So I happily packed up my sleeping bag and Big Agnes Q-core sleeping pad (that I use for backpacking) along with my gear and drove into the city. The humongous parking garage I'd planned to use said FULL but I managed to find a spot anyway. I have a feeling driving in Sunday morning would have been an unmitigated nightmare! I made my bed, ate two candy bars (a Snickers and a Reeses PB cup, if you must know) over the course of the evening, and chatted with Irene and Michael about all things running and the Nike race. This is her third time running the event so she had lots of tips and experience to share. Of course I had my period (what now seems like a race must-have, doh!) but at least the cold I'd gotten mid-week seemed all but gone.
|My digs for the night. I couldn't have been happier!|
|Getting my gear together.|
The alarm went off at 5:30am and we slowly got our butts in gear. We were literally a few blocks from the start and from the hotel window I watched the masses file by. Race day, it's here! I felt in a strange no-man's-land kind of place. In the three weeks since the SC Triathlon I'd done exactly two training runs, one 8 miler and one 6 miler, and that was IT. No other training. In fact, no other exercise at all aside from a 10 mile hike. I had no idea how this race was going to play out. I'd guessed somewhere between 2.5 - 3 hours and hoped it would be closer to 2.5 hours.
We made our way to our corral (9:00 - 9:59 pace) and I felt like I was at a strange runner/rock concert. The crowd was massive. And yet I was seeing only a small part of it. I took pictures of what I could see of the crowd but there were more than 5 streets parallel to mine filled just like this. Amazing!
|A look ahead|
|A look behind (that's a sea people as far as the eye can see!)|
|And a 3-person selfie of Irene, Michael and I.|
|An aerial shot from the interwebs|
|Here we go! (another borrowed picture)|
Mile 2 was flat and went by in 10:16 minutes. My heart-rate was in the low 150's and at that point I figured heart-rate was the best tool for pacing myself. I know low 150's means I'm not working too hard and that's about how it should be in mile 2. I felt warmed up so I dumped my sweatshirt at a donation box. Even though I'd purchased it at Goodwill for just this purpose, I still felt funny tossing it. Anyway, the start of mile 3 brought a small hill, I tackled that without issue. The real climb came during mile 6, when we started climbing from Crissy Field up toward the GG bridge. I'd had my first ShotBlok just before then.
Fortunately I've run this hill a few times in other races and in training runs. The difference is, I always peel off and head over the bridge and this time I just kept going, up, up, up the hill...all in all we climbed for about a mile. One of the longest climbs I've done on foot. We reached the top and you heard sighs of relief and even a few squeals of gratitude. And then wheeeeeee!!, what goes up, must come down, right? Here's the elevation profile.
|A pic I lifted from Twitter.|
|Run girls, run!|
Between the hills, the scenery, the funny/inspirational/encouraging signs and banners (one of my faves, "You Look Soooo Skinny!!"), the people watching (almost as good as the airport), and the occasional cheering squads the miles seemed to be flying by. I've never had the experience of miles going by like this before. From about mile 7 on I kept thinking, wait, are we at the next mile already? The scenery was a bit hampered by the fog. It never really burned off and we couldn't even see the GG bridge, despite running right by it. In fact, it stayed chilly for the entire run, which was fine as long as I was running.
After the bigger hills I see mile marker 10. What? Already? I had a second ShotBlok as we moved into GG park for a mild climb. I kept an eye on my heart-rate, and other than when climbing hills, it was fine. And I seemed to be staying roughly in the 10:00 - 10:30 range for pace, which made me happy. I passed a woman who said to her friend, "my entire body hurts," and that led me to do a body-check, I'm in some mild discomfort but really I'm fine. The body check has become a valuable tool when I'm feeling mentally tired. I mentally scan my body from head to toe and most of the time, I'm actually doing pretty good. It's my mind that gets beat. Though in this case, I hardly had time for that to happen, what with the race going by so fast!
I did have a mild crampy feelings in my calves, which is practically normal for me. But strangely my left arm kept feeling sore. As if I was holding it stiff, or it had just been let out of a cast. I kept having to shake it out for relief. But other than that and a small blister forming, I felt fine. At mile 12 I had one more ShotBlok (3 in all for the whole race), thinking, "eh, I've hardly had any, why not give myself a final boost." I finished up the last bit of incline and started mile 13, where it's all downhill or flat from there, feeling like a million bucks. I got this! I got this!! I ran the last mile while resting on a cloud - that's how I felt. And then I came around the corner onto The Great Highway to see the ocean, quickly followed by a big blue Finish sign floating over the street. I picked up the pace, and felt a rush of joy as I crossed the finish line.
Hallelujah! I never hit a wall, I never walked, I never hurt - I was a happy, happy girl!! A happy, grateful, joyous runner girl. I had a lot of time during that race to think about my life. Things aren't perfect but there's a lot to be thankful for. I will always be grateful for the health and well-being of my kids, my family, my loved ones and for my ability to experience joy and laughter and sadness and tears. The full spectrum of life, I'm alive and feeling it.
Ok, pictures and more pictures...
|Earned, not given|
The X is because this is the 10th anniversary of the event. The other side says Nike Women's 2013 Marathon San Francisco. There was a card inside describing the significance of the triangle, something about a trifecta I think :)
I started to get a chill. My phone wouldn't work due to about a million other people in the area trying to use theirs too so I couldn't track down Michael, who had my change of clothes. I accidentally snapped this picture of me but saved it because...look at my lips!
|Gee, do I look cold? My lips are so blue!|
I happened upon the results computer and looked up my official time, 2:14:40. Woot! Guess I under-estimated my little runner legs. And heart.
What I really think is neat is my age group, 620th place out of 2983. And I finished 5997th out of 26,404 who finished the half-marathon. Not bad for a late bloomer. Finally, about an hour after I finished I was able to get a call out to Michael and track he and Irene down. I could barely talk at that point, and I all I could think about was putting on my sweat pants.
|I'm wearing my space blanket backwards - doh!|
|Starting to get warm.|
|Oh yeah, we rock!|
After breakfast I made my way back to the hotel to meet up with Irene and Michael. Packed my gear, congratulatory hugs all around, and then finally in my car. Whew, that's a long day! If it weren't for the cold I imagine I'd have felt a million times better, but I still felt pretty damn good about the whole thing. And my time, 2:14:40 - holy surprise! That's only 10 minutes slower than my PR.
So I felt pretty good today. My left knee feels a bit tweaked, like it can't go straight when I walk, it's weird. I don't usually have knee issues and it didn't bother me at all during the race. I'm going to just rest it for a few days and hope it goes back to normal.
And then my plan is to get back to the gym. It's been forever since I've had any normal gym routine. I need to get my muscles back. And lean out some. I've been eating like a race horse. And while I am a racer, I'm not a horse. Time to scale back, tighten up, get stronger. Yours truly has some big things on the horizon and needs to look her best to represent the maintainers of the world! Or at least of the blogosphere.
Anyway, back to the race. I loved this race. Could you tell? And from now on I'm doing longer tapers. Two weeks minimum. This was an amazing experience. I sure hope I get in next year. Heck, I might even take on the full 26.2 next year.