Last week (2nd Sept), while on a family holiday, I ran the Crissy Field parkrun in San Francisco. Even by 9AM the temperature was already baking. This was on the morning after San Francisco’s hottest day ever on record.
My game-plan was to run the first two miles at 08:00 mins per mile & see if I could pick the pace up for the last 1.1M. The previous week had been spent in the mountains where all my runs had been slow due to the altitude & most had been of a run/walk nature due to the steepness of terrain, Not having run evenly paced miles for several days, I wanted the parkrun to give me a baseline for the half marathon training ahead.
As usual I ran a couple of miles at a very steady pace to warm up & to check out the nature of the course. The paths were wide; the route flat; and the surface was mostly firm but with a thin layer of dust & sand to just be wary of.
I drank a bottle of water with a hydration tab after the warmup & chatted briefly to several other runners.
This is how the run went:
- Mile 1 – 7:56 – Good. Lots of people started too fast & I ease past them
- Mile 2 – 8:10 – OK, but getting properly hot now. Mostly running on my own
- Mile 3 – 8:38 – Legs still ok but over-heating. Knew I couldn’t push hard & elected to ease off the gas a little. Still going past other runners, but hard to tell which are/aren’t parkrunners
- Final 0.1M – non-existent, course was a bit short of the full 5K (by my Garmin)
- Average Pace – 08:13
Well the results were a little inconclusive. There were a couple of mitigating factors, but it was disappointing not to hold 8:00MM pace. I will need to do a further test run, but it may be that my half-mara baseline should be set at 08:15.
All parkruns are broadly the same, yet each one has its own quirks. Some of the oddities I noticed at Crissy Field:
- Run brief didn’t begin till way gone 9:00. We didn’t get underway until 9:16 (my watch). At my home parkrun we try to say GO bang on 9 & starting 1/4 hour late would probably cause a mutiny. This being laid-back West Coast & with a lot of runners being in holiday-mode, nobody seemed the least bothered by the delay.
- The majority of runners, I guesstimate 2/3rds, were tourists. There were Canadians, Australians, English, Irish, Scottish & other nationalities. This was the Labor (sic) Day bank holiday weekend, but even so, native San Franciscans were thin on the ground. This is a shame, it’s a good route, well organised, very friendly. It surely deserves to be better supported locally
- Most parkruns operate a very strict “No Barcode = No Result” policy. Here, runners without barcodes, were very much encouraged to enter their details on to a paper form, to be manually inserted into the results. Given that this run still needs to build a base of home support, I think this is a sensible exception to the rule, but one that may cause the organisers trouble in the future if numbers grow.
- The run-brief wasn’t held at the Start Point. After the brief we all mob-walked for a few minutes to the line & re-assembled. I presume this was to avoid unnecessarily blocking the boardwalk to other pedestrians & cyclists.
If you’re travelling to San Francisco, I highly recommend trying to arrange to be there on a Saturday & go-along to the parkrun. If you’re in good form & the weather is kind, this would be a fast course with definite PB potential.
If you live in San Francisco & you don’t have to work on Saturdays – for goodness sake, what are you waiting for? Go, Join in, It’s great fun, it may even change your life