“Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran”. – Dean Karnazes
I completed my first marathon (SF Marathon) in true Rooism style. By this I mean a couple things:
- I got some fabulous pictures with really amazing random people, mostly firemen and cops. Some of these totally crack me up, even now.
- I only made it thanks to the my running tribe, my friends, Team Vibha. I love each and every one of you. In particular, the volunteers (mega thank you!!), my friend, Girija’s ‘curd-rice’, Rahul and other running buddies who steadfastly refuse to leave me behind when I could go no longer. I am stronger because of you.
- From a fashion sense, I think I totally rocked it. Deets below.
- And even food, I ate pretty well on my first marathon. No, really! (Even had samosas!!)
Lots of people write about marathons. It is a life experience. I highly recommend it, but get ready for the pain. The physical battle is quite intense, but the mental one can get to you.
I will be eternally grateful to my coaches, Coaches Rajiv and Anu. I am stronger person thank to you loving instructions and encouragement. And to my team, I once again say that I love you. Love love love you.
As for the actual Race Report, here goes:
I’m going to start with a bit of a backstory: I started running in April of 2016. I joined a team called Vibha, the dream team M.
I travelled to India for a month mid Jun and it threw my training off in a big way. This was a crucial time in my training, when I was supposed to clock in my big numbers. I missed 18, 20, 22 and 24 mi runs, which put me in a disadvantageous position – I’ve never run more than 15 miles in my life. My other long runs (ever!) have been – 10 mi twice, 13.2 mi once, and one 15 mi, in the last 3 months.
I got back to California 3 weeks from D-day. My coach suggested I run 17-18 mi before I start tapering. I had such an awful ITB flare up that I could NOT go any further than 13 mi.
To do or not to do: tapering continued for the next couple of weeks. I monitored my knee pain, and took it slow. Everything seemed okay. Until one morning, my coach suggested I drop to a half. “Your body isn’t ready”. It seemed like my world was collapsing in slow motion. He also said it was ultimately my decision. I knew he was right, but how could I miss my marathon when it was the longest training run for my ultra marathon, 3 weeks from the full?!!
I spent the week in (mental and emotional) agony, going back and forth between my decision on running a half or full . Finally, the before race day, I realized the biggest reason for my discomfort about doing the Full is not being able to finish. It was the shame of the 3 letters, DNF. Every athlete’s nightmare. That’s all I could see, larger than life, standing before me, day and night, everywhere I went – Did. Not. Finish. It also dawned on me that no one can make me feel bad about a DNF, unless I allow them to. And then everything was crystal clear. I would attempt the Full, and stop as soon as my body told me to. I’m ready face my biggest running demon, DNF. Bring it on!
Night before: party in San Francisco. I was with some of my favorite people. I was having a good time. And I was (for the first time) not afraid of ‘failure’. Some of my friends hid my drinks all night (because of the marathon). I should mention these are people who take running seriously. They also run sub 7-8 min/ mile. Other friends topped up my drinks. It was wonderful.
Finally, time to go home, aka, our boat across town. I got there at 2,30 am. And horror – I don’t have the dock key! I end up climbing the fence, which had my heart racing like a jackrabbit. I had the craziest idea. This might be a good thing. I won’t have to wake up and face my demon if my heart is beating out of my chest and I have to be hospitalized for a day. Lol. Excuses excuses.
Anyway, horror #2. The lock’s combination on the boat was stuck. What is it about being locked out tonight?!! Is this a sign from the universe? I walked around the dock and found a rock and tried to break the lock. Utterly useless exercise. What was I thinking?!! Oh, I remember, I wasn’t… Not about the lock anyway. My mind was fixated on my 4 am wake up call. Less than 1.5 hours from now, and I’m not even in bed.
The 30 min ordeal ended with the embarrassing discovery the one digit that was stuck, was stuck on the correct number. Alright, time to put on heater and set 3 more alarms. Not time for ‘I feel so stupid’ emotion – I’ll file it away for another day.
It’s 3 am. My South Bay friends are waking up now and our group whatsapp is lit up like the Fourth of July sky. I request the group that someone calls me at 4:15 am and ‘actually’ speaks to me to make sure I wake up, because I’m paranoid I won’t wake up in ONE hour. Some 15 of them volunteer to. Great. I laughed out loud.
Race Day: 4 am. I’m up. I change into my running gear and request an uber, which was yet another horror sorry! My trips kept getting dropped, and surge pricing kept going up – right in front of my eyes. I ended up paying $76 for a $12 ride. What a rip off. I declare I’m not going to allow it to bother me. It’ll make for a good story some day..
After all that mess of logistics and self imposed sabotage, the running now actually seems like the easy part! Just great.
Excitement: 5:30 am, at the start line. I’m with my running group and we take a ton of selfies (our group is big on selfies. lol).
Race starts. I’m running with my team for the most part. At 5 mi, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realize how far we’ve come. I’m thrilled.
Ecstasy: at 13.5 miles, I felt strong and was over the moon that I ran a half. The rest is bonus.
Famished: I’ve been running a couple of hours and I’m sooo hungry. As they say, ask and you shall receive.. We are at the end of SF half marathon finish line, and I grab a much needed protein shake and half a banana. Bliss.
LOL: we laughed the entire race. We were laughing so hard that at one point, I heard a voice “m’am, you can’t laugh and run”. I turn and see a line of firefighters. I ask if I can get a selfie with them! They were hilarious!!
Ouch: at 18 mi, I start to feel my rt. big toe hitting my shoe. I know I must cut a hole in my shoe. No sharp knives at 18 mi aid station. This is not good, and means I must continue in this state until next aid st., another 2 mi. No luck there either, but we eventually found someone with a swiss army knife. Phew.
Agony: ~ 20 mi, knee starting ‘talking’. By 22 mi, it’s full blown screaming. And I’m limping. Another 4.6 mi to go?!! I spot at every aid station and get ‘hot-ice’ for my knee and walk most of the next 3.5 miles.
Speed: I discover that if I speed walk, I don’t have to bend my knee, therefore no pain. Yesss! I look rediculous, but hey, I’m moving!
Finish: Husband and kids got into position near the finish. I crossed under the Bay Bridge and saw my family. Let the celebrations begin!