A little bit of history before I get to the race report. I was a California girl growing up, we moved a lot, lived in several different states sometimes for just a 6 moths to a year and then we would always end up back in Southern California. That was the pattern until I turned 14 and my parents seperated. My dad went to China and we moved to Arkansas my Mom's home state.
A few years later when I graduated High School my sisters and I went to San Francisco to spend the summer with my dad, the year was 1978 and here I am 30 years later in 2008 running a marathon in San Francisco. That chubby, shy 18 year old girl would never have imagined running 1 mile let alone 26.2!!!!
Having 4 women in one smallish hotel room you might think it would be chaos on race morning, but it really wasn't. We had prepared everything the night before so it was really just a matter of getting dressed.
Our wave wasn't starting until 6:25 and we wanted to be at the race by 5:45ish to have time to use the port-a-potties etc. The walk from the Hotel to the race start was the perfect warm up, when we first started I was a bit nervous but it didn't take long until we saw other runners headed in the same direction.
After taking care of our bathroom issues we headed towards our corral, I saw the 5:00 hour pacer, she was in wave 7 so we decided to tag along with that corral.
I am always emotional at the start line and I warned the girls I might cry, so i'm teary eyed and Bailey is just plain terrified! Cheryl and Michele seemed calm but I'm sure they were dealing with their own emotions.
We all started out together but I knew from the start that Michele wouldn't be with us for long. My plan was as usual to start off very conservatively so as not to burn out during the 2nd half. I was feeling really good, loving the cool crisp air and just trying to take in all the sights around me.
At mile 3.5 or close to it Cheryl said she needed to find a bathroom fast... well what do you know just ahead is a real bathroom, it was a little off the beaten path but we saw other runners headed in the same direction and followed them. It was pretty crowded and we lost quite a bit of time waiting in line but I knew that early in the race that we would have had to wait in line wherever we stopped.
Michele called right while we were in line and she was about .5 a mile ahead of us also on a bathroom break. She waited for us and we caught up with her in time for us to all run over the Golden Gate Bridge together.
The Bridge - I never even felt the incline I was so excited to be running on the bridge, the only negative was how crowded it was, you pretty much were constantly weaving around people and sometimes having to almost stop trying to manuever around some of the bigger groups of people. When you are doing that much weaving it it pretty hard to stay together but the girls were always somewhere around me and then when we ran off the bridge to the turn around we were all together long enough to take pictures. I know it seems crazy to some people to stop for a group photo, but when will I ever run on the Golden Gate bridge with the girls again??? probably never, I hope we have many more marathons together in our future but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn't let it pass undocumented!!
There was also a water stop at the turn around, we all kind of got strung out here. I ended up running most of the Bridge back by myself... but I enjoyed every moment of it. I truly had the "runners high" going the entire time I was on the bridge. I thought a lot about that summer of 78 and I thought a lot about my life now and I was just so happy I can't even describe it. I called my son but he didn't answer so I left him a voice mail letting him know his mom was running on the Golden Gate Bridge :)
I had been by myself for a while when I saw Michele ahead of me so I sped up a little to catch her. The whole time we had been in San Francisco Cheryl had been singing part of an old song "clang clang goes the trolley ... ding ding goes teh bell" Corny I know but hey we had a good time with it. So anyway when I caught up with Michele I sang that to her... I wish I could have taken a picture of her face! She was pretty suprised to see me. We ran together for a few minutes but with the crowd and weaving I lost her again. I knew that Bailey and Cheryl were right behind me somewhere so I just kept an easy pace waiting for them to catch up. Just before the end of the bridge they went flying by....
I did a pretty good job of remembering to eat my Honey Stinger chews, and I got water at every aid station. I also would get just a little bit of cytomax.
Somewhere around mile 9 or 10 Bailey's friend Amber was manning the first Team Bailey aid station. She had a big sign with all of our names and most importantly pretzels!! Those pretzels saved my life or maybe just my stomach but about a mile before we got to her my stomach was starting to feel like it was going to rebel on me and cause a major problem. Having something solid really helped calm my stomach down and I really don't even want to know what my race would have been like if I hadnt' had the pretzels.
I couldnt' stop for long and gave Amber a hug grabbed a cup of pretzels and was on my way, Bailey and Cheryl stayed behind a few seconds longer so I was on my own again for a little while. My thing with running is I just can't stop for too long, so I would have to keep going but it never took the girls long to catch up with me. When Cheryl and Bailey did catch up Cheryl was in dire need of a port a pottie again. I had been feeling the need myself so was relieved to know that they needed to stop too.
