It has been a little over a week since I completed the first half of the San Francisco Marathon. I still can not believe that I actually completed 13.1 miles of challenging course through the streets of my home town. It is an awesome feeling of accomplishment after training for six months. When I was overweight, I made a promise to myself that I would one day run again. That one day was last week and I enjoyed every moment of it. The race was a celebration and tribute to my weight loss, gratitude for the awesome trainers that helped me get fit and friends who have supported me in my journey. My simple goal was just to finish and enjoy.
During race week, I was a ball of nerves in regards to hydrating, sleep, staying lose and general anxiety about running. I had dreams that race officials denied me entrance to the race because they said my time was too slow.
Thursday, I did a shake out run around my neighborhood and felt great. I started hydrating and consuming carbs with my meals. Friday, I took it easy at work and did a little bit of walking. I went to the expo on Friday to get my bib and shirt. I got some free samples of Cliff Bars and walked around to check out some compression socks. After one round, it was time to catch the shuttle back to the Hyatt. I carbo loaded on my broccoli pasta and just tried to relax. I was tired from the work week but somehow I could not fall asleep. With my insomnia, I started to get ready for Sunday. I packed my race bag, laid out my clothes and pinned my bib to the shirt. I got all my Gu and Honey Stinger Chews out and packed it into my pouch. I finally fell asleep at 1:30 am . Saturday was pretty low key for me. I made it a point to literally take it easy and minimize time on my feet. I ate my big meal at lunch which was a turkey burger and a pasta salad. I got my playlist on my iPod and for some reason I felt the urge to download a couple of songs from the Rocky IV soundtrack. Little did I know the Rocky IV songs would carry me through a tough part of the race. I did one small errand in the afternoon and watched the Giants lose to the Braves on TV. I was tired from not sleeping the night before but I fought the urge to nap in the afternoon because I knew I had to get into bed at 8:30 pm if I was going to get up at 3 am. Surprisingly, I did not have any problems falling asleep. The alarm went off too soon and I was up and at it. Quick shower, change clothes and eat breakfast as the car was going to pick me up at 4:30 am. In the car, I just couldn’t believe that it was race day and I was excited. I was dropped off on the corner of Market and Steuart street and I could feel the energy from everyone around me. People high fiving each other and overall camaraderie. Got through security with no problems. On the way to bag drop, I said hi to the peeps at the SFRRC tent and got in line to the porta potty. Since I was in Wave 8, I had plenty of time to get loose and just soak in the moment. Around 5:45 am, I made my way to Wave 8. I took my first Gu of the morning and was talking to random people. One person was doing her second marathon after doing the LA Marathon . One woman was running her sixth SF Marathon in a row. As the time ticked off, I was getting into the zone. Before I knew it, the gun went off .
I was pretty happy with these miles. First mile I tried to slow down my pace and not get caught up into the excitement. I settled into my pace on mile 2 through and needed to use the bath room but the lines were too long and I skipped it. I was on my way up Linclon up the bridge. I was hydrating and fueling with GU. I still had to use the bathroom. The day was sunny and warm. The energy of the crowd was unbeatable. I couldn’t believe that the miles were ticking by.
As I was running on the bridge, this is where I started feeling leg cramps on both legs so I started to slow down and this is where I took my first walk break. When the cramp started to subside, I started to run. I was trying to distract myself and just take my mind off the pain. Mile seven, I grabbed some electrolyte from the aid station even though I was actively drinking my Nunn. I stopped to handle my business at the porta potty, stretched my legs and was on my way back to the city. The sun was shinning and it was glorious feeling to be alive and running. I won’t lie that mile 7-9 hurt like hell. At one point, during my time on the bridge, I felt like quitting for five seconds but this was were I dug deep and plugged in my headphones. Que in “Eye of the Tiger” The music took the edge off the pain and I was semi-happy. I knew by the time I got off the bridge that I would be almost there. I continued to run/walk with the pain. Some may say I am insane to do this but I just wanted to finish what I started. I kept grabbing water/electrolyte from the aid stations while eating my GU. The downhill part is usually were I would make up time on my training runs. It was not my friend on race day but I really tried to soak it all up. By this point I was two hours into the race and I knew if I kept going at my pace I would make it under the three hour mark. I kept pushing myself one step at a time.
As I hit mile 11, my quads were not loving me and my calves were beyond dead . I took a break to stretch for a few minutes and was on my way again. I was counting down the blocks to the park and high-fiving all the Hells Angels on the course. I hit mile twelve and took a walk. My legs were done. I saw the view of the park in my horizon and started to jog even though it hurt. The finish was on the horizon and I couldn’t believe it. As I entered the park, I gave it all I had .. I saw my friends on the side lines and was so excited to finished. I crossed the finish line in 2:53:35. I did it! I shaved off about thirty minutes of my original time from the 2006 Nike Half Marathon.
I was so excited and sad that the race was over. It was a really beautiful and challenging course. Even when I was in pain, the crowds, aid stations, and overall energy did not bore me one bit. I can understand why the motto of the race is “Worth the Hurt” Next year, I plan to do the second half to complete the Half It All Challenge.. d