Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And on the 27th day, she ran

These are my running feet I love so much!

I caved. Peer pressure? No. Feeling left out? Somewhat, but that wasn't it. Sick of my body getting weaker and flabbier? Definitely, but that wasn't really why either.

27 days after my last run in SF, I ran 2 miles. It wasn't intentional, it just happened. You know, like when you've downed an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in a matter of microseconds and when you're done, you can't even remember how that pint got in your grocery cart let alone how you consumed all 80 billion calories in one sitting - it just happened.

Saturday, I went to my Athletic Training class. Remember that class where Nazi Drill Sergeant likes to call out wicked torture exercises to us poor out-of-shape individuals, who somehow think this one class is going to magically change their bodies overnight and turn us into stellar athletes? Not that this is what I think mind you, but you know, for the others that are in this class that may think so. Nevertheless, yep, that's the class I was at.

Have I ever mentioned we run in that class? We do all sorts of speedwork drills, agility ladders and may favorite of all: run-as-fast-as-you-can-for-50-yards-til-you-wanna-puke-then-go-lift-those-way-too-heavy-pile-of-rocks-over-your-head-10-times-but-first-do-20-burpees-with-a-pushup. So yeah, before I even knew what I was doing, I was running. Opps.

But day 27 of no running and I'm at AT class and as I was doing these drills I was thinking of my heel the entire time. It didn't hurt and it wasn't "annoying" me. It usually never does until many miles into the run but it wasn't even bothering me. Sometimes it bothers me if I'm just standing there doing nothing. Or if I get out of bed and step on the floor. Or if it's a full moon. Or if there's an earthquake in China. Or....if I'm on the elliptical trainer, trying to be a good girl and not run on it. The pain is so random, I can't ever tell you when it's going to occur....except one thing I do know is if I have my running shoes on for any length of time - that's a sure fire way for it to start misbehaving. I can be standing there doing absolutely nothing and if I'm doing that nothing while wearing my running shoes for any prolonged period of time, the heel lets me know it ain't all too happy.

So after class, the one I almost died in, I guess I felt I hadn't endured enough abuse to the body as I didn't seen any miraculous changes to it (not that that is what I think, of course) so I went upstairs to try and get some cardio on that monotonous as all get out elliptical trainer. I actually have nothing against this machine, but we will never be besties, best I can tell. I can set that puppy to a resistance Hercules wouldn't even like and I just can't get my HR up on it. But whatever, I need me some cardio cuz that's what I'm lacking dearly in the past month. Weight training, no problem - I haul myself to all these weight training classes 3 times a week. Funny, a year ago I went kicking and screaming to do my weight training....now I eagerly wait for this BA weight lifting class I've been going to, which pretty much kicks my butt. I actually love it. But get me more than 2 days of any cardio over a half hour and it's like sheer torture. Hello?? There's something so wrong with this!!

Walking up the stairs, I spot "it" in all her glory - my beloved treadmill. I just walked over to it and before I knew it, I was running.

2 whole miles!

At a 10:20 pace (gasp!!!).

Whatever the pace, whatever the distance - holy crap, I was running one long, continuous run (long being relative here). My body felt like green jello all grossed out and out of place, not really sure it knew what to do. 27 days down. 27 is a lot of days. I think that's the most I've ever not run in about a billion years. My legs were stiff, my left hamstring was tight and my annoying glute pain was screaming (nothing's changed there. Glad to know my persistent aches and pains and tight muscle parts never went away!) but I just kept going - if you call 2 miles "going". After about a mile, things were starting to loosen up, as they usually do and by mile 2, I was feeling right at home. Ahhhhhh.

But I didn't want to tempt fate so I stopped at the grandiose mileage and got off. 2 miles. At a 10:20 pace. Sunday I woke up and puttered around the house way too long and missed my weight lifting class.... so what the hell, I put on my running shoes and I ran to the track by my house (.65 miles) and spewed out 5 laps around the track at a 8:22 pace and ran the .65 miles home, bringing my grand total for the month of August to 4.45.

Monday, my legs were sore. Sad, huh? I cannot believe how quickly you can lose your "stuff", which is what's been eating at me the most the past week....I visually started to notice how much muscle mass I'm losing and how grossly out of shape I'm becoming - despite the massive weight lifting (Ben and Jerry's will do that to you, apparently, no matter how much weight lifting you do). So Monday I popped on my basement treadmill and cranked out 2 more whopping miles to shake the stiffness out. It was slow, but oh how I've missed my treadmill!! August running log: 6.45. Whooaaaa, start the presses and alert the media!

Here's the scoop, however twisted it may be: I spend 27 days off my feet running, trying to get this dumb heel to cooperate and heal up. Nothing happened, best I can tell. I still had pain, intermittently, at the most sporadic moments, for no apparent reason at all. I'd be standing there watching the girls come in at the race last week and OUCH. Or I'd be on the elliptical trainer and nothing one day and screaming the next. So last week, before I went to the AT class which later drew me to the treadmill, I was speaking with the cross country coach at school and we both came to the conclusion that I did what I was suppose to do with zero progress whatsoever - whatever is wrong with the heel is not being mended by time off from running.

Which brings me to a small (haha, grab your coffee, this will be awhile) vent about insurance in this great country of ours. If you think there is nothing wrong with the health care in our country, I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong. I am a 47 year old female who has run the vast majority my life; eat protein smoothies with spinach and Chia Seeds daily; total exercise freak, even ran the Boston Marathon twice .... and I have been "denied" by what was to be my new insurance company on August 2nd. The denial is due to some stupid "female" procedure I had two years ago, which basically was done only because my doctor was a little freakoid about something that wasn't even bothering me ... and in the end it turned out to be nothing. Nothing!!! Now the insurance company isn't very happy about this little procedure and until I can go back and have another procedure to verify all is ok, then they will not insure me. And since I have no insurance, this little procedure (how many times are you allowed the word "procedure" in one paragraph??) is going to cost me several hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket. And even then, there's no guarantee they will insure me because honestly, all these claims people know is how to check "denied" if they see one thing that may possibly be off kilter . So I have 6 (SIX) calls to my doctor about the situation and I have yet to receive one phone call back from them. Tomorrow will be one week of endless phone calls with no progress whatsoever. Be grateful you are insured. I truly mean that!

Therefore, no, I have not have my heel looked at professionally cuz I've been denied by the government of this wonderful country. You may be 500 lbs and sit on your butt all day watching endless television, smoke a pack of cigarettes and eat an entire box of Ding Dongs for dinner and be insured. I cannot.