I don't really remember much about that stop other than the fact that it took us forever to finally find them!
The miles had really been ticking off pretty easy, I felt great mentally and physically. My stomach was behaving and all was right in my world. It was so nice to reach 13.1 and split off from the 1/2 marathoners, it definately got a lot less crowded!! It was also nice to be feeling so good!
I have to say that as far as crowd support goes San Francisco was definately lacking in that department!! We really got spoiled in Nashville with all the cheerleaders and other crowd support....BUT we had our own cheering team. Bailey's mom spent a lot of time studying the course map and came up with a plan for provide aid and support at 5 or 6 different locations. I will never be able to thank her enough, it was always so nice knowing that up ahead we had people who cared about us who would be excited to see us and who would provide us refreshments!!
Each and every time we saw them it was a physical and mental boost!
It's funny now days later a lot of the details are kind of blurred, I think it was around mile 16 when Bailey an dI were running through the park and we saw another real bathroom.. I wasn't really feeling the need but had that feeling that if I passed it I would soon regret it. It was a very good thing we stopped, I had a bit of business to take care of!!!!! We had lost Cheryl earlier and this also gave her a chance to catch up with us.
This course had lot's of hills, and lot's of steep downhills. On one of them Cheryl and I 'stirred the pot" and flew down. Bailey kept telling us to slow down but we didn't listen... well I suffered for it later. Around mile 20 my left calf seized up with a cramp, I have never felt anything like that before, oh believe me I get my share of injuries, pain etc. but this felt like my left was going to explode. I had to slow down quite a bit and was worried that I had really hurt myself, pretty much as long as I kept it kind of slow I was ok. I tried to pick up the pace several times but that sensation would always come back. I decided better safe than sorry and just kept it slow and steady after that.
Bailey stayed with me, I tried to get her to go on, I had actually been trying to get her to go on ever since the 1/2 way point but she said "I didn't train for this alone so I'm not running it alone".
We were going up one of the last big hills and a volunteer was saying this is the last hill, it's all downhill after this. When we got closer I asked her if she was telling the truth, she said absolutely and if it wasn't true we could hunt her down after the race. Lucky for her I was too tired after the race to look for her, because she was lying, maybe not on purpose, but there were a few more smaller hills after that one.
Somewhere around mile 24 Bailey turned to me and said with a sad face "it's almost over". Here I was suffering with my calf, and big toe pain just so happy that we were almost done and Bailey is sad.
At mile 25.5 my stomach which had behaved pretty well for most of the race dedided it had had enough and it stopped me in my tracks. If you have read this blog before or if you have run with me before you know what happens when my stomach has had enough. I had to stop and cross my legs in the middle of the Marathon course. I wanted to cry but instead I yelled out "shit"... Bailey turned around and I said.. REALLY.. SHIT!! She laughed turned around and walked with me for a bit until it calmed down. Luckily it did calm down, and I made it to the fnish without incident.
When we hit mile 26 Bailey again turned to me with a sad look on her face and trembling lips, she was really said it was over. I am SO happy that she had such a great first marathon!!!
When we approached the finish line she grabbed my hand and we ran through the finish together it was such a great feeling, sharing that moment with her!!!
Right after we got our medals I saw Michele, she had been in touch through the race and I knew that the slanted roads and rough asphalt had taken it's toll on her IT bands but I was suprised to see her and to find out that she had only finished a few minutes before us.
As we went through the food line I grabbed a banana ate a few bites and threw it away, next came bread, I grabbed a roll but could only take a bite before I had to throw it away too, but it was enough to make the dizziness go away and help my stomach.
I had been keeping my eyes open for Cheryl but didn't see her, we went to the dry bag pick up and I called her, turns out she was right behind us.
We all regrouped and then headed back to our hotel. After Nashville I know how important walking as much as possible after the marathon is so I was happy to walk back... my shoulders were killing me but otherwise I felt pretty good.
In the years to come when I think about this Marathon I believe what will always come to my mind first will be the way I felt on the Golden Gate Bridge and Bailey's face when we hit mile 26 and she didn't want it to be over.
There will be many other memories but those two are the biggies.
I have a lot more to say about our trip and toughts from the race but I'll save that for later.
Thank you Bailey, Cheryl and Michele for making this such a memorable experience!!! I also want to thank all of our friends who were sending us positive text messages and good thoughts through the whole race. It is a pretty awesome feeling knowing that you have a big support group at home who are keeping up with your progress and sending positive vibes. I couldn't do this without all of you!!! And the biggest thanks goes to my hubby Arland for always supporting me and cheering me on no matter what!!
I love you all!!!!!