DATE: Sunday, July 26, 2009
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
RACE BEGAN: 5:31 AM (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 02:13:46
This race marked the greatest distance I have traveled to run a race (my "lucky" number 13th half-marathon), as part of the California Dreamin' racing series. This event offered a full marathon as well as two different half-marathons, of which I chose the earlier/former one because it traversed the Golden Gate Bridge, a sign of my tourist mentality.
San Francisco is a strange city. There is a lack of parking, and the houses are all up in each others' faces, and the wintery weather in the middle of summer just brought smiles to my sun-logged face (that is not sarcasm). But I had a lovely time walking through Golden Gate Park, going to the huge farmer's market, and eating ice cream (caring not to set off my stomach) at Ghirardelli Square. Thanks to my high school BFF and "The Ukrainian's" great-uncle & aunt for showing us around town and to Tea Time and M for taking us all up there! I could summarize this weekend as being full of car time, scratchers (yes, the gambling kind), gummies, cold and extreme heat, and pizza.
The night before the race, "The Ukrainian" and I mostly just watched TV and went across the street from our hotel to pick up some Indian food. I was unexplainably mopey, so I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was some of the best Indian food I've had... and best of all, no stomachache the next day! We took the food (garlic naan, some chicken glop, basmati rice, cucumber/tomato salad, samosas) back to our room. I took a shower and probably fell asleep at/around 8 PM.
Tea Time, "The Ukrainian," and I walked over to the start line with the Oakland Bridge clearly in view, and by around 5:30 AM, Bart Yasso was starting us off. It was dark and somewhat cold/windy, though not as bad as I had imagined it could get near bodies of water. I had rubbed a sample of Traumeel on my bad hip, though I did not feel it do anything, but was hoping it would help. In spite of my usual urge to run fast in the beginning, I was thankful that I had been able to run at all, so I held my pace back to something slower than 9:30 min/mi (I'm usually going much, much faster than this when I am well). Given that I haven't been able to run nonstop for more than 3 miles since last month, I was surprised as I reached the first major hill at mile 5 that I wasn't seething in pain yet. My hat was blowing off at this point, so I just held it for most of the rest of the race.
The highlight of the race, which was also the longest part, was running on the Golden Gate Bridge. We spent about 6 miles doing an out-and-back type thing on the foggy bridge. Being on it was certainly surreal. The bridge itself is not exactly flat, with long stretches of either slight uphill or downhill, but I was able to run that entire thing without stopping, going at a slow but steady pace. I thinik the beauty of the water and fog just distracted me from all that. I had logged over an hour before I reached the 6.5 mile point, which was definitely an indication of the slow finish time ahead of me.
If a Running Heaven exists, it was the 10th mile of this race. It was basically a perfect downhill that curved around the water, cool mist and slight wind taking the edge off my tiredness. I was wishing that I felt this good every time I ran, but no dice. And then the last two miles of the race were filled with tiny street hills that felt like mountains. Tea Time tried to encourage me, but I didn't have much left in me. I may had been able to push harder, but my spirit was not in it because honestly, I was just happy because I knew I was going to cross that finish line. When I finally got to that finish line at Golden Gate Park, I wasn't feeling like I was dying like usual (though that pic I have posted here can beg to differ).
I feel like a need a nice massage for my soreness this morning (and a cure for my sniffles... what gives?), which is a normal outcome for a half-marathon. My hip feels the same as it did in the days prior to my race, and I really hope for a full recovery (soon!) so I don't have to do any more races with that level of undertraining. All in all, the lack of time pressure forced me to enjoy myself, and I really gained a new respect for myself and regained faith in my overall physical fitness (or the Traumeel or Phiten necklace).
Above: Size-comparison for the medal... ha ha!