Two weeks after Portland Marathon, I was standing at another starting line for yet another half-marathon race. This race is part of Team in Training Fall team and I am so happy that I can be part of it even with some health challenges that I’m going through. I got the doctor’s okay by Thursday, the same time that I also came down with a full blown cold. The kind that gave you an earache, sneeze-fest, congested nose and a sinus headache. Lovely, I thought.
The husband and I hopped on the airplane anyway on Saturday morning and head to San Francisco. I barely remembered the flight as I slept the entire time courtesy of benadryl. It was pretty uneventful to say the least, other than my left ear that felt like explored when we landed.
We dropped our bag, and headed straight to Expotique. Yes. It is indeed called Expotique. I wasn’t really impressed by it cause it felt very Nike’ish. Not that many other vendor and it’s more like a party central. I got my race package, some freebies from Nike+ and headed out to Nike Town for some race specific merchandise. We walked around for a while, and I got bored really fast so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest up.
I love to go to Team in Training Inspiration Dinner. If you never been to one, you should tag along to any of your Team in Training runner and attended one of them (they have to purchase ticket for you). You walked through receiving line of SO MANY Team in Training alumni, mentors, captains and coaches and they cheered you on! It was seriously awesome. Some important number to share — there were 2,900 TNT runners for Nike Women San Francisco and we raised over 9 millions dollars!! That was very impressive!! This year is the 25th anniversary of Team in Training and in the past 25 years, there were 600,000 runners and over 1.4 billion dollars raised for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Yes, that’s billion with ‘B’.
After dinner, we went back to our hotel, get my gear ready and lights out by 9:30pm.
My husband woke me up at 4am. Blessed his heart for putting up with me on so many races that I did. He woke up before me, got my breakfast ready, filled my fuel belt bottle then had to listen to me whining about how early it was. Every single race, I hated the 4am (or 3am in Florida. Hello!) time to get ready. I mean, really? FOUR AM?
After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning and whining, I finally got myself ready. We had to be at the lobby to meet with the rest of the team by 5:15am, so we slowly mosey ourselves downstairs. We chatted for a bit and around 6am — we all walked out to our corral. I was at the last corral (11+). I didn’t like the way the corral set. There were SO MANY people in the corral!! Armando decided to stay with me in my corral and gave me his famous “girlfriend, I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to stay with you from start to finish” look so I didn’t argue with him.
My goal for this race was fairly simple. I just want to finish. I really don’t have expectation. I started with already a half-tank of energy due as I was still trying to recover from my last treatment and I was battling a cold. I knew the course is hilly, and I knew that I didn’t do much hill workout during training (yes, coach Glen… I should’ve listen to you more) so I was actually (secretly) glad that Armando decided to hang back with me.
Race start officially at 6:30am, but our corral didn’t go out until 7:15am.
We started slowly. My plan was to do keep running until about mile 5.5 (when the big hill start) and switch to run/walk. I kept my pace steady. Slow, but steady (around 12:30’ish pace) the first 5.5 miles. I saw the husband at mile 4.5 and was SO HAPPY to see him. I love seeing him on the course. It always made me smile and gave me a little bit push that I needed. My leg felt fresh, and ready and my congestion didn’t bother me as much and I was doing great.
Then we hit the big hill at mile 5.5. It was foggy, so even though we walked next to Golden Gate bridge, we could barely see anything. I walked the hills and continue to run (or should I say jog?) for the next couple miles. Around mile 8 — I felt fatigued suddenly hit me. I almost anticipated the fatigued so that didn’t really surprise me. I know I switched to shuffle/walk because my run part was more like a shuffle. I ran into coach Glen at mile 10 and he ran with us for a little bit. I know the finish line near because I can see it (the course did a loop next to the finish line) and I ran into my husband one more time.
The last mile and a half, I barely have anything in my tank. I totally underestimated how fatigued I can get after the treatment and I didn’t even know how I can move to the finish line. I focused on the next mark, the thought of the finish line chute, the next goal, and somehow, one step at the time, I crossed that finish line.
Armando and I hug each other, got our Tiffany necklace and headed out towards the exit. That’s when it was so chaotic. The line to pick up finisher shirt was separated by the shirt size, so Armando and I got separated. I got my shirt and was shivering cold because we were standing yet in another line to pick up our mylar blanket and food. The line barely moved and there were no way out. I was starting to hyperventilate because I’m a bit claustrophobic and being in the middle of the crowd that way, plus the drop in my body temperature almost sent me to a panic attack. There were absolutely NO cellphone signal in the area. I have no idea where my husband was and really hope he would meet me at the family reunion area, so I headed out that way.
I waited for 15 minutes and my husband were no where to be found, so I decided to walk and head towards the shuttle. I wandered around and could not figure out where was the TNT shuttle. The people at TNT tent pointed me to ‘a direction’ that turn out was wrong. There were about 6 ladies around me, all TNT runners and we were all confused. I was so cold, and tired and I just wanted to get back so I decided to skip the shuttle and went ahead to call UBER taxi. I stood there waiting for the car, and hopelessly tried to call my husband again. This time — I barely had a signal and finally get a hold of him. I was SO GLAD to hear his voice and he finally met me and we headed back together
I really didn’t like the way the end of the race was. I think it could be manage a way better and the mylar blanket should be given immediately after runner cross the finish line (right after the necklace). It was a cold day and after 13.1 miles (or for many, 26.2 miles) — you were in a complete stop, standing in the line with the crowd for a good 10 minutes. The gal next to me kept saying that she felt like she was about to fainted! It was total chaotic.
The course itself was not bad. I mean, it was hilly as expected and it was supposedly to be beautiful if we can actually see the scenery but it was pretty foggy, so we can’t really see anything. Course support was great, and I didn’t have any issue getting water/snack/orange slices etc and there were a lot of people that cheered us.
I always tried to learn something on every race. Here’s what my notes, in no specific order
- Make sure your bottle cap are put correctly. My first sip on my bottle resulted in gatorade splash all over me
- Always, always made sure your playlist ready. Somehow, I had my Christmas list on and as much as I love Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, it’s not really a song I want to run with
- Always made plan with your partner just in case you don’t see each other at the finish line, or have no cellphone coverage. This is the first time that my husband didn’t see me cross the finish line even though he was standing right there (he still frustrated about that). Because of no cellphone coverage, he lost the ability to track me and waited by the finished line about 15-20 minutes after I crossed (while I waited the same amount of time at the family reunion area). If we had a plan — like, be at the family reunion and do not move from there no matter what until we see each other, I would save myself from a lot of frustration
- Be kind to yourself. I am known to be stubborn. There I said it. I got frustrated with myself when I didn’t meet a certain bar that I set for myself. Sometimes, that bar is ridiculously high and I wasn’t being kind to myself. This race taught me a good lesson about that. Adjust your bar accordingly.
In overall — I am pleased with what I accomplished and grateful for my experiences. I want to thank everyone for cheering me during the race, sent me encouraging notes and believe in me. Armando, thank you for staying by me from start to finish. You made the race enjoyable and I honestly can say that you helped me push through the last mile and a half when I needed that.