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The SF Marathon Recap: Finishing is the battle

Ever have a race go every which way but loose?

My 6th Full Marathon and my 4th year as an SF Marathon Ambassador was truly the race that had it all and then some.

The SF Marathon celebrated its 40th year. Its a race that takes you on a speculator tour through one of the most scenic places in America. Its been the point in my year I look forward to most every year. It is one of the best races in terms of organization.

I was supposed to run my 6th marathon two years ago and then my back started acting up. I backed down to the half and then life got in the way. And then I decided to finish my business with SF by signing up for my 6th this year. And then training fell apart. Two months ago I was debating on downgrading, hell I was contemplating downgrading at the expo. I honestly did not think I could do it. But after talking with friends I stepped back and decided to enjoy the run. My hope was to finish close to 2014’s time.

Looking back I am glad I pushed through and did it. I am still sore, but I am happy knowing I have made number 6 happen, and I proved to myself I could still dance.

Myself and the amazing fellow ambassador May before the race.
My race started off slightly strong. I have learned a lot in the past years about pacing myself and am finally starting to understand not going out to fast. I was enjoying the first miles on the SF waterfront and I was taking it into the point that I actually did not remember to take photos. I was enjoying it.

The first hill is right after mile 2 and some refer to it as the “Fort Mason Death March” its a straight up climb to the top of Fort Mason. I went in knowing that my hill training was never going to be enough to cover it so I did a slower jog to get up and walked the rest of it.

Marina Park and Chrissy Park are my second favorite miles of the course. Its just the runners out there and you have a great view of the water. I was actually almost faster then I should of been. I just caught my grove.

This is when the wheels started falling off.

The climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge is tough. There is no real way to train for this other then go for it. I walked it knowing I still had a huge chunk of climbing ahead of me after the bridge. Apparently the rule was changed this year that allowed for slower then 12:30 runners to make the bridge. They actually pushed us to the sidewalk which killed any pace I had. The sidewalk was slick and congested.

We made the turn on Vista point and headed back on the bridge. A kind worker unlocked the gate to allow us to climb back on to the roadway. The wind and the mist on the bridge was INTENSE. This is as bad as the bridge has been weather wise.

Then to my number one spot on the course. The Presido. First off this features some wicked downhills that you can relax on but the views are breath taking. I actually pulled a 10 min mile somewhere in here according to FitBit. I was back on pace and loving it.

Then there is that streach of miles everyone fears. The mile plus before you hit Golden Gate Park. Its all up down up. I walked the ups ran the downs, it was my plan all along. Needed to make the energy at Golden Gate Park last.

You know the song “This is the song that never ends”

That is Golden Gate Park.

The last mile before Golden Gate Park got to me mentally. I think it does a lot of people so I was wondering knowing that I had a lack of long mile training if I should of taken the half turn off and called it good as I was besting my time from last year as it was. I knew the next half was going to be tough.

I decided to continue and the park got to me. I did keep pretty well on pace for the first mile or two in the park and then about mile 17 I would say, I was worn down.

I wanted the park to end.

I wanted to burn down the park.

And I was regretting life decisions at this point. But hell bent on continuing. I found my friend and fellow four year ambassador Charles on the course and he encouraged me to continue. That was what I needed.

I got out to Ashbury and I cherished the down hills. This to me is the best part of the second half is the

I look happy. The truth is I might of been questioning my decision.
funkiness and all the love you get from the people heading out for brunch.

I probably should not of ran the down the hills as hard as I did. It came back to bite me in the dogpatch and Soma. I just had not energy and was was a great pace fell off the rails. I was still on track for my goal, but I just had nothing in the tank. Mile 20 to about 24 was awful. And then came the announcement. We had to hit the sidewalk, we where being swept.

Duh-Dum.

It took the wind out of the group of runners that had basically bunched up together in their own group at that point. Most of us had our clocks to the point that we had been on pace not to get swept, so it was confusing and heartbreaking for many. But we encouraged and pushed each other forward. People teamed up to make sure we all made it eventually to the finish. To the gent who grabbed me, I thank you. You helped me see I could finish it. I think this is what sets the race apart. The fact that the little clump of people became their own running team. I have never seen it at a race ever.

