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.
"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.
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.
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:
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!).
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.
Then it was back to the finish line, where we cheered Jennifer to the end.
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.