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3:10August 1, 2005

I did it! I actually ran the half-marathon! And what's more, I did it with very little training, (longest training run was six miles) and I did it in three hours ten minutes, shaving a whole 25 minutes off my times from when I ran the real marathon back in December (I ran both halves then in the same time of 3:35, so I don't think longer distance was part of it).

Now, I don't recommend my training method. My thighs are burning so much today that when I walk I find a rolling motion, weeble-wobbly, is best. But no blisters save a little one on my pinky toe, no shin splints, no other ailments. It's so strange. When I was in training last year, I think I kept injuring myself and then kept running, so every long run was an opportunity for more pain. This run, I just shocked my body into doing it, and it went along, probably thinking we were going to stop for coffee and a danish at any moment, and then it never did.

(Remember, until last year, I ran nothing but a hot bath. So this is exciting. Excuse my long-ass excited post.)

Lala completely selflessly volunteered to drive us to the starting line in the morning, since none of the parking garages would be open and BART doesn't run that early. She lived to regret her generosity, however, when, at nine-thirty the night before I said I was going to bed.
"Why?"
"Because I have to get up in six hours."
Whoops. Until then I had withheld the crucial information about when I was going to wake her to drive us. Yep. 3:30am. The look of pure horror on her face was dreadful. She couldn't have looked more stricken.

But she was a champ, and we picked up Joanna along the way. (I actually drove and didn't pour Lala back into the driver's seat until she dropped us off in the City.) We dropped off our sweats in marked bags, to be delivered to us at the end of the race (nice, that), and then strolled to the start. Because we're slow(ish), we had the early 5am start time. Walking up, my friend Geena happened to see me in the sea of 15,000 other people and she started the race with us.

Picture225_31jul05
    Note that my runner number starts with my phone number

Geena had been adhering to an even more radical training method than mine -- she'd done a three-miler! Let's just say that while we were confident that Joanna would make it, with her twelve-mile training run under her running belt, we just wanted to get to the bridge before they closed it to runners.

See, the San Francisco Marathon had gained the rights to run over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in years. That's why so many more people were signed up for the first half of the marathon, which runs from the Embarcadero at Mission down to the bridge along the waterfront and into Golden Gate Park, as opposed to the second half, which is flatter, but less scenic, going through the city streets. To have the right to say you'd run a race across the city's signature bridge! Oh, yeah.

So Geena and I just hoped to make it that far. The bridge started at about mile 5.5, and we had to be there by a certain time or they'd close it to runners and open all lanes back to traffic. We started the race, completely without fanfare, not like Honolulu at all. There were no fireworks, it was a much smaller crowd, and we didn't even hear a starting gunshot. We just heard a voice yell "Go!" over the speakers, and we got.

There is nothing like running with a lot of people in the cool, wet darkness, through streets you always drive, the streetlights intermittent, watches that aren't yours beeping all around you. The fog was thick and cold yesterday, which makes for perfect running weather, I think. It got a little windy sometimes, and that made us cold, but it was preferable to being too hot by a long shot.

And we ran. Geena and I expected to walk a lot, I think. But we ran, and we kept on running. We kept thinking that the three of us would split up, since it's terribly to hard to maintain a pace either slower or faster than is right for you. I've never managed to be able to run with friends, only with people placed in my groups because they're the right pace for me. But we looked at each other as we ran, time for a walk? Okay. More running? Cool. That's a hella big hill. So walking.

We saw Mariko flash past early on -- can I just say, that super eggplant runs FAST. Never did catch up to her -- by the time we were done, she was back in Oakland. Seriously. But it was cool seeing her run.

We made it to the bridge with tons of time to spare, and we were still running. We were THRILLED. The excitement was palpable, as people rounded through the toll plaza ON FOOT and onto the span. Being slower, of course, we tried to stay off to the right, which meant we were running right next to the raised walkway onto which we weren't allowed. Between the walkway and the roadway, there's about an eight inch gap and you can look right down into the water. Freaky, but neato. I kept feeling like I would fall through.

It was super foggy and windy up there, though. Besides through that gap, there was no scenery. When we ran under the span supports, those huge red metal objects that fly into the air, making the Golden Gate so recognizable, we couldn't even see the middle of them, let alone the top. We heard foghorns but could see no boats. We couldn't see land at all. But we ran.

