Today was my last big race of the season, The Nike Women's Marathon, well the 1/2 Marathon anyway.
We met at T's at 5:15 to head into the city and it was EARLY, and dark and cold. We found a place to park and headed to the start line, hitting the porta-potties on the way. It was already a mad house with people everywhere. We hit the 'VIP Nike+' Tent to grab some water and check out the goods. It was a peaceful tented area where we could stretch and hang out. The guys had to wait outside tho, so we grabbed our goodies and went out to wait out the remaining time until the start at 7:00. T's early morning coffee had her running to the porta-potty again and then we decided to head down to our corral.
The announcer informed us that there were 23,000 participants, runners and walkers. 5k more than last year. Dang. The total raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an impressive 18.5 million. Sure wish they were making more progress on a cure, but that's another story.
Soon enough the starting gun goes off and an amazing mix of 'get pumped' music started playing. Funny tho...we weren't going anywhere. And go nowhere we did for about 15 minutes. I'm not sure what the hold up was, but eventually we were on our way. Well, sort of. The crush of people continued almost unabated for the entire course. And hello, but walkers should have been waaaaaaay behind us by pace time. Hello again, please have some course etiquette and don't walk 6 people across, blocking most of the course! Especially in the narrow-downed sections where people are trying to maintain a pace and find a rhythm. Sheesh. Okay, I know that some of them were probably doing their first race, but you can't imagine how frustrating it is to have to bob and weave, put on the brakes, zig-zag, you name it, to get through the madness. It seemed like they allowed 5k more people and made the course even narrower in spots. Serious chaos. Hopefully next year they'll institute a waved started. But with 23k people, I don't know if that's a realistic expectation.
I really tried to stick to my pace early on instead of pushing too fast, too early like I usually do. For the first 5 miles, I really felt like I could have pushed it quite a bit faster, but I didn't let myself. I remembered those freakin' hills would be coming up soon enough and tried to hold back. Mile 6 came, with the 1 mile up hill through the Presidio and I was still feeling pretty good. The next two hills, which came shortly there after however, really wiped my legs out. Damn, that was a tough stretch. By mile 10 I was really feeling tired. I kept telling myself "You will NOT walk", "You do NOT need to walk, you're almost there." I was hoping to pick it up for the last 5k, and push like it was ONLY a 5k I was running, but my legs were having none of that. I started thinking "Just make it to the turn off" and once I did, I was still wiped. About 1/2 a mile from the finish I had to put my headphones on and play my Nike+ Power Song just to push myself to the finish. I was hoping to push it enough to hit a 2:15, but didn't quite make it. Still a very respectable PR of 2:16:48. And I actually felt like I wasn't too tight afterwards. I will admit to being completely thrilled that I wasn't doing the full. I couldn't even imagine having to pass up the turn off and head off for 13.1 more miles. Ugh, being poked by a sharp stick would be more enjoyable. Maybe even a dull stick. It was an awesome end to a very long training season and season chock-full of events. Next year we shoot for 2:10, right T? ;-)
We scored our Tiffany necklaces, a couple of jamba juices, and our very, very PINK t-shirts. We were about ready to head to breakfast when we passed by the Powder Room. Hey, looks like some free stuff in there! Back we went to check it out. What, wait in line?!?! Okay, okay. Man was it worth it. We got to freshen up and then scored an armload of Luna Lip Balm and Lip Gloss, and Neutrogena hand cream, lip gloss, concealer, cleanser, etc. Excellent score! Definitely a good end to the running/tri season. Now I have enough lip balm for 7 faces as Jeff noted. :-)