Tuesday, October 23, 2007


My friend Alison told me about this awesome race that she has participated in the past few years - the Nike Women's Marathon and Half Marathon. Registration day comes and before I can log on - within hours the half marathon is sold out! Nuts! There is still room in the full marathon, though. What the heck - I'll sign up. And although rumor is that you can sign up for the full, but only run the half - no way - I am doing the full.

Fast forward about 9 months.
After months of elliptical training - due to knee issues and stitiches. I knew this race was the end of my 2007 season. Should I do it on the knee? I have to. The disappointment would be too great not to. So here goes.

Days before...
packing and re packing. stretching. eating. hydrating. iPod drama (see previous post). look slike I am all ready.

Katharine and I head up to DC to fly Virgin America to San Francisco. VA is such a new airline that when we booked our flight they were still waiting for FAA confirmation to fly. We walked on teh plane and it was like a party - pink and purple mood lighting, all "leather" seats (first class are massagers), and the best part part were thes little screens on the back of he seat in front of you. Although they came by with the normal beverage service, you can order food and drinks by the touch screen throughout the flight. need more water? touch water and voila! there they are with your water. now these did more than just order your food. you could watch movies of your choise (some pay through the handy credit card swiper) and some free, you could watch direct tv (unfortunatel they did not get abc do we missed grey's) and you can also play games. there wasn't much sleeping on he way there b/c we were so entertained playing games, watching tv movies and doing crosswords. oh and the staff - SO nice. And there we are - in San Francisco. We get a cab and head off to meet the girls at the Hotel to get some much needed sleep.

We are on east coast time - we are up awfully early. after a short 15-20 minute jog around town to acclimate ourselves to the weather and altitude, etc, we put on our walking shoes and headed off to catch the trolley, cable car, whatever they're called! we venture to Coit Tower and pier 39 to see the sea lions - man they are smeeeellllyyyyy! In the distance you can see Golden Gate and "The Rock". Then it's time to hit the expotique. Pick up our packets and check it all out. At one station we made buttons to wear during the race in support/honor/memory, etc. The race was to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - the race raised over 18.5 million dollars!!! I made a button in memory of my dad to wear on race day (he passed away 15 years ago from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma). There were all kinds of goodies - Ghiradelli was constantly passing out chocolate. Clif/Luna was passing out Luna Moons. Massages. Manicures. Nike+ testing stations. iPod engraving. The backdrop to the stage was a screen of dedications. We sat there for awhile waiting for the dedication I sent in and we all just let the tears flow as we read the amazing stories of loss and of survival to the different diseases that were being played. After composing ourselves we headed off to Nike Town!!!! on the outside window wall was a list of every name of all the participants - all 23,000! We walked in and the place was bumping. A woman DJ had the place dancing and singing as we shopped the 3 floors of workout heaven. On the 2nd floor there was a station where you could have your newly purchased shirts custom screen printed. A few hours later we are all done. 7 women in nike town and man you can get your shop on! Next thing we know it is time for dinner. We headed off to Little Italy for a nice carbo filled feast. Even though our waitress was a bit of a stinker - we enjoyed getting to know each other (2 groups of friends coming together). And the public transportation was great - confusing at first - but entertaining none the less.

the day before the race. holy running shorts, batman - time is nearing. Go get a pre race back massage. walk around expotique a little more. I signed up to run with a pace group to hit my 5 hour goal - an 11:27/min pace. I am hesitant that this is being a little overambitious with the knee issues, btu go for it anyways. they told me i can always drop back if i need to. i get my protein smoothie courtesy of jamba juice and a new running top (orginially 45 got it for 23!!) thanks to the wonderful discounts from macy's (ps all of this was within 2 blocks of the hotel). I spent the afternoon with my 1.5 liter bottle of water, large protein smoothie, and turkey and avocado sandwich. yup you guessed it - nap time. stay off the legs and watch chick flicks. then we go eat more pasts at a much closer restaurant with a very nice server. I have my traditional pre-race glass of wine with my pasta. and off to bed very early.