We got to AT&T Park on a Giants game day and the atmosphere was amazing. All the fans cheered us on and I was able to find it in me to run a bit more to the finish.

My final time was 6:03 but that being said, looking at my Fitbit numbers my distance was a crazy bit off. I was running close to a 6:00 pace which being 2014 I was 5:59. All thing considered it is a win.

This by far is my favorite race every year. I owe the SF Marathon so much love for taking a chance on me to represent when I was just getting my legs under me as a social media influencer.

I don’t know if I will be running another marathon again. Right now my legs are saying no, but we will see where it goes.

Now go read all my fellow ambassadors reports.

Erin
Charles

Ricky

Jeanne

Dear @SeattleMarathon- I just can’t quit you.

**Note, if you read my ambassador application for Seattle Marathon from last year, you know where this came from. I had to do it in the same vein**

Dear Seattle Marathon-

I just can’t quite get over you.

I said I was going to only do you once.

That was 2012. (And you are still my marathon PR)

But I keep coming back for more.

I actually got a photo of #whathill
I actually got a photo of #whathill
Your course is truly spectacular, especially the views of Lake Washington. But it is also challenging (Can we say #whathill?) and makes you push yourself to go harder then you ever have before. I love the tunnels and the constant echos from the runners trying to cheer each other on. I can’t get over how amazing it is. It makes me want to keep coming back for more and keep seeing how hard I can push.

Your volunteers are amazing and they really come out to support the runners and make their experiencing better. They truly have an energy that makes you want to run harder and faster.

The expo is always one of the funnest expos to go to every year because it is so well organized, and it allows runners to learn about all the area has to offer without feeling crowded in. Not to mention the fact that I think the goodie bags are always the best every year.

I keep speaking your praises everywhere I go. You know me; and you know how willing I am to use my social media reach to keep telling people how amazing what you do is. I will help when you come down here to spread the Seattle love. I was proud to serve in 2015 and it would be a honor to come back in 2016.

No matter what you decided, I will be back. Because to be blunt, I just can’t get over you. I can’t get over how much you remind me of how strong I am and how able I am to run.

Much Love
Me

#261Fearless: Joining the Movement

Its has never been a secret that one of the causes I am proud to be behind is the 261 Fearless movement by Kathrine Switzer.

I have been asked and very excitedly accepted an invitation to join a new program and be one of the founding 261 Fearless Ambassadors.

261 was the number worn by a KV Switzwer in the 1967 Boston Marathon. At this time racing was not considered a women friendly event. An angry race director tried to attack her in the second mile to take that number away from her; angry that a women would of entered her race.

Kathrine continued her running career completing 39 marathons, and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She ran unnamedher personal best in 1975, finishing second in Boston (2:51:33). She then put her substantial energies into creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s only races in 27 countries with over a million participating from 1978 to the present time. It was this series of events, which showed global participation and performances that largely convinced the IOC to include a women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games.

The words regarding the 261 Movement are amazing.

261 Fearless

is a global community of women, be she a walker, jogger, runner, or front of the pack racer, who have found strength, power and fearlessness from putting one foot in front of the other. This strength has allowed her to overcome doubt and adversity in her life and she has the ability and desire to give support to other women who want to take on their personal challenges through running or walking. This is a safe community of support, respect, friendship and sharing of accomplishments and a place for women who want to become runners and walkers to find their fearless through the connection with others. We take no notice of ability, body-type, religion or ethnicity as we all hold the universal language of putting one foot in front of the other. We communicate on social media as @261Fearless, through closed social channels and personally in our communities, clubs, groups and at events. We are here because sometimes, you just need to know you are not alone. If you are a female runner or soon to be runner, please join the 261 Fearless Movement.

261 Fearless Mission

is to bring active women together through a global supportive community – allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running and walking onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment. 261 is the symbol that unites us as empowered runners and walkers.

I am proud to get out there and share my story. It is because of running that I have found my fearless side. Sometimes I needed to be reminded that it is in me; but I am proud of being part of it.

Running has truly taught me to appricate how strong I am. I also has gotten me to appricate that I did not need to be an unhappy person. That I have the power to define my life.

