Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Nike Women's Marathon
Wow. I am still in amazement. I don't even know where to start! I will open my tale with this statement: it was harder AND easier than I thought it would be. I shall elaborate.
My day started with a 5:00 am wake up call. I immediately jumped out of bed, started the coffee and scarfed down a couple bananas. I got dressed, made sure my chip and race number were on, drank coffee and water. Waited for hubby to get showered and dressed. Called family and texted teammates. It was actually pretty relaxed, considering! I worked really hard at not thinking too much about this race, and the morning was no exception. I was so glad this was not my first race! All I had to do was ignore the fact that I was running 26.2 miles and I was fine. LOL
At 5:50 am I grabbed the backpack and H and we headed down to my Team's meeting spot. It was so busy! I checked in and waited. My pacing partners showed up soon after and we posed for some pictures before heading out the door as a huge group.
We walked the three city blocks to the start and the place was just PACKED. H hung out for a few minutes and took another a picture of us
(how do you like my Princess crown? LOL) but left soon to scope out his spot just past the start. The three of us talked and joked, and waited for the race start at 7:00 am. We thought there would be traditional waves, and we wouldn't cross the finish line until about 7:30, but we quickly realized we were progressing to the start line much more quickly and crossed about 7:15!
It was so crowded, so many people around us. We didn't even have time to think about what the hell we were doing. Before we knew it, our first walk break beeped at us, but since we were surrounded by masses of people, we decided to skip the first one. However, we knew we couldn't skip too many because we had to save our energy for the finish. By the second walk break beep, we were off to the side... and I realized that once again, I needed to pee. WTF??
We were really good about taking our walk breaks pretty much the whole time. I found a disgusting bathroom along the Embarcadero but it did the trick. ::insert pukey face here:: Thank goodness I hit that bathroom before my legs were done, because I totally did the hover ::another pukey face::
At mile 2 we ran past Boudin and the lovely smell of fresh sourdough (YUM). Right after mile 3 we encountered our first hill, a hill that I was not expecting. You see, I ran what I thought was a similar course at the SF Half in July. I thought I knew the hills on the first 1/3 of this course, but these guys decided we needed to make a sharp left turn to run up a short steep hill instead of continuing down the Embarcadero. Hmph.
The first spectator bus stop and cheer station was at mile 4. I looked and looked for my husband, but did not see him. I knew we had started about 15 minutes earlier and we were on a great pace, so I wondered if he had enough time. I called him and left him a message saying I had already passed mile 4 so to just continue over to Golden Gate Park. I found out later that the buses couldn't get through and he watched me run by while he was stuck on the bus. So sad!
A little after mile 6 we hit the first "real" hill. I remembered it from when I ran in July. We got to the top and I saw the turn for the Golden Gate and thought to myself, "That was the big one, and now I'm done!!". Lindsey looked at me and said that we were over 25% done. I didn't want to dwell on that one, because me being the glass half-empty kind of gal, 25% didn't seem like much. But we were happy for the downhill! This time at least. But before long, we had another steep uphill. WTF???? I didn't think the second hill was this high, but whatever. As soon as we finish this one, we're totally done with hills, right?
Wrong. The first big hill was actually two hills. Ack! I conveniently forgot that part of the elevation map. ::face palm:: Right about mile 11, we start to run uphill again. Except this time it was a slow, steady climb over FOUR MILES. Gah! To make things even weirder, right about mile 11.5 the half marathoners split off so we went from running in a crowd to running practically by ourselves in comparison. But about mile 12, I saw my hubby! He gave us all high fives which was awesome. :)
Back to the four mile hill. It was an out and back at this point, and there were runners coming back to our right. I saw Coach Melissa (Yeah!) and she gave me a high five! But we were still climbing. About mile 13 we turned a little bit of a corner and I looked up and saw people higher than me, which meant the hill wasn't over yet ::sniffle:: I must have had that emotion flash across my face, because another TnT runner coming the other way yelled "You can do it!" and put her hand out for a high five. Oh man, I can't even tell you how much I needed that right at that moment.
We climbed a little more and just before mile 15 we started downhill again, thank goodness. We saw Lindsey's family and her sister ran with us for about a half mile. About mile 16, we turned onto the Great Highway and started running along the beach. This was near the finish line, so there were tons of people which helped my motivation. However, we were running up yet another gradual incline. I almost missed my family, who yelled my name loud enough for me to hear after I had passed them! I gave them a little fist pump and then went back to work. Gina started to fall behind a little at about mile 17. I couldn't remember seeing her eat anything so I wondered if she was running out of fuel. I could see Lindsey slow down a little too. I tried to give them pep talks, but they were quickly losing it, especially with the uphills. I spent some time waiting for them and trying to encourage them to run, but they were pretty tired. I felt bad for them.
By mile 18 my quads were cramping a bit, probably from all the downhill running. We saw Coach Jennifer right before mile 22, and she gave us some salt and a pep talk. I love Coach Jen, serio. She is the best. And then mile 22 was the chocolate mile - a whole mile of people handing out Ghirardelli chocolate!!! That part was awesome.
At about mile 23, we hooked up with another girl named Janna that was a TnT participant from the Sacramento chapter. She had lost all of her teammates so we invited her to hang out with us. Soon after, we saw Coach Noah. After yelling at him about the lack of hills during our team runs, he gave us a bit of a pep talk too. Just a short uphill and then the rest of the way was a gradual down. YES! Unfortunately, I lost Gina on that uphill, and Lindsey shortly after. I was still taking my walk breaks, but I was also telling myself that the quicker I went now, the sooner I would finish.
My last walk break came at about mile 25. I looked at Janna (who was the only one keeping up with me!) and said this was our last one! As soon as it was time to start running, I just put my blinders on and kept going. I'm not sure when I lost her. That last mile was pretty difficult. I was counting my steps to 10 over and over to keep my mind from taking over. But before I knew it, I saw the finish line! I plastered a smile on my face, sped up and just went for it. Maybe 300 yards before the finish, I heard my name and looked over to see my aunt, uncle and the family of my Honored Teammate! I gave them a smile and a wave and went back to sprinting. It was a long sprint - I could feel my lungs burning and for a second I wondered if I would pass out. But I went over the finish line instead!!!
Immediately I burst into tears. That was such an emotional moment. I know I was emotional about finishing a marathon, but that could have also been the lack of glucose in my bloodstream. Whatever. As soon as I ran over that finish line, I could see the blue boxes. Ok, there might have been fireman in tuxedos holding those blue boxes, but I didn't even notice that. I walked up to the first one, and grabbed my blue box, sobbing. He said "congratulations" so I looked up and he smiled. I think he was cute, but all I remember is that he was short and blonde. And then my watch was beeping at me for my next walk break - I stopped it then and my time was about 5:20 or so. Whatever.
Anyway, back to the harder AND easier statement. The hills were much harder than I expected. I thought there would be more flat, but honestly, most of it was a hill of some sort. It was a killer of a course, that's for sure. But easier? That's because I never felt like I hit the wall. I never said in the middle of it that I would never do it again. The whole time I was running, I was happy to be there and excited. I was already thinking about my next.
This race was the best I have done! I felt pampered and spoiled. I'm still not sure if it was because of Team in Training, or if it was just the race. I TOTALLY want to do it again next year! That being said, since the medals are the same for the half and the full, I am totally doing the half next year. :oP
Official time was 5:19:37 and while I could have done it faster, I am also happy that I have a time I can easily beat! LOL I also have to thank the girls who were my inspiration: Fitty, 10YT, Cat, Andrea, Jessica, APK - if it wasn't for you guys, I would have never even considered doing something like this. xxxooo
This is the best part: My first Blue Box from Tiffany!!! Squeeee!!!!
I haven't taken it off since!