After 6 months of waking up at 5am for training runs, skipping numerous social activities, giving up fried foods/sweets/alcohol and replacing it with water and power bars, mixed in with some good old fashioned blood, sweat, and tears, I was finally there.
Prateek and I landed in San Francisco at 1 in the morning. We got to the hotel about an hour later, and were both starving. One of the only places open was a diner called Lori's a few blocks away. Our hotel was located directly on Union Square which is where the Expo, Niketown, and starting line was, so we walked past all of it on our way to the diner. (In retrospect, it was probably the first time in my life that I had been in a diner at 3AM without a stitch of alcohol in my system!) Seeing the Marathon paraphernalia posted all over the city made it that much more real. I didn't sleep more than a few hours that night.
|Lori's Diner - Let the Carbo Loading begin!|
|Expo at night|
Once the sun came up I was ready to (1) eat round 2 of breakfast and (2)find my name on the wall at Niketown, pick up my race bib and check out the expo.
It almost became a game to see how much I could eat in one sitting. I tore up the breakfast buffet at the hotel - oatmeal, granola, fruit, eggs, french toast, hash browns yogurt, etc etc etc...you name it, I ate it.
|Get in my belly|
There were breaking news reports about a "heat wave" that was jetting through California. I was worried for a split second, until I stepped outside and realized a California heat wave is like a Florida cold front. If there was ever a time to be thankful for all that sweat I poured into Florida summer training runs, this was it! I was in a jacket and pants/boots while the locals were in tank tops and shorts.
Next stop was Niketown to check out the gear and find my name!
|Wall from across the street|
|Next to the wall of names|
|There I am!|
After spending way too much money on Nike gear, we headed into the Expo area. It was a lot different that what I was expecting....all other expos I've been to for half marathons in the past were on huge tradeshow floors, with hundreds of exhibitors giving away free samples and selling their custom shirts and sweaty bands and shoes. This expo was basically a packet pickup, with only a few sponsors giving away some samples. It was definitely a women's expo though -- Neutrogena was there doing mini facials, and Paul Mitchell set up a styling salon. Cole Haan was there giving foot massages, and Nike had a "bra bar" where you could get fitted for the perfect sports bra. Pom was giving away purple sunglasses and doing a photobooth, so Prateek and I decided to pose with our new eyewear.
|We were totally not ready for that last one!|
|Shot of the Expo in Union Square|
|Macy's at Union Square|
Since I'm a Nike+ runner (it's the app I use to track my runs on my iPhone) I got a special expo bag and "VIP" bracelet of sorts that gave me special discounts and let me into an evening reception at Niketown that night.
The theme of the entire race weekend was I Run To Be. Women filled in the last part with what they ran to be individually......some popular ones were:
I run to be strong.
I run to be fierce.
I run to be a finisher.
I run to be fabulous.
They had a dry-erase board where you could fill in your adjective and take a picture in front of it. I couldn't think of anything deep or inspiring at the time, so wrote what I was thinking at that very moment:
I run to be able to eat what I want. With a piggy face.
This adjective would later change, but for the time being, it's what my favorite thing about running was!
I went on a short 3 mile warm-up run that afternoon down the Embarcadero to get the blood flowing. I could have sprinted the entire thing I was so wound up, but forced myself into a slow jog. By Saturday morning, my nerves were shot. I hadn't slept much and found myself having to take deep breaths throughout the day to calm myself down.
Later Saturday we went to visit some of Prateek's family a little south of the city. This was supposed to be my relax/off my feet/clear my head day.
We walked the 8-ish blocks to the Caltrain station because no cabs in the city would agree to take you that short of a distance (poo on you, cabbies). But, it turned out the Caltrain wasn't running that day (unbeknownst to hundreds of other angry locals, so it wasn't just a rookie traveler mistake!), so we had to walk all the way back to where we started and take the subway/BART down south instead. Not exactly a stay-off-your-feet scenario.
We finally made it to his family's house after many different modes of transportation. We relaxed, ate, and watched the Auburn game. For those few hours, I completely forgot where I was, forgot about the race, and my mind was finally at ease.
We were supposed to be back into the city by 6 so I could eat pasta and be in bed by 8:00, but we were running late so had to improvise. I ordered take-out spaghetti and a loaf of bread from Macaroni Grill, and met Prateek at In-N-Out (because he would rather have a double-double animal style with fries than a nice fresh plate of pasta. Go figure.)
I was back in the hotel by 9, but by that time the butterflies had made their way back into my stomach. My mind was racing and I couldn't relax. It also didn't help that the Team in Training was having a hoopla/celebration party right out on Union Square, complete with DJ and lots of cheering, which I could hear all the way up in my room. On the 19th floor.
Seriously people, you have to run in the morning. Go the #$& to sleep.
I finally fought off my anxious thoughts and nerves, and dozed off feeling as prepared as humanly possible for what lied ahead the next morning.
To be continued....
Continued at I Run To Be - Part 2
Continued at I Run To Be - Part 2