race day. 4:30 alarm clock. as expected, none of us slept very well. to keep tradition going i grinded my teeth all night. we got our outfits on and snapped a few pictures (what do you expect from a bunch of chicks - we take pictures!) Alison and Courtney were running with Club Nike; Katharine and Karen joined me with the 5 hour pace group. Our fearless leader - Geo - my marathon heroine. After an amazing star spangled banner was sung, the gun went off. the race was here. Group hug! We went across the start line waving to our #1 cheerleader, Mrs. Sizer - watching her 2 daughters and 3 adopted daughters for the weekend. Katharine was runnign with the assistance of "Robert" her podcast hunk, so after 5 minutes he had her do a short walk and we waved as Karen and I trucked on forward. Geo was great - she was giving us hints on how to best run up the hills and our gait/form. Around mile 4 we lost Karen to some knee problems. I don't know how I did it, but with the help of the group I ran up ALL the hills!!! Geo had us tell where we were from, our stories of inspiration (i pointed out the button i made on my race belt), jokes, etc. She reminded me to keep my chin down and that I was a little hard on my right foot. We kept right on track. We headed up a hill and around a curve and bam! the cliffs! the waves crashing! breathaking. At mile 17 I slightly tripped over my foot as it skidded across the ground - calf cramp. nooooo. Luckily a water stop was ahead and i could take one of my ecaps. man i love thsoe things. Then came mile 18. Brakes. Although I had water and gatorade at every water stop I got a little dehydrated and had to hit the ole port-o-jon. Geo told me not to sprint back to the group afterwards, but to take my time with a slightly increased pace and after a mile or 2 I would be back in the group. I did that and it worked - within about 1/2 mile I was back in the groove. Then it hit again...worse...the stomach. this time I was unable to kick it up enough to find the 5:00 pace group again. I was sad that I didn't have my group, but i turned up the iPod and kept trucking. Then I realized that no, I didn't have the pace group, but I had friends with me through the songs...
Shake That Ass For me - you should see my roomie and I dance around the living room to this one.
Shoebox - Karen G/R
Dont'cha - the brother - the one song he told me not to get in my head.
Pour Some Sugar on Me - my Missy - shall we sunchronize dance?
Save a Horse - cousin....we love bob.
Stagger Lee - a favorite of me and mom's
Footloose - makes me think of my Greg.
and more...
I found it ironic that all of these played on the new iPod that had a playlist made without much thought. and after skipping through the holiday songs and the slow tunes, these are some of the ones i heard. and every time i heard one i thought of someone and smiled and knew i had to run for them. So i would pick it up.
Next thing I knew I only had a 5k left to go. Eyes fill with water.
Mile 24 - 2 miles left. man this water keeps getting in my eyes.
Mile 25 - only a mile left. really? it's almost over? am i really doing this?
man there are a lot of spectators aorund all of a sudden.
OH MY GOD!!!!!!! I am in the finisher's chute. There's the finish line.
A few tears.
Then cramp - aaaahhhhh!!!
take a literally 2 second wak to kick that calf cramp. I wouldn't let it ruin my finish.
Then I looked ahead as I gave it everything i had left - I heard my name - it was my friends: Katharine, Karen, courtney, Brenda - all cheering me in. More tears. I heard the beep of the timing mat and I finished. I walked on through as the men in tuxedos handed me one the the blue boxes with a white ribbon off their silver platter. He looked at my teary eyes and told me it was ok - that I finished. I walked through and held on to the pole as they cut my chip off. handed me the bag for my new necklace and picked up my finisher's tee.

I walked around and just looked around taking it all in. As the girls and I found each other - we all did it...together.

Sunday evening...
shower. cheeseburger and fries. beer. (sounds good at least)

Katharine and I don our new finisher's tees and necklaces proud as we head off to the airport. Thank goodness she was with me. helping me carry my luggage, etc. I never realized standing, sitting, and walking would be so hard. I found a new respect for the grab bars in the bathrooms! We walked around the terminal waiting for our flight. We got to pre-board thanks to my slowness. This time I did not play too many games and such - much more sleeping with the new pillow i got in the airport! Landed smoothly in DC and drove back to the RIC and back to the norm...as a marathon finisher.

Nike Women's Marathon entry fee - $95.00
airfare to/fro San Francisco - $270.00
Hotel in Union Square - $200.00
Finishing my first full marathon with friends - Priceless.

Final Time - 5:13:38 (pace 0:11:58)
5k - 0:35:36 (11:27)
10k - 1:09:40 (11:12)
15k - 1:47:24 (11:31)
half - 2:29:37 (11:24)
25k - 2:56:48 (11:22)
30k - 3:32:15 (11:23)
35k - 4:12:17 (11:36)
40k - 4:56:21 (11:55)

Me, Katharine, and Karen at the finish line.


Jennifer said...

You are amazing Fave! I am so proud of you!!!!!!

Renae said...

So very proud of you. I knew you could do it, and you made it sound so easy!!

TriGirl 40 said...

Wonderful race report! You rocked the course - and what a great tribute to your Dad. What is that wet stuff in my eyes?

tryingtotri said...

Great report! I am so happy for you! Though not cool making a pregnant girl tear up.


Tea said...

What a great race report!

margo said...

that is awesome - what a great way to cap the season!

Diane said...

So proud and happy for you! You most definitely earned that necklace!

triathlonmom said...

Your dad would be so proud Melissa!
And we are proud of you too. Confaveulations!

Kate G said...

Awesome Melissa, you are a super stah!!! That is great time, bask in the glow.