Sunday, October 25, 2009

It Hurts So Good

So the race is on. We ran through the financial district for what seemed like a second and then we hit the piers. We ran along the bay for a little while. There were so many people. I was so amazed at the amount of spectators that were there to watch that early in the morning.
What a mix of people. People were running in costume (they amazed me, because most of them ran the full marathon) and some were running with bare feet or these "feet-glove" looking things! I'll never understand that!
It was a trip just people-watching during the race.
There were a few, much older runners (that were kickin' my butt, mind you) and even a couple of pregnant walkers with jerseys that said things like "running for two."
We passed the sign for mile two and I pointed it out to Karen. I was trying to watch times because, of course, wouldn't you know it, my watch stopped working when we got down to the lobby. Somewhere on the elevator, the battery ran out. Oh well.
Anyways, I pointed out the Mile 2 sign and Karen looked at me amazed. She removed her ear buds and said, "I thought we had maybe run 3/4 of a mile so far!"
That was the feeling of the race. You just couldn't feel how much you had ran. It was all so surreal and you felt nothing as far as pain went. There was too much to keep your mind occupied.
As we ran up along the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge came into view. It was beautiful. There was a lot of fog on the bay that morning, so you could hear the foghorn but you couldn't see the bridge completely, but it was still a beautiful site none-the-less......

(This is actually my picture from during the race and my audio of the real Golden Gate fog horn that I recorded on my iPhone) from our trip)

.....That is until you looked straight ahead. My love affair with the sites soon diminished when I saw the hill we were about to climb.... and then the switch-back and the next hill. Holy Moly! What am I going to do!?!
It was a bit of a crowded bottle neck situation because a lot of people stopped to walk. You couldn't get through enough by the time that we got there not to. So we did end up walking a bit of it. This is where I learned a little bit about myself.... I'm a terrible speed-walker! My legs are way too short to keep up with my sister. So this is when I realized I would be running every bit of this race. That's right folks. No walking for this girl. But don't let me misrepresent myself... I was running at a snail's pace up that hill. There were so many people and you could only go as fast as the masses were going.
The next couple of miles were the same. It was a beautiful part of the course which made it a little bit better, but it was tough. We saw Karen's coach, Maury. She was very please with how we were looking in our run even though it was such a tough part. It was very wooded and a piney fragrance lingered in the humidity which would every-so-often form a drop that would land right on your head. It was as if we had our own water cycle going on in those woods. One that we were apparently sharing with coyotes. We actually passes a road sign for coyote crossing.... yikes!
But it was all worth it when we turned that final corner to start the downhill.
The view was astounding. There is no way to describe it (but you know I'll try). As the tunnel of the forest that we were running through gave way to light, you could see that we were all of the sudden on a cliff. I actually stopped at one of the scenic view parking lots that they build for "motorist" to take in the view. I was on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There were huge rocks.... not just rocks, but monoliths, jutting up from the water. It was almost like the scene from Goonies... you know which one I'm talking about? There was a beautiful sailboat out there that looked just like the one we saw at Pier 39. It was a scene straight from Heaven.... it had to be.
What a way to get energized.
So downhill we went.
Then we saw my coach. He was so funny because he's a really energetic guy. One of those with a smile plastered on his face even when he doesn't mean to have one. He's just that up beat and carefree. He spotted us among all of the runners and caught up with us. He was so happy to see us and said that we looked great. I explained to him that my feet had not quite hit the ground yet. He said that he hoped they wouldn't until the race was over.
He took me and Karen's picture and sent us on our way. It was great to see him.
Another part of the race that warmed my heart was how many people called out Karen's and my name. It was funny too because they always seemed to yell both of our names together, even when Karen and me weren't right next to each other per se. It was as if the whole world knew that "Karen and Mary Beth" go together. Karen missed some of it because she was listening to her music. She was in her own zone (which you have to be "in the zone" to run 26.2 miles). I however had ditched my earbuds and decided that I was going to take in the sites and sounds of the race. How often do you get to absorb and live in those kind of moments.
After our downhill, Karen and I were coming up on our split. It was very emotional. We went through one more "checkpoint." This one was neat because you ran through a little mini-finish-line type archway. The man on the microphone called out "You are awesome Karen and Mary Beth!" Normally this kind of attention would mortify me, but in this setting, I have to admit, I loved it. Then we started to see where they were splitting the 1/2 marathoners and the full marathoners into different lanes. My chest tightened knowing that I was going to have to split from my sister.
We came up on the split. We stopped at the last possible moment and hugged each other. I hugged her neck harder than I ever have before. I was so proud to be her sister.
I watched her go down her lane and off in the the direction which led her to a path that would take 15 more miles to reach the finish line.
I watched her almost until I couldn't see her anymore. I purposely stopped watching before that point came because my grandmother always said that it was bad luck to watch your loved ones leaving until you couldn't see them anymore. She always walked back into her house before we could no longer see each other due to physical distance. Those kind of things stick with you I guess. And I certainly didn't want any bad luck for us on that day.
As I jogged away in my direction, the emotion overcame me. I had to focus on my task at hand and put the split behind me. I started having issues with my breathing. I couldn't get enough air into my lungs because my emotions were effecting my physical well-being. But I got a quick handle on that and jogged on toward the "Chocolate Mile."
The next feed station was the Ghirardelli one. Because of our chocolate training the other day, I was ready for my chocolate. They handed me a piece as I ran through and I decided to save it. I actually held onto it, o so delicately as to not melt it, to give to Colin as a race memento.
Next, I start to hear the crowd that was formed around the Finish Line. I knew I was close. I turned the next corner and there it was.
As I ran down the red carpet that led to the Finish Line, I heard my name over the speakers. It put a little extra speed in my step. And there was my moment.

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