I mean, my LONG 26.2 miles training run. (And warning, long post!)
I still can't believe I ran the Nike Women's Marathon yesterday morning. It was my 5th one to date. And probably one of the most challenging course, I've ever run. There were so many grueling hills in the first half. What were they thinking changing the course to have even more hills? Even for San Francisco, it was a bit much. Seriously, it made SFM seem easy in comparison! I ran the NWM Half about 4 years ago and it wasn't nearly as bad. For those of you, who want the shorter version: I ran my slowest marathon ever, finishing at 4:35:19.
So the first picture is the starting line at the NWM that I took with my phone. I met up with the Jamba Juice team around 6:15am at a near by JJ store and we walked to Union Square together. By the way, I didn't go to bed until about 12:15am but I woke up surprisingly recharged and ready to go at 5:40am! I was just excited. But not nervous! It was strange, like I was getting up to go on a regular weekend morning run or something. But, knowing that I was going to run a marathon got me really pumped up on the way to San Francisco. However, seeing the streets blocked off for the race was what finally gave me the butterflies in my tummy!!. And, second thoughts and doubt. What the hell was I thinking running a marathon without proper training? Oh well, too late at that point. No pain, no gain. Right? We were told that JJ team would get a special escort to the front of the line, behine the Elites. But as we got closer to the starting line, the crowd of 20,000+ people soon swallowed us up. We lost our team leader and well, my friend and I (and Duane who wanted to see me off at the start) soon had to navigate on our own. We were trying to get through the bodies of people that were lined up behind the 6:00 to 8:00 min corral and there were way too many people pushing to get through. It was nuts. The few race coordinators that were around told us they knew nothing of the JJ start section! At that point, I started to panic. I still had to go to the bathroom and drop off my stuff at bag check!! I told my friend she should go look for her co-workers because I had to take care of some business. After a few minutes of frantic search, Duane and I found the porta-potties. And the lines were ridiculous. I sent off Duane to drop off my bag and I waited in line... Fortunately, the line moved quickly but I started panicking some more when some lady began to sing the national anthem. Omg, 2 minutes to go! Good thing I went to the "bathroom" because I'm sure I was a few pounds lighter at that point! ;-) We ran around to see where I could enter the race corral area but it was impossible. Too many people were also trying to do the same thing. Just then the gun went off. YIKES! It was starting! And then I saw several runners, going under the elastic fence that separated the corrals and I followed them right through. Funny enough, it was my pace group: 9:00 to 10:00 min pace! As I started running, I waved good bye to Duane. He was wishing me luck and I could see that he was really excited for me. (I think he wanted to run it, too. Next time Baby! Maybe the CIM?) What a great hubby I have! Waking up at crack of dawn to drive me to the city, walking me to the starting line and wishing me good luck! And he was going to come back to pick me up at the end. I waved bye to him and crossed the starting line. I was only 3 minutes behind the official gun time.
I started off at a comfortable pace, about 9:30. I ran the first 2 hills comfortably and thought maybe I'd finish around 4 hours and 15 min. Wishful thinking. When we started climbing our 3rd big hill up to the Golden Gate Bridge around mile 6, I knew I was in trouble. That's when I first started to walk. And after that, I walked up almost all the hills. I kept telling myself that this was a training run! No need to over do anything. No injuries! The rest of the first half wasn't that bad. I clocked in around 2:10 according to the 13 mile mark and was feeling pretty good. I thought I could finish under 4:30 at this point. But once I got on the Great Highway, I started getting discouraged. Especially when I saw the Elite runner coming in to their last 2 miles or so. It also didn't help that I walked so much. My thing is, once I start walking, it's so easy to stop and walk. And the walking becomes much more frequent than I would like it to be. (See Leslie? I walked, I took your advice! ;-) The majority of the 2nd half was around Lake Merced and I didn't like it at all. I think the area around Lake Merced is a bit boring! I've ran around it before and didn't like it then, either. I had to stop around mile 14 to slather some Vaseline between my legs! I put Body Glide all over my body except that *part*! I started chaffing around mile 12 and it hurt so bad. It hurt even worst when I walked so I had no choice to run until I saw the next aid station. But, wow, the Vaseline totally worked. If I ever run out of Body Glide, I know what to resort to from now on! Oh anyway, back to walking. I think it was also easier to walk because there were so many walkers during the race. I think I hit the wall around mile 17 and it lasted until the end. I couldn't get back in the swing of things. I was shuffling and as much as I wanted to, I had difficulty pumping my arms. I was thrilled to see the mile 20 marker but even then 6 miles seemed SO far away. I walked some more. And ran. Painfully. When I approached the final 2 miles, I wanted to run the entire way. But no, I had to walk again. The last mile, I did run the whole thing. I wanted to stop so badly. But the spectators were starting to build around the end so of course, my ego wouldn't let me stop. I was so happy to see the end. I was so tired, I didn't even have the energy to sprint the last 100 yards or so. I usually sprint in but I knew I was already past the 4:30 mark and figured, it wouldn't make a huge difference. And again, I told myself that it was a training run. A training run with a shiny Tiffany bling! Oh and I got to see Aron that too far from the finish line and that perked me up to finish strong.
