well, kids… I did it. my very first marathon… in none other than San Francisco, California. let’s recap, shall we?
FIRST OFF: sightseeing in San Francisco and the Nike registration/expo on Saturday – pretty cool, they put all the runners names on the outside of Niketown and they give you a chance to write something on this giant wall. my dad wrote “GO NY GIANTS” and “GO ALI MAFFUCCI,” while I wrote… see below:
(outside the crookedest street)
After the perfect pasta pre-race dinner at this Italian restaurant on the water in Sausalito (right over the Golden Gate Bridge) – with plenty of rosemary focaccia and bread for dipping in the veggie pasta’s delicious tomato basil sauce, I laid out all of my race items for the morning and got a great night’s sleep.
(cute street in sausalito)
(outside the restaurant in sausalito)
I woke up at 5:00am and started my ritual. My mom made my coffee (with the soy milk I had gotten at Whole Foods the night before) while I got together my pre-race meal: nothing different than normal – a big bowl of total fage 0% greek yogurt with whole wheat corn flakes, blueberries and a large sliced banana. I chugged a bottle of water, got dressed, and I was ready. I felt totally calm and mentally prepared for the race – I had just finished Dean Karnaze’s “Ultra Marathon Man” and Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” so I was in the mental motivation zone…. for endurance running that is.
(in my hotel room, ready to go)
Also – my boyfriend’s apartment number is 208, where I slept the night before I left for San Francisco. Then, our hotel room near Union Square Park was hotel room #208. Finally, my pre-race dinner bill was $208. Three’s a charm, right?! Some sort of stars aligned – or maybe I should just play those numbers in the lottery!
While I didn’t think I was in the BEST shape I could have been (I kinda fell off the horse in the last month of training), I was 150% mentally there. I knew I was going to finish the race, it was just a matter of how well I was going to finish it. I hadn’t’ run a long distance (well, more than 8 miles) in a few weeks because of tapering and I was so ready to get out there and just do what I love best… running for hours.
What I learned is that being mentally ready is 10 times more powerful than being physically ready. I got to my starting corral at 6:30isham, talked to Lu, and at the 7am start time, I couldn’t have been more excited. The vibe was incredible – all women (mostly), all for a great cause, all up at the buttcrack of dawn to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles (both races were on the same course). Looking at the other runners and seeing everyone come together is such a powerful thing – this is my second race (first marathon!) and both times when I’ve started I’ve had trouble breathing, because I’m holding back tears. It’s an incredible high…. You feel so alive, so strong, so healthy, and so inspired.
(waiting for our corral to go!)
The course was tough in the beginning. I ran consistently (using my new Nike+ GPS watch) at a 9:30 minute mile place, trying to pace myself and get ready for those hills which I knew would slow me down big time later. Basically, mile 6-15 is completely hilly. A lot of downhills, which come with steep hills. Honestly, I preferred running uphill to downhill – downhill KILLS your knees from all the pounding. And it’s hard to pace yourself – you want to run fast, but you know it’s not sustainable.
easy, breezy, beautiful, cover girl.
Rolling hills, steep uphills, narrow bottle-neck hills where I was elbowing my way through people at times, giant downhills, hills hills hills – all kinds of hills. At least I had prepared myself mentally for this, after reviewing the course map. Once you’re out of the Golden Gate Park, it’s pretty manageable after that, so I kept telling myself “just make it through a half marathon and you’ve got this.”
At this point, you separate from the half marathoners. Let me tell you, as badly as I wish I was able to turn right and go finish the race, I also felt strong and empowered and more ELITE that I had a purple race bib on and I was running the full marathon.
Really boring. Really, really boring. And that’s when I started realllllly feeling it. At about mile 18, I started to feel my left knee to tighten – and the upper left calf started pinching. I just ignored it. whenever I looked at my watch, I was between 10 – 11 minute mile pace, so I was at least on track to finish within my 5 hour goal.
Everything hurt. I was running at a 10:30 – 11:30 pace and everything was BURNING. I really really wanted to walk. I thought of Dean Karnazes in “Ultra Marathon Man” and what his motto is… how do you keep running? It’s simple… “just put one foot in front of the other and run.” When you think of that way, it’s easy – running is instinctual, basic – just put your feet in front of each other. I hadn’t stopped once at this point…. Just went my slow, steady pace and kept it up.
