Two days before the Across the Bay 12k, I saw that the race was something like 90% sold out. I got sucked into the marketing ploy. Weather was supposed to be nice, and it felt like everyone was telling me that it was so much fun to run a race across the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite being born and raised in the Bay Area, I’ve never raced across the Golden Gate, and it took me until the age of 29 – so, last year – to simply run across it. I didn’t think I could survive the FOMO, so I signed up close to last minute.
The morning of, I grabbed Meg (isn’t that how a lot of these stories start? or Meg picks me up, yaddayadda) and we headed into the city. We wanted to make it in time to 1. get reasonable parking, 2. to get to the shuttles that would take us from Ghirardelli Square to the start in Sausalito, 3. say hi to Represent Running and Wolfpack people we know, and 4. allow for me to pee 20349845 times, because pregnant.
Right before we jumped on the shuttle with our teammate Sheridan and her friend Kaila, I grabbed a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, which I slathered with sriracha and munched on the bus ride across the Bay. *This isn’t a pregnancy thing. I forgot to eat breakfast, and my hanger was bad.
I refused to warm up with a jog, since I was letting my food settle. I was also very cranky the morning of for reasons I no longer remember. I do remember being pissed about the porta potty situation though. For some reason, people weren’t really understanding that the fastest way to get through portapotties is to create multiple lines. But noooooooo, both portapotty sections each had one lonnnnngggg inefficient line. Rather than try to fix the problem because I was cranky and didn’t want to talk to strangers, I decided to simply chase a coyote (i.e. pee by a tree) for the millionth time off to the side of the trail while teammates Meg and Sheridan kept vigil. Apparently some man headed towards my direction so they made some weird noises and yelled about Bigfoot or something generally unintelligible around the time I finished, making the walk to the start a little more interesting.
Since Across the Bay is a PAUSATF race, there were a bunch of club teams, including Wolfpack and Impala at the start. Meg and I got right up there in the front, and were soon off running the thing.
The first mile wound down for a good chunk, before bottoming out right by the water. Towards the end of the first mile, the elevation begins to pick up into a 1.5-ish mile climb up to the midpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge, the highest elevation point of the race. On a normal, not-pregnant day, it would have been a fun challenge. However, on a 19-weeks-pregnant (half-way to full term!) kind of day, it felt extremely uncomfortable.
The best way to describe running with a baby inside of you, in my opinion, is to think of your lower abdomen as a gyroscope with a mind of its own. This gyroscope spins in whatever direction it wants, when it wants, and you can feel the inertia working against you at times. My sweet baby especially during uphill climbs and any kind of shift up or down in speed or direction, deliberately works against me, and likes to move in a direction that hits my bladder and towards my pelvic floor and lower back with increasing pressure. If I try to speed up when she’s (oh yea, it’s a girl!) working against me, my body stiffens up in response to the discomfort, and it feels impossible to not slow down. Sos you knows, these days, running by effort usually means that my heart rate is anywhere from 150 to 180 for a tempo, which is high, even if I generally don’t feel fatigued.
During this uphill climb, I slowed progressively from 6:45 pace to 8:40 or so. Coming downhill on the latter half of the bridge wasn’t much better since that shift in elevation also gave way to some resistance from the baby, though gravity helped me deepen my breathing and open my stride as the course once again flattened out. I saw and cheered for a number of Wolfpack and Arete runners as they zoomed in the other direction after the turnaround at Fort Point.
For the next 3.5 miles, I just tried to stay relaxed and not anger the beast in my womb. When the baby was not having it, she would squirm around uncomfortably and knock against all of my insides. My heart rate was a little high at about 175, but the effort felt like a 6 out of 10. My breathing was fine and I kept my shoulders and arms relaxed, Since I wasn’t really racing, I looked around at all the sights and continued cheering for people that ran past me, or that I passed. The day really was so beautiful – the sun was shining and the sky was so blue, it was hard not to be super grateful to be out there. My earlier cantankerous mood was gone by the second half of the race.
There was a little quarter of a mile climb right around mile 7 that pitched us down just as quickly towards the finish by Aquatic Park. My splits were 7:03/8:07/7:22/6:49/7:01/7:05/7:01/6:59 for a total time of 53:46 for the 7.5 miles. This is about a 7:10 per mile pace, which is fine for where I am. Sometimes I wish I could run faster paces (meaning more “normal”, non-pregnant paces) on all terrains and courses, but now obviously isn’t the time to push.
Meg had run a great effort and finished about 2 minutes ahead of me, and was waiting by the finish with SC teammate Margaret and Wolfpack friends Erin and Sam for other athletes to come through. We walked back to Ghirardelli Square to get our gear and stuff, take some pictures, and Meg went to jog her cool-down. By then, Sheridan had joined up with me, and we decided to forgo the traditional cool-down in favor of cold treats from Ghirardelli and a platonic but leisurely stroll around the park.
BTW: As you can tell from my pictures, I wrote “It’s Half-Baked!” on my stomach, because I was officially halfway through the pregnancy (full term is roughly 38+ weeks). Most teenage race volunteers at the water stations didn’t understand what my message meant, since I overheard a lot of murmurs about me being possibly being high/stoned. It wasn’t until the last water station at near mile 7 that one of the volunteers yelled in triumph to her comrades, “Oh! I get it, she’s pregnant!” That was definitely additional cause for my smiling.
The Deltas: There’s gotta be signage or volunteers that can direct people towards better porta potty usage. I’d also love if instead of finishers medals and shirts, more races including this one could have free race photos instead. I purchased a photo package, because the pictures turned out great – especially because Karl the Fog was nowhere to be seen. However, at $19 per single photo download, the pricing feels a little steep, and I can imagine that it can put off people that run multiple races every year and want great race photos.
The Pros: The weather held up and the day was so beautiful. The course is fun! I loved how much the course varied in elevation. I do like point-to-point races so that you’re running somewhere, which is a great trick to motivate yourself when you’re starting to mentally check out a bit from the effort and fatigue of racing. The medal is a bottle opener, which I found out from Erin (I’m clearly opening tons of beer bottles recently). You’re finishing in Aquatic Park where there’s GHIRARDELLI to buy and guzzle treats from.
Overall verdict: I want to come back next year and really race it!