Race Reflections – Part III

I was lined up right in front of the St Francis Hotel on Powell Street. Looking up at the windows, i saw a few folks peeking outside their windows to us crazy folk down below. Boy, if you stayed there and DIDN’T know a marathon was gonna start right in front of your hotel, you were in for a shock!

At 7:10am, I was finally beginning my 6th marathon. Damn, it felt like this training period has gone on forever and I cannot express how relieved I was to FINALLY GET ON WITH IT!

Even though I was wearing my iPod, I didn’t turn it on for about 3 miles. I wanted to hear all the natural sounds around me; the fellow runners chatting, laughing, the footsteps beside me…

The course started in Union Square and did a zag zag pattern onto Montgomery St. (my old work place street) and over to the Embarcadero. This street(for those who don’t know) is just beside that Bay, so running along it you have great Bay views and Bay Bridge views. A cool, clear, SF morning. Nothing better! All flat so far.

Passed Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf and then the first “hill” (SMALL) as we went up and over to Fort Mason (bigger hill) and over to Chrissy Field. We were at about mile 6; lots of support there along the Marina Green! THX PEOPLE!!

Flat along Marina/Chrissy Field and then a nice steep hill up towards the Golden Gate Bridge. (did not go on bridge like regular SF marathon) This next part was probably my favorite. Basically these next 2-3 miles were small hills on the outskirts of The Presidio; wonderful Eucalyptus trees scented the now somewhat foggy area. Felt very refreshing. Pine trees and pine needles lines some of the damp roads. Very quiet and calm except for the often times heavy breathing of fellow runners. I gotta say that this course has a few hills, but NOTHING like I have trained on in Atlanta! These were EASY. (yes, I am thankful the course was not thru the MIDDLE of SF!!) Coming out of that area, we had a nice, steep descent that lead to the famous CLIFF HOUSE — gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean as we approached the GREAT HIGHWAY.

Oh, how was i feeling? Feeling very solid at this point. Drinking water and had a gel and all was good. Next, we made our way into Golden Gate Park and I was getting excited to see Kim at mile 13! Right before that marker, the Half-Marathoners split off and did their own route and we did ours. Boy, there were a LOT of people running the HALF. Crowd definitely changed. Rolling into 13 Miler marker, I saw Kim from a distance there on the left hand side of street, wearing her North Face gray fleece and sunglasses. She brought me some peeled oranges! YAY! Needed them. Delighted to see her on her Birthday, I was the one in for a treat as she then ran about 1/4 mile with me….then called it quits! THANKS KIMMY FOR COMING!

Still in the park and made the turn to head DOWN the park (East Side). Mile 14 and there is my buddy, ALEC!! YAY! He took this pic, we hugged and I continued. So happy he was there!!

Mile 14

Mile 14

I was still feeling pretty good and I felt very focused and happy! Seeing friends definitely gave me a jolt! By the time we excited the park, we were at Mile 16. Now we were in for a stretch back on the Great Hwy (beside PACIFIC OCEAN) before heading over for a loop around Lake Merced. By Mile 17, I could see some of the water. Truly wonderful to see and be near the water again. I don’t need a fancy beach. Just give me water and some sand and a place to keep looking further and further and I am a happy girl. (please don’t ask why i live in a place where i am land locked!!) There was a SMALL breeze. Thank goodness because I know the route well and there can be some grueling winds out there!

Between 18-19 miles, right when I was beginning to hurt, we had a nice little climb over to the Lake. Then it was like another gradual uphill for about 1 mile. HMMM…perfect timing! My feet were hurting on their bottoms and my legs were getting heavy, but i wasn’t in too much pain. Again, I was really focused and i really tried to take in everything; the sights, the sounds; the aches as they came and stayed and came and went. I think I might have had a mental benefit from knowing the course since I have lived in SF in the past and spent much time running in the same areas. I basically knew what was coming. The loop around Lake Merced was kinda uneventful. The main memory was that at about mile 22, they were handing out Ghirardelli Chocolates. WTF? Not bananas or oranges or GELS, but CHOCOLATE! Sorry, I just cannot do that while running. Would have been a perfect place for any of those other things. Oh well….keep truckin’

Made our way back to the Great Hwy for the final 2.2 miles back to the finish line. At this point, my mind started to turn to thoughts like, “wow, I’ve been out here a long time. wow, another marathon. I did it. I’m gonna do it. is it really almost over?”

As I looked to my right, i could see those runners just making their trek towards the Lake. I was on miles 24-25 and they were on miles 17-18. Watching them, I had so much respect. Who knows when they would finish. But, it didn’t matter. They were out there! They were doing it. If the marathon requires anything above all us, it is GUTS. And those people have it. Anyone who gets on that starting line has it.

Now I was onto my last mile. i tried to pick up the pace as much as i could….legs were heavy and my back was getting tired. As I neared the finish line, I shut off the iPod again and just listened. The crowd grew thicker and thicker as I approached..all those spectators cheering on THEIR person for THEIR reason. I saw the finish line banner, ran a little faster, pumped my fists, and crossed the finish line. Because I am able. Because I can. Because the desire burns. Because….

Final Stats to follow

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2 Responses to “Race Reflections – Part III”

  1. It was great to see you at the race and run with you. It was the start of a great birthday. When I parted from you, I walked to the de Young museum and went up to the observation tower. I stood up there and watched the racers go by for quite awhile. So many people running 26.2 miles! It blows me away. Thanks for sharing my b-day!

  2. I love chocolate on my runs! Just a tini-tiny bit though. Mmm, Ghirardelli…

    Congrats on a great race. Glad the desire is still burning.

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