Part 1 - The RaceSaturday night I changed my goal from doing the 5k to "run as far as I can with my friends and have fun". I told my wife, she gave me her blessing, I threw a Hammer Gel into my waist pack and slept. Sunday morning came quickly. I rubbed my eyes and we hustled out of the hotel room and down to Starbucks to get oatmeal with Team Piccolo. Runners were making their way down the streets to the start finish, I made it a point to tell everyone with a bib "Have a good race!" Most got stoked and returned well wishes, others didn't. I figured those were Euros or deaf, or both!
|The view outside of the Park Hotel|
Wave 8 meant we were at the tail end of the last wave going out, as we walked back past runners a woman clapped and gave me a thumbs up "yay! no meat athlete!" in reference to my shirt. I wish I had given her a high five, good vibes! Bart Yasso was at the start cheering on the waves and when he finally got to us we set off down towards the start finish line. I waved at Bart and told him "Congrats on Comrades!" he gave me a shout out over the PA and we were off! Again let me remind you dear reader that prior to this race I have not run further than 3 miles, so as we approached the awesome Sports Basement cheering section, I did some quick estimating and figured the bridge was around 5-6 miles or so out. I told Richard and Jenny, "I think I can run to the bridge" and they gave me thumbs up. We kept along at a slow pace, talking to runners and discussing hydration strategies, running, friends who didn't make the race, all the things runners talk about.
When we got to the first hill, I walked partway up and enjoyed the beautiful views of the bay. It was so fun to run streets normally jam packed with tourists and have the roads all to ourselves. I felt my knee ache a tiny bit, but it wasn't agonizing. Without sounding like a tough guy, it was a manageable discomfort, not really a pain. As we crested to the toll booth I heard whoops and cheers from other runners and saw people reach for their cameras and cell phones to take photos. I made it to the bridge!
Richard and Jenny looked at me "You ok?" I nodded "Yep, I think I want to run across this thing" and we did!
|The end of the SF 10k, wait, there's no such thing? Ok carry on|
|Richard and Jenny, Marathon Runners!|
The 10k point was such a rush, I had doubled my goal and was still feeling great! Here I was running further than I have in weeks, with perfect weather! I sensed that Jenny and Richard wanted to speed up, and felt my quads (especially on my right leg) ache. At the turn around point Richard left us and Jenny took a restroom break. I stopped to stretch and sat down to eat my gel and think about what just happened. I considered calling a cab, heading back and calling it a day. Jenny and I trotted back onto the bridge and I could tell she wanted to pick up the pace, I hugged her, told her to enjoy her race and she disappeared into the fog.
|I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!|
|Mile 10 - You bet I was happy to see this!|
These next miles were tough, but rewarding. By mile 10 I knew I had it ! It was just 3.1 miles to the finish and I was hanging tough with other half marathon participants.
As the rolling hills made way to the fringes of Golden Gate Park, I saw runners with space blankets and knew I was near the end. I was running slowly now, and though I was sore, looking back I think I slowed more to savor the moment than to quell the ouch factor. One more turn into the park and the chute was there. 2:55 - my slowest half ever and I did it! One month off and I pulled off an impromptu half marathon!
This was such a mind boggler to me on so many levels. I'm so used to having specific goals and knowing beforehand what I'm setting out to do, never in a million years would I have thought that I had it in me to complete 13.1 after my month plus of being away from running.
I ran to the medical tent, got some ice for my knee and got a foil blanket. Then I took the shuttle back to my family (huge wait, whole other story) and didn't stop smiling for the rest of the day and most of this week!
Part 2 coming soon, thanks for reading and big thanks to my wife for being awesome! I love you!
|Stoked Dork, not to be confused with stork|