I figured that I've delayed this post long enough. It is now time to talk about...
MY FIRST MARATHON!!!
So, anyone who is my Facebook or Twitter friend knows that, at minimum, I finished the entire 26.2 miles AND, I finished it the same day I began- which, in all seriousness, what pretty much my goal :o). Check.
My marathon training coach, Greg, gave us a pep talk the week before, reminding us that we were well trained for the race and that all of the hard work was behind us. Hmm...sounds like something I would normally buy in to, although, I was still skeptical. Traveling 26.2 miles still sounded like a lot of work! Anyway, after that last (bittersweet) group training run, my pace group (now formally known as Jackie's Pack) toasted our hard work with mimosas! This was, in fact, my first drink in quite some time. Yikes.
So, on to race week. My nerves were starting to go into overdrive on Thursday or so. Some of my most inspirational bloggers/runners/tweeters, @Marathonmaritza, @Hellasound, @TML26, @chicrunner, @bicoastalite, and @runnersrambles gave me awesome advice and helped me chill- a little. I wanted to go to the race expo on Friday but couldn't sneak out of work. So, hubby and I packed up our poochie and headed to the expo first thing Saturday morning. This is a pic of poochie and I in the car, getting ready to go to the expo!
So, although I'm new(ish) to running, I am a first class nerd when it comes to running gear. Going in to a race expo is like setting me loose at the Diet Coke factory- meaning, I go bananas!! I LOVE gear! I love free samples! I was so psyched. The only thing that kept me in check was the fact that hubby and poochie were taking a walk outside while I "did a quick walk through" (that's what I told hubby was my intention- he knew better).
I checked in for the race and picked up my goodie bag, packet, and race shirt. I was sort of bummed out because when I registered for the race, I was significantly larger than I am now so I ordered a larger shirt. I asked if I could get a smaller shirt but they didn't have any extra. Oh well, now I know! I started walking through the expo and was, strangely, underwhelmed by the various stands. I wasn't interested in buying sunglasses or signing up for another marathon so I bypassed a number of them.
What I was looking for, however, was the RECOVERY SOCKS stand! Really, all I wanted was a hot pink pair of recovery socks like the ones I had seen on another blogger's site. So, I got them and a free pair or running socks and a headband to boot! YES!! Later, I developed a super hero costume with said socks and headband. Check out the pics! I also picked up a Tiger Tail massage stick as I'd been coveting one since I started training.
Fast forward to that night. Everyone told me, with a high level of certainty, that I WOULD NOT sleep the night before the marathon. Huh...I slept so well!! Maybe I have some kind of marathon induced malfunction? Anyway, I went to bed at 8:30 PM and didn't wake up until my alarm went off at 4:00 AM. Ugh.
My pace group buddy, J was so sweet and asked her roommate to pick me up and take the two of us to the starting line. That was a lot better option than taking public transportation at the crack of dawn. Before they arrived, I ate an English muffin and some oatmeal with peanut butter. YUM-O! Then, J got to my place and it was off to the races!
Since we are part of the SF Marathon "official" training program, we were granted access to a VIP tent where we could store our gear, meet up with fellow runners, grab some Cytomax, and stretch. There was even a bouncer checking our names off of "the list!"We met up with the rest of "the pack" and took loads of pictures. Then, J an I made our way to the hellacious porta potty lines. Lucky J, she chose a fast moving line while mine took FOREVER. Oh well. Then, it was off to the starting line!!
As we were getting ready for our wave start time, one of my fellow pack members, S, LOST HIS CONTACT! Well, actually, we know exactly where it fell on the ground but he couldn't just pick it up and put it back in his eye so, he ran the entire marathon with one contact! This made for some entertaining moments when S couldn't really see what was going on. Eventually, though, he commented that maybe he could save half of his money and only buy contacts for one eye from now on! Good luck with that S!
