Monday, January 09, 2006

23 miles...check!

That morning I woke up at 5am (after getting to bed at midnight) and started drinking sports drink and eating. Hopped in the shower at about 5:45am and out the door with all my stuff by 6:15am (a little late, but luckily there's almost NO traffic!) Got to the staging area and instantly ran for the bathroom. One thing that I've been training my body is to go to the restroom as early as possible so I don't have to make any stops along the way. Growing up on the farm has taught me one thing, how to go to the bathroom behind a bush and not be embarassed about it! ;)
After some great inspiring speeches, we headed to the start line of our longest run yet, 23 miles. It was a fairly mild morning, the rain had finally stopped and a little bit of sun was shining through the mostly cloudy sky. We were all a little tired and a little nervous. Goal 12 min/mi with 4:1 run/walk ratio. We all synchronized our watches as we started our .25 mile warm-up walk. There was a lot of chatter and excitement in our voices. As we passed the "run" sign, we again synchronized our watches for intervals. The first couple of miles are sometimes the hardest. The first two miles always remind me of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I need to find some sort of oil can that can get my legs going a little bit more smoothly in the beginning (yeah, probably a little more warming up would be advisible.)
We started in Golden Gate Park, out and over to the Presidio. I should say UP and over to the Presidio. The hill going up wasn't too bad. It was two blocks, straight up! We all did a great job though going up. Over and around Inspiration Point down into the Presidio we went. Now for the downhill. Some people think that going downhill would be better. Oh, they are not runners (they must be cyclists!) Through the Presidio we went to Crissy Field. The Golden Gate Bridge laid ahead, with the fog kept to the ocean, we were excited for what was ahead. Up another hill (and stairs) to the start of the Golden Gate Bridge. Awesome...that's all I can say. In the 8 years that I have lived here, I have never gone across the GGB by foot. It was something else. We were VERY lucky to have no fog covering the view. Truly awesome.
Out and back across the bridge and back down the stairs. Headed back through Crissy Field and into the Marina. Mile 13 passes...Half Marathon mark. Amazing how a 1/2 marathon just doesn't seem like much. Now, this is the point where I start to get a little pissy. There was a "Halfway Box" that you could place a bag with stuff that you could pick up at the halfway mark. Well, at mile 12 there was nothing, nothing at 13 or 14. Nothing at 15 or 16. Ok...they are SOOO lucky it wasn't raining. I had put an extra pair of socks and shirt thinking that I would be completely soaked by rain. The one thing I did have that I wanted was two bottles of gatorade. Oh well...that just adds to the excitement of running...I guess.
Back through the Presidio and comes the hill from hell. Going down it was tough, going up was even worse...especially when it's mile 15! At this point you could tell who was tired. Two of our guys started to fall back and me being the "Designated Driver" stood back with them to make sure they were ok. One was having low sugar issues and the other had leg cramps. They slowed to a walk and after talking with them, I decided to sprint up the hill to see how far ahead everyone else was. They were about 45 seconds ahead (it hit me that I had just sprinted about a block, up a hill at mile 15. Boy, I must be crazy.) Another one had slowed to a walk. Her knees were started to really hurt. As we continued to walk, we got back into a run and as we met up with the group, the other two had caught up. GREAT! Back together. Hills can really be demoralizing. Just when you think you got something beat, it beats you back!
Back down into the streets of San Francisco we went and back into Golden Gate Park. As we continued to run, we actually had to slow up a few times. We certainly had some off miles, but at mile 18 I had to call out, "Slow Up!" Awesome!
Mile 19 and here came the decision point. They allowed for a 20 or 23 mile run. At this point we only had two people check out early (and a very good choice, this wasn't our race...only a training run!)
Our smaller group continued on...and it started to rain. Now, at first it felt wonderful. A nice little mist to help keep us cool. After mile 21, it start to rain. And it got a little colder. And it got a little windy. Luckily I still had my jacket and I put that on.
Through the now muddy path we trudged on. I started having this weird feeling that one of my toenails might have fallen off during this little 23 mile jaunt. It's amazing what your mind can have you feel. I kept having this picture of my nail coming off and my sock all bloody. I could feel wetness around my toes and tried not to think about it as much as possible.
Mile 22, back to the "decision point" and off to the finish line we went. As we went up the last little hill before getting to the finish, I felt a pain on the top of my foot...GREAT! All this way and now I'm going to have problems? I quickly stopped and started to do a few little streches. 10 seconds later back with the group and down the last hill. As quickly as the rain started, it had stopped. Out of the woods we came and we could hear cheering. Glorious cheering!! Balloons were everywhere as we came down that little stretch and into the arms of the amazing NATMP staff and volunteers. They gave us a finisher's medal and a big hug. We started giving each other hugs. What an amazing feeling...23 miles!
We staggered over to the food table and started eating and eating and drinking and eating!

Stats:
Distance: 23 miles
Time: 4 hours, 29 minutes, 29 seconds
Calories burned: ~4200 calories
Avg. Pace: 11 minutes 40 seconds

What an amazing time; what amazing people! I am so proud of my pace group, of all of the AIDS Marathoners and of my supporters!

Countdown to marathon: 20 days!

By the way, I still have my toenail (for now).

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