So I will run. A little. I will run until my heel screams not to and then I'll stop. I have no plans, I have no visions, I have no big races on the horizon. I'll just run and try to get back into decent shape (80 months???) and just do what I can do until somewhere, somehow, some way, I can become a real person in this society and have this heel officially diagnosed. I have totally given up trying to self-diagnose what it is - I have an excellent webMD degree but I have such contradicting symptoms that I can no longer even guess at what it is.

So this is the plan and I'm sticking with it: Continue my cross training; go to weight lifting class 3x/week; do Jamoosh's Hard Core Club 3x/week. And I will run. I did what I was suppose to do - I took some time off and nothing happened, so now I'm going to do what I know how to do better than most anything else in this entire screwed up health care system universe: run.

It may not be the smartest plan I've ever come up with, but I don't give a crap anymore. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay sane in this crazy world and this is what I feel I must do right now.

Game on. Let's run!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reset with a Blog-fest weekend!

This past weekend started a couple months back when some bloggers wanted to try to gather for a weekend of a little girl love, running, and high altitude training (ok, I just threw that in for a little arm twisting to come to Colorado). Nowhere better than right here in my own backyard, and so we picked the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon to be our destination. One of my FAVORITE half marathons. It starts high up in the mountains and runs along side a roaring stream and loses about 1000' in its 13 mile adventure. Gorgeous, but it's not super easy; it is what I consider a "rolling downhill" course and finishes about 25 degrees warmer than it starts when that sun comes up over the canyon walls and heats that course up. But thankfully, it never hits those atrocious temps some of y'all been enduring this summer (I still have no idea how you run in that stuff) - gotta love the high country. I love the quickness of this course with his downhill advantage, yet just enough uphills to not trash your quads to shreds. My PR on this course is 1:44:21, which was last year - I was in pretty prime shape then. I had hoped to smash that time this year (even by 1 second :) ), but my damn heel has other plans and I did not run it. Still....as official "Event Coordinator" of blog-fest weekend, I think it was a major success.

Thursday night, Marcia rolled into town from her digs in Chicago for a detox from her crazy life at home, escape the oppressive Midwest heat and humidity and spend some high-quality time with none other than MOI! Alright, a couple other bloggie souls, too. Katie A. was not able to make it, unfortunately, but all others who initially started this journey were there. Yay!! Marcia and I went downtown for a little dinner, conversations, and a quick tour of the Denver skyline. Very fun to catch up on life since our last visit in Boston.

Friday morning brought us lounging around in the morning, trying unsuccessfully to get her in to 24-hour Fitness for free (that place drives me crazy sometimes), and then packing up the car and heading over to pick up Tara , who played hookie a little early from work so we could get an early start to Idaho Springs (about 45 minutes from Denver) for race packet picked up. Then it was time to met up with that crazy chick, Shana, and her hubby who were in from the Midwest also, to gorge ourselves with some mile-high pizza pie from Beau Jo's. Isn't that pizza just screaming yum-ness???

And here us lovely ladies are, (Shana, Marcia, Tara, Me) all fueled up with carbs and ready to run (aside from me, I just carb'd up .... and expanding since I'm not expending those calories. Unlike!!). Lunch was so fun, we laughed so much and everyone just got along exceptionally well (I'm the only one who has met all these fab ladies, the rest of them had never met one another. I'm so blessed!! Shana I met this spring when she was here for the Bolder Boulder, Marcia I met in Boston and spent most of a day together, and Tara...well, we live close by and go to the pool frequently and make fun of ourselves for our excessive talking and little swimming).

After lunch, we tried to drive the course but it was mostly blocked off for vehicles due to construction but I think they got a feel for how the course was. Here we in at Georgetown Lake, the start of the big race tomorrow. Tara's not much of an attention seeker, is she?

After this picture, Shana and her husband (who, btw, is super nice and was being very patient with us crazy chicas) left for a hike while Marcia, Tara and I headed about 25 minutes West to the town of Silverthorn, where we were spending the night at my friend's condo. This little brainiac idea of mine saved us about 2 hours in the morning by not having to drive to the race start from Denver....plus it gave Marcia some time in the high country where Tara and I are just so freaking blessed to live.

We headed into the cute little historic town of Breckenridge for dinner where we ate more carbs (why I'm subjecting myself to all their carbs and calories, I'm not sure. But it's going to have to STOP. Grrrr) and walked some around this quaint little town loaded with charm. The pic below isn't from our trip - even at 9600', you don't often see this much snow in mid-August, but this I like the picture.
Early to bed, not much sleep, and early to rise on Saturday to get the girls out the door and to the start line. Woohoooo! Tara was having some stomach issues but I told her to suck it up and get on that start line! Pep taks are an acquired skill, obviously. The porta potty lines at this race are totally insane; people were 20 deep still when they announced the 2-minute start so out of potty line they came with full bladders and are now lined up to race. Look at them holding it in at the start!! (Mr. Garmin is more obsessed with his watch than his the hot chicks holding their bladders in front of him, he obviously doesn't know what he's missing).
The gun goes off, the girls go their merry way, and thankfully I hear no more whining from Tara for a couple hours.

I hung out with Shana's husband for a couple miles as the race circles back to the start line and you're able to see the racers again at mile 2. We were able to see all here and cheer them on, then we headed to about the half way point to try to do some more cheerleading. But the race runs on a trail across the river here so it was impossible for them to hear us amongst the roar of the river. But I did manage to see Tara run by before I thought it best to head down to the finish line in Idaho Springs as I knew parking in this tiny town would be atrocious for the 3000 of those running and I didn't want to miss anyone.

First to cross the finish line was Beth coming in about 1:47. Yahoo, Bethie. I was standing with the masses, about 30' from the finish line. Though I wasn't particularly sad I wasn't running this race at the beginning, I felt a pretty sharp pain watching those runners giving it their all as they crossed that finish line. Not being able to run was definitely having an affect on me....and not in a good way. Soon I saw Tara come in around 1:57 and here I left my viewing spot to join her at the end so I wouldn't lose her in the sea of runners on the football field. Not long after we found Marcia and Shana - the two flatlanders survived without oxygen tanks and rocked that race course!! I was sooo proud of everyone. We eventually ran into Beth and got all chatted up about the race and whatnot and snapped this doozie of all those awesome runners:
Beth's husband, Ken, Beth, Tara, Marcia and Shana. Way to go guys,!!! What an awesome day (and entire weekend!!) with awesome company!
I'm not sure how I got so lucky in my life to have such fabulous women in my life, but I have. And I hope I will never take them for granted. No, I can't run right now, and yes that's just about killing me, but these girls may not realize it but their hard work on this race is motivating me. Tara had stomach
problems at the start, Marcia and Shana were running in about 1/2 the oxygen than they're used to - yet no one give up, despite them wanting to. When I see the girls all happy with exhaustion, it's making my bummed-out self a little more pumped to turn my excess poundage from looking like it's current blob state to the right to a much more desirable state like that at the left (oh yea!!). More bad news with the insurance on Friday left me sleepless for nights and eating my way though half of Colorado -- and not really caring that much. Yes, I had another setback with the heel and my insurance (more later this week on that) but I am tired of feeling sorry for myself. My pathetic attempt at what little exercise I have been doing since SF has been nothing short of an "excuse." The old me never cared much for excuses. The old me needs to find herself again. These wonderful ladies did not give up and I will not either.
It's time to hit the reset button and make some changes in my world. Just because I can't run right now, I CAN make myself a better me. I can see the potential for something better awakening - thank you ladies, you have truly inspired me and it was a blast to hang with you this weekend!!
I am sooo behind on blogs and am back to work on Tuesday....but I WILL be catching up in the next couple days. Promise.
Be strong, friends! Be strong!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Runner's Bucket List

