And when I say, “Finished” I mean just finished. Which is OK!! Where do I start?
Things just weren’t working out for me the last two weeks leading up to the half marathon, but I have SO much I learned- I trust it was exactly what I needed to grow from the experience and I have October’s Women’s Nike Half Marathon to concentrate on improving. But, first let me recap the race.
I think this race was so well organized and ran so smooth (even if I didn’t)! We had originally parked at Sports Basement in the Presidio to take the shuttle to the expo on friday afternoon. When we were in line a guy says, “there is plenty of parking at the Expo if you don’t want to wait.” My friend Sandi said, “Lets go.. ” So we did. And, ah, be darn if there wasn’t parking available! That’s a shocker in San Francisco! But, there was. It was so nice not to have to wait for a shuttle bus and be in charge of when we left, etc.
The Expo itself was easy enough to breeze in and get our bib, shirt, etc. I even changed my wave from 8 to 7 as I was thinking the extra 10 minutes would be a good way to stay in front of any possible course closure, as I had no idea what to expect, and as everyone knows.. petrified of the time restraints. They swapped me out no problem.
I just want to say right here and right now, “I LOVE THE SAN FRANCISCO TECH SHIRT!” I love the material, I love the design, I love its long sleeved, I love the Golden Gate Bridge on the back and the little logo on the left lower corner, I love that it says, 13.1 for us Halfers, and 26.2 for the Fulls, I love that its a bit larger so it fits so cute!” I just love it. I will wear it regularly. My husband wears the others I have from places, as none of the other shirts excite me enough to actually wear them. This one does.
I was so excited. I slept a few hours before the race and was up at 2:30 am to get ready and to meet my friends at 4:00 to drive into the city. The husbands were to drop us off near the start and then head over to the finish and find parking to see us at the finish line. It all went smooth. The weather was perfect, no wind, plenty of port a potty’s. The gated corral’s were a great idea for each wave. It started on time, no excessive waiting, I didn’t feel crowded. The time they gave between each wave seemed to really keep it from feeling congested- even though there was approximately 27,000 people there.
I was doing pretty good with everything. I felt a little pain on my feet from a blister (which I will explain later in what went wrong, but I could manage it. It wasn’t a deal breaker or anything.
I got to mile 4 and I was able to carry on a conversation with someone next to me, and I realized, WOW, we are almost at the Bridge then I knew after the bridge I would be almost to mile 9 coming off of it.. that’s 3/4 of the race done! I felt pretty confident, because I have practiced these 10 miles of the course many times. I had run that bridge at least 5 times in my training and knew what to expect. I was getting good at running the bridge. I hit the bridge and I kid you not, my knee began to hurt. At first I thought, Ok, just favor the right side and you’ll manage. Within 20 minutes I went from feeling good, and KNOWING I was going to finish within the 3 hour time limit or DAMN close, to not knowing if I could even finish. I will come back to this.
I loved seeing so many inspiring people on this course. I saw one man with a shirt that read, “Handsome Husband” and someone asked him, “Where’s your beautiful wife?” and he replied, “She passed away in January and I am running for her.” This is what running is to me. Its for so many things other than just a PR (which is my next blog idea… It really made me think of a topic I want to write about, reminder to myself). I saw women who were very overweight, and I know I am overweight, but these women were even larger and I KNOW how hard this is for me. So, I also know how hard it was for them and how much training they put in to feel up to doing 13.1 miles. Inspiring. I saw a physically challenged woman using permanent use crutches doing the half marathon. Her headband read, “Never Give Up” how do you give up when you see someone doing it without all the advantages I have– comparatively speaking? I couldn’t.
The course was beautiful. It’s the beauty of it that helps with the pain of it. It’s not an easy course. The down hills are tough on the knees. My only constructive criticism would be one more water station. I was so thirsty by the time I reached the water station at the turn around on the Marin side of the bridge, and had already went through all my own water. Also, the time limit was NOT as strictly enforced as I had originally thought. Had someone told me this from the start it would have saved me SO MUCH ANXIETY! So, I am here to write and state for the record, YOU WILL GET YOUR MEDAL IF YOU COME IN AFTER 3 HOURS! No one could tell me that. I searched the internet looking for the answer. I emailed the marathon even and they responded, “No Medal”. I found that hard to believe, and thought, maybe they just want to discourage people who are slower? I don’t know.. but, after I tell you what went wrong, I thought FOR SURE I wasn’t getting one. And I did.
