I have lived in the Bay Area since 1998 and not once have I ever had the desire to participate in Bay to Breakers. While it's amusing to watch the debauchery, it's never fun to be in it. After realizing that last year was the 99th running of this race, I decided that I would have to participate in it's 100th anniversary. I mean, how many opportunities would I have to be in the 100th running of any race? And to top it off, for the very first time, there would be Finisher medals. Isn't it all about the bling?!
I got up early again, but this time for the Bridge-to-Bridge 12K race. It was my second year running this race that starts at the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco, runs along the Embarcadero, through Fort Mason and Crissy Field, to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, and ends in the Presidio.
I had a great, great run at the Bridge-to-Bridge 12K race. And it almost didn't happen.... All week I had this internal struggle about doing this race. I'd had a cold and my right foot was still bothering me. Part of me thought I should just rest, yet the other part of me felt that I'd be a quitter if I did. I have this constant mental debate where I ask myself, "How much rest do I really need?" I ran last Monday, rested Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, ran Friday and rested Saturday. Was it enough? Its so easy for me to get lazy where I end up doing sitting on the couch and doing nothing, so I as much as I know its necessary, I just hate to have rest days.
By Friday I still wasn't fully committed to doing it. I wasn't any closer to a decision by Saturday afternoon. By Saturday night, I had to do something. So I decided to prepare as if I was doing the race. I canceled my evening plans to stay home and rest. I laid out my race clothes and gear and did some carb-loading. It was funny because Kady had sent me a text earlier that day asking me what I eat to carb-load. I told her sweet potatoes, but ironically, that night I decided to get pasta for takeout from The 'Doro (Pasta Pomodoro) instead. I hardly ever eat pasta but my theory was that if I ate it, I'd feel so guilty about it that it would make me WANT to run the race. And you know what? It worked.
The race didn't start till 9 am on Sunday morning, so I set my alarm to go off at 6 am. But I was up by 5 am (I hate my natural alarm clock). I laid in bed for a full hour debating whether to run or not. I literally felt like I had an angel on one shoulder telling me to go and a devil on the other telling me to stay in my warm, cozy bed and be lazy all day. The deciding factor was thinking about all the junk I had eaten on Saturday -- a hamburger, nachos, frozen yogurt, a heaping bowl of pasta and a huge piece of focaccia bread. That was it. I had to burn off the calories. And if I was going to burn it off, I may as well run the race.
It wasn't easy getting there. In fact, I almost missed the start. But in my defense, for once, being late wasn't my fault! Despite making multiple logistical arrangements for race day, I decided to just BART into the city. I planned to take BART from the station near my family's home so I could stop by on the way back. I checked the BART web site the night before and looked up the schedule. It said trains ran during the 7 am hour, every 20 minutes. I'd wanted to get to the race start an hour early so I could stretch, warm-up, get my stuff checked in to sweat check, etc. I left my house in plenty of time but when I got to the BART station it was locked up. The custodian said the station didn't open till 8 am and the first train didn't leave to just before 8:30 am. So I drove to the next BART station where the train left at 8:14 am. I got to the race at 8:45 am, just in time to get my stuff to sweat check, find a spot at the Start Line and do a little stretching. Not exactly the way I wanted to start.
Just before the race started I realized I was with the 9-minute mile group. This would have been fine for a 5K race, but I run slower for longer distances. But it was too late to move so I just stayed there. When the race started I surprisingly kept up with the group's pace despite feeling nervous that it would be start too fast for me. I kept expecting to slow down but I really didn't. As usual, the first two miles of any race are always tortuous for me. My entire body hurt; but right on queue, at the 2-mile mark, it all went away and I felt fine - including my hamstring and foot.