So, the race began and we were successful in NOT getting swept away by the huge rush of people who went out of the starting area too fast. We kept our (slow) pace and I'm really glad we did. We stopped and stretched at the water stop at about mile 2.5 and then, we met our first hill. When we were training for the race, the coaches and pacers told us that this hill was where we found out who 1) trained in SF or 2) came from a flat state like Iowa. As we made our way up, we saw that most of the people around us slowed to a walk. We then (silently and humbly) thanked our coach C, who consistently made us run hills :o)!
After another few miles and another (steep) hill (that we destroyed, by the way), we made our way across the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, it was so foggy that we couldn't see the awesome view that I've learned to love so much while running across the bridge. We kept a steady pace and made out way across and back. Here's a pic from the water stop!
Coming off of the bridge, we had another steady climb and then a long, steep, downhill that would destroy your quads if you weren't careful. I was happy to see my friend, C, who had started the SF Marathon training program and then, sadly, got injured. I guess she kept on going and ended up running the half. Nice work girl! I also saw a woman who had a shirt that said "60 and still running" or something to that effect. I tapped her on the shoulder and said 'Go girl!"
I started to get really excited as we approached Golden Gate Park because I had told my friends that that was a good place to see me run, if they wanted to. As I came up to the park entrance, I saw my friends S and V and then, further down the road, B and B! I hugged them all, disregarding the fact that I probably smelled like a compost bin! B and B made me huge posters too that they were waving. I was so excited and it really helped me keep going!
In Golden Gate Park, we passed the half way point and I felt so great. I even asked my running buddies if they thought we could get a negative split (that means we'd run the second half faster than the first). Soon thereafter, though, the sun came out, my knees started to ache, and Morty (remember him?) came out to play. Ugh. I took some Tylenol and hoped for the best. As we continued through the park (the park seriously went on forever), I saw B and B again, this time with my friend F, on his bike. I have the best friends ever!
At mile 19, hubby was waiting for me to accompany me to the finish. I was still doing pretty good and thought I could finish the race in a reasonable amount of time. Well, I thought wrong. All of those stories and fables about the final six miles of the marathon, hitting the wall, and so on...ARE TRUE! Miles 20 through 26 were brutal. It was hot, the race course was desperately boring, and I just couldn't take it. Hubby and I walked a good portion of these miles and stopped to stretch every few blocks. Seriously, had hubby not been there, I may have considered just stopping!!
Finally, we saw mile marker 25 and I began to feel a renewed sense of excitement. Soon, we could see mile maker 26 and I just about jumped out of my skin. Hubby jumped off of the course and I literally sprinted to the finish line. As I crossed, I ALMOST started to cry but then I got wrapped up in the flow of getting a water bottle thrust into my hand, getting my medal, having my picture snapped, and getting my foil blanket. I found hubby again and we made our way over to the VIP tent. I had separated from "the pack" over the course of the race and I wanted to see how everyone had done. I also just wanted to get my SHOES OFF!!
Eventually, I found my buddy, J and we snapped a quick picture. I also saw S who was able to finish, one contact and all! After changing my shirt and putting on my awesome Recovery Socks, all I wanted to do was get home to my ice bath and some food. We grabbed a cab and headed home.
The rest of the day was pretty boring except that I took a nap and refused to take of my medal. I also wore my medal in my ice bath. I earned it!! I also found that marathons make you lose your mind because although I don't eat red meat, I really wanted a cheeseburger. So, hubby braved the traffic and drove me to In 'n Out. He's a good one, I tell you!
I was pretty sore on Monday and Tuesday and felt much better on Wednesday. Today, Thursday, I ventured out for my first post-race run, a short 2 miler. It was great to pound the pavement again.
Running this marathon has made me so excited for the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon and the Nike Women's Marathon, both in October. I know, I know, how quickly I forget the pain and agony of those last 6 miles...
So, now I begin a new journey- Marathon #2 and 1/2 Marathon #5. Let's do this!