San Francisco Marathon
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The San Francisco Marathon was on July 26, 2009. I began training on New Years Day. You might be thinking, wow, what kind of training schedule was she on? But the day I submitted my registration was the day I started mentally preparing myself for the challenge of my life. I knew this was going to be the most difficult thing I ever set out to do and everyone in my family - parents, aunts, uncles, and even my marathoning brothers thought I was crazy. I got a lot of "wait, you? You're going to try and run a marathon? In San Francisco, with all of those hills?." No, not try to run a marathon, I was going to finish a marathon!
I chose San Francisco because if I was going to run a marathon I wanted to see a city I had never been to. Most people choose a flat course for their first marathon and I chose one of the hilliest, but I didn't let that scare me off. I actually didn't incorporate a lot of hill training into my training schedule because I didn't want to let that discourage me. I figured running 26.2 miles would be hard enough, I'll just deal with the hills as they come (and it worked!). I had read comments from others who've completed this race that the crowds weren't that great, but I had done most of my training alone so I felt like any crowds were great. The course was beautiful and the race was very well organized. While I want to see other cities and run their marathons I have a sinking suspicion I will run another SF marathon.
Here is the entry I wrote in my journal a few hours after I completed the marathon.
"I did it, I ran a marathon!" 26.2 miles. What an experience. I feel as bad as I expected I would, but at least I didn't break anything. The weather was perfect - cool, breezy, and cloudy for the first 18 miles. So let's recap.
I got to the starting area and went straight for the port-o-potties. By the time I finished my business it was time to line up at the start. I stood with the 5:15 pace group. My goal was just to finish the marathon but in my head I had a time goal of 5:30 (the marathon course closes after 6 hours). The first three miles of the race were torture like they were during all of my long training runs. Then at about Mile 3.5 I had to stop to pee. I hopped off to use a bathroom and hopped back on, hoping I didn't take too much time. Shortly there after I saw my friends waiting for me - right before the steepest hill of the race which was leading up to the Golden Gate bridge. That was a doozy. I quickly realized if I wanted to finish the marathon I would need to walk up the hill otherwise I would waste a lot of energy. Running over the bridge was awesome, but it was really long! After the bridge I felt like the race really started for me. I was so excited to run over the bridge that that is all I thought about for the first 5-6 miles. The nice thing about the about the bridge was that there were no mile markers so when "all of a sudden" we were at mile 10, I thought the race was actually doable.
I got through miles 10, 11, and 12 fine because I was pretty sure I would see my friends again around the half marathon point. Sure enough, I saw them right before mile 13. After that we got into the thick of Golden Gate park which was so beautiful. It was filled with rolling hills but since I had done most of my long training runs in a park/trail, it felt very familiar. We got out of the park at around mile 18 or 19 and it was at that point the clouds/fog broke and the sun came out. I kept trucking along and there were starting to be more downhills than uphills. At first I thought this was good, but this far along in the race, running downhill felt worse than running uphill. When I got to mile 20 I felt good. It was an important mile to cross because every step I took after that was the farthest I had ever run. I kept going and at mile 21 I still felt pretty good.
Right before 22 was when I started to feel really tired - I guess that's where I hit the wall? I say it with a question because it didn't feel like how people described hitting the wall, but that's probably what it was. Miles 22 and 23 were the hardest! I felt like I was really crawling. I wanted to walk so badly but every time I did I regretted it because it hurt so much to start running again. At one point along the way in there, a crossing guard stopped me to let cars go through. Really sir? Then between miles 24-25, to my amazement, I saw my friends, in the middle of an abandoned parking lot. It was such a surprise and such a boost. I was joking with them and they ran with me for 50 yards or so. Then I could see the 25 mile marker off in the distance. It seemed so far off. As I approached I took what would be my last little walk. I was going to run the last 1.2 miles if it killed me. Once I passed the 25 mile marker I started chanting over and over "a little bit closer" and I repeated that until I crossed the finish line.
When I saw the 26 mile marker, I had to hold back any excitement I had because I felt myself on the brink of hyperventilating. I turned a corner and then saw the finish line. No way! I couldn't believe it. I had to really concentrate on my breathing so I didn't lose it. Once I got into the finish line chute I ran as if it was the first mile and my knees didn't bother me at all. I smiled, I sped up, and crossed the finish line proud! As soon as I got my medal and stopped I burst into tears. I did it!!!!!"
It's been about two months since I completed the marathon and as time passes I realize more and more what an accomplishment it was. Even just a few hours after the race when I more tired and sore than I had ever been in my life, I knew I wanted to do another. I'm signed up for the Philadelphia half marathon at the end of November and know that I will be jealous of the runners who are running the full marathon.
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