Anyway, with an anticipated 5:30am start, the race staff was right on top of their stuff and sent off the first wave of runners right on time. Being that I had changed from the full registration to the half, I pretty much chose my own start time and selected the second wave. For anyone out there that has ever run any decent distance races, you know why. When you get stuck in the 3rd and 4th waves at events like this, you spend a great deal of energy weaving in and out of slower runners trying to get to your comfortable stride and pace, which in turn leaves you out of your element and unable to run as you had been training. 'Luckily' for me, I was able to run an interesting race regardless of my wave start...
See, during morning training runs, I would always run with a few things, regardless of distance. 1) Garmin GPS training watch, which gives pace per mile, distance traveled, calories burned, and a couple of other things. 2) Gloves, which (duh) in SF summers are rather crucial for keeping your hands from turning blue and maintaining a 'pins-and-needles' free environment. And, 3) a Hydration Belt (read: fanny pack with water), which holds a water bottle and (for me) some GU Chomps, which are basically little caffeinated fruit snacks that make a huge difference when running longer distances. These are three things I ALWAYS run with. No matter what.
Of course, today was different. Equipped with everything and ready to run, I got to the tent where we would be leaving our stuff, removed my 'Batman Utility Belt'/Fanny Pack from my bag, stowed my sweats and jacket and made sure to get a decent warm-up and some good stretching in. After about 5 minutes, the announcer comes on to make sure wave #2 runners were on deck and ready to go. I look to the two people I would be starting out with and we head to the staging area, with an ample 2-3 minutes to spare before the gun goes off. Once in the staging area and feeling like herded cattle, it was apparent that there was no turning back now. Feeling a little bit of the nerves that accompany any sort of athletic performance, I reached for my water bottle to rinse the dryness out of my mouth. *SHIT!* I never put the belt on!
Great. Since February of this year I have always run with the accompaniment of these three things. I have trained my body to consume 3 oz of water every 20 minutes and 2-3 GU Chomps every 40 minutes. Like clockwork. My gloves were ready to warm my hands. I was prepared. I was ready. I was also dumb enough to completely forget to put the belt on (which also had the gloves carefully tucked inside), before I got to the staging area that had no outlet. This was sure to be a run to remember. Luckily, my running partners were encouraging and let me know that there would be plenty of stops along the way for me to rehydrate and even grab a GU Gel or two. Despite the initial frustrations, these comments did a lot to help me relax and get my mind back on the race - which wound up as smooth as I could have asked for. Started out with an easy 8:10/mi average pace for the first 10 miles and a more concerted effort to finish the last 3.1 in under 21 minutes. When it was all done, I finished in 1:44. Total mileage that I ran was 13.21 (due to weaving and a non-linear course) and my average pace was 7:56/mile. All told, I burned 1776 calories on the course. A good training run indeed. Plus I got to do this:
For most runners, race day is the day that they let everything out. They have prepped themselves, replayed the race over and over in their heads and attempted to visualize exactly how they are going to feel when they are running as hard as they physically can. For me, this wasn't the case. While most people were tossing and turning trying to get a good night's sleep on Saturday, I was busy passing out my couch with my contacts in. My "carb load" two days before consisted of a full Oakland Coliseum Nachos and a Stadium Dog. Most people I talk to tell me that 13.1 miles is a huge accomplishment, and for most people, I'm sure it is. But I'm not like most people. 13.1 miles on Sunday was a decent run - don't get me wrong - but I felt like without my injury, I would have easily accomplished finishing the marathon and in a time that I would have liked (sub 3:30). I guess the only thing/person I can be mad at is myself. I've never been one to listen to my body and to take the time to rest. I've always pushed through pain and become stronger and more mentally tough as a result. Luckily, this was simply too much of an injury to overcome, and I have been humbled enough to recognize the difference between soreness and true injury.
I will tell you this though. My goal of finishing a marathon is not over. Not in the slightest. Fortunately I have been given the opportunity to learn from this instance and to move forward. More knowledgeable and more prepared than ever.