Brandon and I woke up at 4:15am to prepare for an early 5:30am start. We knew our corral wouldn't cross the start line until later, but we wanted to at least be in the vicinity just in case.
I was a complete wreck inside my head. "OMG My last long run was a DNF. These hills are going to be brutal. I should have started training at least a month or two earlier than I did. We shouldn't have walked so much yesterday. I doubt I can even run a few miles OMG!!!". But on the exterior, I was calm and collected, determined to have a good time and see the beautiful city.
Despite all of the negative thoughts going on in my head, I felt pretty good at the start. The weather was a crisp 55 degrees with a light drizzle, and I quickly pushed all the negativity out and started to have fun. That was the purpose of this race, after all.
Miles 1-3 were easy and uneventful, with the exception of one short but steep hill that I ran halfway up and then walked the remainder. Mile 4 and 5 I was desperately trying to find a porta-pottie with a short line, but I finally settled for one that was 1/10th of a mile away from the road. This was incredibly frustrating, but emptying my bladder made me feel so much better that I quickly forgot about it.
Around mile 5, we started our first climb up the hill to the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.
This is the reason we flew across the entire country to run this race. Well, that and to escape the heat and humidity for a few days.
It was a foggy day, so we couldn't even see the top of the bridge. Or anything on either side of the bridge, really. But that didn't phase me one bit. Running across the bridge was so amazing that I completely lost myself in it. Before I knew it, I was halfway across on the way back!
I looked at my watch and realized I was almost at 8 miles and I still felt amazing. This is the point in the race where I expected to start struggling- but instead I took off and ran faster.
Around mile 10, I had ran out of water, and the brutal hills began. I walked up most of this one- it was pretty long and steep. The next water stop (which were few and far between IMO) was out of cups- I literally thought about just grabbing and entire jug and taking off with it. But I politely cupped my hands and tried to get as much into my mouth as I could.
At this point, I REALLY expected to feel terrible. But I didn't. So, at the top of the hill, I took off again, and was rewarded with this beautiful view.
The hills continued, and I surprised myself by running up the ones that seemed easy or mediocre. On the ones that were incredibly steep, I slowed to a walk to make sure I had enough in me to get to the finish. Again, I kept expecting to feel terrible, but I actually felt pretty great. (Despite the fact that I REALLY needed more water and there were not more water stops to be found.)
I crossed the finish line in 2:52:00, which is a tiny PR for me. Most importantly, I crossed the finish feeling strong and happy. And also thirsty.
I am so happy with how I did during this race- especially taking into account the short training schedule that Adam threw together for me. If I can improve this much after following his plan for just a few weeks, I can't wait to see what I can do after 4 full months of following his training plan for the St. Jude half.
I really am proud of myself- but for the first time after a race, I have the feeling that I could have done more- should have gone out faster at the beginning, walked less, pushed myself more at the end. I definitely could have- but I was so terrified of bonking before the finish line. I guess that's always a thin line that runners are constantly trying to walk. Or run, in this scenario. :)
In short- confidence boosted, lessons learned, motivation skyrocketed, medal earned.
P.S. Brandon started in the back, but ran separate from me. He hoped to run quite a bit faster, but starting at the back forced him to weave, then got stuck on the bridge and wasn't able to pass people. He ran a 2:26:xx, had a blast and enjoyed the weather and the sights!