Of the seven marathons I've run, this course is the toughest. I've run in worse conditions before, but the hills on this course were killer. Really, really close to qualifying for Boston, but I'll have to settle for PR-ing by 18 minutes. I'm tired now, but felt fine during and immediately after the race. Interesting experience - sedate as marathons go with not many spectators (thanks to a 5:30am start time) and little sense of neighborhoods/culture. Felt really cool to run out and back on the Golden Gate Bridge and look out onto the Pacific. I used to run along the beach often when I lived in LA, so it was a nice reunion.
(On a side note, I've run seven marathons since 2004 and have improved over my first finishing time by almost two hours... Not bad for an old man!)
Like last year's race, I had little to no sleep at all, but I took note of the lessons I learned, like making sure I made it to the porta potty (which I did twice, so I missed my assigned wave) before the start of the race, take walk breaks, run all the hills and hydrate at every water station. Then I set my Garmin for pace alert if I go slower than 8:30 to hit my target finish time of about 1:50. Based on my mile splits, I was right on target on the 1st half, although the hills at miles 5-6, toward the Golden Gate Bridge, slowed me down. Picked up the pace from the bridge onwards, but it was a struggle since I had to weave through the crowd and almost sprained my ankle doing so. I thought I was out of the woods as far as cramping was concerned because I breezed past mile 10 when I felt a slight twinge on my left calf. I was about to push myself more, when I felt a pain on my right calf, then both started to get stiff & painful as I ran faster. Thought to myself my goal time was doomed but still hopeful I could snag a sub-2 finish if I managed the cramps really well. So I did. I stopped, stretched & walked, then ran with short strides. Glad that I was able to use past learnings and apply them as needed. The hills starting at mile 11 helped a lot though, since they had less impact on my calves. So I was able to hit it home in less than 2 hours. Not the time I wanted but it's a huge PR (although still unofficial) nonetheless. A course PR and about 14 minutes faster than last year.
I wasn't able to stop my Garmin right away when I reached the finish line, hence the longer distance. Below are my mile splits: