I will attempt to review the marathon in this post but I have a feeling the words won’t come close to how I felt about the experience.
Over 950 km (600 miles) of training logged and it all amounted to this day, Sunday October 21st, 2007…
I woke up nervous, ten minutes before my alarm went off…I had set out everything the previous night so I didn’t have to think much when getting ready. I had brought a pack of oatmeal with me for breakfast since that’s what I normally use. However, I forgot a spoon. So I tried to improvise and it wasn’t working so I ate a gel instead. Threw on my sexy garbage bag and headed out to meet up with my team. We took a quick picture and headed to the start.
Waiting around for the beginning was lots of fun. We weren’t awake so we found ourselves giggling at many things that were probably no where near funny, lol. I kept getting this feeling that I was forgetting something “sunscreen, body glide, underwear, pants, socks, shoes, bra, singlet, bib, hydration belt, gels, camera, hat, hair done up, chapstick, washroom break, etc…” I hadn’t forgotten anything.
As we approached the start line I kept saying to myself “start slow, watch the pace, don’t rush” and we were off! It was pretty crowded at the beginning so we walked a bit until people spread out…THEN we were really off 😉 It was already hot out at 7AM and I was glad I decided to wear a garbage bag to keep me warm instead of a long sleeved shirt like a lot of people we passed.
Through the entire race I ran with two others: S. and her sister. We scavenged lai’s from the sidelines and put them on our running hats (“If you’re going to San Francisco/be sure to wear/some flowers in your hair”) I don’t think people got that unless we explained it, haha, oh well. It was a lot of fun!
Running along Fisherman’s Wharf, past a little harbour, and along the ocean was just amazing! At mile six we hit the largest hill which continued until mile seven with the elevation going from 0 to 300 during that distance. I ran up the entire thing though and before we knew it we “ate that hill for breakfast!” At the top there was an oxygen bar with quite the lineup but we figured we should stop for the full experience – it was funny and I don’t know if it helped any but definitely smelled good. Reportedly Robin Williams house was there as well…I have no idea if this is true or not and sadly he did not stick his head out of said window to say something funny 😉
We continued on. Along the way were signs with reasons to run, messages from cancer patients, lots of people cheering including some witty signs that were much appreciated (ie: people dressed in Alcatraz criminal suits holding one that said “Run like you stole something!!!”)
It was around the 1hr 45min mark that I realized I hadn’t taken in anything nutrition-wise and hardly any gatorade or water. Oops. I got completely caught up in the whole marathon buzz atmosphere. I tried to pay much closer attention to this from then on. We “ran” into another teammate and she took a picture of us before the road (I think around mile 12) split for the 1/2 mary people and it started to sink in that there was still quite a ways to go. One foot in front of the other. I wasn’t feeling any pain at this point thank goodness! We ran around Golden Gate Park which was gorgeous, and by the bridge (actually I think that was a bit before the park) and there was a pedicure station…Is anyone else thinking “wtf?!” Yeah, last thing I wanted to do was take off my runners in the middle of the marathon to have someone PAINT MY TOENAILS that will probably fall off later anyway. Seriously now. Who planned that?! After the run, ok, awesome…still a little sketch with the sweaty achy feet…but IN THE MIDDLE?! Yeah…ok that’s enough of that rant, haha.
After we went down a rather steep hill along the ocean side and hit mile 18.75 where we crossed before noon (if you didn’t you were not allowed to complete the race) so that was awesome knowing that we would not be turned around. To be quite honest from about mile 12 to that point is a blur. I was “in the zone” feeling great but also in my own thoughts. It was great “me” time and for the most part I tried to take in the stunning scenery San Francisco has to offer and thinking about nothing yet everything.
Some things that I don’t remember exactly where they were in the race:
– Ghirardelli Chocolate Mile. Ohhh sweet heaven that was the best tasting chocolate in the world at that moment. I bet it had to do with running so bloody far, haha. I know you aren’t supposed to try anything new on race day but I couldn’t resist this little square of deliciousness (I highly doubt many women could.) Fortunately, no GI revolts after that.
– Which leads into the fact that we took three washroom breaks through the race (GI issues) and I was pleasantly surprised that they were stocked well with tp and seat covers.
– Running and singing is quite a skill; along the course we ran past a girl that had “It’s My Birthday!” on the back of her shirt so we sang “Happy Birthday” to her which was a lot of fun! “O Canada!” was also done twice, lol.
So this stupid stitch was stabbing me and we were running around a few lakes. Theoretically this was nice but you didn’t see too much of the lakes except near the beginning and end of the loop around them. So it was basically pavement, sun, cars, hardly any spectators, and NO AID STATIONS!! It was definitely a struggle at a few points in those miles. I am soo thankful S. and S. were with me; they kept me going 🙂 At one point there was a Canadian guy from AB that spotted us and ran with us for a a while and his encouragement really helped, too. I was completely out of liquids and down to one more gel.
Once we hit the next aid station I quickly asked the doctor if I was doing the right thing but he said I should have gatorade even though I was eating gels. So I did and splashed one cup of water on the back of my neck to boot. The cramp subsided in the next few minutes which was a relief!! We were also in the homestretch as we hit the mile 25 marker! Coach R. and A. were there cheering us on which was awesome to see. The last mile was definitely the longest seeming one of the entire race! Good thing there was a premium ocean running view. We crossed the finish line together and we then gladly ate some actual food and basked in the knowledge that we were now marathoners!!
I still have a hard time believing it! It was a FABULOUS experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I surprisingly was not nearly as sore as I anticipated in the following days (no walking down the stairs backwards like I had to after my first half and then again at 32k & no NSAID’s even!!) Maybe it was the ice cold bath with a toque and Earl Grey that warded off the pain…or perhaps my lactate threshold has improved a lot, whatever it was I was thankful! Now, don’t get me wrong because there was pain; it just wasn’t as bad as I expected (in fact my hips are still a little sore 😛 lol.)
So I did it. I am a marathoner! I have my finisher’s shirt, my finisher’s necklace, my space blanket, my 26.2 pin, and a whole lot of confidence now.
To be honest, I thought about why and who I was running for in the beginning before we even started. Then, in the middle of it all I almost started crying because I was thinking about the affects of cancer too much so I diverted my emotions for a while. It was definitely in the forefront of my mind through most of the run though. The entire race was to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It seemed like everyone had a name on their back. Which is touching and sickening all at once. It’s great to know we all are passionate about finding a cure but with 22,100 women and 900 men racing you really wish that number was significantly smaller.
I’ll update about San Fran in general in a later post. Sorry this has taken a while to get up!
Once again, thank you SO much to all of you that have supported me throughout this experience because I certainly would not have been able to accomplish this goal otherwise. Run for life, my friends.