Thursday, October 22, 2009

Race Report: Nike Women's Marathon

I'm not even quite sure where to start - engagement story aside it was still a pretty insane weekend.
We landed in San Fran on Friday morning and after checking in I made a mad dash for the "Expotique" (their word, not mine). It was pretty girltastic and everything was painted pink and covered in "girl affirming" language. I must admit that I'm not a fan of the slogan "Run Like A Girl". I understand that it's supposed to be a re-claiming of the word girl, but it still kind of irks me. I much prefer the local Toronto race slogan of "Women Set the Pace". But that's just me.
Expotique was off the hook but at the same time it was strangely small and contained, very unlike every other large-scale race expo I've been too. Lots of cool samples though and if you could make it through the lines there were offers of manicures, oxygen treatments and iPod engraving. I skipped it all and went straight to Nike Town to purchase my gear - and I didn't go crazy. I bought a race jacket, bag, half-zip sweater and commemorative print. Altogether I'm very happy with my purchases, not to mention the fact that I actually finished the race and am therefore allowed to wear it all!

But back to the actual RUNNING part.
Sunday morning I was awoken by room service at 4:50am with the smallest bagel ever known to American society. Seriously - where is my gluttonous, double-serving size America when I need it? Ate the bagel and promptly held down the urge to toss it back up - I was crazy with nausea and anxiety. I was pacing, psyching myself out, fidgeting and overall being insanely annoying.
Thank god that my closest friend called at 6am - just before I headed out to the start line. She has no idea how much she talked me down. She was calm, reminded me of all my training and how I shouldn't think of this any differently than my long runs. She did good.
By the time I got outside there were many Lulu'd bodies hanging around. I made my way to my corral and then the bf hugged me goodbye - commence crying jag #1. I couldn't stop but it felt really good.

Felt pretty shitty. Legs were tired and heavy. Stomach wasn't all that better, plus I had to stop and pee at 3km. The tall buildings threw off my Garmin so I couldn't get a lock on my pace, but it didn't matter since there were SO many ladies up ahead. At 5km the bf met me and ran with me for a bit, warning me of the murderous hills coming up. I was ready.
[Soundtrack: 80's/90's mix]

I wasn't ready. Holy shit. The hills. Or as I saw them in my mind "Da Hillz" - cause let me tell you, these hills were gangsta. I totally kicked ass up the first bit of the hill without realizing that the top was just the bottom of the next one...and then the next one. It seemed like it would never end!! At one point we were actually running in the fog and the trees were dripping all around. I had to really focus to keep my form up and by the end I was completely exhausted. Finally the big downhill came.
[Soundtrack: hits of Michael Jackson]


And we kept running DOWNHILL for 16 minutes. I'm not joking. No wonder my quads were beyond repair this week because I totally gunned it down the hill. We were running downhill beside the most gorgeous view of the ocean that I've ever seen.
I was running a full minute under pace just to try and make up some time - this is how DUMB the race made me. I've heard all the stories about not going out too fast and leaving some gas in the tank - but I threw it all out the window.
Entering the park was pretty fantastic and there were SO many people cheering (take note Toronto!). Golden Gate Park was gorgeous - amazing grounds, amazing trail, even a waterfall!! I hardly noticed the gradual hills because everything was so freaking pretty.


After we left the park the marathoners finally split away from the half-marathoners. No offense, but I was so happy to have the number of runners dwindle away. It was much easier to run and keep pace without having to duck around people every few minutes. I get so irritated with runners that don't run by the rules (I know, I'm anal that way). Let it be known that walkers ALWAYS move to the side! And look behind you before you start walking!
This part of the race sucked goats. At 30km I took a walk break and huffed loudly enough for the lady in front to turn around. We walked together and commisserated for a bit. It was great to articulate our hatred of running at the moment. And still, we kept going.
The BIG MOMENT came at 32km ;)
[Soundtrack: Madonna Celebration album]

After the BIG MOMENT all the girls around me were in a flurry - I was still crying while running and they all wanted to see the ring and call my bf a jerk for not waiting until the end! I was glad to provide a distraction at that point in the race, I think we all needed that. From that point on every time I looked down at my Garmin I saw my ring - and I started smiling and giggling. It was crazy. I wasn't exactly picking out dresses but it definitely got my mind off the road. At 36km they had "The Chocolate Mile" where they gave out small bars of chocolate. I couldn't even think about it, but I pocketed one for my bf  fiance later ;)
The last four kilometres are a blur. There were so many people at the sidelines, and so many coaches that were running back from the finish line to help people cross - it was a total circus. I couldn't see the finish line but I could hear that we were getting closer.
At this point I knew that I was WAY past my goal but there was absolutely nothing I could do to possibly make my legs go faster. NOTHING. I tried bribing them with promises of money, a pet monkey, illicit drugs, sex - they wouldn't budge. But thankfully they never gave up on me, they kept going right until the bitter end and when that tuxedo'd firefighter presented the Tiffany's box containing my medal I nearly tore his hand off.
[Soundtrack: Lady Gaga - got turned off before the finish]

Nike had quite a good spread of post-race nosh including bananas, bagels and chocolate milk! And thank god because in his pre-engagement haze my bf fiance completely forgot my finishing bag at the hotel.
We didn't stick around the finish line too long, I knew I wasn't ready for a massage and all I wanted to do was fall into an ice bath and call all my friends with the news! Oh, and kiss the bf fiance :)

So yah, it was a really, really, really tough race. I take comfort in the fact that even Boston Marathoners consider it one of the toughest courses. And I'm okay with being 18 minutes slower than my goal - because it can only get better from there, right?
Yes, that's right - I'll do this again. I have to now! I love the Toronto course and I really can't wait to run it next year. Well...actually...I can wait. Time for a little rest and socializing now and maybe in a couple of months I'll revisit that training schedule :)

Thanks to all for your cheers, happy words and thoughts this past weekend, you really have absolutely no idea how many times I read and re-read them before the race. In the loneliest parts of the road they were the best things to keep me going :)


  1. I hear you--my stomach turned when I saw the chocolate that late in the race. Ugh. All I wanted was an ice cold coke and a massage.
    Congrats on the engagement!! And I also ran slower than I wanted. It was a pretty course, but not the nicest/flattest one!!

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