Can you successfully complete a half marathon if you've missed some of yourtraining? That is the question I asked myself over and over the last fewweeks. I've heard your body develops a certain level of fitness and thatas long as you maintain it at a certain level you can accomplish more thanyou realize. Fortunately, for me that was this case in this weekend's SanFrancisco marathon (first half).Although I was looking forward to a weekend in San Francisco and all thethings a big race has to offer, (the Expo, carbo loading, free goodies) Iwas very anxious about the actual race. I've successfully completed sixhalf marathons in the last two years but have always felt well preparedgoing into the race. This time, I did not! I've struggled with a minorhip injury the last month or so and between that and the heat did not getin the mileage that I wanted to or needed to prepare for the big day. Icame up with about 82 different contingency plans if I didn't or couldn'tfinish. Fortunately for me, the race gods were watching over me!We started Saturday off with a trip to "The Expo." Although the Expo wascrowded the swag was great!! Perhaps the highlight was being about threefeet away from Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man, as he gave away samples ofhis joint juice. A close second was getting samples from "The Erin" ofErin Baker's breakfast cookies. The race shirts have a great design andare a beautiful turquoise blue. This year, they also gave away fabricdrawstring drop bags that can be re-used instead of the usual plastic bagsthat get tossed! The finishers medals are equally nice with the halfmarathon medal doubling as a key chain and the full marathon medal as acoaster. I think I ate my way through the Expo again. Who doesn't lovefree samples of Lara Bars and Bare Naked granola! We all finished the daywith a great carbo loading dinner in North Beach!The weather for Sunday's race was perfect. It was cool and overcast...ideal running/walking weather. In fact, I wore my jacket to mile 10 andonly took it off because between the mist and sweat it was actually makingme cold. The race started in front of the San Francisco ferry buildingwith a view of the Bay and the Bay Bridge. The course went several milesalong the wharf and the famous Pier 39 with the first big hill at Ft.Mason. I've learned from hiking that the key to those big hills is do notstop. After crossing the Fort Mason hill, the course continued along thewater front through Crissy Field. The view at Crissy field is beautifulbut unfortunately it allowed us to be able to see the steep climb up to theGolden Gate bridge from at least a mile away. I could see these tinylittle people running, walking or in some cases crawling (maybe a littleexaggerated) up the hills! But, once you got to the top the view from thebridge and accomplishing the climb made it all worth while. While almost25,000 people ran and walked across the bridge it was amazing how personaland individual the experience was. After the bridge, we faced one moreclimb before a nice one mile downhill jaunt on the highway/cliffoverlooking Baker Beach and the ocean. You could actually hear the wavesdespite the distance and the volume of people. A quick dart by the SeaCliffe (amazing neighborhood) and two more miles to the first half finishat Golden Gate Park. At least for those continuing on to pursue, themarathon the second half of the course was hill free "relatively speaking." I finished the first half with a time of about four minutes longer than the Parkway half, which to me was success, considering all the hills and that when I woke up that morning I wasn't even sure I could finish. After the finish it was off to the post race festivities with more food sampling and swag. You gotta love a sport where "nutrition" includeschocolate milk after your workout!As I look ahead to the next few months, I will treasure what an amazingrace this was. I've never felt better mentally or physically during orafter a race, which is amazing considering my pre-race state of mind. Ithink it is because for the first time I truly ran my own race and enjoyedevery moment whatever the outcome. Although I already have the SFmarathon on my calendar for next year, I look forward to taking the rest ofthe summer and really enjoying my workouts without stressing over how fastand how far!