Yesterday I became a marathoner.
For pre-marathon fuel, I had a mini chocolate-chip bagel with 1/2 packet of Justin’s peanut butter & a banana.
Then after splashing my face with water, and downing a few glasses of water, I geared up in my NEW NWM2010 Dri-fit shirt and arm sleeves from Nike Town…which according to Julia’s husband Tyler, made me look ‘hardcore.’
And then we headed down to Union Square to get into our corral! Soon after arriving at 6:20am, Julia & I shared a Gatorade.
And then, we headed to the port-a-potties!
(Photo courtesy of Curtis)
And yes, I’m pretty sure there was only THIS ONE row of port-a-potties for all 25,000 runners. Insanity.
Then, we took one last pre-run photo op, before Curtis & Tyler headed to the start line to watch us WHIZ by.
I was really nervous at this point, and kept having to retie my tennis shoes. I was afraid it was too tight, then too loose, then too tight…it continued until about 2 minutes to 7am. And then I finally gave up and decided that if I needed to, I’d adjust it along the way.
7am, the race began.
(Photo from Julia)
We crossed the start line at about 7:06, and we were on our way. The first few miles were super crowded. But, Julia & I stuck together, got down a solid pace, of about 9:30 min/mile and hopped around the copious amounts of walkers. We’re pretty sure there was an earlier corral full of TNT walkers – which caused some very frustrated running and hopping around side-to-side like football players on a field, but we managed to keep on chugging.
Around mile 3, we hit our first hill. Apparently a lot of runners either chose to not train for the hills, or just walk up them, because a lot of runners started walking up the hill, which made actually running, kind of difficult – in fact I’m pretty sure I ‘sped-walked’ up about half the hill.
After we conquered hill #1 (there were more hills that I can count on the course), we were treated to a downhill into the first Cheer Station! We were greeted with the smiling and familiar faces of Tyler & Curtis, who cheered us on gallantly. It was at this point that we also hit our runners high, and were going strong.
Then, as we departed the cheer station, we hit another 2 fairly steep hills, followed by a little bit of flat ground and some great sights (there was a Golden Gate Bridge photo op stop, but we were in this marathon to run it, so we didn’t even think about stopping). It was around this point that I had my first Clif Raspberry Shot. Hit the spot.
And then, just before mile 6, the run UP to the Golden Gate Bridge began. It was one of the longest hills of the course. It wasn’t completely straight up, we had a few breaks, but it was definitely tolling on the body. Our estimate is that we pretty much ran uphill for about 3 miles.
After the looong uphill, we got an awesome downhill, which had us run down to the beach! Pretty much at the bottom of the beach, another Cheer Section began, and it lasted until we started the uphill into Golden Gate Park. At this point, we saw Tyler & Curtis again around mile 11, and Curtis managed to snap this great shot.
(Photo courtesy of Curtis)
And then we continued into Golden Gate, where we had about another 2 1/2 miles or so on a gradual uphill. At the end of the trek into Golden Gate, we stopped for Julia so she could pee 🙂 Of course, I took advantage as well! And had another Clif Shot. It was also around this point, that it began to lightly rain…and it continued to for the remainder of the race. I do have to say, cold, rainy and windy beats hot & humid any day.
I’m happy to say, though, that the port-a-potty break was one of just 2 breaks we took during the whole marathon!
Then, when we turned around to run back through Golden Gate Park to the beach, we ended up rejoining the half marathoners (who had peeled off around mile 12). They were running toward mile marker 13, while we were running towards mile marker 16. It was frustrating and discouraging knowing that they were almost done and that we had to trek with them to the finish line, and then continue on for 10 more miles, but then we broke when they turned towards the finish line, and headed up the ocean some more, towards Lake Merced for the last 10 miles!
Tyler & Curtis had moved up on the course to cheer us on once more just past the mile 16 marker, just before cheer drought began and we started on 3 miles of flat running down the oceanfront…
(Photo from Julia)
Miles 19-23 were some of the hardest miles I have ever run in my life. While 16-19 weren’t easy miles – the road was really rough and hard on our feet and knees – it was when I saw Lake Merced, and realized we had to run ALL THE WAY AROUND IT, that my mind began to play games with me. I had another Clif Shot, and we kept on. We were tired, and our joints & legs were starting to kill. Our miles were becoming slower, and a lot of it was uphill, but I’m pretty sure the only reason we didn’t walk, was because we were there together, and knew we were both suffering. It wasn’t until about mile 22 (the Ghiradelli mile, which wasn’t much to call home about—there were maybe 3/4 people handing out chocolate?!) that I had a sharp pain hit in my hip. I looked at Julia and told her I needed to walk for a second. we walked for about 30 seconds, and then started on again, until we hit the first aid station, where I opted to take some Tylenol, to help the pain. This was our only other break besides the port-a-potty (unless you want to count the fact that we walked through all the water/Gatorade stations so that we actually drank the liquid instead of pouring it on ourselves).
