I ran the Kaiser half marathon this morning. The tagline for one of the sponsors is “In Pursuit of Healthiness.” I like that.
Fear coursed through my body last night since I’d done little training. My training consisted of a 5 mile and a 7 mile run. That said, I’ve run marathons before (double the mileage) with even less training. So I try to train my mind to mentally execute whatever I tell my body to do. I fiercely believe in the power of the mind. I should talk about that more. I will in another post.
But back to the race. I have done all my past races solo. Not only solo, but with no support. No one dropped me off at the start line. No one waved to me as I passed the half-way mark. It was the first time for me to have someone do all those supportive things. Dean dropped me off. He, surprisingly, found me on the Great Highway and yelled my name. He also gave me a high five when I looped back. It is really encouraging to have someone there. This is my promise to friends, family, and readers. I will happily be there to support you during the race. I will personalize a neon poster board. I will scream and yell as you run by.
There is something very exhilarating about milling about with 9,999 other excited runners at the start line. Various announcers spoke, “I think the sun came out for the race today!”
“Who here is a Colts fan? Who here wants the Saints to win?”
They honored a woman who had run every day for 13 years after learning that she had beat breast cancer. That was really amazing. Then we started an easy warmup to Enigma’s Return to Innocence.
This was my race to run. The race path embodies my many years living here in the city of San Francisco. I passed my first city abode on Fell and Masonic. We looped around the Panhandle back into the Park past the Conservatory of Flowers and the DeYoung Museum. I used to run in the park every single evening after work. I also remembered the years that I ran the Bay to Breakers in the park and down to Ocean Beach. I even passed the Zoo which is where Therese and I took Dominic to look at the monkeys.
I choose to pace myself throughout a two hour run, but sadly, the nature of the game is to run really fast in the beginning. There are hundreds of people running like the wind in the first couple miles and I’m like, “Really? I mean, you’re seriously going to sustain that pace?” The one huge negative with this race were the lack of pacers. I’ve never run with a pacer before, but it would have really been nice to run with one this time around. I just might have to volunteer my services because I ran a 9 minute mile pace like clockwork. In the first several miles, I was under the 9 minute mile, but I knew that I wouldn’t keep it up towards the end. I surprised myself by keeping up the pace through to the 9th mile. As an aside, I wanted to call it quits at the 6 mile mark. I was like, “Who are you kidding? You’ve done no training and you’ve got another 7 more miles to go.” With every step, my eyes scanned for the flags marking the miles. “Where the fuck is that 8 mile flag? Any fucking day now.” I puttered out very soon after the 9 mile flag and that’s where my 9 minute mile pace went to shit. I stopped a handful of times. It’s also very obvious how tired everyone is at this point. People are barely running. Dean said it looked like a bunch of zombies from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
Bu then there are things that pick you up, like seeing Dean or people ringing cowbells telling you to keep going. Signs that read, “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking ass.” There was someone with a prosthetic leg and everyone was so inspired by him. He was around my pace and that lifted my spirits every time he passed into my view.
Towards the 12th mile, I saw someone who had been keeping pace with me. He had pulled over to the side and was walking. I gave him a pat on the back. “You’re a rockstar! I’ve been pacing with you this whole time. Great job!”
He hopped along, then smiled, “That’s it. That’s what I needed.” Then he started running again.
My goal was to run the race in under two hours. I crossed the finish line at 2:05, but that’s not necessarily accurate so we’ll see what the real time is when the official results are in. No doubt, I’m very proud of my time. It’s not shabby and speaks to my belief that it truly is all mental. But it’s empowering to watch so many others who are much older, handicapped, parents with strollers, and going for it. They’re getting out there, not sitting on their couch, nursing hangovers from the night before Superbowl Sunday. They are truly living.
The land of the brave. Absolutely.