I am hoping by the end of the year in 2016 that I can help bring together a 261 Fearless running club here in Portland for everyone to get involved with running, to motivate and challenge each other.

The San Francisco Marathon: Learning that pacing works and learning to listen to my body

Note: I had the pleasure and honor of being a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador for 2015; thus my event entry was comped. This a true reflection of my experiences.

This was supposed to be my 6th marathon. It was going to be my chance to fight back against the event that literally pushed me to my edge last year.

But alais, it turned into my 20th half marathon.

I had every intention this year to be able to better my performance from last year on the 26.2. But between the weather and my dad having another trip to the hospital my training took a huge hit. I really wanted to push through but I got to the point that every bone in my body was screaming no. I knew if I would of pushed it the consequences would of well sucked. It broke my heart to do it but it was by far the smartest thing I could of done.

I downgraded to the 2nd half which originally was not the one I wanted to do. I wanted to do the Golden Gate Bridge. But it was full. The 2nd is not as scenic (or so I thought, I was completely out of it when I ran the full last year) and if you ask runners it is not as good as the first.

But they are wrong.

My morning started off at the Lululemon “Get Quiet; Get Loud” lounge at the Sens restaurant that gave us a sky view

Entry to Get Quiet Loud Lounge.
Entry to Get Quiet Loud Lounge.
of the finish line. They offered us a small breakfast and a chance to sit down and watch the start of the race activities before grabbing the bus to the second half start line with my friends and fellow ambassadors Heather and Trica.

The bus system is awesome. You walk a few blocks from the start line to a bus that will literally drop you off right next to the start line for the 2nd half at Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park has everything that you need to get ready for the race right there; portta potties, bag check that will be waiting for you at the start line.

I did not have expectations going into this race after I let go of my big goal of being able to do the full. I just wanted to run strong and be able to really enjoy the run.

The 2nd half gives you a treat that no other race gets. You get the chance to run past the buffalo paddocks and WP_20150726_020around one of the lakes before joining the main event. Golden Gate Park is a great place to start the run but its also very challenging because of the fact a good chunk of the up hills are here. All that being said, its the best way to see some of the most amazing parts of SF. I caught up to the 2:45 pacer and decided based on Rock N Roll and Vancouver that this could possibly be a good plan.

The pacers had been amazing. I really wish I could reach out to our 2:45 pacers and say thank you because with their help I managed to rectify my huge mistake last year when I went out of the gate way too fast and it turned into a miserable experience. They had also been really willing to talk me through the pacing style.

Once you get out of the park you head into famous Ashbury Heights which is a fun area to run. There had been a ton of people on the roads cheering on runners. Ashbury Heights has some amazing downhill stretches where you can stretch your legs and you really get a feel for the more “hippie” side of SF. Once you head out of the Heights you get to see part of the Tenderloin and SOMA. It reminds me a lot of running down in Eugene, its like running through the best of SF that the tourists do not know about.

The pacer I was working with actually had pulled ahead of his partner. But I was with him and we had banked a small chunk of time so I really got the chance to enjoying the 2nd half which I didn’t last year. And I realized, it is underrated. It is a fun amazing event with its own more relaxed feel.

Right before we hit the water, the pacer told me that I was looking strong enough that I might want to consider jumping ahead which I did. I was feeling stronger then I had on the last two.

As we came back around by the water and AT&T stadium it became a bit chaotic as the Giants had a day game. But by the time we got through they mostly had the Giants fans on one side of the walk way and us on the other. I love being able to run by the game day stuff as it gives you such a great energy.

SF Marathon offers free photos. This is me finishing.
SF Marathon offers free photos. This is me finishing.
The finish line was amazing. Its one of the most well organized finish lines that I have seen. You got in, you got water and your medal, get your finishers photo taken for free and enjoy the huge finish line party that had food carts, a chance to get your last souvenirs and get goodies.

I came back to the VIP lounge and they had a small lunch laid out for us and we got the chance to take photos with the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge on the background.

The 2nd half was an amazing experience. I actually bested my half marathon times for the year and got a really good idea of what I need to work on going into my next events. I am so thankful to the pacers for helping me find my stride. As much as I hated it, dropping to the second half was the best decision I could of made. I had to learn to listen to my body and what it wants.