As I was driving all over town the other day, dropping off flyer's for the upcoming Skirt Chaser 5K race Beth from Shut Up and Run invited me to help her with, I grabbed a Competitor magazine at some cycling store in the cute Pearl Street district in Denver. I must have 20 of these type of magazines sitting all around my nightstand (Trail Runner, Colorado Runner, Rocky Mountain Sports, to name a few); most of which I just skim through and will read an article only if it looks inviting. I have a hard time throwing them out but the stack's getting thick and since I'm not running right now (unlike) I guess it's time to purge.

Nevertheless, the August issue of Competitor has a feature inside called, "A Runner's Bucket List" and lists the top favorite races this writer has picked for 10 different categories. As with any list it involves lots of personal choices but it did peak my curiosity as I'm always up for a good challenge. So here are his 10 categories, his favorite in each category, a few side notes, and my comments about each and if I'd do the race are in purple.

1) Historic Race
Boston Marathon
Next Race: April 18, 2011
The Boston marathon celebrates its 115th running next April, making it the longest-running marathon in the U.S. and one of the oldest running races in the world.
How to get in: Qualifying time from a previously run marathon (duh, we all know this one!)
There is no other marathon like it in the U.S. but the 2nd oldest marathon is Yonkers Marathon in NY, which turned 85 this year. The Dipsea Race, a 7.4 mile trail run north of San Francisco has been run continuously since 1905. Athens Marathon celebrates its 2500th anniversary this year (Wow! I think "Green Running Girl" is doing this one. I'm so jealous! Anyone else??? This is a race on Jill's "bucket list")
Me: Boston - been there twice. Trained hard for and raced well (3:51) in 2009. Lung infection and a mental cramp cause me to run pathetically in 2010 (4:30) but had a blast running it with Katie A. on my 47th birthday. Will I go back in 2011? I am qualified. Hate the course. Love the whole atmosphere and experience and the fact it's Boston. I will probably register come October 18th, but will see how the heel is, finances are (this race will tack on 3 more years before I can retire for each year I run it), and if I can train hard for it. I will not go and run it again like I did this past year. I am grateful for the years I did do it, there is nothing like it in all the marathons I've ever done. On the fence about if I'll do it again or not.

2) Relay
Hood to Coast
Next Race: August 27-28
The largest and most prestigious is the 197-mile from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean. 36 different legs varying between 3.7-7.4 miles each and runners run at least 3 legs.
How to get in: Teams must submit a registration postmarked on October 14th. Entries go into a lottery to choose winners. If your team loses, it does get preferential treatment the following year.
Me: I have always wanted to do this relay - it is well-known and highly sought after in the running community. I was actually invited by some friends I know who were looking for another female for their Hood to Coast Relay this year. I was bummed to turn them down; I was suppose to be doing the Colorado Relay the weekend before this one and thought I'd just be too tired to tackle this after Colorado's and also the date of this relay was the week I start back to school and I knew I'd have to donate my first born to take days off during the first week of school (hum...tempting). Plus the cost of these relays are crazy and I'd have to add airfare and hotel costs to Hood to Coast. One day I WILL do it though.

3) Ultra Marathons
Western States Endurance Run
Next Race: June 25-26, 2011
Running 100 miles on the trails of California's Sierra Nevada range. One of the oldest, most prestigious and definitely most challenging races in the U.S.
How to get in: Participants must meet a variety of criteria, including one performance-based qualifications such as completing a 50-miler ultra in under 11-hours.
Me: Um, not only NO but HELL NO! Personally, I'd think Bad Water's 135 miles in Death Valley in July or the Leadville 100 in Colorado, which has insane vertical challenges, would be more of an ultra challenge. But I'm never going to do any of the 3 to find out for sure. Don't even tempt me with any free entry or the likes, I'm not doing a 100+ ultra at my age. Did I ever mention my back starts to scream by the end of a marathon? Hush, Jamoosh...it's not because I have sucky form.
4) International Marathon
Comrades Marathon
Next Race: May 29, 2011
"To call the Comrades the "Boston Marathon of ultras" might help describe the historic nature of this South African Race..." A 56-mile footrace between Pietermarizburg and Durban to honor veteran Vic Clapham's comrades who were killed in WWI. This May marked it's 85th anniversary and attracted 23,563 runners. The course flips directions each year (that's kinda cool!) Participants have 12 hours to finish.
How to get in: Best I can tell from the article, it has no cap and no lottery.
Me: I'm intrigued. Sure, I would attempt this if someone paid my way!! I *think* I could run the first half before my back gave out and then shuffle along with an ice pack on my back and 12 Ibuprofen downed for the second half and finish in 12-hours. Maybe.