Bridgerunm

The above photo is tiny, since I need to buy it from marathonfoto.com in order to make it large (which I totally will), but I actually remember being on the bridge, seeing the photographer, and trying to be silly. I think I succeeded.

Also silly is this one:

Picture227_31jul05

Joanna noted that she usually leaves her head off her pics, anyway.

At this point, both Geena and I could have stopped for any reason and been happy with ourselves, but we kept running. And running. And running.

Best part: It was fun! That was the most surprising thing! We talked and laughed and chatted with people (including the 71 year old guy who looked sixty, who was running his FOUR HUNDREDTH marathon that day -- he told us that and then lit out, leaving us to eat his foggy dust.)

And the other best part? I didn't have to run the whole thing! I kept thinking, "I'm almost done! I don't have to run a marathon today!" It was fabulous.

And then, we finished! Have I mentioned I LOVE a finish line? Three hours and ten minutes. Woot!! Again, no fanfare to this one, no one was cheering, but dude, I cheered myself over that line in a big way. Got aluminum blankets and bananas from the nice volunteers, caught a bus back to the full marathon finish line with Joanna and Becca (who had finished in 2:49, go Becca!).

Picture230_31jul05

I won't go into details, because I tried, and it wasn't funny, but we had several funny Losing Things moments, including the losing of people, and at one point I ended up with Geena's phone, but no Geena, and no way to find her. I knew she didn't know my phone number by heart, and there was NO way we were going to find her in the sea of thousands and thousands of people all milling about at the full marathon finish line, so I just gave up and yelled, "GEENAAAAAAA!" And I heard, "Rachael?!" Just like that, found her again. We had been meant to run together.

And meant to eat together. Six of us went to Mel's for breakfast, had lovely corned beef hash and eggs for protein, and beer for carbohydrates. This at nine in the morning. I'm telling you.

Picture233_31jul05
    We are all about health, people.

Then it was back to the finish line, where we cheered Jennifer to the end.

Picture237_31jul05

That's her in red, both feet off the ground. She made the full race in under six hours, running the last nine miles on a stress fracture. She's now on crutches and pretty miserable. But she's a star. She did it!

And so did we! I contentedly go back to my little three-mile runs now, awaiting the day the bug bites again and I have to run another half-marathon. I think, having earned the bragging rights of the full Honolulu marathon, I won't ever need to do another full one. But I loved that half.

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Way to go, Rachael!

You GO Rachael! Woohoo! Congrats, girl. =)

Do I need to mention how much you rock? Congrats girl! And it's NEVER too early for beer. ;-)

AND YOU DOUBTED YOURSELF! See I know what kind of runner you are and I totally knew you could do it! Imagine what you'd accomplish if you trained (I am always saying this to myself and it is so true!) WOOT! I am so excited for you and you looked like you were having so much fun! (and if you weren't, great job faking it!)

That 71-year-old guy, you know I think I started the Marine Corp Marathon with him! He runs all around the country and was such an inspiration. I'd like to believe that we both ran with the same guy.

WOOT! Soak those muscles and take a rest now!

Are you going to do Honolulu this again this year?

If so I am SO toally going to take you out. We are packing up and moving there in two months. The first thing I thought when we got our orders (yeah, military) was, "Wow, I can do the marathon !!"

You're always an inspiration !!

Rachael, you are adorable and inspirational! Way to go!

WOOO HOOOO!!! Congrats!

I just ran a hot bath, so I'll pretend there's a finish line as I slip into the water. It's all about the attitude, right? ;)

WAY TO GO, Girl! Congrats!

HOORAY!!! You rock!

It's neat that I knew all the places you talked about in your post.

Now go run that bath.

Oh my God! I'm SO impressed. And as a very late answer to your comment chez moi: I wish SF was close enough for a visit from Calgary, but... next time maybe? You do know that Europe is huge only in diversity and not in distances right? Come on over! By all means!

Rachel - Rock on, woman! I'm so happy that you and Lala are getting hitched and that you finished a half-marathon on some serious training ;). You are an inspiration and I love reading your blog!

Em

You rock star you!!!

