Guest Blogger Courtney Alev

SFM is five weeks away. That’s nothing – nothing at all. And to be honest, despite living in San Francisco myself and having run five marathons before including SFM, I’m getting nervous. My nerves stem from a few different things – feeling unprepared as my training hasn’t been going as well as it should be because of a few personal things and a demanding schedule, and realizing I’m going to be traveling internationally for work for the three days before the race and probably working around the clock (and NOT running). Not to mention that 26.2 is a distance that needs to be respected  – whether you’ve run zero marathons or one hundred! It’s normal to get nervous. I just need to do the best I can with nutrition, training, and sleeping in between now and then. But instead of focusing on the “running 26.2 miles” part, I need to change my attitude and focus on what else I’m looking forward to about SFM weekend – without freaking out about the running part!

Meeting fellow runners and fellow Ambassadors.

I can’t wait for this! Since I was lucky enough to be chosen as an Ambassador for the SF Marathon, I’ve gotten to know many excited runners and fellow Ambassadors over the interwebs – Facebook, Twitter, DailyMile. But I haven’t gotten to meet them in person yet. There’s something electrifying about being at a race with thousands of other people – everyone excited that the day they’ve been working towards is finally here; supporting and encouraging one another in our individual journeys. I cannot wait for that! I am so excited to work at the Expo and get to interact with so many runners buzzed on the magic cocktail of nerves, anxiety, excitement, and euphoria come Marathon Day.

Seeing some of my friends finish their first marathon!

Okay, most of my friends who are running SFM as their first are probably going to finish an hour ahead of me. But regardless – the moment I crossed the finish line of my first marathon will go down as one of the happiest and proudest moments of my entire life. You never forget your first full, and I am so excited to be part of the first marathon for so many friends, new and old, in such an amazing place. I am so proud of them (and envy their training discipline, versus my intimate relationship with my Snooze button these days).

Running the GGBridge.

At first when I heard about the SF Marathon and saw all the advertisements about “run the Golden Gate!” I found it cheesy – sorry, SFM. =) I was a local, and I’ve run the bridge several times. I’m sure other people have felt that way. THIS IS IN NO WAY THE SAME. Even for those of us who are blessed to live in San Francisco and have the opportunity to run on the bridge whenever we want, “running on the bridge” usually means high winds and approximately 3,494,019 tourists with huge cameras and on Blazing Saddles bikes fighting for control of the pedestrian path. The entire experience feels like a game of Frogger and leaves you exhausted despite “running” three minutes slower per mile than you normally would be. Not at SFM. SFM is an experience unlike any other – running ON the bridge, at that magic hour between the night and the dawn, sharing the experience only with the thousands of other runners celebrating that special moment with you. I can’t wait for that part.

An excuse to carb load.

Let’s be real here, every day is carb loading for me. I am not proud of this, but accept it as part of who I am (at least until my mid-20s metabolism sputters and dies). But having an excuse is pretty awesome. And regarding all those studies that say it doesn’t make any difference so long as you fuel during the race, which most of us do now – I don’t want to hear it.

Experiencing my City in a completely different way.

For those who don’t live in SF, this marathon is like taking a tour and hitting all the can’t miss-spots while also like running a marathon at the same time or something. For me, this course – with the exception of a handful of miles towards the end – is on the same streets I run every day. Golden Gate Park is my backyard. Chrissy Field is my weekend jaunt. The Embarcadero is my post-work run with friends. But running this at SFM? An entirely different and beautiful thing. To run past Fisherman’s Wharf at 6AM free of crowds, to scream down Haight Street without dodging people on the sidewalk, the aforementioned Bridge – it’s a whole new way to see the streets I am so lucky to call Home. And to get to share it with thousands of other people – I can’t imagine anything better.

Running a marathon is about a journey – training, culminating in conquering this beast of a run at the end. But it’s also about so much more. As SFM approaches and the nerves heighten, I encourage you to reflect on what else you’re excited for. Running is what gets you here, but in the end it will just be one part of a handful of memories that make up this magical weekend.