Victory has never smelled so…

uhm, nevermind.  I definitely was not sweet smelling by the end of 13.1 miles.  Our trip to San Francisco began yesterday morning at about 9 a.m. after we dropped the three girls and the dog at my parents’ house.  Have I mentioned how awesome they are?  SmartyPants was on day 1 of being sick.  Luckily Sweet Pea was on the tail end of it.  By the end of the weekend Sass has come down with it.  Lovely…all the while my mom has been sick too.

So back to our weekend.  I drove the first half of the way into Sacramento where we stopped for lunch (Taco Bell – the lunch of champions).  T drove the rest of the way into San Francisco.  Can I just tell you how happy I am that I don’t live in a big city.  I despise one-way streets.  I hate the crazy drivers.  We spent probably 30 minutes trying to get far enough down a one-way street so we could get to the block number before our hotel, because our hotel was also on a one-way street.  Mind you this was not a high-class hotel.  But it fell within our price range (cheap for the area) and it is run by a national chain.  It was clean, but very tiny.  And there was no parking, so we had to use the valet service hired by the hotel.  Did I mention my mom let us borrow her little 2-door Mercedes?  Yeah, so, we waited outside the hotel in downtown San Francisco.  And waited.  And waited.  After about 25 minutes the desk manager (?) came out and said that he was sorry it was taking so long.  He told us to leave the key with him and he would take care of it.

So off we headed to Union Square for the Expo, which was only about a 5 minute walk from the hotel.  It was about 3 by the time we picked up our race packets, which included maps, our race bibs, the electronic timer thing that goes on your shoe, and some coupons. The energy was pretty amazing inside the Expo.  So  many people so excited to be there and running the next day.  Me included!

And can I say, I love their slogan.  “Run like a girl”.  (T repeated asked me if HE had to run like a girl.  I told him only if he wants to.)

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Because both T and I have been using the Nike+ system, we also got a little card to have punched if we did a couple of activities, we would get to possible win a prize (the “big” prize was a new pair of shoes).  Also if we got all of our punches then we could take our card over to the Niketown Store across the street and drop it in a box for a chance to win diamond earrings by Tiffany & Co.  (Because T is not the diamond earring kind of guy, I essentially have two shots at winning!  Not that I will.  There were over 20,000 people signed up for this race.)  I was a little disappointed when we went to Niketown.  I know Nike stuff is expensive, but the cheapest shirt you could buy was $30, so I passed.  I figure we’ll go hit up Nike.com and see if in a week or so they have all the NWM stuff on sale.  And the store music was REALLY loud.  Holy crap!  On the outside wall of Niketown were the names of every entrant into the race.  The best way to describe it (and I’m not being disrespectful.at.all) is like the Viet Nam Memorial but in Nike red and flat – no actual carving).

After this we headed back to the hotel to drop our stuff off and figure out what to do for dinner.  We decided to head out and take a cable car up to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Well, it turns out that everyone else had the same idea, so we ended up walking the couple miles up (and I mean literally UP) to Fisherman’s Wharf.  I love the architecture in San Francisco.  This was on picture I took on our walk.  The colors, the style of the buildings.  Love it.

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And we loved the name of this street.

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Because my parents are awesome and they love sourdough bread, we went to dinner here (and brought home a loaf of fresh sourdough bread as thanks for putting up with sick, obnoxious kids for 36 hours).

SANY5069While we were waiting for a table, they had these on display.

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How cute are they?!

So, anyway, I’m just taking you on a tour of my weekend.  Because, honestly, so much happened that if I don’t get it all down, I’m bound to forget.

So after walking back to the hotel.  And yes, we did have to hike back up the hills of San Francisco in order to get back to the hotel.  My knees were already a little pissed about the hills.  I was feeling a little worried about the hills on the course, especially the one between mile 6 and 7.  Did I mention that in this one mile you gain almost 300 feet in elevation?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure I mentioned that in my last post because it had me totally freaked out.

After having a fitful night sleep due to fire engine sirens and other various noises of being in the heart of a big city, we were up at about 5:30 this morning.  It was dark.  Luckily it wasn’t really cold.  According to the weather at 6:30 it was 58 degrees.  I wore a pair of running shorts, my obligatory sports bra (have to keep what’s left of the girls contained), a Nike Dri-Fit shirt, and a thin, long-sleeved T-shirt, and a ball cap.  The race was to start at 7 a.m.  One of the perks of this race (and I’m sure they do this standard in long races, but this was my first) was they would transport a bag of whatever you wanted to the finish line so you could pick it up there.  I threw in some ZipFizz, a fleece, and some snacks.  Before we found our respective pacing groups, we had to drop our bags off.

I just want to throw this out there because I have to be fair to T.  He was sick in bed two days last week and started antibiotics.  He was not running at peak capacity today.  But he started two pace groups ahead of me in the race.  He crossed the start line about 2 minutes after the start of the race.  I, on the other hand, didn’t cross the start line until almost 14 minutes after the official start.

One thing I remember hearing at the Expo yesterday was that it wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon – literally.  Pace yourself.  They said the amount of energy for the first 10 miles equaled the energy needed to run the last 3 of a half-marathon.  That made so much sense to me.  They also said that in the beginning run slow, so slow it’s almost painful, because this will save your energy for the end of the run. So this is what I did.  I ran much slower than I’m used to running on the treadmill.  I also want to put it out there that I live at 4700 feet above sea level.  This helped me tremendously today.  There is so much extra oxygen at sea level!

Here’s a picture of me that T took before we split up.  I actually look awake and motivated to run.in.the.morning!

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The first picture I took while running was of the small portion of the Golden Gate bridge you could see amidst the fog.  This was about mile 5.5.  At this point in the race I was just jogging right along, dreading the mile 6 hill, but jogging right along listening to my iPod. (Mind you, I took these WHILE running with my Blackberry, so excuse the lack of quality!)