That's the best thing about the half marathon... When you finish a full marathon, you go to bed. When you finish a half, you go to brunch. When you're preparing for a marathon, you have to rest the week before. When you're preparing for a half, you have to rest the night before.

Eek! I have a kitty licking the ice pack on my shinsplint (and the salt off my leg). Silly kitty.

Congratulations on your run!! Your descriptions of the event were wonderful. Keep running!

Congratulations, glad you were able to have so much fun on your run.

Job well done!

Well done, Rachael! I haven't stopped by in a while, so I missed your WAY big announcement -- CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Gosh, I remember when you met Lala, and you'd post little notes about her, not mentioning her name. I am so happy for you both. May you live a long and happy life together!!!

WOO HOO! You go, cool chica! OK, you and me are SO running Nawlins! And then we can go eat a whole mess of beignets and stuff!

CONGRATS! I knew you would do it! You are SUCH an inspiration. And is that an Anchor Steam in yer hand? YUM-MY.

Rock on, Rachael.

You totally and completely ROCK!

Go You!!! Congrats!

Don't tell you wifey I said this, but you're looking pretty hot in your little 9-11 running gear!

You rock, missy. I just know I would have cried running across the bridge, and not just from, you know, the RUNNING and stuff.

I'm such a suck.

Nice job! So how about the Silicon Valley Marathon coming up?

Big congrats to you! What a wonderful post too, great story.

Congratulations! That is so exciting, and so definitely inspiring!! I am a sort-of runner, but I am going to sign up for a race right now. I'll start small, a 5K perhaps? Seriously, you rock. Yay!

I've got your fanfare here, lady: Yayyyyyyyyyyyy... Wooooooooo!!!!! Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Ba bah dah baaaaa!

I need to get my lazy arse off the couch and lace up my sneakers. Sigh.

Best running story I've ever read. What a wonderful insider's view. As we used to say in LA, thanks for sharing. You are the coolest!

yeah yeah yeah. half marathon. blah blah blah....The real question is HOW WAS LAMBTOWN???

You know I jest...Congrats. You continue to be an inspiration!

Many many congratulations on a wonderful achievement. Now of course for next year, you need to figure out how to run and knit at the same time... ;)

Awesome! I remember freaking out driving across the bridge (phobia much?) I can't even imagine running across it! Although I probably would've run pretty fast to get to the other side. LOL.

Congratulations!

Girl you rock my world! I totally idolize your for your determination (and for drinking beer at 9am)!
CONGRATS!!

Good for you! I wish I could run, but bad knees (surgery and arthritis) keep me from it. So I "run" vicariously through folks like you!
Congratulations!

Way to go!!!

Congrats!! I would never do it! :p

Thanks for a great race, Rach! I had so much fun running with you two, and I love reading your description of it. The Nike women's (half) marathon next, perhaps? Tiffany finisher necklaces for everyone!

You make me want to figure out where in this mess of yarn I put my running shoes. Congratufeliciwowyourock. :-)

Yay, Rachael!

Yay yay yay! for you and Joanna and Geena!

"I ran nothing but a hot bath." You are so funny.

You totally have my admiration, cuz there's no way on god's green earth I'd ever make it even through three miles. Y'all rock!

yea, Rachael! That's awesome!

Woohoo!!! Go, Rach!

(gazelle) MWAH!

Way to go! I have to start running again, you make me want to run again.

Look at you, Ms. Skinny McSkinnyton in your running clothes! Lala should look out! ;-)

Great job. Shows your fitness is still all there. Shows I need to get MY ASS out running.

Wah, I wish I could have actually seen you up close and talked to you! And I still haven't met Lala! What's up with that? Yeah, I'm thinking about the Tiffany medal thing, too. Hmmmmm.

You are so awesome. I almost cried to read your some blogs.
I always feel very lucky and happy that we are family.

Love,

Excellent, excellent! I think my favorite distance is the half marathon...challenging but not too. It's such a rush to feel like you are running it well, which you obviously did. After running three marathons (one very good, bracketed by two bad ones), I know well the feeling that you can quit after 13.1 and not feel the pain at mile 20 and know that you still have another 10K to go. May all your half-marathons be this much fun!

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