It had been really cold that morning and I had switched my race outfit from shorts to my new Lululemon Wunder Under Crop pants. It was the first time I'd race with pants instead of shorts. I hate running in pants but I figured since it was so cold at my house on the Peninsula, it was probably freezing in the City. Yeah I was wrong. A mile and a half into the race I knew I'd made a mistake. I always race with a long-sleeved shirt (chafing issues), so combined with the pants and I was dying. The sun was beating down and I knew I was in trouble. Luckily, I was wearing my race belt with two bottles of Grape Propel. Anytime I run more than six miles, I wear the belt and take sips of Propel every two miles. It saved me today -- it really did because the end of the race was brutal (more on this shortly).
I think it was around the 3-mile mark we climbed a hill at Fort Mason. A lot of people started walking which tempted me to do so too, but I just tucked my chin down and pushed upward. I thank the Kings of Leon for getting me through that one. And of course, what I love most about hills is that after going up, there almost always is a down. There was a nice little descent that helped recover from the hill. From then on, it was a flat course, which I think is sometimes harder than hills because you have to push yourself harder. Luckily at this point, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was completely clear - no fog. I wasn't going to take any photos, but it was so pretty, I had to.
At the base of the bridge was Mile 6 (I think) and this is where we looped around, heading to the Presidio. At this point I started to tire and the Garmin hit the 10-minute/mile pace for the first time. Wanting to keep up my time, I forced myself to pick up the pace a little, just a little.That last mile and a half felt like it was never going to end. A little pass the 7-mile marker I realized the rest of the race was going to be uphill. The last quarter or so mile of a race all uphill? Well that's just cruel. I was all annoyed but then I turned the corner and saw all the cameras lined up. I immediately had all smiles for the camera, waving at them. LOL. I want good race photos, just being honest.
But back to the uphill thing...yep, it was hard. And to make it worse, we'd merged back with the walkers so they were just strolling by, taking up half the path. So not only did I have to fight the temptation to walk, I had to push through them to keep my momentum going. I finally crossed the Finish Line at 1:13:32. I was so excited about my time. I don't remember the last time (if ever), I'd finish a 7+ mile distance with that kind of time. Not even when I was a 100% healthy! I couldn't wait to get home to sync up my Garmin to see the results.
Final Garmin read out: Total Distance: 7.54 miles Total Time: 1 hr 13 min 32 sec Avg Pace: 9.45/mile (I don't think I've ever run under a 10-minute mile pace for this distance) Average Speed: 6.1 mph Max Speed: 7.4 mph Total Calories: 727 Avg Heart Rate: 126 bpm Max Heart Rate: 175 bpm (the hills)
After the race I wasn't even really sore. I feel a little tightness in the hamstring so I've been rolling and using the Theracane all afternoon and evening. My foot did hurt, but not as badly as I expected after the race so I've been icing and elevating it and the soreness is pretty much gone now.
I am so, so happy I decided to run this race. But as good as I feel, I also realize I still have a lot more training to do for the Vegas RnR 1/2. Only 8 weeks left!
Mental Notes Made to Myself During the Race: * The lady with the expensive leather backpack has no business being in the 9-minute mile group at the Starting Line. She obviously is walking. * To the Baby Mama's and Papa's: its great that you bring your super cute babies to the races and I applaud you for running with those huge strollers, it doesn't look easy...but please stay to the right. You have no idea how many people's pacing you're messing up. * There are a lot of super cute Lulu outfits. I must get to the store immediately to check out new stuff. * Despite all the cute Lulu and Nike gear, a lot of people wore cotton clothes. With every passing mile I can feel their chafing pain.
* To the people who run with no music, you guys are seriously inspiring! You must have the most incredible mental strength to pull you through. I think you have to have complete belief and confidence in yourself to run without any music to keep you going. My hat's off to you!
And speaking of music:
Starting song: Warrior by Nelly Finishing song: Numb/Encore by Jay-z and Linkin Park Cool-down song: This Is the Last Time by Keane Fav running songs of the day: Use Somebody by Kings of Leon and How We've Come by Matchbox Twenty
(*Note: this is the first post I'm writing using my new Mac. I absolutely love it, but its still taking some getting used to...it took me forever to type this.)