5) Big Urban Marathons
New York City
Next Race: November 7, 2010
Takes runners on a tour of all New York's five boroughs. Last year more than 43,000 finished which made it the biggest in the world by a comfortable margin. Features the best crowd support (Boston has amazing crowd support. Hello Boston College drunk students!!), an amazing start which takes over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and a strong elite field.
How to get in: A lottery system. Some entries are reserves for charity slots. (Article doesn't state it but I happen to know you can also qualify with not just a marathon time but also with a half marathon time. In 2009, I was 11 seconds off qualifying with my 1:44:11 half marathon in Atlanta. Had I known about the qualifying time THEN, I maybe would have pushed a little more at the end!?!?! Never could afford to go there AND Boston, but still...)
Me: See above. Would I ever like to do it? Maybe, but it's not high on my list. I'm not sure why. I've never been to NYC so if I went to run, I'd also like to stay and see the sights - and shop! But I would definitely like to qualify.
6) Scenic Race
Big Sur Marathon
Next Race: May 1, 2011
The point-to-point course course starts in Big Sur, CA and follows Highway 1 to Carmel, CA. Best know for it's views of the Pacific Ocean from high atop bluffs along the ragged coastline of central California. The 2-mile climb from Hurricane Pt between miles 10-12 gets the most attention from wary running. Founded in 1986 with 1800 it has grown to 4000 marathoners. Additionally there is a 21-mile, 10.6-miler, 9-miler, and 5K.
How to get in: Registration is currently open on their website. (really? I'm so tempted....)
Me: I did this race in 2008. It almost killed me. Bahaha. I trained my ass off for this race - I hired a trainer to get me into the best shape of my life and when I stood on the start line of that race, I had no idea what I was capable of so I took off blindly running an insane pace. That famous Hurricane Pt hill sucked but I got to the top and high-fived everyone around me and then stupidly, screamed down the other side of the hill to make up for lost time on the previous big uphill. Huge mistake! It was hot. It was super windy. And the hills were brutal. By mile 18, I was puking on the side and by mile 20 I had severe leg and stomach cramps - I was majorly dehydrated. I walked most of the remaining 6 miles home and crossed in 4:17. Given this race claims to add 20 minutes to a "normal" marathon time, I guess it's not bad but I was very emotionally disappointed for literally MONTHS after. 3 months after the race, I remember sitting with my then-trainer and tears were flowing over this race. It took a long time to let it go and I vow I will be back one day and run it correctly. I loved this race, despite the fact I screwed it up worse than any race I've ever run. Revenge!
There I am, about 4-hours post race, standing at start of the famous Hurricane Point 2-mile hell hill that killed my race on the other side of it. Beautiful, yes. Painful, yes!

7) Set a PR
Chicago Marthon
Next Race: October 10, 2010
Got it's boom in the 70's and is now the 2nd largest marathon in the country and 4th in the world with more than 33,000 runners. Apart form a few overpasses, the marathon is uniformly flat, making it super fast. Easy to get to which means no long bus ride to the start.
How to get in: First come, first served to those registering on their website. This year the race's capacity of 45,000 runners was reached in 5 weeks.
Me: Never wanted to do this race because of the number of people, but I did register for it for this year because I thought it would be kind of cool to run a marathon on 10/10/10. The allure of that was intriguing and a friend did it last year and he said I'd love the course. I took the bait and paid the $140 ridiculous registration....and now I'm not going to do it because of the heel. Disappointed? Hell yes, but I don't want to run anymore marathons half-trained. Anyone want my bib??
Similar events: California International (Dec. 5th) in Sacramento tends to get a fast field for it's net downhill. This was my 2nd marathon ever in 1998. 4:07, and I didn't even train for it. It's been way too long to remember much about it, but I did like it. I wonder where the heck my medal is. Hum. Would I want to do it again? Sure.
St. George Marathon (October 2nd) in St. George, Utah. Basically a downhill course that ends 2600' lower than it starts. I ran this in 2008 and it was my first BQer. I was an emotional wreck in the weeks leading up to this race as the pressure to BQ mounted; no one, including my family, wanted to be around me. I needed 4-hours to qualify, I ran 3:46. The weather was ideal for me: drizzling rain. It kept the temperatures down and my body loves cooler temps. Plus, I trained like a mad-woman for it. I'll probably never run this marathon again because it holds such a special place in my heart and I'd hate to ruin that memory by doing it poorly.

Official race photo. See the forward lean? No wonder my back hurts by the end of a marathon. I do work on this but when fatigue sets in, all form goes back to crappy.

8) Obstacle Race
Tough Guy
Next Race: January 30, 2011
Part obstacle course, part military training exercise, and all macho, the race near Wolverhampton, England is for runners who want obstacles to overcome. Dubbed the world's safest, most dangerous taste of mental and physical pain, fear and endurance. Features and 8-mile course filled with barriers to keep runners from the finish. Past obstacles have included floored 40-foot tunnels, balance beams across a fire pit and lot of barbed wire. This year more than 3700 people finished.
How to get in: Registration is currently now open on their website
Me: I doubt I'd want to do this. If you could do it with a partner, maybe, but I don't think that's allowed. I'm kinda a fearful wuss.

9) Party Race
Las Vegas Marathon and Half (Rock and Roll)
Next Race: December 5, 2010
A horde of running Elvi, Bengal tigers, wedding on the course, shutting down the strip, and a post-race concert by Bret Michaels. Relatively flat and fast. Like other RnR series, there's a band at every mile to entertain runners. Runners looking to tie-the-knot can do so at the run-through wedding ceremonies. Fourteen RnR marathon and halves are held throughout the country (this is Denver's first year for a RnR. Same race course as the Denver Marathons in past years (sort of) but first for an RnR), minus the Bengal tigers.
Now to get in: Article does not state, but I think it's just open and doesn't have a race cap.
Me: I wouldn't mind doing it, but there are others I'd do first over this one if I were paying for a marathon. I know some, like Adam, have a goal to run all the Rock and Rolls, which is way cool. I don't have that goal. I've been to Vegas a few times (used to go there on our way to San Diego, way back in the day when my kiddos were little. Did love all the cool pools at the hotel, but Vegas itself to me is just really filthy). If someone wants to pay my way though, or a bunch of friends were going, sure I'm in!

