I didn’t sleep last night. I tossed and turned and kept looking at my clock, stressing out even more about the lack of sleep I would be getting before a big race. I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon today. Up until the time I got myself up, I was still uncertain whether I was actually going to go through with it. I’ve been sick for the past four days—every night a feverish one as I lay in bed boiling and perspiring under a thin sheet.
Should I run or should I not. That was the question. The doctors’ advice was split. My friend Jen said I should be fine. I still had a few days to recuperate; I should be in fine form come Sunday morning. My brother-in-law and my sister (a nurse) strongly advised against it. It takes a good week to get over a cold and I have a history of taking two weeks or more. With all my travels, I’m sleep-deprived and worn down. And I kept thinking about NYC this weekend. I have to rest up for that.
I decided to go through with it. I’d signed up. I’d spent the past two months training. It is the Nike marathon after all, I might as well ‘Just Do It.’
I took the 38 Geary down to the start. There’s definitely a strong culture of runners in San Francisco as the bus filled up with people in running shoes, shorts, sweats, and visors. 15,000 participants along with their supporters had descended on Union Square. A strong energy of excitement could be felt in the air. Maybe it was the 7am night-like start or the empowerment of women. Not sure exactly what it was, but I had never felt this exhilarated in any other race I’ve run. I vowed to run the race again next year.
A countdown ensued. Cheers erupted. I finally passed the official starting line to the blare of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” The first mile or two of the race is always tough. You’re trying to find a steady rhythm while dodging the myriad of runners going every which way. Friends are running with each other, supporters are cheering from the sidelines. I’m by myself so I bring out my friendly iPod and settle in for a nice long run and a stroll down memory lane.
I pass 120 Montgomery, the first office of my old startup. Those were the days when I was paid well (maybe too well). I had a lot more disposable income then than I do now with a mortgage and a hefty student loan. Ahhh, the dot.com era. Oh how I miss you.
The next couple miles mimic the Bridge to Bridge race I ran three weeks ago. Down the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf, and up the Presidio. Yes, up and up and up. This is what I get for training on fucking treadmills. Ill-preparedness! I so hate elevation. I’m the girl who’s heaving when I walk up the stairs. Elevator please.
I need a Business Continuity Plan ASAP as I feel myself puttering out of energy. I keep repeating to myself, “Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady wins the race.” The burn is unbearable. There’s a reason why 35,000 people run the Chicago Marathon. It’s flat! The Chicago Marathon is a walk in the park compared to this. I barely trained for that race, but fared well. This one was killing me!!!
I tried not to think about the pain as I passed Seal Rock Inn—billed as San Francisco’s only ocean-front lodging. Back in the day, my boyfriend and I had spent a weekend there although we both lived in the city—just to get away from roommates. We had made the decision on a whim and subsequently spent the whole night looking for a vacancy. A girlfriend and boyfriend in love wanting to be alone—we ended up here on the edge of the city; it was fitting.
Running alongside the Great Highway, I reminisce on how exactly one week ago I was at the Beach Chalet with work friends and how much I love my co-workers and how blessed I am to be a part of such a great work environment. I’m wondering whether I will bump into my co-worker Mike and his wife Alexis after the race—like I did at the Bridge to Bridge run. No one can believe it when I tell them how much I love my job. Most of my business school friends either want out or have already started new jobs.
I think about how desperately I wanted to go to NYC after I got my MBA. I wasn’t ready to come back to the city I referred to as ‘Sleepy-Town San Francisco.’ Here, last call is at 1:30. In Chicago or NYC, there isn’t a last call even at the neighborhood pub. Those cities don’t sleep.
I was invited to interview in San Francisco and considered it a free trip home. I didn’t prepare, I didn’t care. I wanted to go to New York and that was that. But I fell in love with the people and the office. It reminded me so much of my beloved startup where I had spent the formative years of my career. I accepted the offer, and am just now accepting the fact that I am probably here in San Francisco for good.
I enter Golden Gate Park and I’m overwhelmed with emotion. The park is my favorite thing about San Francisco. When I lived at 11th and Fulton, it was my backyard where I biked or ran every day after work. I’ve traversed every pathway, smelled all the flowers, run hundreds of laps around that track. Sunday evenings, I used to go to the Japanese Tea Garden an hour before they closed when you didn’t have to pay admission. I’d eat cookies while sipping tea by the koi pond.
Double-back through the park and the Great Highway to finish. I opted to only do the Half Marathon even though I had signed up for the Full. There’s no way I could have done the Full. I knew my body wouldn’t be able to handle it. I clocked in a hair over two hours. I was pleased, simply glad that I had come out and done the run despite being sick, in spite of the treacherous hills. San Francisco is a beautiful city to run—whether it’s for a timed race or just for fun. This city holds a lot of memories for me. I’m glad I came back. I’m happy to be home.