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Rock n Roll Discount!
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"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose." ~C. S. Lewis

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PostHeaderIcon The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

First race of 2013 was fascinating in many ways to me. It’s my first race in five months. And I’d taken off quite a few weeks just six weeks earlier. My training recently had been intermittent and not consistent. It was a course I’d done once before, exactly three years ago that started this little odyssey. And it was the beginning of goodbye to San Francisco. I was really looking at this race at a starter upper for whatever I’m doing in 2013.

Feeling fairly healthy during the week as I’d cut off any booze and was getting decent night’s sleep. Plus, the previous week, I’d had a nice long run in LA that really set me right, it felt strong and good and settled my nerves a bit. See, I’ve been doing interval training aka a lot of walking in my training runs so actually, it’d been months since I’d done more than a couple miles without slowing for a walk. Could I actually run the whole 13.1 miles without throwing in a walk? Should I treat the race like Portland last year and just finish to finish? I land in SF and feels ok to be staying in the city, in the mix of it all. Taking it in, I imagine myself running across the Golden Gate Bridge and try to recall what the incline and mileage of it all is.

Heading to the Expo after a work meeting felt SO weird. Wearing heels and my downtown attitude, I step into the hall not quite sure of my place. Been a while. I know I want to embrace and sink into the expo, to get my motivation and excitement levels revved up. Plus, it’s in San Francisco. It’s like the first time I did one in Seattle – something different, something special, something to savor. So, bought some of the swag that starts the expo section – 2013 Rock and Roll gear plus specific to SF Rock and Roll gear. As I’m trying stuff on, I realize I’m not quite as in shape rolling into this race as I thought I was. I try to brush it off, but it clearly (based on later) plays in my head a bit.

I swing through the aisles, looking for familiar brands and familiar faces and note the smaller size of the expo and low energy. But. It is Friday afternoon – I’m used to rolling through an expo at it’s peak, mid day on Saturday. So I adjust. I embrace the more intimate feel and run into Garret, my Rock and Roll/Competitor contact. We geek out on courses and races coming up and I learn the race on Sunday is in fact the 4/11/10 race I ran that started this whole journey. Kind of trip out on that but in a good way – it feels right. It’s the right race at the right time.

Not laying as low as I planned on Saturday may or may not have contributed to my finish time on Sunday, but no matter, it was well worth it. Got a chance to connect with a number of old friends and felt enveloped by the positivity and sincere love shared. That itself is the perfect way to start a race!

I’ll admit, I was quite nervous Saturday night and Sunday morning before the race. I didn’t know what to expect and I felt unsure of how my body would show up, how I would show up. Sleeping on a couch probably wasn’t all that conducive but having a foam roller and time to stretch worked out the kinks and I got enough rest (I think?) and my nutrition down early morning pat. I felt sort of in a daze, as it’d been a few months (I even had trouble packing for the race, trying to remember all the things to include) and I had a little extra time on my hands. Probably should’ve concentrated more on the race the day and night before but didn’t spend much time dwelling on that and concentrated on pulling myself together.

The nerves were starting to get the best of me but then after some advice from my sister, I took a breath and allowed myself to think about all the things that could go right for the race and how enjoyable it might feel to be out there once again. I shook off the uncertainty of my training, the lack of good sleep or nutrition earlier in the week and the fact that I’d be running by my ex’s place (of all the streets) and instead took in the ability to run at all, the stick-to-it-edness I’ve demonstrated by coming to the race, and the gorgeous course including being able to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. My stomach calmed down, I got into curious mode and got myself down, with my sister accompanying me, to the start. Thankfully, the start and finish were right by my old apartment where I was staying so it was an easy short warm up walk and saunter home.