10) Running Festival
Bay to Breakers
Next Race: May 15, 2011
Next year will be the 100th running of the San Francisco's ING Bay to Breakers, perhaps the race that's most famous for everything about it that has nothing to do with running. First held in 1912 to raise money for the 1906 earthquake. Starts near the Embarcadero and finishes it's 12K course by the breakers of Ocean Beach. Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest footrace when it attracted 110,000 people in 1986. This year the race attracted about 60,000. Famous for it's party atmosphere and and outrageousness. Many team up to form centipedes or groups of 13 tied together. Also famous for the tradition of wearing nothing at all.
How to get in: Registration for 2011 has yet to be announced.
Me: Believe it or not, I did this race in 1991 (ahem!). A group of friends were going, I had just had my first child and never been to San Francisco so I was in. I don't remember much other than that it was super crowded, super steep hills, full of centipedes, and yes, I saw a lot of naked people running - which is just weird to see body parts flopping around out there. I have no idea what my time was, would have to go way back to look up some hard copy journal which is probably in my attic. Would I do it again? Sure, if a bunch of friends were doing it and I happened to be living nearby. Doubt I'd make it a destination race and it occurs at the end of the school year when life is crazy in Jill world.
So there you have it, the authors top races for his pick of 10 categories. To each their own, I know, but I thought it was fun and loved thinking about these bucket list races he suggested. So here's a small bucket list I have, in no sense of priority:
-Austin Marathon - I don't know why, it just appeals to me. Saw the medal once at an Expo, and though I never run a race for the medal, it just was cool and it became a race on my list.
- New Orleans Marathon - I just think that city is pretty neat.
- San Francisco, Long Beach, and Surf City Marathons - Mostly because I want the cool swag you get for doing all three of these in a one-year span.
- Fying Pig - One of my girlfriends ran it and said it was a great course and I like the whole idea of a pig medal. A pink pig medal at that.
- Quad Cities Marathon - Run in my hometown of Davenport Iowa, and it runs in two states.
- Marathon Marathon - Run in the town of Marathon, Iowa. How cool is that? Very small race and run the end of June makes this a big challenge for me (I do not handle heat well, big hydration health issues) but if I took it super slow, I could do it. I think.
- Pikes Peak Marathon - I can't believe I said that. I ran the Ascent last summer and I swore to all the heavens above I was done tackling that mountain. But the year before I ran it also and got to mile 10 when we were turned back and had to go back down 10 due to adverse weather. So I ran 20 of the 26 and by God, I think I need to run the full. There's also a race called the "Doubler" where you do the Ascent on Saturday and then on Sunday do the full marathon. Yeh, I think I need to do that also.
- JFK 50-miler - Has always been the top of my ultra list. Not sure I can ever get the back to cooperate but I'd love to try to get in that kind of condition to do it. I think I'd like to run one, and only one, ultra in my lifetime so I don't want to dink around with a 50K, I want it a 50-miler :).
I'd also like to do a slew of distance trail races, as I really find I love the trails.
International marathons, which I'd love to do but probably will never have the resources to do include: London, Dublin, The Great Wall of China, Greece, Paris....well hell, I'd be happy to run any marathon across the pond, period!!
What about you? What's on YOUR bucket list of races to run. I just might find another one, or ten, in your list that I can't live without having to run also.

Happy Weekend....and happy running.

Monday, August 2, 2010

San Francisco, the whole 5 days!

I absolutely LOVE the shirt with the bridge and 26.2 going across it. The medal is enormous and has little rubber thingies on the back so you can apparently use it as a coaster. Very cool!
5 glorious days in the beautiful city of San Francisco, with a marathon smack in the middle. Hang on, grab a cup of coffee (or a protein smoothie, as I have in hand) - this is going to be a longie (note: I write these race reports with maybe a lot of detail as I want to go back in time one day and read about my journeys. Feel free to skip though - I do like to get wordy!!). I apologize for the spacing fiasco, blogger is not being very friendly today! And I do not accept responsibility for botched spelling and the improper use of our language - this is way too long to edit - ha!!

Arrived Friday morning later than expected due to heavy fog in San Fran. Is there every a time in this town that is isn't heavily fogged in? In the 5 days I was there (4 actually, and one day in San Jose/Santa Cruz), I never saw the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Ever. Just sayin'. Katie A picked me up at the airport - man, I love that girl! She is so much fun. So full of life. We had a blast in Boston and I knew we'd do the same here. We headed into the city, where my girlfriend from high school, Karen, has a beautiful apartment about 3 blocks from the waterfront (and start of the race. SWEET!). I haven't seen Karen since that day in May 1981 when we graduated from high school in the big town of Davenport Iowa (yep, I'm old!). I reconnected with her on Facebook last year and she has been so encouraging and supportive of my running and told me if I ever wanted to come to visit and run a marathon, I was welcome to stay with her. She actually lives in Washington state but has an apartment in SF as her partner has a lot of work there, so actually my choices of marathons to visit with her included SF or Seattle. I'm so glad I picked SF. It's a beautiful city - I totally love its charm and charisma. Not sure I'd ever want to live there but man, I love to visit. I've been to Seattle a few times, and though I enjoy it, I'd much rather run the streets of San Francisco.

Karen, Katie andI all hit it off great and off we go instantly to lunch. A cute little place called The Dive along the waterfront. I should state, for the record, I got a new camera and had not read the instructions on how to use it so I have some great pictures on the camera, but they aren't on the memory card (which I failed to bring and later had to go purchase - thank heavens for Walgreens on every other corner in SF), they're in the camera somehow and I have no idea how to download them to my laptop. A great pic of Karen and Katie at the restaurant resides on that thing - err. But here's a pic of Karen and I. We connected like long lost old friends! She's super cool and I had such a nice time getting to re-know her again. Totally cool chick. In fact, Katie told me she was going to dump me for Karen cuz Karen was so much fun. Unlike.
We then made our way to the expo to get our race packets. The one thing about this expo that will forever be stuck in my tiny pea-brain is when the packet-pickup guy gave me my safety pins for the race bib, he'd only give me two. And they were those tiny, itty-bitty gold ones. I asked for 2 more and he told me he was only allowed to give me two. HUH?? There was no way in hell that bib was going to stay on my shorts with two microscopic safety pins. Other souls around me were grabbing handfuls of pins. And what do these things cost...1 penny to mass produce about a thousand??? Karen gave me hers. So stupid!

The expo was fine. Nothing spectacular but we did meet a few running blog people there. Katie found Stacey and we stood in line together for awhile chatting. She's a total riot, you gotta click on her link and check her out. It was also her birthday the next day, marathon day, and she dressed the part during the race, donning a tiara and pink boa. Too funny. We then hit up Sports Basement in search of arm warmers I could wear and toss whenever it warmed up, but we had no luck. I can't justify paying $30 for throw-away arm warmers. Boston had some for $8, and that I can almost justify, but not $30. No worries, I had a long-sleeved T I could wear and toss (which I did, at mile 1).

Katie left after her car's GPS managed to get us majorly lost, and Karen and I walked the town and had a great dinner and turned in early. Not without a little new addiction to the show "Chopped" on the Food Network. Remember, I rarely watch tv and that's because I get so engrossed in the stupidest of shows and totally neglect my entire family. Just better I don't watch. But this show was so funny....I mean, so dumb it was funny and yep, I now have a new addiction. Funny, cuz I hate to cook and half the ingredients in their baskets I've never in my life heard of. I grew up in Iowa, remember - we ate corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and steak. Period!

Saturday brought me a little run along the waterfront, down to the famous Pier 39, about a mile and a half from the apartment. It was foggy and windy and my hamstrings were tighter than cello strings. But the heel felt good. I still have no idea how tomorrow's race was going to play out - if I tried for the full or quit at the half. In my mind, I knew the full was what I wanted, but I had no idea if the bod was going to cooperate. I was able to meet up with Running Green Girl and Rad Runner Girl at the Ferry Building, which is a cool little place and on the weekend's they have a Farmer's Market - which is just so freaking amazing!! Tons of fruits and veggies and flowers galore. I had a peach sample that just melted in my mouth - omg, that was awesome! I bought some boysenberries and some berry syrup, which was totally ridiculously expensive. Oh well.
Green and Rad girls were really fun and it was so great to meet them. We chatted awhile before we had to go our separate ways, but I was so glad to meet them. I hope our paths will cross again one day, I know they'd be so much fun to hang out with. Green Girl even gave me a little miracle treatment for my heel. THANKS, Greenie!!! (more on that later)
Me, Rad Girl, and Green Girl. You girls ROCK!!