It has been an amazing experience to be an ambassador for the past two years. I have learned so much from being an ambassador and really found a confidence in sharing my story. I am thankful to the entire staff of the SF Marathon for their support and love. They will always have a fan in me. I am also thankful to my fellow ambassadors from the past two years worth of teams. They inspire me and teach me a lot, and without them I could not be where I want to be.

The San Francisco Marathon Recap Part One: Expo (@TheSFMarathon)

Disclaimer: There is going to be part race recap/lessons learned blog. Bear with me. Also I had the honor of being an ambassador for the SF Marathon this year, and my race entry was comped.

This is the second year in a row that I have had the pleasure and honor of being an ambassador to the San Francisco Marathon. It has truly been a life changing and learning experience for me to be able to learn how to share my story with other runners, learning how to promote a race and truly being a leader in my running community.

This year my entire goal was to not let the marathon kick my butt as much as it did last year. But between Portland’s brutal weather forecasts (I hate this heat) and watching my dad go back in the hospital again. It just all kind of fell apart. I did not get the runs in that I wanted, I was also feeling super tight.

I fought the decision up to Saturday but when I came to work my shifts at the expo on Saturday I realized it was not going to be healthy for me to run the full. Literally it would be a situation where it would be bad news. The decision sucked; to the point of tears at the time. But it was the best decision ever. One thing is if you deiced that you need to make the jump, it is an easy process.

The expo featured of course race merchandise from both Reva and this year special things from Luleluemon. There had been races from around the North California area, places to pick up shoes, you could refill your Nuun, stock up on Perfect Bars, check out FitBit and get anything you might of forgotten. (In my case socks)

The expo for me this year was a great experience. Friday I worked with the race management company at the challenge IMG_7335table handing out loyal runner awards, 52 Club and helping answer questions regarding the “Half It All” (both halfs in successive years), “SF Berkley” (running Berkley and SF), “California Dreaming” (Surf City and SF) challenges. I have always said, I love being able to be the one to answer questions and get runners pumped up for whatever is coming their way. People in general had been excited because they had been coming into finish.

The nice thing about where I was, I was able to watch the flow of runners; and one of the things I noticed is how smooth everything flowed. People had been able to pick up bibs, pick up shirts and explore without much chaos. (Saturday was a different story, there had been so many people; get there Friday).

Saturday I spent the morning with the Information Booth crew answering questions. This was one of the busiest places in the expo and the most high energy. The nice thing here was our job was to get you to where you need answers.

The thing about the SF Marathon Expo is it really feels like a big time professional experience. Everyone who is there is there on the mission to help runners enjoy their experience. Its a rare feel that I get from events, and it is one of the many reasons I love being involved with SF.

Dear @SeattleMarathon; A love letter

Dear Seattle Marathon:

You already know me. I have taken on your full and taken on your half. You push me, you challenge me, you make me take on weather conditions I never thought I could run in (remember last year?), you make me find the best in myself every year and I keep coming back stronger.

You are my marathon PR, a PR I have not been able to touch since.

I love your tunnels, I love hearing the sounds of runners cheering each other and the insane amount of echo.

I love your volunteers, who brave the insane weather conditions to support the runners and always have a smile on my face.

I love your hills… (I think) especially the one at mile 7.5ish/19ish. (Okay so that might be a little wrong)

The Lake Washington Sunrise
The Lake Washington Sunrise
I love your views of Lake Washington.

I have had the honor of being a Seattle Humane Society Charity Athlete for two years, its thanks to you it can happen. It is your willingness to help the community.

Just as much as I know and love you, you guys know me. You are the only race ever that has wished me Happy Birthday before, so I think you get my social media reach and my ability to tell your story.

I am a well known race and event volunteer here in Portland willing to help where I can (and where being a mass transit runner allows), but I am most known for being the Vana White at the First Thursday Urban Adventure Run, which is the biggest event of its type on the west coast.

For me, running is my love. Even though my race schedule has taken a beating due to ongoing health issues with my father. Running has always kept me connected to how strong I can be. I share my story of not only finding my health and finding my strength through running in the hopes it can inspire someone else.

