Oops!… I Did It Again – Nike Women’s Half Marathon 2015

As conservative and plan oriented as I am, recently I like leaving decisions up to the fates if at all possible, as more and more I realize that often what happens naturally is far better than anything I could have planned.

Getting the email on June 15th to enter the Nike Marathon I decided to test chance once more. After all, it’s this great feeling of being committed but not really being committed, if that makes any sense. Chatted my girls and within 15 minutes Yvo, Laurie, and Nick are in too. This year I decide to organize the team registration to expedite signups, even though I have a shitty track record for getting in after the four previous years I’ve organized team registration, we’ve been rejected. Last year Yvo organized the team, and I was convinced that she was the magical fairy dust.

On July 8th I see the “You’ve made it!” email and I feel genuinely surprised.

Nick mentions how he’s going to finish the marathon in under 1h30 and then double back to finish the race with us and my first thought is, “Over my dead body are you lapping me.” I start to train furiously, running on average 4-5 miles a couple times a week. This regimen keeps up basically until Yvo tells me she’s hurt her back and her knee, and that Nick has decided to walk with her.

Once the threat was gone, I basically decided not to train except for hiking in New Zealand, hiking 14 miles in Lake Tahoe to scale Mount Tallac two weeks before the race and standard leg press activity at the gym.

Week before I pick up my race packet at Stanford. Since I had to go somewhere later in the day I didn’t end up going with Yvo and Nick. Instead I arrived 1 hour early with my super light REI chair in tow, along with a pocket full of snacks, water, and a book to read. Waiting in lines at the San Diego Comic Con has prepped me for all long lines. This year they have awesome personalization of the shirts.

The night before the race I attempt to make my run mix. I wanted to get to a certain BPM to help motivate me throughout my run and make my pace even throughout the race, except that Apple Music won’t show the BPM in the playlist view or in any view outside of regular iTunes Library view. Research a couple blogs to find that my ideal BPM should be about 160 to finish with the 11 min mile pace that Laurie had suggested for us. Take a look at Spotify and they have a feature called Spotify Run that uses the accelerometer to uplevel or downlevel the music tempo based on your pace. I tested it by running around my house and it worked really well except for being mostly ambient music. I prefer to play music I like to give me an associated positive boost of emotions at certain points of the race. Ended up making a mix via tapping out the beat with my hands like a metronome, and with that I was set.

Day of the race I’ve barely gotten enough sleep having maybe three hours before popping out of bed immediately. Would be driving up with Nick and Yvo, as I was getting ready I was glad that I pre-packed my gear the night before as my brain wasn’t fully functioning this morning. We arrive and park in the garage and on our way down the stairs we hear cheering. Hrm… has the race already started? There’s no way. Once down the steps and onto the street we see that the cheering is from a run group that’s meeting point was at the garage. We pace away quickly to get away from them and head to our starting point.

Bright and early

Bright and early

Instead of lining up with our pack we end up slotting in wherever we can. I pull out my phone to see where Laurie is on Find My Friends to see she’s only a couple blocks away. Text her my location and she manages to meet up with us despite the 25000 runners in the crowd. FMF you rock my world.

The weather is perfect this morning in San Francisco at 6:30am. For once it’s not cold and I could have gone without a long sleeve shirt. Nick and Yvo stay behind to walk as Laurie and I take off. Laurie’s natural pace actually sits around a 11:00 minute mile. I haven’t practiced enough to keep this pace, so while I’m physically strong I lag behind her. At mile 3 Josh texts me to say he’s on the course and will meet up with us, except we’re running and we manage to miss him at 3 points. Eventually we end up walking so that he can find us and he gives us hugs and then cheers us on and we’re on our way again.

Running downhill is so fun for me. Other people have mentioned they have a hard time with it because of their knees, but for some reason the way I run down I don’t have the same amount of impact. This plan of running downhill is going well, but then in the straight aways I’m losing steam and my hiking injury is slightly throbbing. We decide then to walk more of this race and catch up since I hadn’t seen Laurie in a while. At mile 6 we see the pace bunnies for 11:27, their leisurely pace sings to me and I ask Laurie if we can trail them for a bit. We end up sitting behind them for 4 miles. At mile 9 we’ve ditched the rabbits and are rounding 27th. I text Helen that we’ll be in her hood. For mile 9.5 the tiniest cheerleader comes out to root us on, even if he still is in the stranger danger phase. We stop briefly to take photos and chat for a minute before rounding the corner at mile 10.5 to the crazy hill.

The tiniest cheerleader.

The tiniest cheerleader.

This year the hill is beautiful. The fog is non-existent you can see the bridge and the bay for days. The funny thing about being in a women’s marathon near the rear of the pack is that everyone is stopping for a selfie. As long as we aren’t going for time Laurie and I agree that we might as well also.

Normally at mile 10 in a half marathon is where my legs tell me they are going to give up and I need to run the rest, but this year mile 10 came and went without that feeling, I managed to make it to 12.5 before that familiar feeling came on. After that we took off and ended up finishing at 3h16. About an hour worse than my personal best, then again I was 26 when I got my personal best.

This year I crossed the finish line with a friend, pushed through the pain of my foot injury and no one doubted that I could make it. It was a really nice feeling.

We gathered our goodies at the end which included a protein powered carton of chocolate milk that reminded me of childhood for which I chugged immediately, gift bag, Tiffany’s necklace. Then we headed to sit in the grass and wait for Yvo and Nick by the Nuun tent. Nick and Yvo show up and we head off to a delicious boozy brunch. My muscles felt worked and tired, but not sore and the next day the memory of the run was completely non-existent.

Despite our injuries, we all made it.

Despite our injuries, we all made it.

I run. Not because I enjoy it. Not because I trained endlessly to make this goal. Not because I like playing chicken with the lottery every year. I run because in my mind I know I can, I feel strong, and because I still can.

Thanks for cheering me on again this year friends. It’s the best feeling to have your friends believe in you and to prove them right.

The spoils of the finish.

The spoils of the finish.

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