I wrote about three different reports and they all sounded so whiney and just….not me, so I went mile by mile (sort of) just to put it all out there. Here’s the bottom line: I didn’t follow the most sage piece of running advice that was bestowed upon me: Race how you train. I got caught up in the excitement and paid for it later, but looking back (almost 6 months later), in a strange way, I don’t regret what happened at all. It’s made me a stronger runner mentally and that’s a big part of the pie when you’re out there marathoning (and half-marathoning!) So take it for what it is: a race report (without pictures right now, because I’m lazy)
Mile 1- This I where I threw all judgment out the window. Instead of walking every mile like I did when I trained for 5 months, I decided that running to the water stations would be a better idea. Translation: instead of walking every mile, I’d be walking every 2-3 miles. No problem, I thought- it’s totally doable. Wrong. I’ll elaborate on the wrong part later.
Miles 2-5: Sort of a blur. We went through by Fisherman’s Wharf and Boudin’s Bakery, where the smell of freshly baked sourdough filled the streets….mmmm….we also ran by a group of bagpipers, a gospel choir, Ghirardelli Square, and some cheerleaders.
Mile 6: This is where we ran uphill for basically a mile. I’m not kidding. And partway through, I already knew that my brilliant “I don’t need to walk” strategy was already coming back to bite me in the ass. Hard. Coach Ashley caught up with us and I just huffed and puffed as she talked to me.
Miles 7-12: Hills and orange slices. And Luna Moons (those gummy nutrition chews). That’s all I remember. Seriously. Oh, and some guy on a microphone shouting at us that we were at mile 11.
Mile 13: I was totally screwed at this point and I knew it- I’d run too far too fast and I was totally out of juice. I occurred to me to get back into my interval, which helped a little bit. And I won’t lie- I considered splitting off with the halfers and finishing early, but I knew that I would regret that even more, so I plodded on.
Mile 16: Todd and my parents were there to cheer me on, and I broke town into a pool of tears and sweat. I told them that I really didn’t know if I could do it. My dad, in his infinite wisdom replied “Sure you can! You only have 10 more miles to go!”. Turns out a guy behind me had completely collapsed and an ambulance was in the process of loading him up. I didn’t even see it, I was that tired.
Mile 17: I remember telling myself to “Act normal” for fear that a medical staff person would spot me looking like total crap and pull me from the course….so I worked really hard on staying upright. I told you it was bad. This stretch was long the Pacific Coast Highway and I didn’t even care about the view….
Mile 18: Coach Glin caught up with me and told me “All you have to do is run around the lake” and I looked out at this series of ponds. When he told me I had to run around the whole thing, I seriously cried. “I can’t do it, I can’t”, I said. He told me that it was a little late for that and that he’d see me on the other side, so on I went to run around the lake.
Miles 19-22: Lake Merced. Talk to anyone who has run this marathon, and they will all describe running around this lake with the same word: Lonely. It was quiet and thought-provoking, and not in a good way, but mile 21 (I think?) was the Chocolate Mile- Ghirardelli placed several tables with squares of chocolate for the runners to eat. J A Team coach from another chapter checked on me, which I really appreciated. “Hey Arizona, you okay? Need Gu’s or salt?”. I just waved at him but his attention melted my heart a little and it gave me a boost.
Mile 23: The lake route ended (yay!) and I got back onto the PCH and meet back up with Coach Glin. Again, I’m not going to lie. I was in the “bite me” zone with teeth bared and fists up, so when Glin asked me how I was doing, I replied with a few four-letter words that made him laugh and me cry.
Miles 24-26.2: aka The Grand Handoff to Coach Ashley and Elsbeth Drops Her Basket. Jeez, I am such a drama queen, but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. About 10 minutes after Glin turned back to find other teammates, I ran into Coach Ashley and totally lost it. And I mean lost it- I turned into a hysterical blubbering fool and she put her arm around me and said “It’s okay, I’m just going to run with you. Is that okay?” and she talked to me (but I didn’t talk back) and before I knew it she said “Can you see the finish line? Go for it. I’ll meet you there” and she fell back to let me cross the finish line alone.
I need to interject here to talk about John "The Penguin" Bingham- he mentions that moment where you just *know* you're going to finish. Sometimes it's early in the race, sometimes it's later, but when it hits you, savor it....enjoy it, and SMILE. Well....I didn't really know that I was going to finish until I saw the actual finish line- my mental state had been broken down to the level of a caveman's (no offense), so when I saw the big F I N I S H, that was the first time I realized that I was going to complete Marathon #2.
The pictures speak volumes- I went into Ugly Cry mode when I saw the actual banner that said “FINISH”. I crossed the finish line and what is this? A San Francisco firefighter in a tuxedo with a silver tray of *those* little blue boxes?? For ME?? And what was inside? A Tiffany’s pendant that says “Run Like a Girl”. Yeah, I did run like a girl. I cried like one too. Oh well.
So, all in all, not my finest run, but it was a learning experience and I got to redeem myself six weeks later in Las Vegas (oh boy, that report’s gonna be interesting).
And you know what? I’ll be back. Not next year but maybe 2011. I need to perfect my plot of revenge on the course. ;)