The San Francisco marathon weekend started Saturday morning, with a haircut. Okay, so the haircut didn’t have much to do with the marathon, but it did place me down around Union Square. And because it was a nice day and I wasn’t planning on a run, I decided to walk the 1.5 miles to the race expo on 7th & Brannon.
It wasn’t the first time I walked through those parts, but it was the first time I did it alone, and I think it will be the last. I almost re-configured my workout schedule to include a run around 7th & Market in order to get away from The Crazy running in a figure-eight-like pattern and screaming, “I NEED A DOLLAR!! PLEASE!! I JUST NEED A DOLLAR FOR BART!! I JUST GOT OUT OF COUNTY JAIL AND I NEED A DOLLAR!!!!!” I’m pretty sure by BART he meant drugs. And by jail he meant, well, he probably meant jail. (And yes, his outburst warrants all five exclamation marks.)
Fortunately, I made it to the expo unscathed and quietly slipped into one of the two lowly 5K lines. Here I learned a valuable lesson. No matter how good you feel about yourself for running a 5K, you will still feel like a poophead when surrounded by 5942 people running 8.5 times what you are. But we all have to start somewhere, right? So I scraped together my pride and took the plunge into the “expo pit”.
I would compare the “expo pit” to the Arvada West High School lobby, which should paint an accurate picture for about 50% of my readership (i.e. my mom probably won’t get it, but Laura should). Yay Laura! My Saturday morning also included a very lovely visit from Laura who was in town for work. That doesn’t have to do with the marathon, but is important to note.
This zucchini doesn’t have much to do with the marathon either, but Jason just brought it in and I cannot NOT comment on it.
But I digress…my whole reason for even mentioning the expo is to provide free advertising for One More Mile running apparel. I walked away with one running shirt…
…and a wishlist. Among my favorite slogans were:
- In my dreams, I am a Kenyan
- I’m only doing this so I can post the pictures on Facebook
- My race strategy: Start off slow, then back off
And from there I will fast forward to the race itself. As I stood shuffling my feet at the start line, silently complimenting the genius of Mark Twain (“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco), the race official gave us the run-down (no pun intended). We were to run about 0.5 mile and turn around. About 1.5 miles into the run we were to turn around again and stick to the left. Easy business. Off we went.
I started at what felt like my typical pace. Maybe just a little bit faster. That was my plan. Mile 1-10:00 min. Mile 2-9:30 min. Mile 3.1-9:15 min. That would leave me with a few seconds to slack off and still finish under 30:00 min. So I was hoping to see 5:00 min when I checked my watch at the first turn around (0.5 mile). Instead, it said 4:00 min. What? I figured it had to have been less than 0.5 mile. I would just have to wait until the 1 mile marker to check my time.
Except for there wasn’t a 1 mile maker. Or I missed it. Either way, the next check was at the second turnaround (1.5 miles), and this time my watch said 14:33 min. Okay, that made more sense. I was right on schedule. At least that’s what I thought until I reached the 2 mile marker. 20:30 min. The reality of my defeat set it. I would have to run the next 1.1 miles at a pace of about 8.5 min/mile in order to finish under 30:00 min. I was already tired, and that wasn’t going to happen.
So I quickly made my peace with the situation and settled on a new goal – 31:00 min. I would still have to pick up the pace a bit, but I had just been recently inspired by the 80 year old woman running in front of me. I repeat – 80 YEAR OLD woman running IN FRONT of me. No, I don’t know for a fact that she was 80. But she was definitely under 5 feet tall, weighed about 90 pounds, and had a head of short, permy, white hair. The same hairstyle my Grandma, and your Grandma and every lady WHO IS 80 sports.
So I kicked it up a notch. And when the finish line was less than 100 yards away, I kicked it up another notch (as seen in the photography feat displayed below – props to Jason!).
And then a wild thing happened. Just before I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock. Not my watch. The race clock. It read 28:47 min. I’m still not sure how it happened, but I finished under 29:00 min. I beat my best 5K time.
(Note: Much to my dismay I don’t know my actual finish time, and therefore don’t know my new PR. My gun time was 28:53 min, but that doesn’t account for the time it took me to get to the start line. I started my watch right when I crossed the start, but, of course, forgot to stop it when I crossed the finish.)