If you know me or if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I joined Team in Training last year to run my first marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon, while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I raised the money, I ran the race, I fell in love with TNT and have been a part of our East Bay run team ever since.
I am now in my 4th season with TNT and as Fundraising Captain had the opportunity to run the exclusive Nike Women’s Marathon again, so I took the chance to register, and happily checked off the HALF marathon box for this year.
NWM attracts TNTers from all over the country (about 10,000!) and, just like last year, the night before the race our Inspiration Dinner was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Being on the staff side of things this time, I helped cheer in all of the participants in our typical TNT, “WOO HOO YOU!! GET YOUR RUN ON!!! MORE COWBELL!!! GO TEAM!!!!” fashion. We cheered for about an hour, it seemed, and then moved on into the dining hall.
Our emcee for the night was, again, the ever hilarious John “The Penguin” Bingham. If you have never read his writing, be sure to- he is so funny and has such a great perspective on running- I’m sure everyone has heard John’s famous quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Amen.
Finished up the night with several team photos, then headed back home to Oakland to sleep and await that 4:30am wake up call.
On Sunday, October 14th- one year since my first marathon– I headed out to Union Square with my teammate Tori to await the 7am race start. We met with our team, got some final words of encouragement from our coaches, headed to our corrals, and anxiously waited to run…
The race started and it only took me 7 minutes to get to the starting line, as opposed to the half hour it took last year- great job managing those corrals, Nike, so much better! Ran through the streets of San Francisco and it all felt very familiar… I kept reminding myself how lucky I was that I could be a part of this with an organization and cause that means so much to me and that today was just about being in the moment, having fun and enjoying the sights, not at all about a PR.
Tra-la-la-ed down the Embarcadero, then hit the Presidio and the first mother of a hill. I had no problems running the first 5 or 6 hills but then in the Presidio, the path becomes very narrow and with 25,000 runners often walking up the hill, you tend to lose momentum and are forced to walk as the crowd offers no space to get through. I didn’t mind at all, though, as my intentions were to just enjoy the scenery- and that, I did.
Kept happily trudging on, up and up and up the seemingly never-ending hills, and as I was determined to stop for all the neat stuff on the course that I didn’t stop for last year, I kept my eyes open for the free sports bra exchange…
Once I approached the table, I noticed that there was only size XL left but I stopped anyway and asked if they happened to have a medium, and of course, they didn’t- you gotta run pretty fast to get that size! Just then, another runner emerged from the changing booth and said, “This is a large, you can try this one.” So I did, but it didn’t fit as well as the one I was already wearing (and you have to literally give them the bra you are wearing to get the Nike one) so I gave it back and ran on wondering how much time I added going through that fruitless bra endeavor.
Fa-la-la-ed down the road, taking pictures of neat things and signs and scenery along the way. Every single time I would stop to take a picture, someone would ask, “Could you take my picture please?” “Sure!” I would say. Again, this race was not about time. It was about me participating in my favorite hobby, with my team, advocating for this great cause so sure I’ll take your picture, as long as you take mine:
Got through the streets of SF and then hit the top of the Great Highway which is right along the water, all down hill, truly a sight to behold, so I stopped yet again to ask a fellow TNTer if she was okay (had this horrible look of pain on her face, I guess the downhills were hurting her knees). Flew down the hill and saw a team mate from my first season with TNT, Geri, gave her a sweaty hug and she took my picture which I am still wondering if I should remove my tag on Facebook as it is so very unflattering but sums up the joy I feel running with Team in Training.
At mile 11, the fullers split off and the halfers go through a tiny portion of Golden Gate Park, near to the San Francisco Zoo, and I actually saw like 5 bison or buffalo or just very large cows running in the field, chasing each other and playing! So neat! (Phone camera deleted that pic too, bummer.)
And then mile 12 we hit a track and I don’t know what it was about that surface or the way it was paved but I felt like I was running through mud! My legs felt so heavy, I was very glad to emerge from that for the last downhill of the race to the finish… and if you know anything about this race, you know exactly what I had to look forward to after 13.1 miles:
Managed to get through the finish chute that was so amazingly crowded with people getting pictures, grabbing their free coconut water/bagel/banana, and hobbled over to the TNT tent to get my lunch and try to find my teammates. Just like last year, I saw 0 teammates. Not a one! This race is SO crowded though, I’m not surprised, so I waited for about a half hour until deciding to call it a day and head on home for a post-race-well-deserved-hamburger.
My final time is 2:33 which is pretty hilarious as I have run other halfs in much worse conditions and done so much better! My PR for the half is 2:10, so I think this shows how much the hills kicked my butt and that I REALLY took it easy but, honestly, I am very proud of myself for relaxing into the run, being in the moment, and supporting my team and LLS in the best way I know how.
And for that reason, I’ll see you again next year, Nike!!!