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I don’t have a picture from the top of the hill at mile 7.  I was too busy being all teary because I didn’t feel I had to walk at all.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  And I kept thinking of my girls over at The Sisterhood.  They are the ones who got me to this point.  Because of them I have been running for over a year now.  I believe this consistency allowed me to successfully complete this run today.  Every time I felt like I wanted to stop, two thoughts came to mind.  One, I want to make my girls (you know who you are, hookers!) proud of me.  Two, I knew if I stopped running and lost my momentum, it would be so much harder to start running again.

Here is a picture from about mile 10.5.  We were coming down this hill and you could see where the race would end.  There were tents and people and buses to take everyone back to Union Square.  Not to mention the beautiful beach!  Unfortunately this was not the end.  We still had to run through Golden Gate park for the last 2+ miles.  But what an amazing sight!

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This last picture is from Golden Gate Park.  All of a sudden I looked up and saw all of these trees, some standing tall and others leaning in over the path and I knew I needed that picture.

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I have to say that I spent a lot of time watching the ground and paying attention to those around me.  I’m not use to dodging people going at different rates.  That was almost as challenging as continuing to run.  But at mile 12 there was chocolate.  I got a Ghiradelli square of chocolate and carmel.  Oh, so delicious!  But after eating it in more bites than I have ever eaten chocolate, I desperately needed the next aid station for some water/Gatorade.

Oh, I forgot to talk about my consumption before and during the race.  I had a banana and a cup of coffee mixed with hot cocoa (my normal) before we left the hotel.  Then about every 2 miles there was water and Gatorade.  The first couple of stations I went with just water.  After that I would grab a cup of water, drink a few sips (spilling it all down the front of me) and then taking a Gatorade cup, drinking a few sips (spilling it all down the front of me).  They also had Luna bars and Luna Moons (which are like fruit snacks but with energy fruit snacks) at about mile 7.  (Neither T or I were really impressed with the Luna Moons. They were too chewy to eat while running.  T thought they were too sticky and pasty for consumption during a running event.)  Around mile 11 Safeway was handing out orange quarters.  That was awesome!  Oranges are the perfect energy snack.  I was a little annoyed that I had pulp stuck in my teeth for the last couple of miles, but it was worth it for that wonderful orange sugar!

So back to the race.  My knees were definitely bothering me throughout the race.  That is part of the reason I like the treadmill.  It seems to avoid some of the impact issues I get from running on asphalt or concrete.  But, I kept thinking of my girls.  Truly they inspired me to keep going.  And really when you know you’re going to get a little box like this at the end of the race…

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it’s hard not to keep going and truly giving it 110%

Here’s what was inside the box.

SANY5096I’m a little nostalgic thinking about the whole experience.  It was so amazing to be surrounded by such amazing people throughout the whole race.  There was a HUGE Team in Training presence, which I first became aware of because of Jenny Scott and then because my uncle is a 3- year survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Here is me at my most beautiful.  Having run/jogged (however you want to look at it) 13.1 miles and wearing my finisher’s shirt.

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So ladies, anyone want to throw your name into the hat for next year?  Because even though between the registration, gas, hotel, and food costs, it was so worth it, and T and I are planning on going next year.  My final time was 2 hours 18 minutes and 51 seconds.  I am very proud of myself.  I am going to be wearing my necklace with pride for an unknown length of time.  Even though I’m sure tomorrow morning when I wake up my joints are going to ache and be sore, it was all worth it.  I don’t think my joints will handle a full marathon, but I might just be addicted to the half.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I am so, so proud of you Kirsten. So proud. I loved your description of your whole weekend. WOW. I never doubted that you’d be able to run the whole way, either! I knew you could do it!!!

    Funny thing is I thought of you and that race all day long, and I want to be there next year! I want to run a half marathon and I want to do it with you and all my hookers. We should totally make that our hooker retreat. We can all run like (hookers) girls.

    Lots of love! I hope you’re not too sore tomorrow!!

  2. Wow, wow, WOW! I am SO proud of you, Kirsten!! You did AMAZING! I love the photos, too! Wear that necklace, you deserve it so much!!

    A mercedes? FUN!

    I love, LOVE Team In Training! I did my first (and ONLY, so far) 1/2 with them, and it was THE MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE, ever.

    XOXO

  3. That is amazing!! Way to go!!

    I’m impressed you managed to take pictures during the race. I would have never been able to do that, but now you have these really cool memories of it.

  4. Posted by girlsworld on October 19, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Thanks, Britt! My husband tried to take some while he was running, and they didn’t turn out. It was hard, and I’m glad I got what I did.

  5. you are awesome!!! visiting from the sisterhood and just wanted to say congrats on all your hard work.

    i’m training for a half next month. any tips??

  6. First of all, isn’t San Francisco awesome? Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd. is named after a long running musical parody show that’s performed in a club on that street (originally Green Blvd.). And the city itself is so beautiful, from the houses to the Bridge to the GGPark.

    But that’s not what this post is about. Sorry!

    You did AMAZING!!! Oh my gosh, you should be so proud of yourself!! You had an amazing time (and oy, the hills) and you never stopped running!!!

    THAT’S AWESOME!

  7. Um, is there a division for walkers??? 🙂 If so, I’m in!

    Congrats to you – I knew you’d make it!

  8. […] half marathon in October (which I completed successfully running the whole way. Not that I’ve mentioned that before or anything).  It had me committing to complete another half marathon in 2010 for a fantastic […]

  9. […] The Sisterhood and those that had encouraged me.  (You can read about my experience at NWM 2009 here.)  Last year it felt like the rest of the race just flew by.  It didn’t but my big fear over […]

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