And then, we charged on, knowing we had only 4 miles left. I took my last Clif Shot at this point…for a final boost of energy. When we had just over 2 miles left, I realized, with the help of my trusty Garmin, we could finish fairly close to 4:45. We then kind of looked at each other, and started to pick up the pace. We passed by the last two aid stations, knowing that if we stopped, we might not be able to start up again, and that we had enough Gatorade in our fuel belts to make it to the end. Soon we passed mile 24, mile 25, and our pace just kept increasing. Luckily Julia & I had opted to stick together, because we were really able to push and encourage one another towards the finish line. And as soon as we saw mile 26, we both gave it our all, and raced (literally) towards the finish line.
We were asked by a few of the race officiants where our bibs were (they were trying to keep out non-registered folk), and I kept pointing to my back (where we had placed our bibs), and it was an exhilerating moment to hear them announce “Julia and Elise” as we crossed over the mat.
Julia and I then hugged and celebrated a bit, before we did an extremely embarrassing interview for Channel 5 news in SF (I seriously hope we didn’t make the air) and then we headed to what we were really running for:
(I looked all gross and sweaty…and super swollen – but hey, I needed evidence!)
Firemen in Tuxedos handing out our Tiffany’s Finisher’s Necklaces:
And the Finisher Shirts (which I LOVE):
(Photo from Julia)
And then we exited the finisher’s area, picking up bananas, Kashi cereal, water, Gatorade, pineapple juice (?!), and other random items.
As we were exiting, we ran into Tyler, who informed us he & Curtis has missed us finish, BUT had brought the car so we didn’t have to wait in an hour + line to take the shuttles back to the hotel. It was then, we snapped our ‘finisher’s photo’ together:
We were tired, sweaty, wet (from the rain), sore and in pain… Did I mention the soreness and pain?!
But hey – we ran 26.2 – and on Julia’s birthday!
While it would’ve been nice to have finish line witnesses, we were grateful (though very sore, tired and delirious) to have the car there, so we didn’t have to wait, and so that we were able to get back to the hotel and squeeze in a quick shower at the hotel before checking out.
After the quick shower, I said goodbye to Julia & Tyler, as they had to drive back to Sacramento, and Curtis & I had to head back to Santa Cruz. I was so tired, but I stayed awake until we returned to Santa Cruz to help Curtis stay awake driving.
And then I spent the remainder of yesterday eating my weight in food, stretching, and sleeping. My eats included an amazing sandwich and 1/2 from some Saigon sandwicheria in SF. Breakfast of champions for dinner.
And a salad
2 additional bananas. A small luna bar, 4 servings of jelly beans, and some Naked juice.
Oh and lots of Gatorade & water.
The crazy part of yesterday?! Realizing I want to run another one. And the even crazier part?! I realized this before I even finished the race. It was about mile 24, when the adrenaline kicked in, and I realized “I can really do this.” This is amazing…I want to do it again.
My only condition?! It has to have less hills than San Francisco.
So overall marathon thoughts?
- I loved it. There were some hard parts, but it was totally worth it (hello, Tiffany’s!)
- If I hadn’t taken a three week hiatus from good training, I probably could’ve run faster – but it was my first marathon, and I had the privilege of running it with one of my besties — so finishing it with her was more than enough, and my time of 4:46:51 was a PR!
- Listening to your body is important. Although I tried not to walk, when we did, I knew my body needed it and Tylenol. If I hadn’t listened to my body I could’ve seriously injured myself.
- I wish I had known the extent of the hills before running the marathon. Although I trained for the past month and 1/2 in the Santa Cruz mountains, the sheer quantity of miles that were uphill still surprised me and drained me.
- I wish I had known it was more geared towards half marathoners. The last official race sponsored cheer station was at the finish line, and the 10 miles we ran out to and around Lake Merced, were really quiet, hard, and could’ve definitely used some cheer magic.
- Running with a friend makes running 26.2 easier – and knowing your friend was doing it on her birthday makes it all the more fabulous — Julia ran 26.2 on her birthday! Read her race recap here!
Have you run a marathon?! What was your experience? What marathon should I run next?! I’m thinking Chicago, or perhaps one in LA. I was thinking about Twin Cities, but…there are a lot of hills.
Oh, and many thanks to Tyler & Curtis for being amazing spectators & photographers, and ‘burning 500 calories’ just to watch Julia & I run our first marathon.