After a week of fretting about the weather, Super Bowl Sunday was going to be a glorious day in San Francisco. I pulled myself out of bed at 5:00 am and quickly checked out the window, awesome – no rain! A wave of relief passed over me as I stepped into the hot shower to awaken my body. In only a couple of hours I would be asking it to run farther than it has in 6 months. A little café con leche and an almond butter and homemade blackberry jam sandwich and I am out the door and on my way. I took the shuttle into the City from the Kaiser Office in Oakland with 3 friends (including one Kaiser employee), all geared up and ready for the run. At the starting line we were amazed at the number of people – 10,000 runners and a whole host of volunteers all up at the crack of dawn for an organized run through Golden Gate Park. It was a bit chilly, but we reluctantly gave up our warm ups and headed for the starting line. I could see it a good 200 yards in front of us, but with new chip technology timing the clock wouldn’t start ticking for me until I actually crossed the line.
We started out the race in a residential area, heading up Fell Street and then back around down Oak Street and into the park. I was pleased to find that a good portion of the race was at a very slight downhill, and welcomed those times when I could relax into my pace and catch my breath. It took a little while to warm up, but the sun was shining and it truly was a glorious morning. We ran all the way through the park, past the starting line (again) and all the way down to the Great Highway. I knew it was a flat out-and-back on the Great Highway, but I couldn’t see the turnaround point until I was almost right on top of it. I passed the time by watching the elite runners going the other way. The first guy looked relaxed and confident, like he was out for a morning jog – except he finished the race in an astonishing 1:06:08 (an hour and six minutes – that is fast 5:02 minute mile). No one was near him, certainly not the second place guy who was over two and a half minutes behind him! I kept my eye out for the first woman, as I passed by miles 8 and 9, she was coming back in a small pack of men and finished in 1:15:08 – a speedy 5:44 minute mile pace! Wow. Focusing back on my own running, I was feeling good and just had a little stiffness in my right leg. I made it to the turnaround and knew I was entering the final stretch. But as I whipped around the cones I was hit by a blast of cool ocean air. I rolled my eyes and groaned. Just my luck – a steady headwind for miles 10-12! I opted for some Gatorade at mile 10 for a little extra energy and kept chugging along. By mile 11, I was in glee – on 2 miles to go, I could do that with my eyes closed and a glass of Ceja Chardonnay in hand! With mile 12 in my sights and a sharp right turn back into the park (and out of the headwind) I was on my way home. In less than 8 minutes I would be done! Lots of people were lined up on the sidelines ringing cowbells and cheering everyone on to the finish. I gave a final little push a crossed the finish line…. Looking down at my watch – 1:48 and change. Just about what I expected, 8 minutes slower than my previous race, but for good reason – I had actually trained for that race. Hmmm, gives a girl something to think about. I better get out there and pound the pavement a little more before the next one!
~Wine Club Wendy