(Even if you don’t name me an ambassador, I will be back this year. I have to make up for last year, when I ran the race coming off of a cold, and EVERY race photographer got a photo of me blowing my nose on the course. )

Much love
Bonnie

Five on Friday: 5 Races to Run on 2015 (And Discounts!!!)

The Friday 5 Link Up that has been hot on running social media has really got my attention and has me dreaming right now. It has me dreaming of all the races that I want to run in the future. This is the first time I ever did the link up because I wanted to throw my 5 in.

1- The San Fransisco Marathon: (July 26th) I have made no secret that after I ran it in 2014, that I have a lot of love for this race. photo34 Last year I had the honor of being an ambassador for them and I am proud they asked me back for a second year. You can read my recap . I will be honest, this is a tough course. It tested me and kicked my @@# hard. But it I can not explain how flat out beautiful being able to run The Golden Gate Bridge, being able to over look the ocean and all the time you spend in Golden Gate Park is. It really did teach me a lot about how tough I could be when the chips had been down. I mean, this race got so crazy for me, my water bottles started to leak for the first time in five years. But I met some of the most amazing people during the course of the race weekend, got to see things I never imagined I would see (someone ran a half marathon in bondage gear), I got hugs from random strangers, met the best #hostelrunners, and just in general had such an amazing experience. I am anxious, excited and just flat out ready to be able to try this again. I am putting everything I have towards making this my marathon PR time.

And I have a discount on this one.
You can use TSFM2015Bonnie to save 25.00 on the any of the events.

2- The Seattle Marathon (November 29th): I am not an ambassador for them. (But I wish I was) And honestly, this is the race I love to grumble about. Some of this course is really tough and the two years I have ran this it has been so cold. But it holds a special place in my heart as this is where my marathon PR is. This is a stunning course to run as it takes you through Lake Washington, you get to run on the floating bridge, and you really get to see some of Seattle’s best scenery. One of my faviorte parts other then Lake Washington is getting to go in the Freeway Tunnel. You get some of the best echo’s as people love to scream. What I have always loved about this race as it has always stayed affordable, I would really put near or the top of the list when it comes to being a well supported course. Every where you turn you have people cheering for you, people wanting to see you do good. On top of this, the Seattle Marathon staff is super when it comes to communication and customer service to their runners. This course is also one of the best when it comes to being slower runner/walker friendly and they even allow walkers to start together earlier to ease a bit of the congestion.

3- The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (April 26th): Three of my 5 marathons are from this event. And being it is my first marathon it will always hold a special place in my heart. I have said this before, I can’t explain this marathon until you are there and you run it. This supports the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum and is the biggest fundraiser that the memorial has every year. This is a race you are truly running for a reason. This race starts with 168 seconds of silence to commemorate the victims of the bombing (which leaves runners in tears) , and as you go through out what is a surprisingly scenic, beautiful course you see names of all of the victims. This one also BY FAR has the best water stops. (Gorilla Hill?). The only draw back on this one is the corrals get congested. But I think a lot of this comes from everyone wanting to be so close to the action at the start. The course is beautiful, and not as challenging in comparison to Seattle and San Fransisco, but the weather can push you hard. I can never recommend this race enough to all abilities, all ages and someone who really wants to run for a reason. I promise you OKC, I will be back.

4- Vancouver USA Marathon (June 21st) : The last two years the universe has thrown me curve balls that have kept me from running this one. But I have ran the half twice, and it is always one of my favorite events. And if you ask any of my local running friends, its near the top of their must do list. The half course is scenic (other then a small trek through Vancouver industrial district) as it takes you on the Columbia River and through Fort Vancouver. I also like how the community comes out to support the event, and if you can’t tell this is a common thread in races I have listed. The course has a couple rather challenging spots, but this is a good race for anyone just starting our on the half marathon trail because so many people will be out there doing this for their first one. One of the major post race benefits of this race is you also get the chance to attend the Summer Brew Fest that share the space with the finish line area that weekend for free. I mean FREE BEER? What is better then that? This one is brought to you by Energy Events, and it is a company that really does a lot to help in their local running community. In terms of local Portland races, I can’t put anyone at the list higher then Energy Events.

5- Run to Stay Warm (November 22nd) : : When I am talking to friends in Eugene, this one is my favorite to talk about. Run to Stay Warm is a very small race that takes place in the heart of University of Oregon territory.

