On Sunday, October 20th I ran my first marathon!
The experience was surprisingly incredible. I don’t imagine very many people would understand how a marathon could be anything but terrible and torturous, but I really quite enjoyed myself.
The race began at 6:30 a.m, but since I was in the 11 minute miler pace group, my partner and I ended up waiting forty-five minutes until we could begin the race. I was surprised to find that it’s really true what some say that you tend to go faster in the beginning then your use to. All of your adrenaline and the cheers from the crowds around you make you want to speed up. It took me a while to remind myself to slow down and keep pace with my partner so that I wouldn’t be tired later on in the race.
The first half of the marathon was crowded! There was over 30,000 runners, 28,000 of which were running the half marathon and had started in the 11 minute mile group as well. I kept getting frustrated weaving in and out of those who chose to walk the marathon wondering why they wouldn’t just move over to the side of the race. The minute the half marathon ended and our two paths diverged, I was suddenly surrounded by maybe ten people total! We ran through Golden Gate Park at that point and out towards an ocean facing street that felt like it went on for miles.
Around this point, my partner started to slow down due to her foot injury. At one point I turned around thinking she was right behind me only to find out that I couldn’t even see her. I decided to speed up and try to increase my time because we had been moving at a relatively steady pace and I had a lot of energy left. It was funny to pass by spectators and others and hear them say “Wow look at that girl she’s got so much energy” or, my personal favorite, “How the fuck does anyone still have energy at this point?” Around mile 23 I started running approximately ten minute miles and made it a game to pass certain people to entertain myself. Throughout the last two miles, I passed about a hundred or so people and finished 3069 out of about 4000 marathon runners at 5:26:20.
I was surprised to find that I really didn’t feel very tired throughout the race. Having a partner was probably the best weapon I could have had throughout training and the beginning of the race. Knowing myself, I would have sped up too much and would have become bored throughout the race. However, having someone to talk to throughout the beginning and help me keep a steady pace allowed me to have so much energy at the end that running eight miles by myself was not as boring as I imagined it would have been.
When I finished the race, I realized that my boyfriend, Evan, hadn’t seen me finish and started to get really emotional about it. As more runners came in I realized that it was just the effect of the marathon. Nearly every woman who crossed the line after me was in tears because they were at a point where they felt they were going to break down. I guess I got lucky in that that didn’t happen to me until after I had finished. My running partner, on the other hand, had taken a phone call about five miles before the finish from her dad and was in tears as she talked about how much pain she was in. It’s crazy to think how many people put themselves through this and experience such emotional breakdowns throughout the race.
Despite the difficulties in training and at the race, I’m really glad I got the opportunity to run the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. It taught me more about my capabilities then I imagined possible. In high school, I was always the lazier runner on my cross country team. I never wanted to run a short three miles around the school and would most often run off with younger teammates to go sit in a canyon and hang out on our free runs. I always felt that it was because I am very competitive, but only at things I’m good at, and since I wasn’t the best runner on the team I wasn’t going to stress myself out trying to be at the top. After the marathon, I realized the competitive edge towards running is very much inside of me. Towards the end of the race, I couldn’t help but want to beat everyone in front of me which motivated me to run past everyone within the last two miles. I’m glad I found that within myself because, as odd as it may sound, running marathons is really addicting and I can’t wait to run my next one.
That being said, it really is time to take a break. With school, my internship, volunteering, and work, it’s way to difficult to keep up with training. My friends and I are planning on doing a half marathon in May through Santa Barbara wine country, but until then I think I’ll put my feet up and let them rest a bit ;).