Tag Archive: Marathon

Nike Women’s Marathon – Race Report

On October 17th, I completed the Nike Women’s Marathon. It was my first marathon. It was also day 504 (I think) of my running streak.

Race time was 7AM, starting in Union Square. My hotel was just off the square and I figured on a 6AM arrival. That worked well, giving me time to find the start and the bag drop off and mill around a little bit, but not too long, before the start. It was dark and the weather started out about as perfect as you can get for a marathon, in the low 50s.

From the get-go people were awesome. I overheard one woman ask another woman where something was. The second woman answered, then asked a question of her own. I forget what it was, but I knew the answer, so told her. Somehow, instantly, we three just started chatting. Exchanging the usual topics before a race, “Is this your first marathon?” “The weather is great” “Where are the portapotties”. We walked together to the bag drop off buses. Wished eachother good luck and went on our way.

While 20,000+ runners and walkers waited for the starting gun, a slight drizzle began to fall. Again, perfect for a marathon. The gun went off. I think. I don’t really know, my starting group was so far away, I never really heard it. But I heard cheering right around 7, so I’m assuming. It took about 20 minutes for me to even get to the start line. However, I did actually get to run across. I had heard you can spend the first mile or so walking, so I was very happy to start off running.

There was a collection point at mile 2 for jackets, gloves, etc. Anything you needed at the start while waiting, but wouldn’t need running 26.2 miles. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait for the dropoff and tossed aside my fleece around mile 1.

It was a really great course, especially since I grew up outside of San Francisco, and spent a lot of time there. (Mom, you may want to skip ahead here). My best friend and I drove to San Francisco a lot in high school and the course went past many of the places we hung out. From Union Square down to Pier 39. Through the Presidio. In and out of Golden Gate park. I had one moment where the course turned and we were at the top of the hill turning onto the Great Highway. I burst into tears. I spent a lot of time at the beach here. Had a lot of fun. All those memories hit me as soon as I saw the water. Of course, it was pouring rain at that point, so no one could tell I was crying.

Oh yes, did I mention it had started raining? I was wearing a sleeveless running shirt (with my name in pink duct tape) and running shorts. Perfect for running in 55 degree weather. Not so perfect for running in 55 degree weather with pouring rain and wind.

I think it was somewhere in the Presidio when the race had posted signs. The theme this year was “I Run To Be”. The signs along this part of the route had reasons for running. Some were total tearjerkers like “I run to cure my son’s cancer” and others were fun, “I run for the massage”. I really enjoyed the signs. They were fun and inspiring and best of all, distracting.

I remember heading up one of the hills before the halfway point and talking to a runner who seemed to be struggling a bit. I told her that most of the hills were done. Which is sort of true, the hardest hills and the majority of hills were all in the first half. We joked a little and then went on our ways.

I can’t remember when it happened exactly, but I must say it is very disheartening to be thinking that you could finish the marathon in under five hours, and then see the five hour pacer run past you. It was also a bit depressing to hit the point at which the runners of the half marathon were diverted. Knowing they were almost done, and I still had to run another 13 miles was a killer.

Running along the Great Highway sucked. This was the only part of the course that was “out and back”. In other words as you are running, there are other runners on the opposite side of the road. NEARLY FINISHED. I was at mile 16 and they were at mile 25. It was also very cold, very rainy and very windy.

Possibly the worst part of the course for me, was when we topped the hill and could see Lake Merced. Knowing that we still had to run around that thing, and getting this view of it. And just seeing how fricking big it looked, was utterly demoralizing. I was no longer running, or even jogging. I was trudging. I swear those miles around that lake were the worst miles I have ever run in my entire life.

Finally, we were back on the Great Highway. Headed toward the finish. It is at this point I must say how awful I felt. I was frequently taking walk breaks. I told myself I had to run whenever someone cheered for me. Which happened a lot thanks to my name on my shirt. I really really hated running at this point. Someone said a marathon is a lot like childbirth. Except, with childbirth, you have no choice, you HAVE to finish. A marathon is so much harder in that with every single step, you have to choose to keep going. It would be so easy to sit down and say forget it. Except for you people. I knew I couldn’t come back here and blog about how I quit. I couldn’t tweet that I stopped. Or update my Facebook status with “DNF – Did Not Finish”. Damn you all.

There was a guy dressed like Pikachu (yes, men were allowed to run) with his girlfriend/wife/whatever. I had seen them around Lake Merced and they had both said words of encouragement to me. Like often happens in a race, you pass someone, they pass you, you go back and forth for a while. Along Great Highway, they saw me again. And Pikachu ran with me a bit. He talked with me, encouraged me. Honestly, I am tearing up a bit as I write this. He was in no way obligated to talk to me or help me. And yet he did. And it really did help. I know I ran just a bit more because he was nice enough to run with me. I have no idea who he is, but I’m so grateful.

I’m also grateful to many of the Team In Training coaches who asked me how I was doing. Or told me “You can do this, you got it”. It really did help. And I really did need it. As i passed by one of the last Red Cross tents, I had to look away. I was afraid I would stop and go in if I made eye contact. I was that miserable.

However, I didn’t go in. And I ran across that finish line. With the rain pouring down and tears streaming down my face, I crossed that finish line.

Nike Women’s Marathon Race Pre-Report

Holy shit.

I did it. Completed a marathon. Crazy, crazy, crazy. So this installment isn’t about the actual running of the race, mile by mile or how it felt, it’s about the other stuff. The real race report is coming up next.

So the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In reverse.

The Ugly

Me. I can’t imagine how bedraggled I must have looked to have so many people ask me if I was okay.

