Last fall, I participated in my fourth Mermaid Run in San Francisco, which is hands-down my favorite event of the year for many reasons.
First off, the 2010 Mermaid Run was my first-ever 10k. The race takes place in my favorite American city, the course is stunning and the weather is perfect for running. The event has a small(ish) participant field and is one of the most organized runs I’ve participated in, the energy is amazing and swag is awesome!
My participant shirt, finisher necklace and race bib
2013 was an exciting year for the Mermaid Run San Francisco, as race organizers added a new distance, a 10-mile race dubbed The Sirena 10.
But even better than the new race length was its course, which would include an out-and-back trek on the Golden Gate Bridge. I could not pass up an opportunity to run across the bridge, so Sirena 10 it was!
Registration opened up right around my birthday so my son gave me one of the best gifts ever, registration for this run… thank you Rob!
The 2013 race was held on Sunday morning so I arrived in San Francisco early Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the Sports Basement Presidio to retrieve my race packet which consisted of my bib, participant shirt and a Mermaid Run headband. Packet pick-up for this race is always well organized and efficient, so I was in and out in 15 minutes leaving me with plenty of time to enjoy the city before grabbing some Korean hot pot for dinner and turning in early to ensure I would be well rested for my run in the morning.
My hotel was a little more than a mile from the start at the Marina so getting there in plenty of time for the 7:30 am start was a breeze for me – a 15 minute walk on Divisadero Street and I was there. It was chilly and windy waiting for the race to start but runners and spectators were having a great time chatting, snapping photos and enjoying the stunning vistas the Marina has to offer.
The three event distances (10m, 10k & 5k) had staggered start times to account for the difference in the course for each distance, right at 7:30 the Sirena 10 runners set off.
We headed out Yacht Road and on to Mason Street towards Crissy Field, right away I noticed that there wasn’t any crowding on the course and was extremely thankful for those staggered start times. Before I knew it, I passed the first mile marker and we veered left on Crissy Field Avenue toward the Presidio.
I’ll admit it. This is the part of the course I had been dreading. While the next two miles would get me to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, it also meant one thing, running uphill.
I wasn’t excited.
Once I made my way up to Fort Point Historic Site and caught my first glimpse of the iconic bridge, those rotten hills were forgotten.
Many runners stopped mid-stride to capture the amazing view of the bridge before continuing on to mile 3 and our run across the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m not going to lie, this is what I had been waiting months to do.
I walked across the bridge years ago. Last summer my son Rob, boyfriend Tony and I rented bikes and rode across the bridge, from San Francisco to Sausalito.
And of course I’ve driven across the great Golden Gate countless times.
But I wanted to run across it. And I was about to…. well, after I took in the absolutely AMAZING view, snapped a handful of pictures which included a shameless selfie or two.
I found my happy pace around mile 4 and headed for my happy place as I started to make my across the bridge.
I was in awe of not only the view but of all the amazing women who were already making their way back across the bridge toward the finish. I happily clapped and cheered on the lead runner and several of the others behind her as I made my way to the end of the bridge, Vista Point and mile 5, the halfway point and turn around.
Running back to San Francisco we were running toward traffic. Quite a drivers waved and honked as they passed by. And I got rather excited when the Bacon Bacon truck passed me, which, in turn, made me start planning my post-race bacon-centered meal.
The run back felt effortless. I was truly swept up in the moment and loved taking it all in. Before I knew it I reached the end of the bridge and mile 7.
One fabulous perk of having to run hills at the start of the race is that those same hills become your best friend on the return route. DOWNHILL!
I ran back down Bay Trail and Long Avenue before we merged with those running the 10k on Marine Drive, we made our final turn at the Warming House at Fort Point and ran those last two miles to the finish.
2013 was by far was my favorite Mermaid Run! The course was stunning, and I kept thinking to myself while I was running is how lucky I am to get the opportunity to run in such an amazing city with such magnificent views and have perfect running weather in early November.
With the hills, I was concerned I would fall off pace and slow way down, but much to my surprise that didn’t really happen. I was only 5 minutes off my normal 10 mile time. And I paused more than once to snap some photos!
I definitely rode my runner’s high well into the day. The Mermaid Run San Francisco remains my favorite event of 2013 and you can bet I’ll be back next year! I hope the Sirena 10 will be as well.
2014 race info
Are you interested in running the 2014 Mermaid Run? Registration is underway for the Nov. 9 event.
Early registration fees end May 31 and range from $40 to $70 (depends on which distance you pick!)
Can’t make it to the San Francisco run? There’s also a Mermaid Run in East Bay on May 10. That weekend series includes a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and 18-miler. Registration is between $45 and $75 through May 8.
Oh and in case you were wondering, I did have that bacon after the race. Like the run, it was perfect.
Heather is a mom, runner, crossfitter and contract administrator. She blogs at Heather in the Middle and can be found on Twitter at @hsb0372.
Do you have a favorite annual road race? Have your ever run across an incredibly large bridge? (That’s a hill in itself!)