Sunday, October 19, 2014

Women’s Nike Half Marathon

October 19, 2014 – San Francisco, CA
13.1 Miles
Betsy Davis, Cerissa Patterson, Courtney Loveday

I leave Belmont at 5am.  I stayed with an FCA teammate, Michelle Ladcani, and her family last night.  Troy and I met Michelle at the starting line of the Boston marathon in 2012.  She joined me at the Napa Marathon this year to celebrate my 40th birthday.  What a great night hanging out and enjoying their amazing view of the whole bay!  It is different to be doing a race alone without my family but I know they are supporting me from afar!

My plan is to park between the starting line and the finish at Lafayette Park.  Thankfully, I find a spot without much circling.  With my headlamp on, I run to the start.

It’s crazy!  There are 25,000 people here and it’s a mad house!  I find my way to my starting gate and it’s much calmer here.  I see Betsy Davis of Tri-California and we get a chance to catch up and pray for each other. 

Soon Joan Benoit Samuelson comes out and gives us some words of encouragement.  I remember watching her run in the first women’s Olympic marathon.  My mom took me to Los Angeles to watch that historic day.  Very cool to see her out here!

Okay, ready to go!  The air horns sound and the mob begins it’s way down Post St.  Even though I’m one of the first starting gates, I still have to dodge a lot of folks before I can really get going.  I’m trying to stay with the 1:40 pacer.  That’s about 7:38 per mile.  I haven’t been putting in the mileage usually needed to go fast but I did run a 1:44 a few weeks ago in the Challenge Rancho Cordova half iron distance.

I finally catch up to the pacer a half mile later.  One gal is dressed as Buzz Lightyear.  Amazing to watch her “wings” bounce around as she runs a quick pace!

Mile 1 is 7:20.  A downhill first mile with adrenaline makes for a fast split.  I imagine the pacer is looking ahead to the many hills and needs to stay ahead of pace. 

Mile 2 is 7:22.  We go through the first aid station and the pacer doesn’t grab anything.  I sure hope she’ll get to drink something.  I think about trying to grab her something down the road.  I’m loaded up today carrying my own drink along with my car keys and phone.  Although a lot to carry, it is very convenient to be self sufficient!

Mile 3 is 7:48.  I’m starting to fall back from the pacer.  The fast pace she is setting is just something I am unable to hold especially with my hamstrings tightening up.  I just need to keep her in sight.

Mile 4 is 7:22.  We are running through Golden Gate Park.  The sun is starting to rise, it’s mostly quiet and very beautiful.  It’s hard though to soak it all in with the discomfort.  I can still see the pacer, yeah!

Mile 5 is 7:27.  There are all kinds of folks entertaining and cheering along the way.  The aid stations are well manned.  I wonder what these spots will look like after most of the runners have come through.  Thanks, God, for these folks that volunteer to help and clean up!  Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.

Mile 6 is 7:25.  I’m hanging in there.  I am at my max leg speed.  My hamstrings are very sore and I’m thinking of tricks I can do to ease the pain. 

Mile 7 is 7:25.  Man, this park is massive!  I’m running by the cross country course I did here several years back.  I remember the great shape I was in back then and running the Women’s Nike Half in 1:30.  I would love to be there again…but I’m totally content with what I can eek out today! 

Mile 8 is 7:46.  Out of the park now.  The bigger hills are coming!  I can barely see the 1:40 pacer but I know that I am still on track to run 1:40…it all depends on the hamstrings.  Please Lord help me to persevere!

Mile 9 is 7:44.  We’ve been getting some more rollers now…time to prep for the BIG hill coming!

Mile 10 is 7:34.  And the BIG hill is here!  Usually I run down this hill…in the first Women’s Nike I did and the SF Marathon.  Coming from Auburn, I hope to have an advantage climbing.  I soon see a sign that says 1000 meters to go.  Oh, I can handle that, right?  In the next quarter mile I find more girls are passing me and I’m struggling.  Wow, I totally underestimated the difficultly of this hill!  When is it going to end?!  I hear a girl shout an explicative about the hill…we all deal with these things differently.  I just want to put my energy into getting to the top.

Mile 11 is 8:32.  Done!  Phew, that was hard!!  I look at my watch and see that it’s going to be close.  I have a goal to be the passer as much as possible and not be be passed.

Mile 12 is 7:12.  I’m really trying to push it now.  I’m surprised by how limited I feel.  I feel like I’ve maxed out on the speed my legs can go.  I just gotta push.  A few girls have passed me but mostly I’m keeping my goal.  Thank you Lord for sustaining me!

Mile 13 is 7:19.  The finish is near!  I cannot speed up anymore but I am able to maintain.  As I’m about to cross the finish I look up to the sky and thank God for getting me here.  I hear the announcer, Sean English, well known from Wildflower, say “and here comes FCA Endurance”.  It’s nice that our team gets a shout out!  I cross the line at 1:40:53!  Yeah, I did it with Christ!  So great to be done!

I get my Tiffany’s necklace and walk towards the firefighters in their tuxes.  I could open the blue box and get my picture with them but I decide to take it home and open it with the most handsome man in my life, Troy.  I call Troy and the girls and we celebrate!  Time to drive home and give them some hugs!