Click click click goes my knee – OW! OW! OW! Really bad sharp pains started shooting up my left knee – on the outside of the knee and I felt my calf cramping really really hard – especially up towards the area of my calf behind my knee. It immediately stopped me in my tracks – I saw the mile 24 marker in front of me and walked up to it and walked to the water station (which is about 0.1-0.2 miles from the marker) and drank 3 quick cups of water and kept walking until I hit mile marker 25 and then ran/walked it to the finish line. Luckily, the finish is completely flat, so I sprinted the last 250 yards, which felt amazing!
Met my parents at the finish line and hugged my dad, who was tearing up – I started crying too, so I had to walk away immediately, because I couldn’t breath! Grabbed my Tiffany’s box (with our race necklace!) and limped to get my finisher shirt and a banana. WOLFED the banana and met up with Doug and Lally who were screaming my name from the sideline at the end!
It was awesome to see them there at the finish line – along with my parents. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish. Overall, I found the course pretty moderate – there were some tough markets, but the mixture of flat and downhill made it completely manageable and it wasn’t NEARLY as tough as I thought it would be. Running those few times through Central Park in NYC definitely helped….
afterwards, we went to the Marina and had AWESOME Mexican (perfect, for me, as you know) at this place called Tacolicious and I had two delicious Dos Equis. happy as a clam, I am!
(post race drink – first in three weeks!)
(with doug and lally outside tacolicious, after lunch- LOVE these two, i miss ’em already)
I definitely want to run another marathon…. Just on a much flatter course! Also, it was a cold foggy mist the whole time, so at least I didn’t have to deal with the scorching heat. Definitely training in 80+ degree weather all summer in humid NJ played to my advantage in dry, colder San Francisco! I missed out on the views (because of the fog), but I much prefer the better running weather.
AND FOR FINISHING, I GOTTTTTTTTTTTT……
Things I thought about while running:
- My Halloween costume
- When I can conceivably move to California
- When is the next water station?
- What would I do if I won the lottery
- How I’m going to make my millions
- I wonder if the Jets are going to win
- My weekend plans and my work trip to Calgary
- How much I have to do at work this week
- Checked out all the other runners’ clothing (I need more running gear!)
- How many more miles until I should eat another Gu?
- What exactly is in Gu?
- My Halloween costume
- What I want to do with my life
- Mexican for lunch after the race is done – with a margarita or a Dos Equis
- My boyfriend’s birthday gift (Oct 30th!)
- This blog post and what I’m going to say
- If I was 20 pounds thinner this whole running thing would be a lot easier
- What the Tiffany’s necklace would look like
- I wonder what my sister’s apartment looks like
- Only [insert mile here]s more to go
- How much easier a half marathon is going to be after running a full
- Recipe ideas for the fall
- what I want for Christmas
- what I’m going to get people for Christmas
- where I want to go for winter “break”
- How good my legs are gonna look after this run
- My Halloween costume
- Laying on the beach in a hammock, drinking a Pina Colada – guilt free!
- All of my friends and their text messages
- wow, that’s a cool tree
- ooh, what a pretty waterfall
- What my plans are going to be for the week when I’m back
- Which marathon I’m going to do in 2013
- Sex, in every possible way imaginable… all with the same man of course 😉
- Veuve Cliquot, Blue Moon and Cupcake Malbec
- One last time… My Halloween costume
MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have never been filled with such surprise and happiness as I was with the influx of texts/e-mails/calls, Facebook posts, Instagram comments and Twitter mentions on Saturday and Sunday, pre-and post-race. Honestly, seeing my friends support me and be so proud and inspired by me running this race gave me the strength to cross the finish line – as corny as that sounds! I was constantly thinking, as my legs were weakening and I thought about how nice it would be to walk that hill, “[insert friend’s name here] thinks I can do it, I can do it!” you all made me work harder.
So thanks to every single one of my AWESOME friends and family who were there in spirit, running alongside me – especially my parents who came with me and cheered me on in-person and took me around San Francisco…. And for the cool NWM gear I got at Niketown (can’t wait to wear it at the gym proudly!)
- all of my coworkers
- … and anyone else who i missed!
In the end… slow and steady won me this race. Just put one foot in front of the other and just… go!
CLICK HERE TO ENLARGE FOR MY RACE RESULTS:
Next race: half marathon in Disney World on January 13, 2013.
Halloween costume: still undecided.