Paul drove up from Santa Barbara Friday, and we spent Saturday at the Health expo and walking around the city a bit. My Gramps owned an elevator repair company in SF for years, and as a child I would spend a week or two each year with him. He would take me with him to work, a perk of being the boss, and let me terrorize his secretaries all day with my constant pleas for attention. SF has it's own vibe, as though it exists on a separate wavelength, and I always enjoy a chance to visit. We headed back across the bay to the NF Endurance Team dinner where we were able to break bread with others who have stood up to fight against NF. We all hugged tightly at the end of the night, unsure of if we would find each other amidst the mass of runners the next morning...
Paul and my Nana had come to support me and we were able to locate some of the team. I crossed the starting line surrounded by bright yellow CTF singlets! I gave my friend Bob a big hug and dropped into pace with Jill and Elise, who had finished half marathons before in 2:08! I planned to stick with them as long I could and then fall back as necessary, I worried their pace would make me burn out early but wanted to get as far ahead as possible... The course was scenic, passing typical tourist spots and running along the bay leading from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. We got up the first small hill inconsequentially and the Golden Gate drew closer. I kept my eyes trained on the ground right in front of me, always worried my balance will cause me to fall. From mile 4.5 to 5.5 was a steady butt-burning incline, I kept taking 10 step walk breaks and then running to catch up. As we reached the top I choked out... no... more... hills!
We ran to the bridge and stared up at the huge towers looming above us, the ground was slippery with fog and the 1 lane course was crowded with excited runners of all ages. A quick clock check told us the hill had set us a few minutes behind schedule for our planned 2:20 finish. We put some pep in our step, dodging around slower runners and squeezing by on the sides. The bridge didn't have mile markers and we lost track of our distance, feeling as though it was the longest.mile.ever! Looking out over the bridge was like running inside of a cloud. We finally ran the entire bridge, over and back, and headed down for the final segment of the race.
We came up on a mile marker sure it was to say 9 miles, only to find I had already run 10 and was right on pace! Right then I saw Paul on the course cheering for me, I ran straight to him, almost knocking us both over with my momentum, and crushed my lips into his before staggering off to catch up with the girls. Paul snapped away with the camera and raised his fists in solidarity. For the first time I truly experienced a runner's high! I was flying, and felt like I could run forever!
Then in the final 2.5 miles, we came upon about 5 steep San Francisco style hills! All I could think of was the beginning of Full House, how the house is on that hill and you wonder how it doesn't all just slide right off. I hiked the first hill and flew down the other side, but by the second hill my high was long gone, and in its place were weights in my feet. It seemed there was not enough air in the entire city to fill my lungs as I forced myself up each hill, I tried to stop but the girls pushed me on, and after a gruesome 20 minutes Jill said we had finished the hills! I could see the finish line and from somewhere within me drew a reserve of power and ran full speed for the end. It was further away than I thought, but I could not imagine walking in after the distance I had already covered. There was no stopping now... I ran full force and as I stepped over the finish I stumbled to an awkward halt and tears threatened my eyes. I cleared them away and checked my stopwatch... 2:18!! I had finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes! I looked at Elise and told her, I think I died on the course and this is a dream! It was hysterical, I was dizzy and everything seemed surreal. Before I knew it Paul had found me and I was eating a banana and wearing my medal. In the midst of the insanity I forgot to take my official finisher's photo!! I can't believe it! But I think this sums up the extent of my experience...After I peeled myself off the ground we found Nana and met back up with the team at the Finish Line Festival. We cheered on the full marathon finishers and then Nana took us to Sinbad's for cold Heineken, a fat grilled cheese, and a beautiful view of the bay.
Next stop Long Beach FULL marathon with the Nf Endurance Team as Team Captain! Yeah!!!!