Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I DID IT!!!!...and I bought some yarn...

So, I'm back from beautiful San Francisco where I took part in the Nike Women's Marathon on Sunday. Did you know they have hills out there?!?! Yeah, yeah, I know - the images of people riding cable cars...I've seen them too. I did hear that the course was hilly and how could it not be because of the location. I think I just didn't understand how hilly it would be!

Before a description of the race - a quick update on the calf. It didn't hurt one bit! Everything else did but that's another story. The night before the race, one of our coaches who in her professional life is an expert in these sorts of things had a look and, while I writhed in pain, got the muscle that has been bugging me for over five weeks to release itself and voila! After that knot came out, I felt like I could do anything...which was good because if I was still worried about my calf, I never would have made it through this race.

We left Orlando bright and early Friday morning and landed in San Francisco before 10am. Woohoo! Love that time change! We checked into the hotel, freshened up, and walked over to Union Square to the Expotique to pick up our packets. We browsed there and then hit Nike Town for all the race logo gear we could find. I managed to spend enough to get the free tote - never a good sign. Everything was themed to "like a girl" because of the race - run like a girl, shop like a girl, etc...very cute. Everything was bright pink, blue, and brown and so expensive but I figured I deserved to splurge as I would be putting my body through hell come Sunday morning.

Sean finally got in around 2pm and we wandered the rest of the day (more on that in the next post...this one is going to be too long already) until we met up with our friends who drove up from San Jose to have dinner. We found a great Italian restaurant where we ate outside and enjoyed the beautiful evening. After Cheesecake Factory to-go and an al fresco dessert, I hit the bed pretty hard at around 9:45.
Saturday morning, Sean went for a 10-miler (he's training for the Disney marathon in January) while I went for a walk to stretch out the muscles a bit. Carolyn and I walked around the ferry building where there was a farmer's market setting up for the day, grabbed some lattes, and headed back to the hotel. I swear, I could have stayed there all day taking pictures of vegetables and flowers - so pretty!

My best friend Lisa picked us up at 10 and we went sightseeing for the day - the usual suspects of course - Lombard Street, Pier 39, a boat cruise around the Bay, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiardelli Square. We were able to meet up with CJ around 3:30 for a quick beer and an oyster snack but then Sean and I had to go back to the hotel to get ready for the pasta party that TNT was hosting. The party was really cool and inspiring and got us psyched up for the next morning. Again, pretty early to bed since we had to meet in the lobby at 5:30am for the 7am start.

The day dawned chilly and my nerves we on edge as I got ready but before I knew it, it was 7am and the horn sounded for the start of the race. I knew from talking to our coaches that at mile 6 we'd hit a large hill and that at mile 18 things would get difficult with the terrain around a lake. I settled into a great pace and trotted down Market Street to take a left at Embarcadero. I knew Sean would be around mile 3 for my first hello and hug. There he was, ringing his cow bell and yelling, right where he said he'd be!

At Ghiardelli Square we had a first test of sorts - a small incline that flattened as we took a right - and on we continued. I could suddenly see the six mile marker in the distance and sure enough I could see the road slope quickly up. That was sort of the beginning of the end of the flat running on the course. I walked up the hill and once it finally ended got some momentum on the down which I was able to carry through into the next mile. Mile 9 was another large hill and at the top folks were saying "good job, that's the last big hill on the course". I was thinking, "sweet, I'll pick up some time!" What didn't dawn on me until later though was what is a big hill to me, living in Orlando, is just a speed bump to anyone living pretty much anywhere else.

I kept in touch with Sean throughout the race via text messaging so I knew his approximate location most of the time. I was also able to text my folks, Mark, and Karen back here in Florida to keep them updated on my progress. And just for the record - I didn't drop my phone once or trip because I was trying to text.

Golden Gate Park is beautiful but when it's smack dab in the middle of a marathon course - kinda boring. I luckily ran into Michelle (one of the wonderful Brevard County coaches and the person responsible for fixing my calf) while I was in the park and it was nice to chat with her for a bit. She applied some Biofreeze to my legs and I continued. I came out of the park on a down hill and caught up with Sean who had found Lisa and they walked with me a bit while i chatted and complained about needing to use a porta-potty. This was just about mile 17. They finally convinced me that I needed to run again and I took off to find a bathroom and get some more miles under my belt. A very, very, very long loop around Lake Merced was next up - from mile marker 18 through 23.5 pretty much. There was a lot more walking at this point. I could definitely feel myself slowing down and my feet were killing me - as were several other body parts affected by both uphills and downhills. Non-runners tend to think downhill is pretty cool. It is, to a point, but at that point it becomes painful!

