Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Gay 10K - 8/13/11

I've never run a 10K race before. Or at least I don't think so, but there is some debate about whether I ran one when I was little kid with my parents. I wanted to run this last year, but by the time I decided, it was sold out. This year I had a great reason to run it. Kirsten was getting a group of people to run it for her birthday, as she did last year. Obviously, I was in. In fact, it sounds like something I would do for my birthday, so I was quite excited for it. The only problem being I was supposed to run my 20 miler that day. So I did what any obsessed runner would do. I took a PTO day on Friday so I could fit it in while I was still fresh, and then give whatever I had left to the 10k the next day.

Annelyse and I arrived at the race start at Fort Mason, and everywhere you looked, there was glitter, tutu's, feathers, and some very flamboyant outfits on those hoping to win the costume contest. It reminded me of a Bay to Breakers for the LGBT community, but with proceeds benefitting the San Francisco AIDS foundation. Those of us on Team Handsome (aka Team Kirsten) were all wearing "Big Gay Birthday" t-shirts while accessorizing with a plethora of rainbow socks, wristbands, arm warmers, etc. We looked good.

I decided I'd start up near the front with the faster runners in hopes of placing in my age group. My legs were tired, but overall, I was feeling pretty good considering the long run I was coming off of. I wasn't quite sure how to run a 10k, so I just ran fast and hoped that I could sustain it. For the first mile I followed a guy wearing a green speedo with a cape on, and apparently I was flying along with him, because that first mile ended up being a 6:53. There was no way I was going to be able sustain that pace, and sure enough, I naturally fell into a more comfortable pace a bit slower along with the green speedo wearing superman.

As we ran down the Marina Green, the distance between myself and the only girl I believed to be ahead of me, kept shortening. I wasn't about to push myself to catch her though, I was just going to run my race and whatever happened, happened. Eventually, at about mile 2.5, I caught her along the Crissy Field trail. Soon after, we landed on the paved road heading out toward Fort Point, where we were greeted by barking sea lions in the bay. At one point, I even found myself enveloped by bubbles courtesy of some of the volunteers on the side of the road. The half way turnaround point was at Hopper's Hands, and we headed back to Fort Mason.

For the last three miles, I found myself keeping pace behind a guy with what looked like aluminum foil shorts, and a mesh shirt. One of the best parts of this race was watching all the tourists look on in astonishment as the craziness ran by. A 10k is a fast race, but I was very aware of every mile ticking by. I was tired, my legs were clearly showing their fatigue and didn't want to go anymore, but I knew I had to keep pushing. While I've placed first in my age group in other races, I wasn't going to let an opportunity to be the first place overall female finisher pass me by. It's easy trailing the lead runner because you always know where you stand, but the worst thing about it was I had no idea how far in the lead I was, which was a very disconcerting feeling. That is until we entered Fort Mason for the last quarter mile.

I briefly glanced back and saw another girl not too far behind me. I had no choice but to sprint the uphill to make sure I didn't get passed at the very end. This race was mine. That was the first time I ever felt the urge to puke while running. I passed under the pastel colored balloons, started to stop, until I was made aware that that wasn't the finish, and it was actually about 10 yards around the corner in front of me. I crossed the finish line to four cheering men wearing blue and purple glitter dresses with balloon breasts. A pretty spectacular sight. I was the overall female winner, and I soon found out that the only male member of Team Handsome, Sasha, was the overall male winner. We cheered the rest of Team Handsome in, and it was pretty fun watching everyone finish with (mostly) big smiles on their faces.

Now here's where the disappointment comes. Even though I was the first female across the line, the overall award was incorrectly given to the second place girl because her chip time was 10 seconds faster than mine. This was a USATF sanctioned course, and in accordance to rule 245.1 -"The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position." In other words, gun time should be used to establish the official overall winner, which was me. (chip times usually determine age group winners) The runners goal is to cross the finish line first, you shouldn't have to try and account for differences in start time, hence the disadvantage. This is why if you feel like you might win, you start up front. Had I known, you bet I would have pushed to make up the time difference. It was only 10 seconds.

The competitive side of me was not happy, I wanted the pink sash and tiara. However, this race was about having a good time, raising money for a good cause, and I did get to feel what it was like to be the overall winner of a race, so I can't get too bent out of shape about it. Hopefully, I'll have another opportunity to win a race, but for this, I settled for first place in my age group and a blue "Big Gay 10K" winner's ribbon. The course was more like 6.3 miles, and my time was 45:57 (7:17 pace). Based on chip time, I was second out of 247 female runners. Team Handsome did well, with the birthday girl herself finishing an impressive 7th out of 91 in her age group.

After snacking on lara bars and peanut butter sandwiched graham crackers, taking a whole bunch of pictures, and receiving our awards from Juanita Fajita, we all headed to brunch to do some more eating and celebrating with the birthday girl. What a fun day, and such a great event to get people together for a birthday celebration!


  1. Huzzah! Congrats on the win, especially the day after a 20 miler! I had a few friends run this race & really wanted to run it with them but couldn't make it. I ran the SF Pride Run 10K in June, which I think has kind of a similar vibe (though with less dressing up). :)

  2. Thanks Angela! I highly recommend it, it was a blast! My birthday is always around Pride weekend, so I might have to do that 10K with friends for it!