Better late than never, right? The race was on Sunday, October 17, and I flew up to WA for work early the next morning, complete with a new cold, and things have been busy as usual!
Saturday (10/16), the Hubble, our pup, and I headed up to San Francisco. We stayed at the Good Hotel in the SOMA, which was less than a mile from the start line and expo at Union Square. I actually really liked the hotel- it’s whole thing is being environmentally-friendly, and they are animal friendly too! The only real downside that I found was that the neighborhood wasn’t stellar, but I had the Hubble there to protect me 🙂
After we checked into our hotel, we headed over to Union Square to the “Expotique” so I could pick up by bib. Basically, the whole thing was a madhouse! The line for pick-up was massive, but moved relatively quickly. After I got my bib, I was supposed to pick up a pace band that would get me into the corral I needed. The problem there was that the only ones left were 12 minute miles or slower! They said I had to have one to get through the start though, so I was a little worried I wouldn’t cross the start line for hours after the gun went off.
The expo itself was pretty non-existent, and very small for how many runners there were! We got in line to buy shuttle tickets, and luckily that was fast. Now that I think about it, though, why should runners who pay $135 to run the damn marathon have to shell out an extra $15 to get from the finish line back to the starting point? I understand the shuttle for spectators costing money, but with such a hefty price tag you would think it would be included for runners.
Since the expo was a bust, I convinced the Hubble to go with me to the giant Nike store, where I looked at a ton of NWM 2010 apparel and he sat on a bench in fear of the trampling women. Even though it was all way overpriced, it was kind of cool that they had a ton of options for clothes and accessories with the race logo on it. I got a pretty sweet sweatshirt that I justified by the fact that I trained my ass off for the race. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a picture online.
Anyway, after the insanity of Union Square and hearing that the wait time for the Cheesecake Factory was over an hour (before 5pm on a Saturday), the Hubble and I decided to get the heck out of dodge and headed back to the hotel. We had an early dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant (I had pizza!) and then just hung out at the hotel.
For some reason, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. After all of the training that I did, I knew that I would PR unless something absolutely terrible happened. And at that point, I was still in denial about the hills I had to run. Even though the elevation profile looked nasty (seriously, look) I hadn’t seen it in person and was able to convince myself that it wouldn’t be so bad. I went to bed at a decent hour and got plenty of sleep.
The next morning, I got up, had a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, and got ready for the race. I was starting to get a little nervous, but it still wasn’t too bad. I decided to run with the 4:10 pacer as long as I could, and then see what happened. My body wasn’t the happiest with me that day (think cramping and heavy legs due to girly issues), but I felt much better than the day prior, which was a relief!
The Hubble and I headed to the start line just before 6:30, and we made it there in plenty of time. It was, once again, a complete madhouse. Luckily for me, there wasn’t anyone around enforcing pace corrals or anything, so I was hoping to find the right pace group. I was getting rather nervous by then, and said adios to the Hubble and made my way into the crowd.
I spent a good amount of time trying to track down the 4:10 pacer- I saw the 4:20, the 4:15, and the 4:50, but not the 4:10! Eventually, I gave up and asked the 4:05 pacer, who informed me that the 4:10 pacer was sick. What?!? Shouldn’t they have an understudy or something? So I realized that if I wanted to even try for a 4:10, I needed to run on my own or run with a faster pacer.
I started off the race with the 4:05 pace group but realized pretty quickly that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up without majorly crashing. At that point, I let them go and maintained a pace that was comfortable for me, around a 9:35/mile (according to my chip stats- unfortunately due to there being so many people I ran about a half mile extra in the first 5 miles). I was trucking along until I hit the hills. (I actually just typed “hells” instead of hills, and that is strangely appropriate).
The next few miles were just a big blur of hills. Spectators and people at the water stations kept saying things like “last hill!” and it got me every time. I don’t know what their definition of hills was, but there were still more hills. And then more after that. For someone used to running in flat San Jose, they were pretty brutal. I remember thinking somewhere around mile 11, at the bottom of a hill, that I didn’t think I could make it up. I was tired by the halfway point and my quads and butt were already starting to get sore.
After the halfway point, things got blurry again. It had started to rain a little bit, and the course had us run right by the finish line when we still had 10 miles left. A little mean, if you ask me :). Somewhere around the 19 mile mark, I stopped to stretch real quick and saw that the 4:15 pace group was behind me. I knew that they were probably right by me, but it was a little disheartening to know that I was probably not going to make my 4:10 goal. At the same time, it was encouraging that I had a group I could run with to try and keep pace! I decided to keep with them the best that I could for the rest of the race.
Unfortunately, the best I could do was stick with them for a mile or so. By the 35k mark, they were pretty much out of sight. At that point, I was really disappointed and exhausted. Trying to keep a decent pace over the hills was really rough, and I was feeling like I was never going to finish the race!
I’m not sure if I ever really hit “the wall” like I did in previous races, but if I did it was at about mile 23.5 on the last uphill. I honestly wanted to cry. Going up that last hill was potentially the hardest part of the entire race. When I got to the top, I couldn’t believe I still had 2 miles left to run.
The last 2 miles were pretty uneventful. They were pretty much a flat, straight shot to the finish. It was officially raining by that point, and I did my best to stay positive and just keep moving. I finally saw the Hubble right before the finish line and then gave everything I had left as I ran to the finish. I was so happy when I crossed that finish line!
My official time: 4:20:43
I got my finisher’s necklace from a firefighter (at least I assume, I wasn’t exactly 100% there and was more focused on the man with bagels 🙂 ), and then passed through the chute and got my shirt, etc. I was too tired to take advantage of anything they had to offer at the finisher’s area. I just wanted to sit down and/or take a shower!
In all, I’m pretty proud of my race. When I decided last spring to train for another marathon, my main goal was to finish with a pace of 10 minute miles or faster. As my training went on, I got more confident and that number slowly crept downward. The 4:10 goal was really my “reach” goal, so I’m not upset that I finished in 4:20 on a tough, hilly course. My main disappointment was my attitude- I feel like I sort of mentally gave up a couple of times. In my training runs, I generally was able to stay focused on finishing even when my body said to stop, so I definitely want to work on that.
Next up? The California International Marathon on December 5. I was already registered to run the Redding Marathon on January 16, but didn’t want to wait that long for another race! I want to break 4:10 SO badly now, and I think that on a flatter course such as CIM I may be able to do just that!