Sean and Lisa (this time with CJ in tow!) met up with me just before mile 21. Lisa tried to offer me Sean's hot chocolate (did I mention it was rather chilly?) but I declined. I read an article soon after the race that a chef actually drinks his own recipe for hot chocolate at mile 20 when he runs marathons! Lisa was totally on to something there! They walked to the 21 mile marker with me and I was again alone. CJ, who works in this area, reassured me that it was pretty flat coming out of the loop...what she didn't realize was that flat in a car to a person who lives in San Francisco is very different than flat road running to a person who lives in Orlando. Mile marker 22 to marker 23? COMPLETELY uphill...gradual and deadly. The saving grace here was that it was the "chocolate mile" and we had Ghiardelli chocolate to ease the pain of it.

We finally made it out of the lake area and I knew (because I had seen the course of people blazing by me in the other direction...) that it was all downhill from here. I gritted my teeth and trotted along as best I could. Somewhere between 24 and 25, I ran into the other awesome Brevard County coach who went along with me for a bit, asked me how I was feeling, gave me some wonderful words of encouragement, and pointed out the photographers just ahead who were eager and ready to take my picture. He left me to find some more folks behind me and I continued. I jogged past the photographers so when they captured me I would at least look like I was running strong but slowed to a walk soon after.

Mile 25...along the Great last walk just to gather my strength and I took off faster than I had run in hours. Sean had texted me that he, Lisa, and CJ were waiting at 26.1, just a tenth of a mile from the finish. I could see the 26th mile marker just ahead and dug deep to finish running rather than walking. I suddenly saw the three of them on the right hand side of the road and I knew I was home free. There was the finish line with the pink inflated arch...and I kept running. About 20 feet from the finish was the announcer on the PA system and I remember hearing him say, "and here's someone with a big smile on her face" and I knew he was talking about me.

I crossed the finish line and there were two lines of firemen dressed in tuxedos and holding silver trays filled with little blue Tiffany boxes. Did I mention that the finisher's medal for this race is a sterling silver Tiffany necklace. Oh yes! I collected my necklace, my mylar blanket, and some snacks and went in search of Sean, Lisa, and CJ. Once I had them, I put on my warm clothes, checked in with TNT and went off in search of food. What is the ONE thing I wanted after running 26.2 miles? In 'n' Out. I wasn't the only one in the Fisherman's Wharf location with this idea! Wow was it yummy... (BTW, all of the above sounds like it happened pretty quickly but everything was in slow motion at this point...I could hardly walk and even fell over a couple of times...)

We parted ways with Lisa and CJ back at the hotel. Sean and I rested for a bit, I took an ice bath, and then we all hobbled down to the TNT victory party where we had more food and actually danced for a bit. The dancing helped to loosen our muscles but we left around 8 or 8:30 and headed for beer at the Irish pub next to the hotel. It was another "early to bed" night.

Most of yesterday was spent packing, a last visit to Nike Town, and traveling. I got back into Orlando at 10:30 and Sean was at the airport (he arrived at 9:45) to help with my bag and we headed home. By the time I got to my house, it was well after midnight and by the time I unpacked and settled in, it was after 1am.

So, here I am today...having a bit of the "post marathon blahs" but really happy that things went as well as they did. I'm off from work today although I've been digging through email so I'm not buried tomorrow. Still having trouble walking but it's coming together...maybe there is even a yoga class in my future this week...and I already find myself thinking about that next race...but that's for another post and another time...

At this point, I'm just happy being incredibly proud that I accomplished what I set out to do. I trained for my seventh (and inarguably the hardest) marathon and raised over $4500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of my Dad. Oh yeah, and my time? 5 hours and 28 seconds...41 minutes faster than the 2008 Disney but 40 minutes slower than my personal record.


p.s. there was yarn purchased but that is a whole other story that needs its own post...

1 comment:

J.P. said...

I am so proud of you!