What went wrong
First off, my husband broke his arm about a week before the race while bicycling. I had to do so much for him that first week until he acclimated with the cast. I was exhausted, between taking care of him, our 5 year old, the house and working. I began feeling run down and as if I was fighting a cold. I took everything under the kitchen sink to ward it off, and I did feel better by race day.
I got a pedicure about 2 days before the race. Big mistake. My feet were so damn soft I got a blister under my foot when I went to use my feet again! My feet were tough from all the running, and next time.. get the pedicure AFTER the run. Ughh…. but, it wasn’t enough to deter me or it wouldn’t have stopped me from running. So, still I could overcome THAT.
Finally, my knee gave out. My left Knee began to ache at mile 7, I texted my husband it was hurting during a walk break, but I was going to finish.. it wasn’t to the point I thought I’d have to stop running. I figured I would walk/run with more walk breaks. By mile 8 I was texting him that it felt like it wouldn’t move anymore. I had periodic knee pain through training, but I was able to curb it with KT Tape which I was wearing. My left knee would hardly move anymore. My right knee began to ache almost just as bad, and probably because it was over compensating so much for the left! It was awful.
This is how bad it was… As I was making my way off the bridge I spotted two women walking the opposite direction. They made it through the vista turn around and eventually passed me and I was STILL not off the bridge. I began to cry. Those SAME two women told me I should stop at the medic table and get some tylenol. I didn’t think they would give me something like that, but she said, “Yes, they will. Give them your bib number.” OMG, YES! I made it off the bridge and up the hill towards SEA CLIFF, crying in pain. I got my 2 tylenol. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to mask the pain to run, but maybe I could hobble to the finish. It kicked in about 30 minutes later at mile 11. I called my husband and told him I am walking, and NOT power walking, but HOBBLE WALK. I was so slow it was painful to witness I am sure. But, at that point I thought I don’t give a flying fuck about this time. I worked so hard for this fucking thing (sorry for my language, but its exactly what I was saying to myself) I am NOT giving up. I am not. If I have to crawl my ass in- I will.
My husband then called me and said, “Don’t worry about how slow you are. There are so many people walking in and you can tell they had problems.. just take your time.” I was seriously in so much pain and crying to him. He said, “are you close to the park?” “Yes” I replied. “Ok, we’ll see you when you get here” just then I rounded the corner and on the side of the street in a grassy knoll was my husband, my friends husband and their son (who by the way finished in 1 hour 50 minutes!). They all had shown up to walk the last 1/4 mile of it with me. I was so thrilled! They let me lean on them, carried my jacket I had taken off, and encouraged me. My girlfriend (who PR’d the course yesterday.. Yeahhhh!!!) then put her arm around me and said, “See that finish line.. its what you’ve been working for. You didn’t give up. You’re going to finish.” She walked in with me, and she cried with me. It made it so perfect.
Even though I didn’t finish AT ALL as I anticipated, it was out of my control. There was nothing I could do to fix that. The Universe gave me exactly what I needed. It gave me the best group of people I could have imagined to end this journey with. Had I not had them I would be probably writing a much different blog. A blog where I gave up, and I won’t ever try another half marathon again, because it would have been such a terrible experience. Instead, I am thankful, and blessed to have exactly what I had a wonderful, positive, uplifting experience. And, I AM DOING IT AGAIN. I KNOW I would have finished in plenty of time. I want to prove that to myself without an injury. I am going to see my Doctor and learn how to strengthen myself to overcome that happening to me again. It might have been IT Band issues, whatever the problem I will work on fixing it. I am running the Nike Half Marathon in October and might just concentrate on having fun, without hurting myself since its another SF hill route. But, I am signing up for the SF 2nd Half Marathon, and guess what? I inspired my husband. He wants to do it with me and hold my hand across the finish line.
The person I started the journey with was a good motivator to get started, and the people I ended it with taught me its not about my time, but the journey I took to get there. It was a great first start!