, and now that I'm on the West Coast, it's so much easier to get there! I also have a couple of friends there, which is a big incentive to visiting. My perception: fun city, full of character, active residents, fantastic architecture, and few hipsters (I mention this fact because this is how I'm different from typical Portlanders). It's now on my list of favorite domestic cities!
As luck would have it, the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon took place while I was there! My gracious host informed me that he signed up, and asked if I'd be interested in running it. He also added that it'd be a great way to see some of the popular spots in SF. More often that not, if you want to coerce me to race with you, you just need to tell me that you registered. If you tell me it's an awesome course, then I see that as a bonus.
The race started in Golden Gate Park, and headed eastward to the Panhandle. It goes around the Panhandle, and then back in the park to head westward. Around mile 7 is the turn onto Great Highway, which runs along the ocean. The views were incredible! There were dunes, and waves crashing into said dunes, and sunshine! The main downside is that it's a 6M loop (3M down, and 3M back up), so it became a bit boring. The toughest part of the course comes at the very end, in the form of a hill. Yes, there's a hill right before the finish line. (The rest of the course is either flat or downhill. Here's a course map.)
The beginning of the course had some major bottlenecking, which I think was because they also put on a 5K which started at the same time. (Seriously? A 5K can start 30 minutes after a half-marathon, and if I had to guess, I'd say that those runners would still be done before the half marathon runners begin to cross the finish line. But that's just me.) Still, the race itself went really well, in that I PRed (1:36:39, which is a 7:23 pace). I can't forget to mention the fantastic weather, especially since the last two half marathons I ran were in very hot conditions. And now I can cross CA off of the "States I've Raced In" list (the other states so far are OR, PA, NY, and CT).
Racing? Fun. Traveling? Fun. Seeing friends? Very fun. Racing with friends while traveling? AWESOME.