2013 EWEB Start
2013 EWEB Start
This is a half-marathon/10K/5K option that takes you through Eugene’s big trail system. You spend time on the water, you go by Autzen Stadium, in some of the best parts of Eugene. The thing that always gets me about this race is every penny out of this races goes to raise funds to help people pay their heating bills in Eugene who might have challenges paying the bill. I run this race every other year (this is one weekend away from Seattle). This is another race that is very all abilities, all ages friendly. This is also a great way to break into the half marathon scene without breaking the budget as the half marathon is 35.00. This is another one where the volunteers are part of what makes it special.

Those are my five. I know I can’t make running all five work this year because of the wierd financial things going on, but they are five that are special to me for all different reasons and the five I will always talk about and recommend.

And one special bonus code. How would you like to run the
SJRAMB15296 saves you 25 percent on entry fees? Look for something more on this race later on.

#Nuunlove 2015- Nuun Ambassador

My stomach is a picky little beast epically with hydration. I have never quite understood why it has been but there are only a couple hydration solutions that don’t leave me with a grouchy stomach.

And on top of that, I am a self-confessed water hater.

I get it, I know water is good for me. I do drink it, but I don’t drink enough of it and I know it.

Last year, someone turned me on to Nuun and it took me forever to be convinced. I liked being able to do something unnamedwith my water to give it some flavor without really taking away from the benefits of water. I like something that gives me the same benefits of some of the sports drinks I was using without all the junk that comes in them.

I did not think Nuun would do the trick.

Boy was I wrong.

I started using it to help me stay healthy while I was at the gym. I found that it was keeping me more hydrated then just water.

And then I started hearing about how it would help me outside of the gym. It is no secret that if you have followed my blog for any length of time, the past year has been a stress ball.

I found Nuun Energy, which to me has been then coffee. It gives me a little boost of energy without all the extra crap in soda, or some coffee’s. When my body finally decided it had enough and I ended up with the never ending cold I found out about Nuun daily, which reminds me a lot of one of my old favorites (Vitamin Water). But again, without all the crap.

Nuun has been a life saver. So when the opportunity to spread the Nuun love came up, I jumped all over it.

And I am proud to announce that I am a 2015 NuunBassador. You will hear me mention Nuun a lot in the future, but just know this. I won’t talk about products I don’t love and Nuun has been a game changer.

Part 2- The SF Marathon Race Day

Can I just say it?

The San Francisco Marathon race day experience is one that I will never ever forget.

Team #hostelrunners
Team Hostel Runners!!!

Our morning started at the Green Tortoise hostel. One of my roomies at the hostel was running the first half and being she was setting her alarm, I asked her to blow me out of bed if I was not up by 4:15. There was nothing really to worry about as for some reason even after going to bed at like 8, my brain woke me up at 3:45.  I tried to get out of my room and sort myself out on the stairs but lord knows I always forget something so after a couple quite but mad dashes back to the room, Emma and I went down stairs together and met three amazing ladies (Anita, Kelly and Kristy), and our new friend Pascal.  We had decided to walk to the start line together as we had been only a little more then a mile away. Our hostel was so cool that while we had been getting ourselves together in the lobby they started playing Rocky’s Theme to cheer us on. We made an agreement to meet back in the lobby the celebrate at the Hard Rock later. I have to say, getting five new amazing international friends out of this trip was a huge plus.

As an ambassador I had the privileged and honor of being afforded the VIP treatment. And let me just say this was a spoil. We had our own pre-race food, bag check and bathrooms.  It made pre-race so much easier then it normally is for me. I got to the tent was able to drop my bag and just take in the pre-race.  But from what I understand from my friends, it was easy to find everything they needed to be ready for the pre-race.

Now let me be blunt. My training had not been the way it should not of been.  Anyone who has been following my life outside of my blog knows that I have been dealing with a lot and my running has been what I can handle when I can handle. So between that and the fact this race has a 6 hour limit, my nerves played a huge number on me.  I had considered downgrading before the race, but I also knew for a fact, that this trip could be once in a life time. I do not know where my life is going to lead in the next couple years. My dear friend and fellow ambassador Charles had talked me through the nerves, which helped me put perspective on the race itself.