Not long after meeting those incredible blog chicks, I got the pleasure to meet Anne Marie, from Goals for the Week! She was in the city for a bit with her family having lunch so I didn't want to interrupt them too long but it was so fun to meet her. Us moms with twins always have a very special connection :).

The rest of the day, Karen and I just walked around the water and had a late, carb-loading lunch. We discussed doing some touristy things, like the ferry to Sausalito or driving the little electric cars, but I just kinda wanted to chill and get to bed early-ish. It was a gorgeous day, about 65 degrees (and I got sunburned - eeks) - one of those days with a picture planted in my mind's laminated pages of a photo album. It was a tad windy in the city, as you can clearly see. Which was worrying me about the race.

When we got back to Karen's apartment, it was 6:00 and I had totally forgotten about the blog meet-up Glenn was hosting at an Italian place on the other side of town. We could have hurried ourselves and got a cab to ran over there but I was tired and really, I just wanted to get my race stuff together and go to bed early. I was bummed because it would have been great to meet more bloggers and to see Meg again, but I knew it wasn't the right thing to do. Next time!

I never sleep well the night before a race, which is probably normal for most runners out there. I woke up every hour on the hour until 4:00 came and I just stayed awake. Nothing like being 3 blocks from the start line, it's freaking AWESOME! No bus to the start line, no standing in porta potty lines for eternity. No shivering to death waiting for the start. I was shocked I didn't have to go to the bathroom when I got to the start but I didn't. Yay! Normally, I go 4 times before and still have an uncomfortable bladder by mile 2. I was in wave 2, start time of 5:32a.m. I have to say this is a first for a 5:30 start (have had a few 6:00's though)time, but I love it! I guess when I initially registered, I thought I'd run well...I mean, do we ever sign up thinking our heel would cause us to train half-ass and run accordingly? I was so glad I wasn't starting later - if I ever do this race again, I'd definitely sign up early to get that early wave start. Anyway, it was dark. Duh. Karen went down to the race start with me. We had about 20 minutes before my wave started so we just wandered a bit and had a guy take our pic. See, I told you it was dark. Later, I would be so grateful for Karen's bright green shirt...easy to spot apple green vs. something like say white, as the vast majority wears!
As I stood there in my starting line corral, I couldn't help but admire the Bay Bridge with it's lights shining way up to the fog. It kind of struck me here, for the first time really, what I was about to do. Most marathons I run, I can get over-the-top tense in the couple weeks leading up to the race. I question everything about my past training and if I'm truly ready to be on that start line. It was a relief to have a marathon where I didn't have that and could stand there and look at the bridge and admire it's beauty instead of a being a total lunatic over every single race detail.

In my total brilliance, I also brought Karen's half marathon bib along with me, in case I decided mid-way my heel wasn't going to allow me to do the full. Karen had registered for the first half some time ago but then started having knee problems and her doctor gave her the veto to running the half. So I thought I'd just switch bibs half way if my heel warranted it. I had her bib and her timing chip in my little pouch ... along with my camera and my phone. I usually don't bring those in a race, but I wasn't really "racing" so it didn't matter much to me.
I'm not a chatterbox during a marathon. Shocking, I know. But a guy started talking to me, telling me it was his first marathon ever and how nervous he was. I thought about a couple of my clients who are running their first marathons this fall and I told him it was perfectly ok to be nervous, and as soon as the gun went off, all those fears would subside and you just run...you just do what you've trained so long and hard to do. I know I get to be a basket of total nerves whenever I want a race to go well - it was iberating to be on the opposite end this time, just running to survive! We talked a long time, it seemed, and I think I'll always remember this guy and how nervous he was. By the time we took off, it was still pretty dark and I quickly shed the long-sleeved shirt I had worn to the start. It was cool, but 60 degrees in Denver is a whole different 60 degrees in SF. I am not used to the humidity so it was much warmer than what I thought it'd be.

Mile 1 and 2 brought us along the waterfront of the Embarcadaro and through Fisherman's Wharf. Pretty touristy. You could see a bakery making sourdough bread in one of the windows. Exit FW and now aong the bay at mile 2 1/2 and the famous Giradilli Chocolate factory.
I had some sort of allery to SF, evident by the severe sinus issues I was having here. By mile 3, I bet I Farmer Blowed my noise a hundred times. Mile 3 also brought the first of 500 hills in this race. Well, maybe not 500, but the Times Register certain pegged this race correctly when it called it "challenging." The whole time I was slugging up this hill, I thought this was only the beginning of a very long morning full of them. But I felt good, my heel was cooperating, my glutes weren't overly tight, as they had been for the past few weeks. All was good so I just pressed on up the hill.

Mile 4, we ran past Alcatraz. That place just gives me the creeps whenever I think about who was once housed there.

It's also the first time the Golden Gate Bridge came into view. It's top covered in a cloud. Of course. Make our way closer and close to the bridge. Mile 5 brought us up another big hill as we enter the bridge. There she is, in all her glory, hiding her top in fog. I was there! This was one of the main reasons I wanted to run this thing, to run over that dang bridge! My first in a race. I don't even like to drive over one and worse, be a passanger in a car over one, but I did want to run over one. And this was THE one to run!!

Official race photo below. Thanks to my friend, Mike, for spending a lot of time photoshopping the watermark "Proof" off of the photo for me. And lookie there, I'm ahead of the Kenyans - go me!

I hate to admit this but I didn't think running over the Golden Gate Bridge was all that thrilling and provided me with some grand glory my head thought it would. By the time I hit the bridge again on the way back (you run across, make a small loop on the other side - which, if it were a clear day, would be an amazing view - but it wasn't and you couldn't see a thing other than fog - then circle back to cross the bridge again), I just wanted that whole bridge thing to be DONE! I can't tell you exactly why...partically because it was crowded, you couldn't see anything, the traffic on the other side was soooo close, and it was long. I also knew that once I got across this massive thing, I'd be close to the 10-mile marker, and 10 miles = double digit miles. WOOT! Something kind of mentally adventageous knowing there's 16 miles left vs 17. It was also misting on the bridge and really, I wasn't enjoying the fact I was running in a cloud and couldn't see anything. Physically. I almost always mentally run in a cloud, but that's for another blog post. Anyhoo, the one thing I so looked forward to, running across the infamous GG Bridge, wasn't worth all the hoopla my pre-race mind thought it would be. I wasn't running high in suspension over a large body of water....well, I WAS, but with 6 lanes of concrete, it just felt like another road. It was sort of surreal at the start of the bridge but quickly became a game to see how fast I could get off it. Oh, and I did have a morbid thought that if this entire bridge collapsed, there'd be a sh!t-load of people going done. Time to move on! Or OFF - the bridge that is.

