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San Francisco Marathon Race Report

We're home!! Hubs and I flew home late Thursday night from San Francisco. Unfortunately, we had a hectic Friday with work and a wedding to attend so this post is a little late. This race report was very difficult to write. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life and also one of the hardest. I'm going to do a separate post on the vacation aspects of our trip, including our two days in Napa! But first, the race report. Warning, this post is going to be ridiculously long. So if you want the short version...I qualified for Boston!!!!

Thursday - Saturday

After flying into San Fran on Thursday night, Hubs,my best friend Pam and I checked into our hotel and did some sightseeing on Friday. The rest of our group flew in on Friday night, and we all went to a nice dinner. On Saturday, we headed over to the expo to pick up our bibs and chips and walk around. The expo was really nice, and much larger than most of the expos in Denver. I wish I would have bought another marathon shirt since the shirt they gave out are white and definitely see through. Hubs and I hit the LaraBar booth a few too many times, but we needed to replenish our stock of the minis because they are the perfect size!

Lunch on Saturday was at a cute little Italian cafe a few blocks from our hotel. I had some delicious gnocchi and half a pesto zucchini sandwich. The rest of the afternoon was spent napping and resting our feet. The biggest mistake I made before the marathon was going to see Alcatraz on Friday. I think we did a little too much walking and the backs of my knees were very sore. I tried not to think about them and I iced as much as possible.

For Dinner, we headed to Whole Foods so I could "sort of" recreate what I usually eat before a long run. My go to meal has been a tofu and broccoli stir fry with brown rice. At Whole Foods, I got all three ingredients but the tofu was pretty gross and the broccoli wasn't cooked. Oh well, I tried! I took half a Tylenol PM at 7:30 hoping I would be out by 10:00. I did fall asleep around 10:30, but at 1:00 I woke up freaking out that I forgot my running shoes (which I had worn on the plane and in San Fran). I knew I was screwed for getting much more sleep that night. I slept maybe another hour and half before the alarm went off at 3:30.

The Big Day

I woke up with lots of butterflies in my stomach Sunday morning. I downed my oatmeal with peanut butter and chocolate chips as best I could that early in the morning, and started getting ready. Pam's wave started an hour after mine so we said our goodbyes. Andrew, Dave and Dave's brother Pauly walked down to the start together. Dave and I jumped in the porti-potty line and started to stretch. Jess met up with us a few minutes later. We took our pre-race photos and then headed toward the Wave 2 corral.

At the expo, I decided to sign up for the 3:40 pace group. I know most people say for your first marathon your goal should be to finish and not to worry about a time. I thought about doing that, but I just don't think it is my personality to not set goals for each race. I decided to make multiple goals so that at the end of the race I would feel accomplished no matter the time. My goals were:

1. Finish the Marathon and Have Fun!
2. Finish Under 4:30
3. Finish Under 4:00
4. Finish Under 3:40 and Boston Qualify

Based off my last half marathon time of 1:46, McMillian said that I could run a marathon in 3:45. My choice to go with the 3:40 pace group instead of the 3:50 definitely made me nervous. I decided to stay with the 3:40 for at least 6 or 7 miles and if it felt too fast, I would slow down and conserve my energy. Jess also ran with the 3:40 pace group so I was very excited we would be together!

After the gun went off, we crossed the start line very quickly and with minimal pushing. One thing I thought was odd was that the 3:30 pace group lined up behind the 3:40, and after 1/2 mile they proceeded to pass us. Is that normal? The first few miles were blurry. It was still very dark. Jess and I thought the pace felt unusually comfortable, but sure enough by mile 3 we had picked up the pace. We were running under an 8:00 for almost two miles. Our pace leader told us it was to make up for time lost going up the hills to the bridge. As we made our way up the biggest hill of the course, things definitely started to get difficult. I had prepared myself for this being the hardest hill of the course, but it surprisingly wasn't that bad!

Running over the bridge was by far my favorite part of the course. The wind was calm and it was really foggy, but it was such a cool experience (even though we couldn't see anything!) On the way back across the bridge there were two other runners wearing the exact same blue and black outfit that Jess was wearing. We got to talking and I chatted with a guy named David who was also running his first marathon. We talked for probably two miles and it was a really nice distraction.

After crossing the bridge, we entered the Presidio. We had another big hill to climb and fairly substantial downhill. This was one was definitely a surprise. Apparently, I had missed it on the elevation map!?!? The view of the Pacific was spectacular from this area. A few miles later we split from the half marathoners and the full marathoners continued through Golden Gate Park. This park is absolutely an oasis. It was very quiet and peaceful, and I can see why so many people would want to run here. My only complain about this section was that it felt like we were climbing hills the whole time. Looking at the elevation map, we were climbing hills the whole time.

