Disclaimer: This is very long. But it’s the whole story.
Oh my. I’m not even sure where to begin with this race report. I was thrilled to have been picked in the lottery again this year. So thrilled that I immediately tweeted when I got that happy email stating my name had come up. Months of training for the Rock N Roll San Diego half with Team and Training mixed with months of training over the summer and fall along with a healthy mix of injuries and varying degrees of broken-ness lead up to this day.
This was an awesome weekend because not only was I revisiting the place of my first half marathon a year ago, I was also going to be sharing the race course with Renee, Lauren, Megan and of course T, but some friends from our town had gotten picked also. One of the best parts? Beki and her knight were going to be driving the hour from her house down to San Francisco to cheer us on!
We had planned to leave Friday evening in order to spend some time with my uncle and his partner. They live about 30 minutes outside of the city. It just so happens that it was T’s furlough day from work, so we ended up taking off a couple hours early and getting to have a late dinner with a friend in Oakland.
After an awesome night’s sleep at my uncle’s and a yummy breakfast, we headed into the city about 10 a.m. We first checked into our hotel room (which was SOOO much nicer than the one we stayed in last year. I cannot recommend Club Quarters enough. They were reasonably priced and very clean with friendly staff.) After checking in, we headed towards Union Square. Since we were waiting to meet up with Beki and her Knight, we decided to head into the craziness of Niketown. T needed some new running pants since his disappeared a couple years ago on one of his business trips. But first we had to take pictures of “the wall.”
We had a busy day starting with race packet pick-up, lunch at The Crab House with a group of 7 at a table barely meant to hold 4. You can see our post-lunch picture here. Then it was off to Ghirardelli Square for some hot cocoa because it was cool and breezy. (Bari, I have chocolate for you!) After that Beki and Knight dropped T and I off at Union Square. Then we headed over to Grandviews Lounge at the Hyatt to meet Dimity and Sarah who wrote the book Run Like A Mother. They were awesome as were the other ladies there. The mothers ranged from moms doing their first half marathon to moms who were running the marathon for the multiple-th time. Dimity and SBS signed my book. We all talked about what kind of race we hoped to have. It was lovely. It was a privilege to meet them. (Here’s a picture T took.)
After a light dinner of pizza, T and I headed back to our hotel to get all the night-before-race prep done. We had bibs to attach, clothes to pick, check bags to pack, Nuun to mix, and the most important thing – sleep to get. We set our alarms for 5:30. The lights were turned out at 10. I woke up every.single.hour.until right before the alarm went off. Think I was nervous? Nope. Excited.
For you see not only was I running the same race as Lauren and Renee, I was running on the day that Jen and Bari were also running their very first half marathon. I’m pretty sure both of these “sisters” had no intention of running a half marathon 6 months ago. I am so proud of them and the fact that they successfully completed their half marathons today!
Pre-race picture in the hotel.
I wore my BondiBand that says
“In it for the bling”
After getting dressed and fed and the all important “pre-race poop” as Coach Joe calls it, T and I headed down to Union Square, which was just shy of a mile from our hotel. We checked out the Nike+ pre-race lounge and then headed to the bag check. This year Nike+ had an awesome benefit of having separate bag check buses that were being taken to the finish line at a special Nike+ finisher’s lounge. (More about that later.) As we were walking to our pace groups, we saw Coach Joe and had him take our picture. (I’m hoping he posts them on facebook.) T and I split up and went our separate ways. I was so excited to be lined up and ready to go.
When the gun went off last year, it took about 15 minutes before I hit the start line. This year I crossed at about 3 minutes after the gun. I actually got a choked up crossing the start line. The memories flooded back. It was interesting this year, though. The crowd never broke up. Last year, it dissipated and I never felt crowded. This year, I was running on people’s heels for the first few miles. But even with the closer quarters, I was totally into my run. I was listening to music and cruising along. I made sure to pay attention to my surroundings as last year I had tunnel vision. I was also anticipating the big hill that began at mile 6. The fog was less intense this year and I had awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I almost stopped to take a few pictures to post, but with the moisture in the air, my phone’s touch screen doesn’t work great, so I decided to just keep on trucking. I felt like I was running at a decent pace and so I was a little confused when I hit the first three miles and the race clock said I was running at about a 10-minute mile. I kept questioning that, but shrugged it off because I was feeling good and was enjoying the miles. I did run up behind a couple of ladies when I saw they had shirts from Reno. It’s always fun to run into people from your area.
