Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Run To Be - Part 3

 Continued from I Run To Be - Part 2

......and then I was off. 

I was SO HAPPY to finally hear that horn blow. 

This next photo I'm sharing with you is not my most photogenic moment, but it shows the true joy and excitement I was feeling to finally start this race. 
Let the judging begin.

Being this happy could be hazardous to your health. And to cameras.

 The 26.2 mile journey had officially begun. 

I knew the first 5 miles or so were relatively flat, and I also knew that bobbing and weaving in and out of people was a useless waste of energy. I was well aware of most runner's downfalls of going out too fast, so allowed myself to get "caught up" in the traffic to force myself to slow my roll. 

It also provided me time to really take in my course surroundings, which consisted of downtown San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf, Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Around mile 2 there was a Coat Donation - if you were warmed up and needed to shed a layer, you could drop it off here. Awesome idea! 

The sun was beginning to rise, but again, by the grace of God, it was cool, foggy, and kind of misty. Californians thought it was a humid and warm morning of 65 degrees. As a Floridian, I was in heaven.

Around the fourth mile, I saw a girl with a prosthetic leg running. I felt so proud for her, so gave her a thumbs up as I passed by. A few miles after that, I saw a girl with a shirt that read "Child Leukemia Survivor". Since the race was to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma society, I congratulated her as I ran past. What an amazing life accomplishment. 

Right before mile 6, what I had previously dubbed the "Hill of Death", there was a spectator with a sign that read "Pain is temporary, but pride is forever". This was not the only sign I would see that morning with the same saying, but this one came at a perfect time to get me up the hill.

I hunkered down and pumped my arms and just went for it. I slowed my pace down just as I had practiced over all those bridge runs, and before I knew it, I was already at the top. 

I didn't realize how high I had actually gotten until I looked around - it was gorgeous. High on a cliff, looking out over the Pacific Ocean with a cool sea breeze in my face. It was one of the most exhilarating parts of the race. I increased my speed downhill and recovered my breath, getting ready for the next climb a few miles later. I felt, for lack of a better term, invincible. 

The 8th-9th mile was through a beautiful (uphill) neighborhood with gorgeous seaside homes.
At the peak of the mountain hill at mile 10, there was another breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. The mile between 10 and 11 was straight down 300 feet, what I had previously dubbed the "knee killer" so I was flying. That is, until I saw a paramedic next to a girl who had apparently fallen and hit her head. The blood made me slow down a bit, because let's be honest I'm not the most graceful person and could totally see myself tripping and rolling down the hill.

On my way downhill

For those of you that have ever done a full marathon combined with a half, you know how happy you are after the half marathoners split off.
You're also thrilled that you're already almost halfway done!
The crowd of runners divided around mile 12, and there was a huge cheer station at the split rooting on the half-ers. But, immediately after it was just us fulls left, there was nothing.
No cheering spectators, no power song station, nothing.
I guess I was expecting a little bit of applause for continuing down the road less traveled and DOUBLING what everyone else was doing. I felt a little defeated but didn't let it get me down....I wasn't running for anyone but myself anyway.
So poo on them.

A couple times throughout the race I would shout out to myself to get me feeling pumped up (more like an exclamation followed by a "woo"). For example, at the top of the Hill of Death, I remember yelling "Downhill, wooo!". Original, I know.
At this particular portion of the race, I felt it was appropriate to yell again about being halfway done:

The next 5-6 miles were kind of a blur.  I remember stopping at the 16th mile (or maybe the 18th?) to take Advil, which had kind of melted in my pocket by then, but other than that it was a fairly boring part of the course so I focused more on my breathing, my stride, and getting lost in my music.

I saw Prateek again around the 20th mile, and gave him a thumbs up. I only had a 10K left to go, and I still felt great.

   The last 6.2 miles had a few little dips here and there but was mostly flat. I had been checking my pace chart but didn't want to get my hopes up until towards the end, because that's when people start to fall apart and become a hot mess during a marathon. I checked the chart and I was on pace for a sub 4. The thought of crossing the finish before 4 hours captivated me - all I had to do was keep going my same speed for the next 4 miles, and I'd have it.

This sign also helped me keep going: 

Mile 21 was the Ghiradelli Chocolate Mile, and volunteers were handing out chocolate bars. I wasn't sure how I would react to chocolate at that point and decided not to succumb spectators to a chocolate vomit fountain, so I passed. (You're welcome for the visual). But I loved the idea nonetheless!

I kept waiting for the "wall" that everyone talks about. While I can say I was sore everywhere and just mentally exhausted, I never hit it.

I saw the finish line about a half mile ahead, and somewhere from within found the strength to pick up even more speed to cross the finish. 
Almost there
I crossed the line in less than 4 hours.Almost 30 minutes faster than I anticipated, and an all-around marathon time goal for so many people. I just did it. On a hilly, challenging course. And I lived to tell the tale.

That's me, the crazy lady with her arms flailing in the air

The finish line for the half marathon and the full marathon was the same, so I was crossing the finish line around the same time the half marathon walkers were crossing.I think it's funny how leisurely the ladies in front of me are strolling along, and there I am ready to collapse.

This is my I NEED WATER face

Collecting my bling


 The finisher's area was legit - bananas, chocolate milk, protein shakes, and bagels galore.  Neutrogena had a face-wash area, and Paul Mitchell had a mini-salon set up to get your hair washed post race. They had massages for all finishers, and a stretching room fully equipped with foam rollers and achilles stretchers.

In line for a post-race massage - next to one of my fave reasons to run!

 Needless to say, my I Run To Be changed after I finished.

I Run To Be Sub 4...I just didn't know it before! And I'm a poet and didn't know it.

Finisher shirt and Tiffany box

I got my necklace engraved later that day, with my initials and finish time -MMM 3:58

Official Stats:
Chip Time: 3:58:09
Overall Place: 328 out of 6,324
Female Age Group Place (25-29): 83 out of 1,349

Here's a video that Nike put together for the runners to get a view of the course and what to expect- check it out if you're interested, you can go step by step with me on my run in less than 6 minutes!

The remainder of the day, we went to Fisherman's Wharf where I indulged in clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl, along with a chocolate chip cookie sundae from Ghiradelli. 

Oh, cookies and ice cream. How I've missed you.

Recovery in a bread bowl

 I got back to my hotel room to ice my knees and pop my gigantic blisters (again, you're welcome for the visual) and my fabulous colleagues had sent me chocolate chip cookies and milk! The #1 thing I missed having while training. I was happier than a pig in mud.

No, I will not share.

The remainder of the trip, we rode on a trolley car, had Irish coffees at the original place where they were introduced - The Buena Vista - and rode a ferry around the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

On a Streetcar

Gonig down towards Fisherman's Wharf
Golden Gate ferry

Irish Coffees
Thank you to all of my family and friends for being an amazing support group throughout this entire process - I couldn't have gotten this far without you!

I'm not sure what lies ahead, but do know that I've got some bling to go forth with.
Lentine Alexis said it perfectly...

Everyone can run. And we all run for different reasons. 
Many of us run to be stronger. We run to be sexy. 
We run to be fearless and confident.
To prove things to ourselves, and maybe even to others. 
We run to be dynamic. And fierce. And powerful.

Hopefully, you don't just run for chocolate and Tiffany&Co. 

Hopefully, you Run To Be.

I run because I can. I am ready, willing and able, and the rest is just details. This is enough.

This is always enough of a reason to run.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats!!! What a great time! You definitely should be proud of yourself. Wear your Tiffany's with pride!!!