Nike Women’s Marathon 10-16-11

It’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting in the airport about 2 hours before my flight leaves. I had a wonderful weekend! Here’s the down-low on my first marathon experience: I made a last minute decision to switch to the “early start” at 5:30am yesterday (I’m thinking I could probably finish the race within the deadline of 6.5 hours if I pushed, but that would be tough and I’d be stressed the whole time). The early start meant less sleep, but an extra hour and a half to finish, plus a 14 min/mile pace car at the beginning. I had brought a jacket to wear for the first few miles, but realized I didn’t need it the minute I stepped out of the hotel. It was very dark and very warm/humid. No big deal. The early starters are a pretty enthusiastic group! They were cheering and whoo-ing for any excuse… for all bystanders, anyone with a camera, and who knows what else. I saved my energy but couldn’t stop smiling at their exuberance. The pace car turned off somewhere around mile 4 and we were on our own after that. I tried to do a 2 minute run/2 minute walk interval. The first half of the marathon had some SERIOUS HILLS! I was starting to get tired around mile 13 and could feel blisters starting. Due to an ankle injury, my longest training run was only 16 miles. So when I passed that mile marker I was getting kind of excited. It was the first time in new territory! Now I would find out what I’m really made of. I stopped around mile 18 to put vaseline on my feet, but the blisters were already out. The last 4 miles were the hardest. I was getting tired and my feet were killing me. Also after eating Ghirardeilli chocolate at mile 22 my stomach started getting upset. How many marathons do you know of that have”The Chocolate Mile?!” Other than some fatigue and brutally painful feet, I was feeling great. I was DOING it! I was going to be a marathoner! After mile 20 I was smiling at every mile marker. I kept my shoulders back and good form for almost the whole time (instead of limping from the blisters). Lots of people were cheering me on and 2 of my marathon coaches walked with me for a bit. Several people told me how strong I looked out there. It felt good. I think one of the hardest parts of an endurance event is the mental battle that we will inevitably have to wage. I am happy to report that I stayed in a positive mental place for about 98% of the race. That in itself is a victory!

I almost wish I had taken a camera with me. The views on this route were AMAZING! Beautiful parks (with eucalyptus trees), beautiful homes, the Golden Gate Bridge, ocean beaches (with lots of surfers), sand dunes, a lake… There were lots of supporters spread out over the course and cheering LOUDLY. The water stops were perfectly timed and well manned, there were even oranges and bananas on the course! The weather was hot/humid, but nice for me. I hate getting cold. I sweated a lot and drank more water than I ever have at a race. But it was overcast and I never regretted my decision to leave the sunglasses behind. Quite often there was a nice breeze and a good portion of the race had no traffic. Seriously can’t say enough how great this course was!!! I sweated off my sun block and got a little red on my cheeks and nose, but not too bad.  At the finish line there were San Francisco firemen in tuxes waiting with our “finish medals,” a Tiffany’s necklace, woo hoo! 😉 And I got a neon yellow finisher’s shirt.

As I mentioned in my last post I was aiming to finish between 6.5 hours and 7 hours. I did it in 6 hours 49 minutes. Oh ya! After crossing that finish line I was missing Yancy so bad. There were soooo many people at the finish area  (there were over 24000 racers, mostly women). I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. But I had to get my gear bag, check in with TNT, eat something, stretch a little, and dip my legs in the ocean. Back at the hotel room I took a hot shower  which felt soooo good (until it hit the chafing marks on my back) and ate my king size Reces Peanut Butter Cup. YUM! I managed to call Yancy & Mom and get my knees iced before taking a nap. Even as I write this post I am still sort of in shock. I really did it! I ran/walked a marathon, 26.2 miles!!!! I weigh about 220 pounds, I have mild asthma, I work full time and didn’t do all the training I should have, but I STILL DID IT! Don’t ever say never. It’s amazing what a person can do when they set their mind to it! And it’s amazing how capable our bodies are!

(pictures will be in a later post)


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