Andrew and Zach (Jess' boyfriend) found us one their bikes around mile 15. It was so great to see them and very nice to unload the jacket I had been wearing for the first half. Around mile 18, Jess said she was starting to struggle keeping up with the 3:40 pace group. I think I was feeling the same exact thing. We had hit our first mini-wall. I hoped with all this climbing we would start to go back downhill eventually. I was very happy to exit the park around mile 19.

Somewhere between mile 19 and 20 we had lost our pace group leader behind us. Another chic from our group and a guy from Colorado Springs proceeded down the steep hill on Haight Street. Jess and the other girl sprinted down the hill, while the guy and I held back. Downhill is not my friend, and I didn't want to do something now that hurt later when we got to 23 or 24. Jess and I had talked about finishing together, but she was feeling much stronger at this point. I hoped I would be able to catch up to her some time later.

Around mile 22, is when things started to get really tough. I felt something twinge in my right foot, and I started praying that it wasn't a stress fracture. I hobbled on for a another 20 yards and the pain started to subside. This part of the race was very boring. It goes through a very industrial area with zero crowd support. My stomach had started acting up around mile 18, but every time we passed a porti-potty it started to feel better.

I had taken a peppermint pill at 4:00 in the morning, and at mile 24 it was starting to do its job. I felt like I was burping peppermint with each step. At the last water stop, I knew water would not help my situation but I was soooo thirsty. I took two cups and immediately regretted it. My body wanted to puke the water back up, but I was so dehydrated so nothing happened. I had caught up to Jess at this point, and I told her to keep running strong. She said she could see our pace leader behind me, but he was still pretty far behind us. At mile 24.5, I walked for the first time. The second I put my arms down my muscles burned like crazy. I knew if I started walking now it would be hard to get going again, but I had to due to my stomach pain. I decided to take 10-15 steps and then run again. I did that three times and I slowly made my way to the Giant's stadium.

Around mile 25, Andrew showed up on his bike at the exact perfect moment and motivated me to keep going to the finish line. It is crazy how close I was to Boston qualifying, and yet I was so ready to give up. I started to pick up my pace because the 3:40 pace leader was just a few steps behind me. I knew we were close to being done so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. About 40 yards from the finish line, the pace leader started screaming ladies we are going to Boston, and right then I knew I had done it.

(My I am never going to walk again face!)

I crossed the finish line with the biggest smile I could muster and proceeded to completely loose it. I cried because I was happy, in so much pain, and so proud all at the same time. I gave Jess a big hug and we cried in celebration that we both had completed our goal of qualifying for Boston together. What an awesome experience!

(Boston Qualifiers!)

After grabbing water and food, Andrew and I sat on the side of the course and I continued to cry. I was in a LOT of pain at this point. I couldn't walk or put weight on my right foot. My stomach was also still queasy. As time passed, things started to feel a little more bearable, but my right foot was still bothering me. Jess and I sat down and rooted for Dave and Pam at the finish line.

Final stats were 3:39:20 (8:22 pace)

Before running San Fran, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. I signed up for NYCM this year and got in! I didn't expect to Boston qualify the first time out so I definitely have some decision to make about whether I want to run NY this year or pay another $180 to run it in 2010. I think my only option for Boston is running the 2010 marathon. So some big decisions will be made fairly soon. First, I need to heal my right foot. I don't think it was a stress fracture, but it could possibly be peroneus longus tendonitis. It is a dull pain that I feel all the time on the side of my foot. It probably didn't help that we were still walking quite a bit on our vacation. I thought the pain was normal after a marathon, but my body actually feels fine now expect for the foot. I am heading to the doctor today to get it checked out.

Look for the vacation post soon. If you are still reading this, thanks! :)


Billy Burger said...

Wow. I'm both duly impressed and kinda hating you at the same time...

A 3:39:XX your first time out AND qualifying for Boston? In a course as tough as San Francisco no less?? Holy cow, that is mighty impressive.

I've been firmly in the camp of enjoying your 1st marathon but after reading this, maybe I should be a convert. A very impressive run Lindsey...seriously. I have a 1:40:XX 1/2 PR to my name and struggled to a 3:45:XX marathon time as my PR on a course dubbed "the fastest course on the west". Going from a 1:46 half to a 3:39 full on one of the TOUGHEST courses is phenomenal. Congrats x 100!

In more sobering news, I hope your foot is ok, that you listen to it and baby it before ramping up mileage again. My girl qualified for Boston last January and we're planning on going in 2010, so hope we get to see ya there!

Anonymous said...

Hey Lindsey! I saw this post earlier in the week, but wanted to wait and read the whole thing. AMAZING JOB!!! Congrats!!!

Kaneil, balanceisbest

Lindsey said...

Billy - Thanks! Trust me I did not believe I could run that fast in San Fran. I think having a great pace leader and the low altitude made a big difference. I hope you guys come to Boston!

Kaneil - Thanks for reading! Hope your new job is going well!

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