Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bailey's San Francisco Marathon Race Report

San Francisco Race Report

It's been over a week since the marathon, but I think I've finally got it all worked out in my mind. And the overall feeling I have is: disappointment. That's right. I'm disappointed. I had fun, I enjoyed the city, I loved that my mom and my best friend were there every few miles, I ran with the best girls in the world. It's hard to describe. So let me start at the beginning...

Training for the marathon began on a sour note as I was injured with a supposed "stress fracture." I still wonder about that. Once I got on the move things just fell into place. I had wonderful long runs (except for that last 15 miler...) coached by Coach Annette. Truthfully, my marathon happened the day we ran our 21 miler. I'd never run that far before and I was anxious and nervous. So when Michele and Annette told me I ran 21 miles I was over the moon. I did it. And felt good. I'll never forget that run.

So the girls flew in on Thursday, I flew in on Friday and Mom picked me up. We met the girls at the Expo who then showered me with gifts and love which I very much appreciate and am grateful for. I still wasn't really feeling the excitement of the marathon. Not dreading it, but just wasn't feeling it. But I was trying to pretend it didn't exist either, so goal accomplished!

Race morning began with getting my Medusa picture taken, getting dressed, and STILL trying to ignore what I was getting ready to do. How long can you really do that? Apparently you can do it up through 25 miles of a marathon. We walked to the starting line with a wonderful little chill in the air. The four of us did our bathroom thing and the nervous dance while waiting for our wave to start. I was looking around checking things out when I see the girls hop into wave 7. I figured out later why we did, but I was confused at first. Which is normal, if I know what's going on before a race I might be dangerous!

And off we go! The marathon shuffle had begun! It felt that way until mile 10. I passed by In N Out while we were running through Fisherman's Wharf and you would think I found the Holy Grail. I moved from California to England to Arkansas so In N Outs are hard to come by... The view running up to the Gate was cool, brought back memories of my brother asking his fiancee to marry him. Running across the bridge was painful. It was hop scotch over the crappy road, frogger trying to get past the walkers/talkers/iPod listeners, and some internal politics within myself. I didn't get to enjoy the fun of looking up at the railing and swoops and redness of the bridge because I was worried about stepping on the heels in front of me. I told Annette at one point though, I never thought I'd be running on the bridge. I've driven across it hundreds of time, but never ran it. And I probably won't again. Once in a lifetime chance there. Cool.

After the bridge Cheryl and I were looking forward to seeing Amber with the pretzels! And I was ready to shed my awesome sweatshirt- don't worry, it's still hanging around for the next marathon. Cheryl and I caught up to Annette before the end of the bridge and we ran up to Amber wondering who the heck she was talking to. It was Michele standing there like she was on a walk through the park. We got loaded up on snacks and smiles before we headed off again.

The half way point was great because the crowd thinned out. I mean- thin. Were we on the right course? There's the half way point... where's the crowd? Where is anyone? Helloooooo? The course through the park was unending. Honestly. How many times can we turn without leaving the park? I made sure we took our drugs and hydrated. I had started to loosen up and work it out by then so I was able to stop for Cheryl but run up to Annette. Did you know there were Buffalo in the Golden Gate Park? For serious! I lost Cheryl while she was taking pictures so I caught up with Annette. I truly felt good and could have ran past her and finished whenever I would have finished, but you know what? I didn't train by myself and I was sure as heck not going to finish my very first marathon by myself. Plus I like Annette. :) I didn't expect her to match my energy level, but I just hoped she would tell me to shut it and calm down. She never would though. Around one turn I saw a reflection of myself in a blonde girl who jumped up and down to cheer for a marathoner that passed. How irritating, but amusing. I imagine that if I were the one receiving her cheers I'd love it.

Towards the end (I think)of the park there was a guy sitting on a motorcycle and a friend sitting on a blanket next to him. I had some ants in my pants so I told them they were looking good or holding down the spot or something smartassed and the guy on the blanket said, "yeah, right on sister." I thought How very San Francisco. Loved it. FINALLY we exit the park up a hill (no kidding!?) and through a gate that opened onto a fountain people were sitting on. I did a mini Rocky move, how could you not?! Then we went on to Haight Street. My favorite street in the city. SO MANY memories running down this street. It was so nostalgic. From Ameoba records, to Arddvarks, to Idle Hands... it was all still there. If I knew how to cry I'd probably have shed a tear or something. We met up with Mom and more pretzels a couple of miles later and SHE IS SOOOO STINKIN' CUTE! I love her. She started crying and told me how proud she was. I know that she's always wanted to run a marathon, but the three kids she had sort of put that on the back burner. So this race was dedicated to her even though I didn't announce it to anyone. Again, if I knew how to cry, I would have probably shed some tears.

We keep on moving. I'm not wearing my Garmin so I have no idea where we are on the course. Oh, those huge mile marker signs? You look at those? Not this runner. I was cognizant that they were going by, but not really the number on them. After leaving Haight Street all I remember is bad music, steep hills, and scary streets until we turn by the AT&T stadium. I thought to myself, who in the world would volunteer or want to run the second half. Honestly? I was a little concerned for our safety more than once on this part of the course.

Anyway, there is a ridiculous step up around mile 24-25. Now was the step ridiculous or was the fact they put the step in front of a bunch of weird dancing people who are distracting you ridiculous? Who WERE those people?! And where did I miss the ecstasy handout? I got the Cytomax (yummy but makes you pee), the cold beer, and the gus, but missed the ecstasy. I ALSO missed my little nephew Austin dancing WITH the weirdos. Thankfully Amber took some pictures/videos and I could catch up. I remember looking at mile marker 25 and it sinking in that it was almost over. My smiling and grinning and kicking and laughing and joking and encouraging of Annette was almost over. I was sad. I truly was sad. Where was the wall? Where was the miserableness? Where was the soreness? And why are all these people walking backwards?

Mile 26ish the Roman Gladiator fights death and I'm super bummed. I know Annette was upset that she had to stop so close to the finish, but I wasn't. I got to spend more time running. :) We cross the finish line and it's over. I get a hug from the best running partner ever and go through the chute. And that's it. It's over. The training, the miles, the early mornings, the bathroom breaks, the aches and pains. Over. Done. Cheryl said it best when she said it was anti-climactic. This must be where the marathon fever hits you.

Was I disappointed in my time? Nope. Upset that I didn't push myself? Ha ha! So what was disappointing? I don't know. I just feel like I didn't get the full marathon experience because I didn't hit the wall or have any issues. I mean, I was upset it was over! I could have run another 5 miles easily. Maybe next marathon I can be miserable for the last 6 miles. But as for this one maybe the good memories are all that I need to keep me signing up for more.

Thoughts from me:

When I think about my first marathon experience I want to punch Bailey in the stomach for having such a great first marathon and not realizing how lucky she is!!!!
Of course not everyone's first marathon is called off in the middle of it because of heat related issues such as running out of water etc. although I did get to finish, it too was very anticlimatic.
Seriously though I'm very happy for Bailey and she did suffer through a lot of her long runs so I guess that makes up for it!! ;) Besides I can't punch her in the stomach because she is way to fast for me to run away from and I know it would break her heart to have to beat up an old lady!
You know I love you Bailey!!! Great Race Report!!


*aron* said...

ohhh great report :) i love reading about everyone's different perspectives on the same race. sounds like she had a great first marathon!!!

Susan said...

This is excellent, Annette! Bailey sure had a good time. I am envious! Sounds like she, like everyone else, has a WONDERFUL friend in you. :)