Marathon #17 – Done & Dusted!

Gearing up for another marathon, I was ready for the training regimen: a series of “maintenance” and long runs calculated into my calendar based on the event date: July 31. When you plan something far in advance (a wedding, vacation or Marathon), it usually feels like the far-off day will never come. I impulsively registered for the San Francisco Marathon on New Years Eve, 2010, after a few glasses of champagne. It seemed like a worthy commitment to fitness for a new year. I also started working with a new coach to improve and preserve my ability to run distances. Blue is a race director and running superstar (he finished this year’s SF Marathon, 7th Overall!) who changed my life with his smart, inspiring workouts. I don’t know if it’s simply a matter of endorphins, but every morning that I train with Blue is the start of a great day.

My prep progressed smoothly in the months leading up to race day. Cross country travel and its inherent inconveniences, some weather hiccups and a sprained ankle (watch out for camouflaged potholes!) all combined to keep me from ever getting overconfident. I knew I’d done everything right and according to plan…all I had to do was show up and put one foot in front of the other. Easier said than done. San Francisco’s notorious fog caused flight delays and momentarily threatened the trip. But a few prayers later, IĀ found myself queued up with 25,000 other runners alongside the Bay Bridge.

If childbirth is “the kind of pain you forget,” the same could be said of San Francisco’s infamous hills! Having run there in 2007, I’d blotted out the memory of the torturous inclines…and even more insidious DE-clines! The cool, overcast morning and spectacular scenery were a welcome distaction. I got to run over the Golden Gate Bridge (and witness a surprise marriage proposal), in and around the Presidio (yes, that was a buffalo amid the flora and fauna!) and along the charming city streets bustling with colorful, cheering crowds. Thanks to training, I didn’t “hit the wall” until Mile 26…right before Giants Stadium…so only had to suffer a few minutes of pain.

That all melted away as the Finish Line came into sight and my pal Gena (coincidentally vacationing in SF that weekend) started screaming “Go, Nelson!” She even had temporary tattoos of my initials on her face, bless her! The heavy medal was placed around my neck and I devoured two scones before finding Gena among the crowds. After a shower and nap, I enjoyed a terrific dinner with her & her family…an overdue, serendipitous reunion.

The San Francisco Marathon’s slogan is “Worth the Hurt.” It sure was. But will there be a Marathon #18? Time will tell. For now, I’m just enjoying this latest notch on my running belt!

Overall: 2933/5920
Men: 2201/3944
Division: 251/413
Age Adjusted: 2692