Off bridge - yay - and hit one of the hardest hills on this massively hilly course, and enter "The Presidio." Water stop. Jill stop. Ok, Jill "shuffle" but it wasn't because I was dying, it was because I had to wait for the volunteers to pour water into the empty cups on the table. I will never bash the volunteers - they are out there at ungodly hours serving us insane runners for no other reason than because they can - but can we just have water in the cups and not have to wait?? This was the only water stop, btw, where this was a problem. I've been in other races (ahem, Tucson) where almost every aid station was not manned properly. This was the only place I walked a little but with the brutality of this hill, I welcomed the reprieve.

Make our way down the other side of The Presidio, which is very pretty. An extremely steep downhill here and wowzie, my heel's letting me know it doesn't like the downs. So I tried to run on my forefoot here, but I noticed my pace was just so slow and everyone around me was taking advantage of this big downie - me, I was practically tip-toeing to get down this thing. This ended up being the case for the rest of the downhills thereafter - it just served the heel better to run this way. Which I'm sure totally messed up my calf. My hip flexors. My quads. Nose blow count here: 5938.

See??? I told you it was pretty here!!

Mile 12 brought us through this neighborhood below. Pretty houses, but the one thing that struck me is how vegetation-less it is. See a tree anywhere? And I thought Colorado was dry.. (I didn't take this pic, I stole it, so those walking in this pic is not the group I was in). Gotta love that rebel in the middle of the hill wearing black who's on the wrong side of the cones.

Now we start to enter Golden Gate Park. It's very green, lots of trees, very serene - a stark contrast to the last couple miles of non-green. This park is HUGE, made even huger by the fact you run loops, out and backs, and god knows what else just to tack on some miles. Alright, it's pretty, I'll give it that!

But good god, there were many times in this mile 12 - 19 park section where I literally thought I missed a turn and was now in one of the many other parts of this race. The first half marathon ends here, the second begins, the 10K is somewhere in here maybe and we're all mashed together at various entry and exit points; there's only two places I can recall where there were signs to get you on the right path. I'm not good at directions, I had no idea at times if I was in the right place. The only time I spoke on the course to another participant was somewhere around mile 15, "Are you doing the full marathon? Am I in the right place?"

To which he answered, "I am doing the full, and I have no clue if we're in the right place. I guess we'll be lost together" Look at that sign - what if I looked down to get a gel or something and missed it?? I was so sure I missed my friends at the half way point (Katie was running the 2nd half marathon and she brought my friend, Karen, with them to the half way point where I was to meet them), I drug out my phone and made my first ever "texting while running a marathon" text to Karen, "I just vrossed the haalf way. I think I missed you :( See you @ the finish. xo". Hell yah, I actually typed an @ sign while running - who cares I couldn't spell crossed or half. I rock at texting and running!! Turns out, in another two minutes I did see them and it was just heaven on earth to see familiar faces! I stopped here for about a minute and got high-fives from Ari, Katie's husband, who told me the 3:40 pace group was just in front of me. Hahahah....um, there was no way - and that wasn't my goal of this race anyway. Katie and Karen were full of encouragement and Karen wipped out a Diet Coke for me. OMG, I took a couple sips and wow, the bubbles and caffeine just did their magic!! A hug to Katie and off I went. No one even asked me if I was going to stop here and I never even gave stopping a thought. In the back of my mind, I knew I'd try to do the full marathon, just run it SLOW and steady and only stop if the heel misbehaved. It wasn't, so on I went. No questions asked. Karen later told me she said to Katie, "I guess she's doing the whole thing."
Karen snapped this beauty of me and the Diet Coke. I think it needs to be my new Facebook profile it's so freaking awesome!!! NOT!

FINALLY exit the GG Park at mile 19 - adios park. It's also about the start of my heel letting me know it wasn't very happy anymore and it's also the start of my body letting me know (screaming!!) I hadn't trained enough long runs for this puppy (thanks, Heel). Time to turn down the paceometer a few notches, whatever it takes to get this baby done, but DO NOT WALK. The problem with me and walking is that once I start, I have a very hard time starting back up running. My body just shuts down and the legs absolutely refuse to run. It's better for me if I just keep going, however slow.

(this is not a pic I took, I stole this from someone's blog since I gave my camera to Karen at the half way point as I was overly DONE whipping that thing out and trying to take a picture. Same thing happened in Boston. Why do I think I'm going to be photographer extraordinaire during a marathon when I know I won't bother with it after I get tired? Anyhoo, this marathoner guy totally posing for his pic at mile 19. haha)

Now we enter an area called "The Haight" - I think. It's an interesting place, full of colorful row houses
and just a wide array of total mishmash: Asian restaurants, eclectic stores, tattoo parlors, donuts shops, bars...you name it, it was here! Even a yard sale on the street at mile 22. In case you see something you can't live without and have to return later to buy. Yep, I see lots of beauties in there I need - especially that woman's bust!

This is also the area where the profile map LIED BIG time. According to that little online course profile I studied to death, the course was to be downhill from 17-18 and from 18 on it was to be flat. WRONG!! I can recall at least 4 significant hills in this so-called flat section, one trying to test my will and make me stop. Err. This is also the area I suddenly was having probems with my eyes. WTH!! At first I thought it was sweat getting into my eyes and man, they stung like craaaaazy! I thought to myself how ridiculous this would be to have to bail on the marathon because salt was getting into my eyes. But wow, they were killing me. I got to some aid station and grabbed some water and threw it in my eyes and rubbed the excess water off with what little piece of my shirt I could muster up to the ole eyeball. This did the trick...and I later realized it wasn't salt from my bod, it was the suntan lotion I applied at like 4:30a.m. Duh. Well, I got a pretty good sunburn on el nose-o the day before so was trying to be a good girl and not get burnt again. Note to self: either don't put lotion on your forehead or get suntan lotion that is sweat-proof. I think I'll vote for the first of those two options, just in case!

