I've been simultaneously looking forward to and putting off this post because I, quite frankly, am not sure I can get it out in writing, how tremendous this experience was. But I'm going to try, wish me luck. (Forgive me if this starts to sound like an awards show acceptance speech.*)
Well y'all know, I have been training for a marathon (my 2nd) for 6 months with the San Francisco AIDS Marathon program. This program follows the Jeff Galloway method, which I have to say y'all, really works well. Together, our training group raised over $672,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation! That money (your donations) will support HIV services and prevention programs through out the Bay Area. Until there is a cure...
What a great cause this is and what a phenomenal group of individuals who are so committed to making a difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS that they come out month after month, year after year, to train budding runners and seasoned athletes alike to run (and ENJOY) a marathon. A special thanks to Coach Scott whom I have alternately loved and hated over the past 6 months. I never thought I'd say it but I'm going to miss your perky little self screaming "Good Morning AIDS Marathoners!" into a megaphone at 8 am on Saturday mornings... Perhaps you could call my house and leave it on my answering machine so I could play it every so often when I need some motivation and/or am feeling nostalgic?
To my fellow Z-Girls - I could not have asked for better running partners! If I had to give up 6 months worth of weekends, that I could have been spending with family and friends (being decidedly NOT sweaty), I'm glad I got to spend that time with you. Thank you for sharing all your stories with me and listening to all of mine. We logged over 250 miles together! To Heather, Heidi, Jane, Connie, Marcie and Jenny - You guys ROCK! You are so awesome, so inspiring, I am so proud of us all.
So by now most of you know that I injured my knee during our 23 mile training run in June and have been struggling with recovery since. After speaking to no less than 3 different doctors and trying all manner of stretches and strengthening moves I decided that perhaps I should pay attention to the folks with the medical degrees and only run the half marathon. Can I tell you how disappointed I was (am) that after 6 months I couldn't run the full marathon?? *sigh* I was going back and forth, over and over, until practically the day of the race! The 4 days of food poisoning (a week before the race) was the clincher. Stupid comedy club nachos...
Because BestFriend Liz is SUCH a nice person... She agreed to come up with me to the city on Saturday to the Expo. I don't think either of us was quite prepared for that Expo. First of all, it took us WAY too long to get down the Embarcadero - traffic was STOPPED y'all. And the Ferry Building is soooo much farther down than I remembered. But we finally made it down there and found parking. Upon walking into the Expo all I could think was "good Lord it is going to takes AGES to get through this chaos!" But it didn't! Like the good little sheep I am, I followed all the signs "look up bib number here" "pick up bib here" "pick up timing chip here" "follow arrows to pick up poster, t-shirt and hat" etc... Not too bad actually even though there were roughly 1200 people in that tent. And there were vendors selling cute running things inside, and totally NOT running related, er, paraphernalia for sale outside.
AND while at the Expo I did a mad dash around the area trying to locate the information desk so I could change my registration. I really did try y'all. But that's okay, they eventually figured it out and now if you go here you will notice I am back down in 858th place or something. Right where I should be. But *ahem* I am DETERMINED to make it on the front page of the results in my next marathon! Top 500 baby!
After a semi-quick lunch at Gordon Biersch, in which Liz and I noticed a full on raging bachelor party at 2 in the afternoon! 2:00 in the AFTERNOON y'all. Seriously. I heard one guy say that it was an 18 hour rager... They even had a blow up doll! (Which they proceeded to name Liz which I thought was flippin hysterical but BestFriend Liz wasn't so keen on) In broad daylight! But I digress, where was I? Right. After lunch we headed back home so I could carb-load and rest before the big race day.
The race itself was fantastic y'all. I managed to catch up with several runners I knew at the starting line and everyone was wishing people luck and giving last minute tips and hugs... It was the best feeling of camaraderie. As we lined up at the starting line waiting for the gun, Heather and I commented on the amazing feeling of seeing so many hundred of people in front of you and realizing you are part of something so much bigger than yourself. It was truly awesome. Truly.
The first 5 miles were great, I was making good time, running in familiar territory in Golden Gate park and just generally enjoying chatting with the other runners. After mile 5 we left the park and entered the Haight. Y'all I can't even begin to describe to you the feeling I had running through town. I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it. Y'all there were HUNDREDS of people out lining the course. HUNDREDS! With signs and balloons and they were all clapping and cheering. Some people were sitting on their cars, some were leaning out of their windows with their stereos blaring and some were having little mini-tailgate parties right there on the course. The SFAF had people with signs proclaiming that we were all heros. Street performers were out on the course. The cops on traffic duty were telling us that we were awesome. It was something so much... Bigger. I know I am not explaining it well but... It was... Etxraordinary.
Seeing as this post is already it's own epic (a virtual War and Peace of running), I won't bore you too much longer. My knee started hurting around mile 11 (half marathon is 13.1) and really made it known that it was NOT amused by the running by mile 12. At one point I didn't think I would be able to cross the finish line! But I did hobble across it and y'all, I'm not embarrassed to say, I almost sat right down there and bawled. I guess the experience was just overwhelming. But I managed not to cry and instead I received my medal, and went to eat, drink and celebrate with my awesome, excellent, super duper supportive friends who came up (on the train - we learned our lesson) to see me run. Thanks to TheBoy, Liz and Christine, I love you guys!
So to everyone who has had to listen to me go on and on and on about this marathon over the past 6 months. I did it! And it was everything I thought it would be. Also, stay tuned because, while I promise not to bore you to death with the details of the training any more, I am planning two more runs in the next 6 months. Whether they are full marathons or halfs remains to be seen. But I will be racing... It's addicting y'all!
*Wrap it up!