I don't know that I can really do a run report...Plady really nailed the spirit of the thing, the love/hate, the pain/joy, the strange sense of solitude in the crowd.
For me, the uphills were hard. Not harder than I thought uphills would be though. And there weren't necessarily more uphills than I expected. I just knew that the uphills would be the most difficult part of it all for me, and they were. The first few were really hard, and then the next couple seemed easier, like I found the right pace for them, and then as the thing wore on they got harder again...but then they were suddenly pretty well gone and it was the drudgery of the last 5 miles of city.
But the downhills were like wind at my back. My feet cooperated and just flew beneath me as I thought, "little steps, little steps." I kept the turnover fast and checked the Garmin and saw I was hitting sub-10 paces on the downhills...but I was also getting stitchy on them. Still, it was so fun to hit a pace like that after 9, 10, 13 miles of running! I loved me some downhill.
Plady and I lost Reb at some point before the GG bridge. She had just not had the training in her, and we'd discussed beforehand about what to do if she couldn't keep up. I felt bad, but I also knew that if I slowed down too much, I'd peter out and not finish at all. So Plady and I maintained a steady pace, with me rolling down the hills and Plady rocketing up them. I was certain as I came up the last hill in the park that she'd come shooting up from behind, but she wasn't there...so I spent the next several miles fairly certain that she'd passed me long before...and eventually I also was certain Reb had passed me, and I was hoofing it on my own to the finish. This was somewhere around the bacon station on Haight Street, around the 20-mile mark.
At that same time, there was a final, steep descent that appeared at the most perfect moment for me. I had not trained past 20 miles, so I had every reason to hit a wall right there, but instead, I was blessed with this giant downhill portion, which brought me new momentum and rushed me past the wall. I'd been leapfrogging with a nice man named Jim, and at that point, I left him in a wake of tiny footsteps.
The next several miles were hard. They were all about holding on. There were bands playing here and there, and lots of motorcycle riders helping the police to manage things, and all over there were random people on corners reading our names off our bibs and telling us how great we were and how awesome we looked. I blubbered a few times, but mostly flashed sincere smiles at everyone I passed. Like Plady, I smiled a lot. I tried to catch all the photogs and look perky, but I missed several. Those tricky fellas were everywhere.
As I came into the last mile, I listened to the conversation of a girl and two of her friends who'd come to help run her in. She was recalling what her parents had told her about how it was OK not to finish, that she "wasn't a marathoner," so she should feel OK about quitting if she needed to. I told her she already was a marathoner, and she was finishing. I nearly cried.
Then, there was a random family, a mom, dad and kid, handing out clif shots. Then the stadium. Lots of people out strolling, shouting encouragement. Telling us we were amazing. And suddenly I felt amazing. I heard cowbells and started running hard, and my calves cramped and seized and I made a face and ran through it and finished. Got my medal, my water bottle, and then waited at the finish a while. Soon, my new pal Jim came through and we fist-bumped and cheered. Soon after that, Plady made it and I cried some more. She looked just amazing and amazed at her own self, I think. We laughed. I think we were a little hysterical.
And then Jen's gorgeous smiling face appeared, and more joy! And then massages! And we waited on Reb a while...and I didn't have my phone or remember her new phone number, so Plady and I walked back to our hotels. I filled the tub with ice water and before the soaks could begin, Reb made it. I was thankful.
Now, back home, I have a bunch of zucchinis to make into cakes and muffins, I guess, and about 8 pounds of green beans to freeze. And I gave notice today, and what do you know? My boss's reaction? "Don't be sorry. You're doing the right thing." My supervisor's immediate reaction was to tell me I'm a fantastic writer, I shouldn't worry, I'll always be able to find work when I want it and I've been a joy to work with.
: This marathon has been a lot longer than 26.2 miles.
And one more thing: never, ever turn down an opportunity, if you have the opportunity, to meet and run with Dingoes. Way too much nonstop awesome fun.