Mile 23ish, my pace is slowing to slightly faster than a crawl - and my constant nose dripping is really annoying me!! During the past few miles I was trying to get my pace/mile but mile markers were sporadic, at best (I will not wear my Garmin in a marathon. I get too obsessed with "time" and I don't enjoy the race. Killed one too many marathons when it became me against the watch so it's just better if I wear my normal Nike watch and take splits each mile. Only this race, I wasn't even taking splits - there was no reason to, this race wasn't about pace/mile). So I have no idea my pace here, but I felt someone walking might be able to keep up just fine with me. I can't say the wheels started to come off here, I never felt like I couldn't run anymore, but my lack of proper training certainly was evident! The view of the Giants stadium came into view here and yet another chance of scenery. I loved that most about this course - it constantly changed scenery (aside from the mini marathon in GG Park) and the diversity of things to look at was always interesting - and exciting in a sense.
Ok, I am dragging here...I almost tripped and bit it big time. I stumbled a few steps but thankfully never did a face plant. My motto for the next 3 miles, which I repeated endlessly: Pick up your feet! I think I was babying that dang right heel so much I was altering my form with my other leg because this was the 2nd time my left foot wasn't doing it's job in the past 2 miles. Pick up your feet. Pick up your feet. Yeah, how's that for motivational inspiration, huh??? Pick up your DAMN feet!!! If any of y'all need a bit of motivation for your next race, you know where to find me!!

Mile 24, we hop onto a curb that's like 15" high. WTH!!!! That took every ounce of stength I had in me - ouch, that hurt! Now we're running on the sidewalk in front of the stadium and along the water, which was kinda cool.

Mile 24-ish. Official race photo. Un-photoshopped.

I always think the worst mile of every marathon I've ever done is between 24-25. Kinda like when I do mile repeats and the 3rd lap comes with the most dread and the absolute slowest split. It was a total relief when I saw mile 25. And the below sign.

Finnnnaaaallly, I cross the finish at 4:18 and a bit of change. Far from a finish line PR, but I think I set a PR on the nose blowing! Dang that was the WORST! If you look real hard in the picture below, you can see me in the black shirt and pink shorts on the blue finish line in the left corner. Honestly? I couldn't believe I just ran a marathon on a crappy heel having run like one 20-miler (on a treadmill to boot). I was estatic!!

I'm always one of those emotional chicks who believes she's a better person by each marathon I've ever ran, and who knows more about herself at the finish line of every 26.2 miles than she knew at the start. SF taught me that I'm a lot tougher than I ever gave myself credit. Oh, I still have a ton of wimp in me, but if I can finish a marathon with absolute minimal training, 10 bs over marathon racing weight, and a crack running down the middle of my heel (that's only a guess, I still have not been to the doc due to an insurance snafu. Hopefully soon though), then good God, I have strength I never knew I had!

SF also reconfirmed I LOVE the marathon. Absolutely love everything about it. The training (when training properly), the agony, the challenge, the mental toughness, the physical transformation my body goes through, the pain, and the sheer joy of crossing that finish line. During the last year I worked with my trainer, he kept trying to point me away from the marathon, knowing the stress and anxiety of the race can sometimes overwhelm me, and focus on the half, knowing I can crank out a killer half marathon, if I trained for it....but that scenerio never sat well with me. Maybe one day, yes, but I am not done with the marathon - it's inside me. It's part of who I am. My talent for running marathons is minimal at best and it took awhile before it became a passion. But I think that’s why I love it so much – it doesn't come easy. Don't we love things so much more when we have to work hard to earn them?

But you know what I love most about the marathon??? The memories! I want exciting, inspirational, and loving memories. The marathon will always give that to me and I am not ready to give that up right now, I cannot. Not quite yet. My friend, Jim (recall Jim's emaill from my cry-fest on the massage table) told me the other day I had more determination than anyone he knew. I'm not so sure about that, I've met some pretty dang determined souls on my marathon journey....but I'm really glad I have it.

I don't have enough moments in my life. Check that: I don't allow myself to have many moments. I rush and I worry and I make cereal for dinner some nights and I e-mail and I sort laundry and I sometimes sleep. Having moments is not usually on my agenda. I smiled when I crossed SF’s finish line and I thought: I do have moments and here was one! Every marathon I've run leaves a lasting impression in one way or another and there are those I'm not sure you could pay me to run again (Tucson!) but SF is not one of them. I loved this race - the whole diversity of topography and neighborhoods, even the longevity of Golden Gate Park - I'd definitely sign up for SF again in a heart beat. Thank you, San Francisco Marathon - I had a total blast!! I hope to be back next year.

Ok, enough of the mushy, touchy-feely stuff. Yeah, I can be such a girl sometimes! Time to move on and back to the weekend....

After I got all my post race goodies (thank you Jamba Juice for those AWESOME post-race smoothies. I have never in my life had anything that tasted so good after a marathon. Ever!) I found Karen's green shirt easily (yay!) and then met up with Katie and her family. Katie ran so well, despite her tummy problems - so proud of that girl!
We shuffled back to Karen's apartment, showered and loaded up on banana pancakes at a local restaurant a few blocks away. Everyone was drinking mimosas, so of course I had to order one, but it just wasn't going down well. I felt bad wasting it but I just couldn't stomach it. Katie and fam departed and headed back to San Jose (whaaa) and Karen and I walked back to her apt. It felt good to get off my feet and just be a vegetable for awhile. We Facebooked and looked at pictures. She had to catch a flight back to Seattle so I was solo for the night. Very relaxing. I walked down on the waterfront and got some shrimp (yum!) down on the wharf. It felt good to walk down to the wharf, but oh lordy...my feet and legs were just in agony walking back to the apartment after I ate dinner. I think it took me over an hour to walk a mile and a half. I've never been so relieved to find a couch as I was after that walk downtown.

Monday, Katie came back into town to pick me up and take me back to SJ with her for the night. We had so much fun and managed to meet up with blogger LB as he and his lovely wife at the wharf as they were coming off a boat tour of the bay. LB is a wonderful inspiration; he's lost a crazy amount of weight - SF was his 2nd marathon and he ran sooo well with an incredible PR!

We grabbed some lunch after out visit with LB. Jamoosh, this pic below is for you!! Be proud!!

Katie then took me back to her place in San Jose and we played for a couple days. We had an excellent time!! She made me grilled BBQ chicken, her husband fixed my phone (never carry your phone with you in a marathon without putting in a zip lock bag. Just sayin'), we talked about blog world, and we just laughed and laughed. That girl touches my heart....despite our large age difference, we just really connect on some sort of level. Probably our passion for running, our crazy lives, our similar dispositions. On Tuesday, my last day in California, we drove over to the Santa Cruz area and walked the beach. I love the ocean. Absolutely LOVE it!! Me and Lilly, Katie's doggie, had fun walking along the sand, picking up shells, and just savoring the beauty.

The smiles say it all! Love ya, Katie!!