When I got on the elevator at the hotel to head over to the start line, there was already a woman on it with her race bib on. I was nervously chatty, so I asked her how she was feeling – she said, “This feels like my final exam. Did I drink enough? Prepare enough? Will I do ok?” And that was the perfect way to put it. Man, I was nervous…questioning everything I’d done to prepare…wondering how I would do. I’d set a goal with my friends to Beat Oprah (4:29:20). As of race day, I hadn’t paced a long run to actually beat her…but I’d been promised that race day would be different. I’d be faster. I wasn’t feeling so confident that morning.
We strolled over to the start line and I exclaimed several times that I was wicked, wicked nervous. My friends that had run a marathon before had rituals they were going through…and I had no idea what to do. So I stretched a little, danced around and kept my nervous face on.
Five of us started out together…around 6:30am. Campy immediately took off…and at mile 2, Kevin had to take a pit stop, leaving me, Brandy & Toño to run. They were a great support – we made it up the first hill at mile 4-5 without much issue…and continued across the Golden Gate Bridge, fighting the crowd. I started to enter “the zone” on the bridge, but stayed with my friends for the most part (Kevin had caught up). Around mile 12, I truly entered “the zone” and took off. I turned my iPod on and continued with my strong pace. My dad had told me to run the race for me…Brandy had reiterated the idea…so I did.
Around mile 14, I realized that I had a chance to beat Oprah – and I was on pace with a giant triathlete who ran with me for a couple miles. Around mile 16, I realized we were still running uphill…so I let him take off ahead of me. His legs were too long to try to keep up with.
At mile 18, I felt like I woke up from a dream – had I really been running 18 miles all morning? The course started going more downhill, which sure helped my burnin’ quads…though my knees got a little angry with me. No less, I leaned forward and prayed my feet would catch me before I tumbled…
I knew I was still on track to beat Oprah…and I thought two of my friends were in front of me, so I continued to push forward. I started to hit the wall around mile 24, but truly crashed at 25…I still have no idea how I pushed that last 1.2 miles, but I did. Even though I knew I could walk and still beat Oprah, I couldn’t walk that final mile. I had to keep moving…and I crossed the finish line at 4:22:52. Wooooooot!
I walked a half-block and sat down to collect my thoughts…say a thank you prayer…and stretch. I texted a few friends, updated Twitter & Facebook and took a call from my awesome sister. My text had said, “I beat Oprah!” She called and said, “You didn’t just beat her…you kicked her ass!” It felt so good to hear…and it was perfect to have the first person I talked to after the marathon be my sister. Man, I love her.
Turns out I was ahead of everyone else I’d run with…I’m trying not to gloat, but…YEAH! (can’t help myself) It didn’t really matter until JJ got mad that I’d beat him by 30 seconds…then I decided it was pretty great.
I owe my two greatest marathon fans a huge thank you! Becki had made signs and Mike trekked around the City with her to cheer us on at four different spots…it was awesome. There’s nothing like a couple people cheering you on to make you continue running strong through the streets of SF… Mike was even ready to run the last couple miles with me, but I’d decided at 18 that I needed to do this myself – not that I’m independent, or anything. Truth is, I’d emailed my mom & dad on Friday to admit that I had woken up with a sad heart…there’s been so much going on, and I was just feeling sad. I asked them to pray for me so I could cheer up and run this race strong because I was running it for so many people. My ever-so-wise dad replied, said a prayer and finished with “Run for you, not others....” I needed this for me. And I did it...with God at my side (or all around me, I guess).
Anyway, I did it. I ran a marathon. And I beat Oprah. I’m hangin’ up my ribbon and retiring from the full-marathon…much to my friends’ dismay. I just think a half-marathon is long enough…and hard enough on my body…I don’t ever need to run 26.2 miles again.
Thanks, everyone, for supporting me through this! I think I’ll make “healthy” brownies for my Physical Therapist – he’s got some work to do tomorrow on my leg muscles.