I headed to SF on Saturday to go to the Nike Women's Marathon Expo, which apparently was the wrong day to go. The line to pick up your packet was huge, but thankfully(?) I was running the full marathon, which meant my line was 80% shorter than the half'ers. The expo was a little disappointing, it was kind of small and cramped and it seemed like there weren't as many vendors there as I thought there would be.
Once I picked up my packet and checked out the expo area, I headed to Niketown next. That was definitely the place to be. There was so much to see there! First thing when you walk in you see this awesome race bib set up with Nike's running theme "I run to be..."
Then you went up the stairs into the main area of Niketown, where I could have easily spent a thousand dollars. However, I am a poor runner, so I only spent $125. I got this sick sweatshirt and bright orange NWM 2011 shirt. Spending $125 also earned me a frame that said "NWM 2011" on it and had the SF Skyline on it. Pretty cool!
I also got to see my name on the running remembrance board!
After we checked out Niketown, we headed back to the hotel where I drank my weight in Gatorade and water in hopes of being hydrated for the run the next day. I have a bad history of being dehydrated on runs. When I was running Ragnar Napa, I went into dehydration chills. I definitely wanted to avoid that this time around, so I drank and I drank until I could drink no more!
The next day brought the big event, the full marathon! There were TONS of people there, it was nuts. You couldn't even move when it got close to the start time because of how packed in everyone was...
When the clock officially started, it still took me 20 minutes to get to the front of the starting line. I was super excited to start running, but apparently others were not. This was definitely my #1 annoyance with the race set up- Nike should have had separate starting times for runners and walkers. Even though there were time corrals, there were still TONS of walkers there who were like "Oh hey, I'm walking the half marathon, that means I start at the 8:00min/mile area, right?" Not only that, but they were walking arm in arm 4 or 5 women wide that meant it was like playing a puzzle game to figure out how to get past all the chained walkers. I don't think I really got past the vast majority of them until mile 3 or 4. Just in time for the hills!
Ohh the hills. They were killer. The first one hit around mile 6, and was a 300 foot climb towards the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a tough one. And they kept coming. Even though it was really tough, honestly the views were spectacular from on top of them. The best was when you came off of the 9 mile hill. The whole ocean was in front of you, it was breathtaking.
Around mile 14 my awesome husband Josh showed up to cheer me on! It was definitely one of the better points of my run.
It was after the half marathoners separated from the marathoners, and it was a really cool feeling to be in a smaller field of runners from mile 11 on. Everyone around me was going through the same thing I was, and it was awesome to know that we had made it this far.
Around mile 17 I got an awesome support present, my running buddy Isaac showed up and ran with me for the final 9. It was great to have someone to run with. This was an interesting point to the race. Most of the runs I do are pretty male-centric, and I think therefore are pretty singular runs where people are running by themselves for the most part. NWM is a totally different story. There were so many women there who were running with friends the entire time, or who were part of TnT and were running with a group of supporters. As a solo runner, this made for a pretty lonely first 17 miles. It was a huge boost to have Isaac with me to the end.
The hardest part of the run for me was miles 22-25, no question. Even though the first half had the hills and was challenging, my body knew it was coming and was ready for it. Mentally I just started breaking down around mile 22. By mile 24 I felt like just sitting down and crying. I thought reaching 24 would be such a huge relief, and I would be like, HA! Only 2 miles left!! But instead it was like OMG, I still have 2 miles...
(not feeling too fierce at this point, but I decided to pretend to be anyways)
All I could think to myself was, keep going Meghan, keep going. Don't quit now. And then I saw the sign that saved me... 1/2 mile to cocktails! And I was like, YES. I CAN DO THIS. I looked ahead, I saw the purple "FINISH" line, and I couldn't stop smiling. I COULD do it. I ran the entire last half mile with the goofiest grin on my face. I probably scared a few people, ha!
Then I finally finished! I got my lovely blue box, my 2 bottles of water, and my bagel, and I was a happy(ish) camper!
I was so happy I finished this run. It was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was such a special moment for me. All my training had paid off. I made it to the finish, and even though I didn't finish even close to my estimated finish time, I was so glad I had finally achieved this huge milestone in my life. Working in a running store, I get to talk to people everyday who are either training for a marathon or recently completed one, and it really got me jonesing to do one. I finally did, and I can finally sympathize and celebrate with those people who come in looking for advice and help. I love it!
Today, I am relaxing, icing, and letting my body get back to normal. But I am happy knowing I finished my first (and definitely not last!) marathon. What a great one it was!
and of course, the bling:
Nike, I may not be running you again, but I am glad I had the opportunity to conquer the course!!