The Bad

Well, it was San Francisco, so of course there were hills. However, the steep cable car hills you picture are the EASY ones. They’re short and steep, over in a couple of minutes. The killers are the LOOOONG hills.

hills.PNG

Just look at that. Mile 10 through 14 is essentially one long ass hill. Climbing roughly 200 feet in 3 1/2 miles, running. After you’ve already run 10 miles.

The weather wasn’t good either. It started out ideal, low 50′s, slightly overcast. Perfect for running. Then it started to rain. Then pour. Then the wind picked up. It wasn’t terrible and it certainly could have been worse, but it wasn’t fun.

Now even on the best of weather days, they hand out these “blankets” at the end of marathons. I’m sure you’ve seen the tinfoil looking things wrapped around runners. When you’ve been running for several hours, your body temperature is pretty high and when you stop running you can get cold very quickly. Add to that low temps, rain and wind and it’s a potential for disaster. Well, guess what? The Nike Women’s Marathon RAN OUT OF BLANKETS. That’s right, when I crossed the finish line there were no more blankets. I even went to the Red Cross tent and THEY were out of blankets. I headed to the massage tent, mostly because with single-minded stubbornness I had been telling myself I would get a massage after the race. No matter that I was probably a bit delirious, I was getting a massage, dammit! They had no blankets or towels. Someone was kind enough to get me a couple of paper towels. So I dried off and hopped on the table. The two people giving me my massage were quickly disturbed by my freezing cold skin, inability to warm up, and constant shivering. They finally found me a race “blanket” and eventually moved me over to the heater for the tent. I must have been kind of out of it because I got a stern lecture from the guy in charge that if I was shivering again once I left, I was to head IMMEDIATELY to the Red Cross tent.

More bad. Part of the reason I ran this race was for the bling. A necklace designed by Tiffany rather than a medal. I staggered across the finish line, burst into tears and took my blue box. Only to have a woman hand me a card, telling me that it was a prior year’s necklace, and they RAN OUT of this year’s. Really Nike? WTF?!

The last bad was the food. I’ve been to 5k races that had freaking buffets lined up afterward. What did I get after running 26.2 miles in the pouring rain? A soggy bagel. That’s right. A Gatorade and a soggy bagel. Call me crazy, but you MIGHT want to provide a bit more fuel for people who have JUST RUN A MARATHON.

The Good

This marathon in particular has a lot of “Team in Training” runners. These are frequently newer runners who join teams to train together, they also raise lots and lots of money to fight cancer. I’ve heard some negative comments about Team in Training races. The cheerers (and they have lots of them) only cheer for Team in Training runners and no one else. They run five across and don’t let people pass (not maliciously, they just don’t run aware of others or race etiquette). Etc.

HOWEVER, I will say I witnessed none of that. I had several Team in Training coaches run alongside me and give me encouragement (I told you I must have looked bad). I even had a few Team in Training runners run alongside me and give me encouragement. The spectators were AWESOME. I put my name on my shirt in pink duct tape and LOADS of people cheered for me. The volunteers for this race were AWESOME. Always cheering and yelling when they handed out water or gatorade, standing out for hours in the cold rain.

Lots of support and encouragement evident throughout the day.

If you ever feel you are losing your faith in humanity, run a marathon. People came together and helped eachother and it was incredibly heartwarming.

Marathon Training Starts Tomorrow

Well, that snuck up on me. Tomorrow is the beginning of my marathon training. (HOLY COW!)

I looked at a couple of programs and settled on one from The Runner’s Handbook. (Incidentally, a book I highly recommend for runners. Affiliate link below.) For the first half marathon I ever ran, I trained with a group. For the second and third, I used Hal Higdon’s plans. For whatever reason, this plan just looked more appealing to me. The mid-week runs don’t quite get as high, but with the same mileage. It looks like I could keep the daily streak going as well just by running one mile on the “rest” days.

It looks like I’ll hit my first new mileage day (15 miles) at the end of July, probably while traveling to IamLUG, so that should be interesting.

This week should be “easy”, one- and three-mile runs, with a six-miler on the weekend. Part of me thinks, “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” and part of me thinks “what the F*ck have I done?”.

Marathon Training

If there is anything I have learned from running every day for (nearly) a year, it is that nothing matters.

The clothes you wear, the shoes you run in, your diet, your hydration, your sobriety. None of it matters. It can help, but you can still run, no matter the details.

And yet, I find myself wide awake at 20 minutes after midnight, scouring the internet for marathon training plans and comparing them, trying to find that PERFECT plan. Which is really silly. My goal for my first marathon is to finish. To not die. I don’t really think it matters which plan I pick. If it peaks at 20 miles, or runs 5 days per week, or has 35 mile weeks on the plan. Pick one. Stick with it. That’s the plan.

(For those of you who are interested, I am picking plan 1 from “The Runner’s Handbook”.)

Nike Women’s Marathon

As many of you know, I started running in 2007. I’ve done a few half marathons, some 10ks and several 5ks. I’m on this crazy running-every-day kick, and coming up on one year of that. The marathon is something that “would be nice”. Since I started running, I thought ONE would be nice. Just to say I’ve done it. (Please note: I said the same thing about 5k, 10k and half marathons). Last year around this time, I started looking around just to see what marathon I might be interested in.

My dream marathon was the Nike Women’s Marathon. I’m not alone, so many people want to do this marathon, that they have had to resort to a lottery system to select runners.

Now, I had no plans for a marathon this year. Or even next year. I told myself, maybe before I turn 40. However, I saw the lottery was open earlier this month and thought, “WTF?”. Why not? I’ll either get it or I won’t. No big deal.

Holy crap, guess what? I got it. Just received my notification today. I am registered for the Nike Women’s Marathon. October 17, 2010 in San Francisco, CA. So I am both completely excited and completely freaked out!