By the way, there were TONS of Team In Training runners... it was like a sea of purple moving along. Or maybe the "purple wave "is more appropriate? I really enjoyed seeing runners from various states and reading their causes. I always get so moved by runners with "in memory of" or "I'm running for ___". Of course, it was way too crowded! Apparently there were 20,000 runners on the course.
Here are just SOME of the amenities on the course:
- The Coat Check and Coat Donation around mile 2.5 was awesome. I didn't run with a coat but if I had, I may have donated it to this good cause! You see so many people tossing their jackets and sweatshirts early on in the race and this is a great idea to give these to charity.
- Socks by Lady Foot Locker - Why socks? They are not easy to carry! I grabbed a pair because I was kinda delirious and I can't pass up anything free. Especially running socks. Although, I regretted it as soon as I took it. HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO CARRY THEM? I saw a few socks thrown on the ground past their table. I guess others changed their mind, too. I saw some ladies wearing them like gloves. Very smart! I put mine in my Nathan pouch. And completely forgot about it.
- Luna Moons - In a small cup. Thank you! I didn't have to struggle trying to open the packages! They had this one flavor that was kinda orangey looking but I could NOT tell what the flavor was. It was yummy, though.
- Ghiradelli chocolate squares - I love these. They were the best pick me ups. I think this was around mile 20 and I was dying for just about any kind of carbs at this point.
- There were also 2 Pedi Care Stations provided by Lady Foot Locker at miles 6.5 & 13.3 but apparently, I missed them completely. Although, there is no way in hell I would stop during a race to get manis and pedis? Hello, this is a timed running race!
- Jamba Juice smoothies at the end. God, they were so good and so filling. But I was freezing after I finished 2 cups. Haha. Yes, 2!
- How could I not mention the Tiffany necklace and the SFFD fire fighters handing them out, telling me that I did fantastic? I think I managed a smile at the end when I got my necklace. And man, I earned it! (Great photos of the necklace and finisher shirt on RoadBunner's race report, btw.)
I thought the food at the end of the race was just blah. Luna bars, bagels, bananas and water. Nothing really exciting. Ok, the smoothies by Jamba Juice were a nice though. But hello, they are one of the sponsors of the race! I thought SFM had better finish line food. But, an awesome ammenity at the end was being able to check your race results via laptops. Of course, by the end, I was limping around in pain and wanted to go home badly. Everything hurt so badly. So I didn't get a chance to check. I didn't even get to say hi to Audrey or Aron, who were both texting me. I wish I had checked my offical finish time because the website with the results were having technical issues all morning and I wasn't able to see until around noon today. Which was:
You can get more scoop on the Nike Women's Marathon from these ladies who posted their race reports and mini trailers already: KK, Alice, Marathon Martiza, RoadBunner. Oh and of course, check out Danica's race report from her Virtual Nike+ Half Marathon. I'm still waiting for a few more of you to upload your race report! ;-)
I am really happy that I finished. Even if I walked and ran a slow race. I am really happy that I didn't injure myself in the process! Oh and can you believe the NWM raised over 18 MILLION dollars? Wow. I feel really great about myself in so many ways!! And to all of you who ran the half and the full yesterday, YOU are amazing. Really. Ok, WE are amazing! ;-)