That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Really off --the race!

The race started really well, we ran through the financial district quickly enjoying a bright pink sky. San Francisco is one of the prettiest places you could hope to race, so I felt such a feeling of joy, contentment, and blessing. Once we were out of the downtown area, we had stunning views of the water and the beautiful sunrise.

We were unbelievably lucky to have one of the very rare fogless mornings in the city. Seriously, we were told that Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge would be invisible so early in the morning, but there they were in full view.

The bag check came up before we knew it. At this point I was still running with friends, and we all had to find a portapotty. So right before mile 3 we stopped. Unfortunately the line was not moving at all. I could only imagine what could possibly be occurring in them, if people running a marathon would sacrifice so much time. So in what was not my proudest moment, I decided to pee on the beach. I was a good distance from the road, so it was relatively private, aside from the long line of racers watching me as they waited for the portapotty.

Then I was off with my friends again, we ran up our first hill in strong, short strides, and as instructed, ran carefully down the hill. At about mile 6 the second hill emerged, and we continued running, slowly and steadily. The hill itself really didn't bother me, I had plenty of practice. It was steep and winding, but there were enough coaches and cheerers to keep my mind off it. Once it was over it leveled out for a bit and I just kept taking in the beautiful scenery. California is so beautiful in that it has big trees and ocean side by side. We were pretty far up hill running along pretty houses.

I really got lucky on race day because I felt amazing from my first stride. It ussually takes miles for me to start enjoying the run or at least tolerating it, but race day was just a totally enjoyable run. I felt no pressure to run fast, although I was not happy that they didn't have clocks at every mile. It really made it hard to judge your pace. Water was also ever other mile, which really isn't enough in warm weather. But I kept on going. I met my coach around mile 6 and he pumped me up for the last hill. I felt like Puff Daddy with a person coach running by my side.

At mile 9 we approached the mile long hill, the final big hill of the race. It was a climb and flatten, climb and flatten kind of hill that made you wonder whether you were at the top or had just begun, but I mounted it and started downhill. The downhill we had been warned about several times. It was steep and windy, which makes it very hard on the knees and quads. Racing downhill to fast guarantees you will have serious soreness problems in the second half of the race. So I did my best to keep the short strides going.

My breath was taken away by the views of the water rushing on to the beach and the perfect pink, purple and blue sky. I often forgot I was even running, but the downhill was actually much harder physically than the uphill. My quads started to get a bit sore, and I was actually hoping for the downhill to end. I swear I am not lying.

I saw another coach at the end of the downhill and she gave me tips to change my stride to relax my quads. A few feet later, I had another coach running by my side, she told me I looked great. I was practically floating at this point. I was around mile 11 when someone shouted my name--first and last. BTW, we write our names on our shirts, so people can cheer for us!
So it was great to run with a friend for a mile or so. She turned off to finish the half (she has the NYC full coming up) and I kept on the full path. The paths were poorly marked, so I actually asked a few people whether I was on the full path, just in case!

We were now entering Golden Gate State Park. It was basically just running through the woods, not too exciting. There was an oxygen bar and socks and pedicures to partake in, but I could imagine my coach killing me if I stopped. So I chugged on eating gels, drinking 2 cups of water at every stop and grabbing Vaseline when needed. It is amazing what you can do while running. Around the I decided to put on my ipod to get a lift and distract myself for a while. I often forgot it was on because I was so busy taking in what was going on around me. At mile 15 there was this awesome nike tunnel tent. I got an incredible rush and started running pretty fast. I kept this up until I saw my coaches at around mile 17, I was told to just keep doing what I was doing, and I would see them at the finish line. I took more nutrition and took a very quick portapotty and stretch break and just kept running. I did a salt shot at mile 18, I forgot to mention we did a team salt shot at the start.

Sometime around here I realized that I was actually running a marathon. It was kind of crazy. But it felt so surreal.
I was now running along Lake Merced it was a nice lake, but very long. There weren't a lot of people cheering and the ground was very slanted, so it was hard on the legs and I kept trying to find the flattest patches of road. The route around the lake stretched on, but at least it had some hills to give my quads a break. I can't believe I actually appreciated hills. My coaches ran with me, gearing me up for the mental battle that would lie ahead in the last few miles. At mile 22 I was pretty bored of running. I was ready to be done, it was getting hot, I couldn't drink enough water if I tried. The salt helps you retain water, but the water stations were over two miles apart.

At mile 23 I was surprised how good I felt physically, I hadn't had to walk much, except a few times to get water or take tylenol. But not more than 10-15 seconds.

The last 3.5 miles are a straight stretch along the water to the finish. By mile 24 I was really dying to see the finish line. At mile 25 I was a bit incoherent. I couldn't distract myself or concentrate on form. Even though the views of the sunlight bouncing off the water was stunning. I turned off my ipod. I started walking quite a bit. I thought I would never see mile 26! And I didn't because mile 26 wasn't marked. I finally saw my coach who ran me in ringing the cow bell madly. It felt great to see the finish. I waved to the TNT team cheering me on. I kept going through the finish line. Proudly claiming my Tiffany's necklace, shirt and bagel.

A lot of emotions were occurring. I was shocked I had finished with little to no pain. I actually had a lot of energy. I picked up all the little things they hand you, luna bars, lip balm, bananas. I went into the TNT tent to check out. I checked out the powder room with towels and facial clothes, lotions and refreshers. I passed the massage tents. I then hiked over to the buses to pick up my stuff. While enjoying the best bagel of my entire life, I headed back to the TNT cheering session.

I cheered teammates on for a while, then I headed back to the buses with my friend. After days of eating lots of food, my stomach was suddenly beckoning for my attention. Thank you for waiting tummy, I appreciate you allowing me to run before raging war.

At the hotel I promptly passed out for an hour, I ate a mini luna bar and took a shower.

I then decided to use my last few hours in SF to walk around and try to find gifts for friends and family. Yup I could still walk.

At 6:00 we headed to the victory party for all 5,000 TNTers. The food was really bad, but whatever. We partied on the dance floor. Songs ranged from the twist to baby got back. the the TNT NYC chapter took the never ending walk to the misbehaving party.

What a way to end the day.