This post is a continuation of a mini-series of posts that I’ve been writing about the Nike Women’s Marathon. In case you want to read my previous posts, I’m putting links to them below. So far, I’ve written about:
- My marathon story: a letter to my daughters, written after having run the NWM, my first full marathon
- Nike Women’s Marathon Expo: a post all about the Expo at NWM
- Nike Women’s Marathon Photo Shoot: a post about my experience being in a professional photo shoot for Nike
It’s been well over a month since the marathon, and I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect. I’ve been waiting on this post because I really wanted to take the time to let everything sink in, and to try and make sense of all of my thoughts and feelings. So here goes…
We got to Union Square really early, so that the Nike film crew could tape my friends and I getting ready for the race. They taped us starting our Nike+ GPS watches, stretching, etc. We toed the line and were off!
The course was beautiful. It was a point-to-point race. (This made transportation to and from somewhat difficult, but not impossible.) The race started in Union Square, and the course went along the shore of the Bay. We went through Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, Presidio Parkway, Lincoln Park, Golden Gate Park, the Great Highway, and Lake Merced. Had it been a clear day (in San Francisco?! HA!), we would’ve had a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. But it was so foggy and misty, I never even saw it. I wish that we could have run over the Golden Gate Bridge. That would have been so neat!
Regardless, the course was so beautiful! There was a beautiful waterfall in Golden Gate Park that just took my breath away, and I remember thinking that it was even better than Central Park. There was a gorgeous windmill, too, and I just stared in awe as I ran by. Lake Merced was pretty, but gosh darnit, it took FOREVER to get around that lake! (LIKE, REALLY. It was TOO. BIG.)
It was too cold for my liking for the race. I had brought a headband, gloves, sleeves, and was wearing capris so that I could stay warm, but I ran into trouble along the route. It was misty, almost like a constant light rain, for about the first 14 miles of the race. This mist soaked my clothing, and although it was water wicking, it still was absorbed. This made me feel colder than I think I would have had I not had all that layering on. So at one point in the race, I took my sleeves and gloves and headband off. But then I felt even COLDER, so I tried to put them back on, and that was a talent in itself! The clothing items were so wet, it was nearly impossible to pull them back on, but I managed, and I kept them on after that.
Did I mention that I had also just started my period right before the race (sorry gentlemen, but I just have to mention this)?! I started a week early. I think it was my nerves that made me start early. Well, that and any time I ride an airplane, it’s like Mother Nature conspires against me and gets joy out of having me cramp and bleed for the duration of my vacation (any other women in the same boat as me with this?)! I always have poorer performance when running during my time of the month, so this was getting me down before the race even started. I remembered to think about my time of the month when scheduling races in the future, ha ha!
There were tons of hills in the race, which luckily, I trained for! There was a killer hill from mile six through seven, and still others from miles eight through 15. The elevation chart on the course map looked intimidating to me, but I had trained on hills (and I also train at high altitude [5,000+ ft!]) so I wasn’t too worried about it. I do realize now, however, that I should have gone about my hill training a little differently. This has been noted for any future hilly courses I may decide to run.
There was a ton of support for the half marathoners, but once we split in mile 11, I felt pretty lonely. Out of 25,000 runners, about 5,000 were running the full marathon. So at the split, it got quiet quickly. In fact, during one part of the race, I honestly thought I went off course! I was so freaked out that I was going to end up running 28 miles instead of 26, but I eventually realized I was going the right way (that’s how lonely it was out there!).
The mist made the road somewhat slippery, and I saw a few people fall. I decided to pay close attention and take it a little easy so as not to fall myself.When we got to the shoreline, wind gusts started to kick in. Mixed with the drizzle, it made the weather conditions tough for me (I’m a high desert rat..heat and sunshine, PLEASE!).
In mile 13, my foot began to feel very warm, and I thought that was strange, since I was so shivery and cold! I realized that I must be bleeding. I thought about stopping to check, but I was scared that if I stopped, I might not have the momentum to start back up again, so I kept on chugging, and decided that if it didn’t really bother me too much, I was probably OK. (It turns out that I had lost a toenail. This was probably due to all of the hills.)
At mile 14, mile 24 was just on the other side of a very thin median. I remember thinking about how I wanted to be on THAT side of the median! Shortly thereafter, I reached Lake Merced. From studying the course map before the race, I knew that I just had to get around this lake and I’d be pretty much done. I looked to the side where the lake was, and I couldn’t even see the other side of it. It was that big. CRAP. It was going to be a while!
Honestly, I felt pretty good for the first 20 miles of the race! It felt just like another training run, and that part was great! I knew my training had paid off, and boy was I relieved! The hill at mile six was pretty rough, but I got through it, and I wasn’t going to let those hills stop me! No, no, no, I was here to finish my first marathon, and NOTHING was going to stop me!
At mile 20, I remember feeling like the race had suddenly BEGAN. I’ve never had to play so many mental games with myself to pull through a race! I didn’t hit a wall…it was all mental. I wondered why I didn’t go beyond 20 miles in my training runs. (For my next marathon, I will go to at least 24 miles, and maybe even beyond 26, just so that I can feel mentally prepared. That last 10k is seriously a LOT to get through if you’ve never done it before!)
The Nike photographers were chasing me with their still cameras and camcorders, snapping shots of me throughout the race. I waved and smiled, but after mile 16, I got into my “zone” (thanks to the NEVER-ENDING Lake Merced, hee hee); I just had to focus to get through that lake, so there’s probably Nike footage that makes me look like a hot mess haha! One cameraman was even in this little tiny go kart.
It was so hilarious to see the cameraman chase me in a go kart! (This was after mile 20, and I was wondering how the heck I was even still running for him to have to follow me in a moving vehicle!!) The photographers honestly helped push me through the race. I kept thinking, “I don’t want to be caught wussing out on film…KEEP GOING.” So in a way, I’m grateful for the hot mess footage that’s out there somewhere.
I crossed the finish line. I saw one of the Nike photographers. He high-fived me at the finish line and screamed, “I can’t believe you just RAN that WHOLE THING!” I found this so comical! He cheered me up, because I had seen that I came in 20 minutes after my goal time.
He said I was the first out of my group to finish, so I waited for the others. My friend Theresa came in not long after. I gave her a stinky, sweaty hug, and we both cried. Then we waited for April and Lisa, who were running together. We saw them cross the finish line, hand-in-hand. We hugged again. And cried again.
We got our finisher’s tees and our Tiffany’s necklaces, and posed for photos with firemen in tuxedos.
We finished our NWM experience with a brief interview and finishing photographs with the Nike photographers, and caught a cab back to our hotel. (I recommend preparing return transportation in advance, as we waited well OVER an HOUR to get a cab back to the hotel..and waiting that long after running a marathon? That’s so not cool.) We rested and got ready for a day in Napa Valley the following morning.
To be continued…