We decided to set our alarm for 4:30am (race start was 7am); however, at about 4:05, the elephants who were staying above us all weekend, decided to get up and literally THUMP around their room. Definitely heel heavy those ones! Not all of us woke up by them; however, I am a light sleeper so I woke easily and figured no point in going back to sleep. I waited until everyone else woke up at 4:30 before getting dressed and having some breakfast.
Vanessa (a non runner who put up with us and our early mornings) got up and drove us over to (or as close as she could get) the University and dropped us off. We arrived to Hayward at about 6:15, at which point we dropped off our stuff and then proceeded to head out for our warm up. Let me back up for a brief moment. The first shake out on Friday felt off and weird. My body was definitely not happy to sit in the car all day. Saturday though, felt much better. The warm up before the race felt pretty good so I knew I was in for a good one.
After a few strides, we lined up on the start line and listened to a young girl (college student likely) sign the US National Anthem. The girl beside me on the line burst into tears (what a way to start the race). The race was then started by Steve Prefontaine's sister Linda (I think).
I kept it comfortable for the start. I had began with a plan to run 4 min km's for the first 10km and then to pick it up; however, watching the splits each km (I had set my Garmin to auto lap the km's) I threw that plan out the window and went with how I felt. The first hill was at about 8km into the race, a minor but longer climb.
I was a bit worried to see the splits knowing that my best race was a 1:24:15 and that equaled 4 min km's; however, I kept telling myself that I felt great and the pace felt easy and that I could stick with it. I kept hearing people call out various numbers for women; however, each person seemed to have a different number, yet I hadn't seen any women pass me nor had I noticed passing any others.
I did know that there were 2 girls about 20-25m ahead of me at 10km, which was 39:03. One I knew was in the full and the other half. I still felt good at 10km, so I opted to try and push the pace a tad. We hit the largest hill at about 13km, which was a steeper longer hill. I caught the 2 women ahead of me at this point. The girl in the full went with me and the one in the half appeared to have dropped back. The girl in the full asked "full or half" to which I replied half and then told her that she was a machine for holding this pace while doing a full. She replied that she hoped she could hold it. We ran side by side for 3/4 of a km until she went for her elite bottle and I stayed on course taking in a gel. That was the last time I saw her.
I took the gel at 9 miles on the course, at which point I still felt good. I knew there was just over 4 miles to go (aka 6.4km) so I thought "I feel good, I can hold this, I can pick it up" so I did. In the last 2km, I dealt with my usual "oh no I feel sick" which tends to occur when I know I am running well. Go Figure eh? It is a psychological issue I tend to have ever since I was sick in a race back in Australia. Sometimes, this issue can get so bad where my mind makes me gag and sometimes sick. It's annoying, but I did slow slightly while I told myself to get over it. Once it passed I picked it back up again.
Up and onto Hayward Field, I saw someone radio to the finish line, then when I got onto the track I hear them announce "2nd female runner on the track." WTH? I figured I was maybe 3rd or 4th, I definitely was NOT expecting to be 2nd. I got within 100m of the finish and I saw the clock ticking over 1:21:40 (I think) at which point that was the first time I had seen my overall time. Sure I had seen the splits, but I never looked at the time put together. I literally gunned it into a full out sprint for the final 80-100m, finishing in an official 1:21:55. Woot! 2:20 PR! F**K yeah! And even more strange, I STILL felt good.
I don't want to sound like I am bragging or anything by constantly saying how good I felt, but it is the honest truth. The entire race my legs felt great, my breathing was more or less in control and I felt good. Only that brief psychological moment, but otherwise it was good. I had enough for the full out sprint and I was nowhere near spent at the finish line.
With each race I am learning more and more what I am capable of. I know I whined a few weeks back of feeling like junk, which was true at the time, I did feel like junk for about 3 weeks. Was I worried? Yes of course, it's hard not to worry; however, Coach was right, I was ready to rock it and I did. I never pushed into that hurt, so I know for my next half that I am capable of closer to sub 1:21 and I will push myself into that next zone to at least be closer to that "spent" feeling at the end of a race.
I had my chip removed and then I heard Mark finish (1:23:24) which was a 2:30 PR for him from only March!!
We headed off to get our clothes and sign up for a massage, but before we signed up, we heard Jane come in so we went and found her. After that we went and got our free massage. I had a big teddy bear like guy who was afraid to hurt me at first, using minimal pressure telling me to let him know if it hurt. I responded with "it would take a lot to hurt me" to which he got the hint and used more pressure! We finished with a cool down and then became a spectator for the rest of the marathoners. Oh and I must note Simon was 6th overall with 1:11:34 which was not quite his personal best, though he hasn't been training as much as he is doing his residency for becoming a doctor.
Now I am a jerk, I took some photos of some interesting people and outfits. This one reminded me of Steve Urkel
This one is VERY proud of his nation. I have more, but I'll just post these 2!
Eventually after watching the ones we wanted to see finish the marathon, we headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before heading to the after party at Villard St Pub, which was where we had to go to pick up the awards. We lasted until about 9:30 or 10 until we took off back to the hotel and were asleep just after 11pm.
The next morning, we left around 10am and made a stop at the Duck Store on the University Campus before heading out to the Oregon Coast for a bit. We drove along there from Florence until uhh... can't remember right now. Around Newport or so I guess and we made pretty slow time so we headed back inland just before Portland and home. We were just going to miss the 8:15pm ferry home, so we stopped in Bellingham before crossing the border. We caught the 10:45pm ferry home, which got him in the door around 1am, dead tired.