We headed down to SF on Saturday to attend the expo. It was a runner's paradise of free samples and all the products you could and couldn't imagine. I had to restrain myself from buying things but it was a great opportunity to check out what is out there! We were lucky enough to hear Denise Austin speak a bit on nutrition followed by a talk by Dean Karnazes. It was great to hear his inspirational stories and to my relief I discovered I am nowhere near as "enthusiastic" as some of his fans! I will no longer worry about following some of his races and snapping a few pictures here and there. The expo was followed by the runner's pasta dinner. I had been looking forward to meeting other participants in the race but mostly people just ate and left. It was though a good carbo load and part of the entire race experience.
It was hard to sleep the night before the race. We had to catch an early bus from near the hotel to get to the starting line of the second half of the marathon. We learned (fortunately the easy way) to make that bathroom stop as soon as you arrive because soon the line was endless! It was cold and misty in Golden Gate Park and it was hard not to be anxious as we watched some of the marathoners cross the half-way point while we waited for our turn to start. It was amazing to be able to walk/run through the streets of SF along side athletes of all experience levels and capabilities from first time marathoners to seasoned veterans while not having to stop for lights and traffic. The course was also well equipped with the ever important aid stations and bathroom stops!
I struggled a little throughout the race but kept a quick and steady pace. I remember feeling the ocean breeze with just one mile to go, excited but glad to be finishing. I met some great people along the way but those SF hills worked some different muscles and I was ready to finish. My mom and step-father were at the finish line waiting to take pictures to capture the big moment.
I definitely have the bug and look forward to attending even more large destination/urban races. Events like the SF Marathon generate inspiration and excitement no matter what your experience level is. There's nothing like the gift of having three hours to reflect, enjoy the outdoors, and share the competitive spirit all while contributing to your health and overall well being!