It's been a couple of days since the race and it has yet to sink in that it is over! The weekend was such an incredible experience that it is going to be hard to break it all down here…but I might as well start at Union Square.
After checking into our hotel, Cam and I headed over to the Expotique tent in Union Square. I picked up my bib number and we wandered around the tent a bit to see what was there (they had gait analysis, bra fittings, a booth where you could sign up for automatic Facebook race updates, etc). I signed the TNT dedication wall and we decided to head on our way to Niketown to score some race merchandise.
At Niketown, they had an entire wall with all of the names of the people running in the race. It took about 2 seconds to find my name, right at eye level, near the street corner LOL. Took a picture and then hustled into the crowd inside. I bought a great running shirt and then we went shopping in Union Square (expensive, but awesome)
On the Saturday morning, our team met in the lobby to go for a friendship run across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our mentor, Kim, had arranged a great surprise for us - transportation to the bridge was in LIMOS!!!! SO AWESOME!
That run was THE BEST way to see the landmark. We stopped to take a ton of pictures and had a relaxing run with lots of laughs! Really - the pictures are posted and they tell the story so much better!
Saturday night was the inspiration dinner. It was held at the Moscone Center (same place as Steve Jobs Keynotes - yes, I am THAT geeky). As the TNT participants entered the convention centre, the noise was deafening. Every single staff person for TNT was lined up to funnel us in and were cheering so loud. It was so overwhelming. I tear up just remembering it. It really drove home what we have been doing for the sat 6 months and how much it has been appreciated by the society. As we descended the stairs, there was a man holding a sign that said "I'm a survivor because of you"…I choked right up when I read that. The whole scene just showed exactly how big this thing is. It's hard to describe. I took a video that I will try to upload today.
When we finally got into the centre and got our food, the program for the evening could begin. The emcee for the evening was John "the penguin" Bingham - a popular author and Runners Word columnist. I had actually just finished his book "Marathoning for Mortals" about 2 days before we left so I was very excited. Joan Benoit Samuelson was the guest speaker. And then there was a woman who spoke about her sister's battle with blood cancer (cancer eventually won) and how her and her 5 other sisters have been honouring her by running and walking in several TNT events.
All in all an emotional night. I wanted to stay a bit longer and meet John Bingham (and get a picture) and to buy some TNT merchandise…but we had a Team meeting and I had about 3 minutes to get back to the hotel so it was all kind of a blur and I missed out on both. Ah well - another time.
Race day started ridiculously early. My alarm was set for 4:30, but my eyes opened at 4. A quick peek out of our hotel window showed me that the race organizers were up long before I was - the lights glowing over Union Square were blinding! And we were 4 blocks away! I choked down my untoasted bagel (what I wouldn't have paid for a toaster right about then) and tried to not let my nerves get the best of me. I smothered on the anti-chafe cream and started to get dressed in my race clothes.
At 5:30, Cam and I wandered down to the hotel lobby for our team photo (thanks, hun, you got so many great ones) and then I sent him back up to get some more sleep before heading to meet me at the finish line.
The team headed out to the start line - stopping to check bags and take porta-potty breaks along the way. Gathered in front of Victoria's Secret, it took me a good half hour to get my Garmin to pick up a GPS signal. At least I wasn't the only one wandering around with my arm in the air over my head!
The streets were packed with 20,000+ runners and walkers…it was solid people as far as the eye could see! At 7am, the gun went off and we slowly made our way to the start gate! And then we were off…running through the financial district on our way to Embarcadero along the bay. The buildings blocked the signal for my GPS so I had no clue how fast I was going until we got to the waterfront. I was feeling good though and didn't stop to walk for the first 20 mins. I was running with 3 other girls from my team and then I suddenly had to pee. Bad. LOL To hear the girls tell it - I just sped right up and got waaaaay ahead of them. The first portapotties weren't until around the 6K mark so I had a long way to go. When I finally got there, the wait was unbelievable. My gamin paused for over 12 minutes but then I was on my way again. By that time almost everyone had passed me and I was on my own.
So I decided to just run my own race and enjoy the sights as I went. I walked up the hills I didn't feel like running and ran the ones I did. I stopped when a sight inspired me and I took ALOT of bad self portraits.
At one point, I was coming up a smaller hill and noticed the photo collages that each region had put together…as I scanned for the Prairie region one, I saw Anna up ahead and so hurried to catch up to her…it was one of my favourite moments in the entire race to be able to stand at the photos from our region with the person I was honouring and have a photo with her to immortalize the moment! I ran with her for a little bit and then pulled ahead again.
At exactly mile 9, I was stopping to take my picture with the mile marker sign and Becky, one of the girls on my team that hadn't been to any training runs, came up and introduced herself and offered to take my photo. I did the same for her and we both suddenly had someone to run the rest of the race with.
With lots of encouragement and self-cheering, we passed mile 10 (where we saw Jillian's hubby, Brent, and my wonderful Cam) and then the miles flew by and we were suddenly coming up to the finish line. It had started to rain - not hard, but enough to remind me that it has rained every race day I've had all year LOL.
I crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 51 minutes, and 30 seconds. And then I moseyed on over to the lovely fireman who presented me with my Tiffany necklace/medal. Then I picked up my bright pink finishers shirt (pink, really? Nike, do you hate me?) and wrapped myself in a foil blanket to keep me warm. As soon as I had crossed the finish line, I felt the tell-tale heat of a blister on both feet (though when I got back to the hotel there wasn't any - it just really felt like one). I checked in at the TNT tent where they gave me a TNT pin that said I did 13.1 (YAY!) and went off to grab some food and water so I could start replenishing what I'd lost.
The TNT tent was right by the ocean and the rain and wind made it super cold out there. I saw very few people from our team simply because they wanted to get to the hotel and warm up as soon as possible. I wanted to go back to the start line to cheer Anna in, but was so cold and sore that I couldn't get my bearings to head back. As it turned out, she crossed the line almost exactly 3 minutes after I did so I was likely still right there at the line when she crossed. So, as soon as I saw Cam, we hightailed it out of there. It took me a good hour to warm up after my shower!
This race was a tough but beautiful course…a definite challenge for my first half marathon…but I am so happy I did it! I went through a lot of beating myself up throughout the training for having chosen a half marathon instead of a full…but in the end it was definitely the right choice for me. There is lots of time to do a full down the line. Anna is already talking about putting together a team in 2012 to do a full marathon for TNT and I will happily join them then :)
The evening after the race, there was a Victory Party back at the Moscone Center. Cam and I got dressed up and headed over there. Dinner was kind of disappointing on the vegetarian side (Veggie Chow Mien and Mashed Potatoes does not a meal make). There was a circus performance as entertainment. We didn't end up staying very long because we realized we had to leave the hotel super early to catch our flight…so we had to take off and didn't get a chance to say many good-byes. As far as I could tell - there was dancing firing up right as we left so I am sure there was lots of fun to be had.
And that, in a nutshell, was the race weekend for Nike Women's Marathon 2010 :)