Wednesday, June 13, 2007

San Francisco Marathon

The Devil Made Me Do It

It is the only explanation to why I would sign up for a marathon. I had recently climbed Half Dome. It took me 10 hours to climb the 17.5 miles. I was sore, I was chafing, but I was alive. I was also out of shape, 30 lbs overweight, but that didn’t stop me. So why couldn’t I run a marathon? Two weeks after Half Dome I was out drinking with the friends when I decided I would sign up for the San Francisco Marathon. No biggie, right? Well, it was. I had absolutely zero training and the only running I had done was a mile or two warm up before weightlifting. And here is the kicker. The marathon was three days away. I had no clue about anything that revolved around a marathon. I didn’t know people trained for months at a time. I didn’t know anything about how to hydrate myself on the race, nothing about pacing. Absolutely blank slate going in to this. All I had was my drive to accomplish something that I had always wanted to accomplish. So I went out and bought brand new running shoes. Ha, lets compound matters.

San Francisco Marathon - 5:47:16 (13:15 pace; 3700/4086) Stats

San Francisco is about an hour and half away from where I live, and the race started at 5:30. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get much sleep before the race, about three hours worth. The anticipation, though, kept me awake and alert, and I felt ready to run a ton. I didn’t realize it at the time, but race jitters got me and I had to go to the restroom about three times. The lines were huge. In fact the race started when I was still in line, but I wasn’t worried because my wave was way in the back. Finally done, I joined my wave and we were herded to the start line. Eventually we were off running and the first five miles felt great. I was keeping a 9 minute per mile pace and hadn’t stopped to walk yet. I thought that was pretty good for no training. Then the first “mini” hill. I walked. From there on out it was torture. Eventually we got to the Golden Gate Bridge and the view was amazing. The sun rising, the fog lifting. Amazing. I walked a few more times and by the time I ran across the bridge and back I was already exhausted, and I was only at mile 7. This was where I began plotting when I would quit. I figured the Half Marathon would be good time to stop.

So as I turned into Golden Gate Park I was slightly relieved. My knees were hurting, my thighs chafing and I was out of breath. To top it off, I wasn’t drinking enough fluids. But then I had to make a choice. The Half Marathon split off to the left and Marathoners had to go to the right. I could see the finish line for the Halfers and I was so close. My resolve stepped in and I knew that I had to continue on. I mean, how can you go half way and then stop? From here on out you were essentially on your way back to the finish line. So I stopped and went to the restroom. As I was standing at the urinal it felt like I was swaying, as though I were on a boat and it was rocking. It made me laugh at the time.

Slightly refreshed, I continued through Golden Gate Park and did a loop around the lake. This was a dreadful part of the race because you can see all the runners and the distance that you must cover. It felt like it never ended. The scenery was great but I didn’t really have enough focus to enjoy everything around me. Eventually we headed out of the park and back into the streets and gradually made our way back to Embarcadero St. At one point I had someone yell out of a window, “There’s no walking in a marathon!” I know now there is and it is a good tactic, but at the time I could only shake my head. The streets were tough. It was getting later into the afternoon and the heat was picking up. The runners were getting more and more spread out so the miles seemed to stretch longer and longer. I wasn’t doing to hot at this point. People were passing me everywhere. I mean, old overweight people were passing me. I’m thirty and should be passing them! But I couldn’t get myself to speed up and catch them. I was done.

The longest part was the last few miles. Most of it I spent walking. I could feel myself getting closer, but I didn’t have any energy left. I could only shuffle walk every once in a while. I eventually crossed the finish line in 5:47:16. Sore, tired, chafed and could barely stand. This was perhaps one of the most stupid things I have ever done without proper preparation and knowledge of what I was getting into, but I had done it. I had finished a marathon. In the end, the only thing that kept me going was my resolve, was my will power. I knew I could do it, so I did it.

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