So. Where to begin? Well, I guess I’ll start on RACE DAY EVE. Sharon and I drove into SF and went over to the RACE EXPO at SF Design Center. Lots of people buzzing with excitement and such. Love it. Great atmosphere. I picked up this awesome jacket. We picked up my race # and walked around a bit. The expo was overflowing with a variety of people…short, tall, overweight, underweight, different ethnicities, etc…RUNNING DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE!
I saw BART YASSO, running legend, who was setting up his table. I walked over and introduced myself and Sharon and I chatted with him a bit. What a cool guy! I was bummed to miss his “Shake-out” run he did earlier that morning with twitter peeps, etc..
Soon enough, we made our way back home and enjoyed a nice, mellow evening. And Ate pasta, of course.
Race Day: woke at 5:45 and started to get going. I elected to just drive down from Petaluma because a) the hotel we wanted was sold out 2) my start time was at 8:23am
I was a little anxious and nervous in the morning. I think it was just because I literally woke up, got dressed and got in the car. So different from my usual pre-race routine. But, seeing that we had about a 45 min drive, this is what I needed to do. We came to Golden Gate Bridge and saw the Full Marathon Runners and 1st Half Marathon Runners who had began at 5:30am. The fog was in full force and it was covering much of the bridge. A very cool morning. I was getting excited just seeing the other runners. We made our way to Golden Gate Park and the start location of the 2nd Half Marathon runners. I had about 45 minutes to wait around.
A few visits to the port-a-potty helped the time go by fast, but I was pretty anxious to get going. It had been September 2011 since I had run a ROAD RACE!! A very long time for me! Sharon took off to go meet me at about the 7 mile mark and I did a little warm up to get loose. Next up: The Start.
The start was near the back end of GG park and the route took us down one side and up the other side of the park along with a loop around Stow Lake. The weather was perfect. Very cool temperature in mid 50′s and some mist even greeted us as we ran among the beauty of the park. This area is a combination of flat roads and then some very small inclines. Flanked by towering Eucalyptus trees, I was in heaven!
We exited the park right at 6 miles and had a long straightaway on Haight Street. I was happy to see more spectators here and it finally started to feel more like a race. I love running in the park, but i was also glad to get more energy from the people of San Fran. I knew I was close to seeing some friends as I approached the 6.5 mile mark. There was a little downhill and I saw the three of them, Alec, Kimmy and Emily there on the corner of Haight/Broderick!! I ran over to them, smiling and feeling good. I gave them “High 5′s” and a kiss to Alec and kept rolling along. Such a great surge they gave me!! Thank you!!
I had a little more downhill as I rolled down to lower Haight and then would see Sharon around 7.5 miles. I turned the corner from Haight onto Buchanan and spotted her there with her camera. Another big surge of energy!! Yeah!!
I kept looking at my watch for my mile splits. I knew I had to have an average pace of 9:09/per mile if I wanted to meet my 2 hour goal. So far so good. I was running pretty evenly but I also noticed it started to get a little harder around mile 8-9. I had already taken 2 GU ENERGY Gels and had 1 more left on my person. Miles 8-9 carried us thru the Mission District with its variety of culture and color which was also a boost of energy. Weather remained the same, except no mist, just very cool and overcast. Perfect. We had a rude hill right before crossing over into Potrero Hill area. I just kept plugging along. By mile 10 my legs, quads were starting to really tighten up and i was feeling the effects of keeping up my pace. I started to get concerned I would not be able to carry the pace til the finish. I just told myself, “give everything and if you miss it, you miss it…then at least try for a PR..under 2:01:43.” My mindset and mental focus was very strong. I was completely focused and as such, i would say that my enjoyment level while running was not very high. I was starting to feel quite a bit of pain…but i also knew that’s what it would take for me to reach my goal. It would not be easy or PAIN-FREE. It was gonna hurt and IT WAS HURTING.
Stay focused. Stay focused.
At mile 11, we were at Mission Bay, which is about 1 mile south of AT&T park. I could see the bay and smell the finish line 2 miles away. I looked at my watch and saw i was still on a good pace and making good time, but I COULD NOT let up. I had to keep pushing. (I did, however, stop at every water stop to take a few sips and when I sucked down my gels with water) I was not allowing myself to celebrate prematurely. I had to cross the finish line BEFORE 2 hour mark. Mile 12 – right at McCovey Cove and AT&T Park. We ran along the back side with the park on our left and bay on the right. Then, onto Embarcadero and a straight, flat road to the finish line up ahead. Legs were tightening, but I had to ignore everything and keep pumping my arms. I tried to pick up my pace even a little bit. I crossed the finish line, my feet stepped on the electronic timing mat.
I DID IT. I almost started crying. I saw Sharon immediately on the left hand side and we just were smiling at each other and I kept saying “I did it. I did it. I can’t believe it”
She was thrilled for me. I was so happy to see her there and share the experience together. She knew how important it was to me and she had 100% faith in me I would do it. Today. She probably had more confidence in me than I did. THANK YOU, SHARON.
As I just kinda stood there for a few moments afterwards, I think I was in a little fog. A happy fog. So deeply proud from the inside of me…the little runner that could.
I learned that sometimes you have to wait a long time to beat a goal. And I learned a lot in the process while I made training errors and pushed my body last year to more than it could handle. I learned that it’s not just about training harder, but truly TRAINING SMARTER. I think that made all the difference. I got faster because I did what I needed to do: incorporated intervals, tempo runs and specific strength training into my workouts. This was a huge help. I want to thank NIKE for setting me up on a program that I definitely benefited from following. I didn’t follow it to a T, but I followed it a lot and had to modify it some to fit more of my current physical capabilities.
It was perfect that this race happened while the Olympics are underway. So much inspiration out there. If you have read my blog, you might have read I had dreams as a child of being an Olympic Runner. Today, I was my own hero, my own Gold Medalist. (In fact, the person who put the finisher medal around my neck was a serviceman from the Coast Guard. Pretty cool.)
I ran for me. For the me I am and the me I want to be. The better me. The more complete me. Every part of the journey is important. The defeats and the victories. I was glad for the latter today and to finally get the 2 hour monkey off my back.
Thank you to all my friends who support me in my running. Thank you for all of you who read and comment, verbally or in person or never. Thank you.
May you be your own hero and rise to meet and beat your own goals, dreams and wishes, whatever they may be.