Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE race report.

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. ;)


Racn4acure said...

Tough races are going to happen if you do them long enough. But we learn from them. Thank God for our coaches, eh? You are making me glad that I am doing a half marathon in Seattle and not the full. GO TEAM! Art

Elsbeth said...

Thanks, Art. It was definitely a tough race, but I'm thankful it happened so early in my running "career". No, seriously. Stop laughing. :) It really shaped how I approach races both physically and mentally.