The next thing I know it was time to take off.

The first few miles of the race take you down the water through Fishermans Warf  before you hit the first hill at Fort Mason. I had been familiar with this as it was the path to the expo, and knew I just needed to slow it down and take it at my own pace. Once you are through there you head through Crissy Field. The weather was a NW Native’s dream come true. It was cold, a little drizzly and grey.

photo34And then you hit the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the only race that gets to hits the actual road way. To say running the bridge was surreal was an understatement. It was hard to not just get lost in the moment. I was lucky because my fellow ambassador and friend Lisa grabbed me and got a great pic of me on the bridge itself.  For those who are looking for this to be a fast part of the course, it wont be, its crowded and slightly cumbersome as everyone seems to be taking photos. But how can you blame them? It is so amazing.

After we come off the bridge, we go back to hill climbing. to take the Baker Beach area.  You come out to this amazing overlook to Baker Beach. For as tough as this part of the course is it is also very beautiful and scenic.

After getting through Baker Beach and heading into the Presidio you start a series of tough hill climbs.  Lets just say it. This race has soooo many hills. But you are truly seeing all the amazing parts of SF.  I think at this point of the race is where I realized that this race was going to be mentally tougher then I ever imagined.

Once you come through the Presido you hit Golden Gate Park. I am going to be very blunt here. You spend a good bunch of miles in Golden Gate Park. This is also where the first half marathon finishes. (I have not decided if it is cool to watch the first half finish or depressing.) They are amazing miles around Stow Lake, the buffalo paddocks, and close to the flower conservatory.  I actually had to laugh at Stow Lake because a duck came out of the water and stopped started at me and just started to quack his fool head off. I actually had to stop and take his photo because he was amusing me so much.

The bad thing is the miles here get long and you find yourself asking; “Am I ever going to make it out?”  Several people I was running with at the time all said the same thing. We felt like we had been stuck there forever.

After the park, you hit the Ashbury Heights neighborhood, and I have to admit, I enjoy the eclectic nature of this area. So many people sitting outside enjoying their breakfasts, and trying to give us all insane looks like we have no clue what we had doing. But there was so much elevation change here, as in up and down hills, I really did feel like I was hitting the wall.  But it goes back to the one thing you hear me mention, is how its about focusing on the next step in front of you. So I broke it down that way, worked on the next step.

We headed for the Tenderloin and it reminded me a lot of the industrial district in Portland. There was also sporadic water stations here. This is not an issue for me, as I am always carrying what I need (though it started leaking after two years) .

Once we made the final turn back to the water I realized that no matter what was going to happen, I was going to be a finisher (the race has a 6 hour time limit which adds to the challenge). All I needed to do was to stay the course and stay with the slower pace I had set. I saw Nicole, who was on the tail end of running 52.4 miles and she looked amazing. She inspired me to aim for bigger goals next year, because maybe an Ultra is something I can.

I was running with a lady who had been running through Portland before which helped push me and we ran into a gal who was having cramps. We supplied her with as much gu and electrolytes before we made the turn towards the Bay Bridge.

I made the finish and I was done. Physically and emotionally.  I needed food, and my medal. I made my way to the tent with my boxed water to get a hug from my fellow ambassador the lovley Heather who stayed to take care of the last of the finishers in the ambassadors tent.

There is a reason this race is considered one of the toughest in the country.  It pushes you and pushes you hard.  But getting to see an amazing city with so much scenery, is so worth it.  It is well organized, the running community is very supportive and you get to run the Golden Gate Bridge. Is it perfect? No, but there is no race that is.  But the staff of the marathon is dedicated to making it better.

My final thoughts?

You have to figure out how strong you really are.

Being an ambassador for this race has truly been a life changing experience.

I have an amazing group of running friends that will be with me for the rest of my life.

I learned that if I wanted to accomplish something I just needed to go after it.

I learned that my story inspires others.

I can not thank the SF Marathon staff, especially Lark and Nich for taking such good care of their ambassadors and helping me through a life changing experience that I will never forget.

I will be back. My mission is to be a stronger runner so the hills don’t hurt so much. I know this is something I can accomplish