Mile 6 hill. It was big. It was long. I made it to the top again without stopping. Yahoo! But you know what? I think running is a lot like childbirth. Last year my focus was on making it up that hill. It meant I was over halfway done and that was the hill that had me scared. I remember tearing up at the top of the hill and thinking of The Sisterhood and those that had encouraged me. (You can read about my experience at NWM 2009 here.) Last year it felt like the rest of the race just flew by. It didn’t but my big fear over “the hill” was so strong that when it was over I relaxed and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. This year? This year, I walked some. At about mile 7 I felt like I had to pee. I put off the urge until mile 8. And then I blew my nose and almost peed my pants! I knew I couldn’t make it another 5+ miles without visiting the port-a-potty, so I stopped and had to wait for 3 people to go in front of me. I paused my iPod while I waited my turn. It was probably about a 5-minute stop. When I started running again my iPod didn’t want to talk to my sensor and I probably lost 0.25-mile worth of mileage before it decided to start working again. The “holy hill” between mile 6 and 7? Here’s where running is like childbirth. I don’t remember the two other hills on the course. At all. But I noticed them today. And I walked one of them.
The surprising thing was I was okay with it. In San Diego I was very upset when I had to stop and walk. I was mad at my body for not allowing me to run the race I had envisioned. I was pretty devastated at the time because I felt I shouldn’t be walking. I was supposed to be stronger than that. I was disappointed and angry and had some pretty interesting dialogue with myself for many miles in San Diego. I had not one of those thoughts this time. I knew I had to take it easy on my knees and hips with the hills.
My left hip and knee are what have be bothering me for the last few weeks. My new sports chiropractor is my new best friend. I ran 6 miles last weekend with no pain. It had been weeks since that had happened. I didn’t want to mess anything up by pushing myself too hard which would then lead to me taking more time off and spending more time and money at the chiropractor’s office trying to keep the pain at bay while I finish training for Disney in January. I was *okay* with walking. I really enjoyed the race. I enjoyed looking for Beki (even though I never saw her). I saw Coach Joe, but it was just as I turned a corner and just had enough time to yell his name and wave.
I went out of my way to make contact with the spectators. If someone had their hand out looking for a high-five, I made a point to get over there and give them high-fives. Especially the little kids! How cute they were. One of those happy times was coming down the final hill where you get the first glimpse of the ocean and the finish line. I had a huge smile on my face and I must have giggled or laughed or something because a lady about 5 feet in front of me turned around to look at me with the same huge smile. We commented to each other on how awesome the view even though we still had over 2 miles to go. There were tons of cowbells out there on the course and I was wearing my “I need more cowbell” necklace, so it made me smile every time I heard them.
I walked mile 11. At mile 12 I decided I’d run the rest of the way. So I took off, but my knee was starting to ache so I took off slowly. I ended up walking a little bit more in that mile. And then, Ms. ChristieO came back to give me a little finish-line kick. When we were in San Diego she told me that during one of her triathlons she motivated herself by singing Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out”. It has become a staple on my running playlist. And guess what came on? Yep, ChristieO took me through another end of a run. I was actually laughing and singing and running fairly hard. As I turned the final corner and saw the finish line, I knew what I had to do.
I took a deep breath and sprinted across the finish line with a big ass smile on my face. The time on the clock was about 2:23 and change. I knew I that my time was about 3 minutes less than that. (Official time 2:20:48) This was my slowest half yet. And you know what? I was the most happiest through this race.
Post-race picture in the hotel wearing my finisher shirt.
Excuse the crazy hair. That’s what happens when you walk over
a mile back to the hotel in the rain.
You know what I think happened? I took my own advice. I enjoyed the miles. I had fun. I don’t want my running and races to be drudgery – even though training can sometimes feel that way. I want to enjoy the running. Because, after all, why do it if it makes me miserable? Why do it if I don’t enjoy it on some level? Today? I enjoyed the run. I was happy and emotional and rocked out to music and talked to people and loved seeing all the TNT-ers out there.
So I crossed the finish line, got my little blue box with my Tiffany & Co. necklace and headed for the Nike+ finisher’s lounge. I picked up my checked bag and called T. When I finally took my phone out I had a text from Beki saying that they couldn’t find parking at the finish line so she wouldn’t be there. Which made me a little sad, but the finish line was insane.
At Nike+ area they had free coffee, cocoa and breakfast burritos. They were HUGE! And delicious. And warm. They also had an area with yoga mats and foam rollers. I used them. It felt good to stretch and roll out my muscles. After that we decided to find the shuttles and head back to the hotel. It had started to rain and with the breeze off the ocean I was cold – even wrapped up in my space blanket and with a dry shirt and sweatshirt on.
The shuttle was supposed to take us back to Union Square, but for some reason it dropped us off about 2 blocks away. Which just so happened to be two blocks farther for us to get back to our hotel room. So even though my knee was hurting, we had to walk in the rain back to the hotel. But that hot shower when we got back? One of the best showers I’ve taken in a long time. I was chilled to the bone and to feel clean and warm again was wonderful.
Wanna see our medal?
Because I do.
Running is my exercise.
Running is my break.
Running is my sanity.
Running allows me something that’s mine.
Which results in a happier mom. A happier wife.
I am a runner.
It’s part of whom I am.
I will be linking directly to Renee, Lauren, Jen, and Bari‘s race reports when they get them up. And when they do, please go visit them and tell them how awesome they are…because each one of these ladies did an amazing thing today. 13.1 miles.