The start of the race was pretty much all  up hill but it’s a short burst and then heads down into the Marina. I got to run initially with my dear friend  Marcie and pretty quickly felt a positive response in my body and listened to my head when it said “just go, get the race going and see where it takes you!” So I did. And it was beautiful. And then I run by some garbage cans and I laugh out loud as I pass my friend Bud and at almost the same place, I toss him my warm up run gloves (he was perfectly placed?!!?) – three years ago when I ran with my friend Natalie, it was a way colder start and I needed some gloves and I couldn’t find any of mine. Not one pair. So I grabbed a pair of my ex’s that I found in his closet and threw them on. Yes, I knew I wouldn’t run with them the whole race but didn’t think about that. And then, at about mile 4, I was warm. And still running with Natalie, we both looked at the trash can on the side of the Chrissy Field path and she just nodded her head (knowing who’s gloves I was wearing) and I dodged to the right and tossed them and ran back to her and she high fived me and we ran in smiles and laughter for a bit. (that’s where your gloves went, if you ever wondered) It sounds remarkable silly now, and did then, but in that small action, in that tiny moment with a friend, I felt a sense of control, victory, empowerment in the midst of all the pain. And a little rebellious too. Such a small thing but provided a little brightness in the race. (Natalie remembers the story too!) And to get to the same place and wanting to pull off my gloves and almost to the same basket and there’s Bud, with his camera, waiting for me and I toss them to him in almost the same spot – Universe, you have a funny sense of humor! (and these actual throw away gloves were in fact returned to me post-race!)

Speaking of clothing – wearing a new shirt was just plain dumb as it kept riding up. The. Whole. Race. But otherwise, feeling pretty good and running with the bridge always in sight. I know I have some seriously gnarly hills coming up but I’m determined to go up them with my usual speed and make a point to run, really run, the downhills. Not control them but make up time when I can.

And this works – it’s some lovely rolling hills on the way to enter the bridge through the Presidio. And a couple times I give myself that out, that “you can walk if you want to, you haven’t trained that hard yet anyway” and consider it, but I keep going up the first real hill and because I can see the top, even though I’m starting to feel a little light headed, I push because it’s about to shift and I trust that. Can’t go uphill forever!

This happens with a couple of the hills – the effort sustained and subsequent light headedness, but I don’t walk. Came soclose a couple times, but I push through. Something tells me I can so I listen. My stomach is feeling awesome, no cramps, no weird aches, no burning. Nothing but fine. And my legs are relaxed enough to engage when I ask them to. And I enjoy the hell out of the downhills – opening up my stride, leaning forward on the balls of my feet and flying. Fly. Ing. So fun. I know I’m getting stared at, like “what the hell is she doing?” but I don’t care, it’s too fun AND I know what I’m doing so I’m not worried.

These rolling hills are a little rude at this point but getting on the bridge is worth it. Stunning. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. So fun to be able to run on. Of course, when running, it’s always longer than you think and the up hills seem longer than the long slow downhills, but still…it’s worth it. A couple times I feel the crunch and crush of too many runners and not enough space as I’m trying to weave through. When four runners slower than you run abreast and there’s no room to snake or pass, it’s frustrating. You know it’s just five to ten seconds of this, but it messes with your pace and you do NOT want to be that asshole runner that has no etiquette on the course. So, it happens both going and coming but I roll with it, knowing there’s always an opportunity around the bend to weave. As we go under the bridge, I know how lucky we are because DHS negotiated with Rock and Roll to open this up to us – it’s clearly a high terrorist target but we got the okay to be able to run back across the other side.

Cool thing about having the bridge in the middle of the race is that you’re concentrating on being on the bridge rather than the miles and so by the time we land in Chrissy Field again, you suddenly only have three miles left! Such a beautiful course, so fun. Not a lot of bands, very little room for spectator support and some insane hills but it worked. I head down the last very steep hill right before mile 13 and recall this hill from the race three years ago and smile and shake my head. Wow. Come a long way, and then some.

Once again during this race, I’m able to dig deep and pick up speed for the last bit and finish strong. I’m excited about how the whole race felt – my stomach and guts were great, I didn’t need to stop for a bathroom break or for the water break (meaning I kept running with water in hand), my legs – knees, ankles, quads – all felt strong and my hips never bothered me to the point of distraction. I got enough electrolytes and hydration and generally felt strong through the whole race. How freakin cool is that? I almost don’t care what my finish time is because what matters to me is how I felt and feeling this good is worth it all. And, my finish time is reasonable. I was hoping to match what I did three years ago, and came close, but I was 15 pounds lighter then (ick) and had stress cortisol coursing through my veins as I ran an uncrowded course.

So that’s the good in the first 2013 race, the San Francisco Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Oh, the bad and the ugly? None. That I can think of. Nor that I would categorize as bad or ugly. Cause I got to run, I got to run in SF and I got to enjoy the whole experience. That’s what it’s about! Oh, and I’m thinking this is setting a pretty good tone for the 2013 races!

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