Chanman's Blog


Across the Bay 12K

Posted in Coaching by Andy Chan on March 16, 2011
Tags: , ,

The Pamakid Runners on the Sausalito side, pre-race 2010

The twenty-eighth Across the Bay 12K will take place on Sunday, March 20, 2011. This race has a great history, much of which I did not know until reading the race history by Dave Rhody.

Back in 1983, Rhody was working as a waiter at Houlihan’s Restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf. He was also running a lot of miles. One of his adventures was running the 630 miles from Newport Beach to San Francisco. He completed the run in nineteen days, arriving at Houlihan’s on St. Patrick’s Day 1983. One year later Rhody helped organize a race from the Houlihan’s in Fisherman’s Wharf to the Houlihan’s in Sausalito. Almost three decades later this run has evolved into its current course from Fort Baker in Sausalito to Aquatic Park in San Francisco.

The first four editions of the race were run from the San Francisco side of the bay to Sausalito. Runners then took a ferry back to San Francisco for a post-race party at Houlihan’s. The race was known as Houlihans’ to Houlihan’s until 2004. Some of the memories shared by Rhody include:

–          Barely getting the gate to the Golden Gate Bridge open in time for the runners of the 1985 race.

–          The 1991 race enduring a record-setting rain storm.

–          Changing the course to be only on the San Francisco side of the bay after the United States invaded Iraq and the whole country went on orange alert (meaning the Golden Gate Bridge was off-limits for the race).

The current course is a challenge but with some good planning, you can have a good race. It’s important to know about what place you’ll be in. I went back and looked at the results from 2010, 2009, and 2008 and made the chart below that should give you an idea of about what place you’ll be in for various paces and final times.

  Place
  2010 2009 2008
5:30 = 41:00 32 33 23
5:45 = 42:55 59 46 43
6:00 = 44:43 86 75 68
6:15 = 46:38 121 110 95
6:30 = 48:31 164 151 146
6:45 = 50:18 202 205 200
7:00 = 52:12 256 261 263
7:15 = 54:04 309 320 316
7:30 = 56:00 360 381 391
7:45 = 57:46 432 454 459
8:00 = 59:38 527 538 542
8:15 = 1:01:30 615 633 649
8:30 = 1:0:21 699 742 755
8:45 = 1:05:13 821 845 867
9:00 = 1:07:05 948 937 951

The start of the race is downhill. It’s important to not get carried away and run too fast on this stretch of course. Let your legs go and be quick down the hill at the start to take advantage of what gravity is offering (because gravity will soon be working against you) but don’t put any extra effort into the pace at the start. When you hit the uphill leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge just “put your head down” (figuratively, not literally) and be tough. The hill may seem like it goes on forever but it’s less than a mile. Concentrate only on your own running. Don’t worry if you are passing or being passed by others.

When you get to the Golden Gate Bridge take a deep breath because you’ve done the hardest part. Try to stretch out your legs and get into your race pace. This is a good time to try to pass some people who maybe went out too fast or ran the uphill too hard. Often if you are running race pace you will be passing people. If you are staying in the same position, you are probably going slower than you want to be.

As you come off the bridge, pay attention because there are some tight turns and a downhill section. When the footing is good try to pick up your pace and surge on the downhill. As you head out and back to Fort Point you will get to see who’s ahead of you and who’s behind you. Make an effort to look strong so that when others see you they will assume you are feeling good. Also, last year I thought the four mile mark was late. Don’t freak out if you get a slow time for your fourth mile. When you hit the five mile mark along Crissy Field, think to yourself, “this is the crucial point.” From here there is less than a 5K to go. The footing is good and it’s basically flat. Don’t hold back now. Don’t think. Just do it. Drop the hammer and get after it. Pass as many people as you can.

As you approach the Marina Safeway, it’s time to think about finishing the race well. The uphill at Fort Mason is a challenge but it is race-able. Try to be aggressive and attack this hill. As you crest this hill there will be no time to take in the sight of Alcatraz. Take ten quick steps and start your kick for the finish line. You should be able to gather some speed on the downhill. Try to maintain that speed as you make the right turn and sprint for the finish line.

The Pamakid Runners on the San Francisco side, post-race 2008

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2 Responses to 'Across the Bay 12K'

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  1. Ian said,

    Thanks for the race strategy advice!

  2. David Rim said,

    Thanks for this. During a training run yesterday there in the Marina (Crissy Field, Presidio, Aquatic Park), I ran differently because of your post, and it was very good.

    I will not be running the “Across the Bay 12k” but am looking forward to the Oakland Running Festival on the 27th (half marathon).

    One of these days I’ll finally make your track/speed work out. Thanks Andy.


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