"If you can't excel with talent, triumph with effort." DAVE WEINBAUM
Waking up at 3:30 am was probably the earliest marathon that I have woken up for, besides maybe Boston or New York, although the San Francisco Marathon does take the cake in the earliest start. 5:30 am was when the race had started and NH had graciously volunteered to take me by car to the start. I got all my things together as we left his place at 4:10 and got to the starting line at 4:30. There I sat around a little, ate my banana and sour dough bread, which could have been a bad idea, but wasn’t and went potty. I then saw Lam, who also was there from NY and had done this race before. We chatted and put our bags into the baggage claim, then awaited outside of the choral for people to start going in. While we packed up, the announcer was releasing the first wave…I was intrigued that there was no national anthem though. I also saw NC, who was from the area aand was also running in this race. I can clearly say that I had followed her racing schedule this year from 3 of the races that we have done together: Austin, Boston and now San Francisco. I said a quick hello and then we started the race, so not much to caht with her. The race started in the dark and I was a bit intrigued. The Bay Bridge was beautiful at night with it’s lights and we passed all the piers and the wharf as we headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought it was crazy that the 3:10 group started out so fast, they were booking and I bet the group really struggled. You really can not depend on a pace group during a marathon because you are depending on people and this is your moment. Your resting all of your training on one person, which is very tough. Running in an individual sport and you should go your own pace and also leave plenty of time if you want to go for a specific time. You need that buffer zone where you can slow down or pick up the pace at certain times. You have to factor in hills, down hills and how you are feeling accordingly to the day. Anyways, we made our way up toward the Golden Gate Bridge and it was killer! The hills were steep and going up towards the bridge was just a relief to make it up. The ascent was killer because in it was so early in the race at about 5-6 miles in and the bridge was no easy task either since the wind on one side was pushing you sideways. I tried to keep focused by not worrying about the time and pace, but just having fun with taking pictures! I mean when will you ever say that you get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge?
One runner saw that I was holding up a camera and taking a picture of myself, he laughs and I explain to him that I take pictures with all of the marathons that I run. I mean I feel it is important. To some people it’s about time, pace, the moment, reaching your PR, the feel of the whole moment coming down to one race. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but to me there is a different side to a marathon that I find the reason to run it. I find that you have to have a reason to run a marathon, or else your just plain crazy. Either it’s to do just to do or complete the race or to PR for the race, you do it because you really have a goal in mind…anyways, that’s my opinion and you may have your own.
Ok…so going over the Golden Gate Bridge was quite the amazing feat and allowing yourself to take everything in. The other side showcased an even amazing spectacle of allowing the runner to make a circle to come back on the Golden Gate Bridge again…but first you get to see all the runners on the Golden Gate bridge from slightly above and then you get a beautiful view of San Francisco. Then back toward the Golden Gate Bridge, I slightly spotted NC as she was with one of the pace groups. I am always truly amazed by this gal, who runs 20’s for fun and was in awe when she ran a 3:10 in Austin. But yes, as I made it back and moving across, I can slowly see that the 3:10 pace was pretty spread out already. You can see the other people who are just making it across the bridge at this point and sort of feel sorry for them. You can see the clogging of how these pace groups clog up the race as they bundle up the lane. I am glad that I don’t have to run with those people, but then again you have to do what you have to do for your own self when you want to run a certain time. Running alone is a tough task to do, although you slowly get use to it when you do it often. Group running is purely a luxury, but running alone takes somewhat determination and a head strong capabilities.
I see people stopping to take pictures to people with video cameras. I mean who are these people? Seriously? Taking pictures, video? Oh yes, I forgot I was one of these people as well. So after the golden gate bridge which was at about 8-9 miles, you proceed to other hills both up and down hill, at mile 10 I had forgotten that I was even running and was like, “oh! we’re at mile 10 right now? Splendid!” But yes, it was up and down, up and down, I was done with the hills. We ended up somehow in the park and that was where they half ended and the other half began. The marathoners were cheered on by the second half people as we passed them by and in the marathoner’s mind, we all say to ourselves, “why did we choose to do the full, rather than the half?” Then as we head towards the finish line of the half, we are only to go up a hill and split to add on another few miles, by that time it is 14-16 miles into the race. I grow hungry now, not taking any GU at miles 10 or 13, which I always plan on doing and then 5 miles from there on in. It’s mile 15 or so and the hunger sets in. I quickly decide to take a Stinger Bee Honey pack, that I had gotten from my Colorado Marathon, very interesting, sweet, but good if you are not the GU or GEL type of person. At this point, I only try to amuze myself through the marathon, I see a camera person taking photos, I quickly turn on my camera and take a photo as they are taking a photo of me. Funny huh?
As we decend from our turn away point from the half marathoners, I quickly glance over to see what times they have, 2:10 and counting…boy at this point of time I wish I can do the half marathon…why do I have to go on with this quest to doing 50 marathons in 50 states? WHY AM I SO STUBBORN or crazy? So I pass the finish line for the half, which the marathoners have to go next to and you see all these people finish on the side of you as you keep on going because your at mile 17 and their at mile 13.1 and done…ARG! Anyways, so we are in the park now, pass the DeYoung museum, which NH and I were just at the other day, and keep on going…until mile 19 or so where we exit, then go back in and then exit again. MILE 20! Wahooo! I was suppose to meet my friend, NH and his boyfriend at mile 20…ok…now I put my efforts into finding him. I am behind my time in which I told him that I would be at mile 20 since my half time was really slow…1:36? Seriously, it was difficult!
We now enter Haight which is a pretty beat up area of punkish looking biker barish looking bars. I get this feeling because there are all these bikers that are telling the runners where to go, which is pretty cool that they had volunteered for this. Ok, mile 20 and in my mind always at mile 20 is either Deena Kastor or Paula Radcliffe saying that at Mile 20, this is where the real race begins. I really have nothing left and my legs and body are separate from my mind. I think I have learned that if you do this, you’ll have an easier time during a marathon. You don’t feel the pain as much and maybe I am the only one that does this or knows how to do this, I’m sure the pro’s do this all the time though. It’s the simple separation of allowing your body to move on, feeling just only how the body just moves, but not feeling too much of an effort to push. Weird concept, but really, it works.
I finally see them on the right, my friends as I turn off and tell them before hand to get together, I was going to take a picture of them and me and it’s just how I do things. I quickly turn on my camera and snap…done! I check it so it will come out. I have learned this from Chicago when I first started doing this with my friends, where Kimmy and I was suppose to take a picture and I was pissed afterwards because I thought I had the picture taken…arg! Also happened in NYC marathon with my friends KA and BG, but it was all good. The rest of the way, yup twists and turns, up and down and hills all around. I chatted with one of the guys that asked me if I was from NY, since I had a NY Flyers singlet on. We chatted for a second about the NYC marathon and I told him that this course was HILLY! He was from the marathon maniacs as well and he told me a few pointers ahead where hills were. Steep down hills were a problem as some of those hills my knee started to ache. It was bad, but in the end, I passed the guy in the last few miles and took it easy to live another day. It was ok of a marathon, where I put effort into the hills, but knew that I came out in a moderate time. I thought it was going to be worse than it was, but the time was around the range that I wanted to run. Plus, I’m sick with a bad cough (which I had cough drops that I stuck under my tongue to have a consistent flow of syrupy sweetness) and my coughs cuased me to convulse. BAD! I need to take care of myself a little more…why was I running in the marathon? Oh yeah, I’ve been nursing an injury as well from that tight calve on my lower left leg for about a year. Opps! Ok, marathon done, now I’m off for a month. Wheew…time to go back to NYC.