Guest Blogger Courtney Alev

As the days on the marathon countdown get smaller and smaller, I find myself getting excited. Really excited. Despite an exhausting around-the-world journey that conveniently is occurring in the three weeks right before the marathon (I write this blog post on Singapore Air flight 405 from Delhi to Manila), I’m ready for the fun and the excitement of marathon weekend. Last year, my first SFM, was full of fun moments that I’m looking back on fondly as I turn towards round two in a few short days.

Bart’s run. I met Bart Yasso at Big Sur Marathon in 2011 and have always been a big fan of his stories and his firm belief that running is for everyone. As the host of the SF marathon, he arrived in town a few days early and invited anyone who wished to join him for a short early morning run on the Embarcadero. Logistically, it was difficult, but who was I to pass up a chance to jog with a legend?! I arrived at the ferry building just in time expecting a huge crowd, but it was a small group that early morning. Our run was short, but I will always remember getting to chat with Bart, meet a really awesome friend, and hang out with cool like-minded people. It was probably my favorite 3-4 mile run ever. I also went to the Lululemon Shake-Out Run on Saturday which is a great time and amazing way to make new friends!

Hanging out at the Expo. I have a love/hate relationship with race expos because I go in needing nothing and leave with an unnecessary fuel belt, race merch, and sixteen new flavors of GU. But no matter. At races like SFM, expos are more a celebration of running and the community than anything else. There are great clinics and talks and other activities – far more than just a bib pickup. I had a great time last year meeting up with new friends I was just starting to get to know in the running community. If you read this blog or are active on social media, please come meet the Ambassador team at the Tech Center – I can’t wait to meet new runners!

My cab not showing up. This was a memorable moment – my yellow cab on race morning decided not to show up. Even when I confirmed it the night before. After fiveminutes past confirmed pickup time, slight uneasiness begins. Ten minutes past, full blown panic! Luckily, I had alternate forms of transport and got there with way more than enough time to spare. Moral of the story: make sure you get to the start line. =)

Running with a friend! One of my most memorable parts of SFM last year was, unplanned, running the first 11 or so miles with a new friend, Erika. She was a good friend of ambassador (and one of my bestest friends) Alyssa, in town for the race, and we started together and just kept up. It was so wonderful to run with a new friend and it made the first half of the race go by like it was absolutely nothing!

Friends on course. I had some amazing running friends staked out in the park, and a friend at mile 20 who handled me a bottle of Gatorade. My interactions with both groups were only a handful of seconds, but those seconds can mean the world in a marathon (and you can look forward to them for several miles!. If you have friends or family in town, encourage them to plop themselves down on the course – their smile might be the exact second wind that you’ll need.

The surprise at mile 22. My sister had amazingly offered to come meet me at the end of the race. She was sitting on 16th and Harrison around mile 21-22, when the going gets HARD. I had asked her to bring me Gatorade and M&Ms (weird, yes). I turn a corner and I’m in pain and then I see her… AND my parents! They came and surprised me. We walked for a few minutes together and it made me so excited to just finish those last few minutes so I could see them. Having them at the finish line was a true gift.

In just a few days, we all get to start making our own set of memories. I can’t wait to see what happens at SFM 2012.