Putting together my race recap from The San Francisco Marathon – my 30th marathon including my 4 Ironmans & 50 miler. I wanted to get creative with this recap after reading this post on the ONION.
Summary — Being a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador – getting to know all these other runners virtually, through blogposts and the SF Facebook Group – was one of the most amazing experiences as a runner I have experienced. I felt the spirit, the support & crazy as it sounds, I felt like I was running in my hometown when home is more than 4000 miles away! My prep for this race was more energized by belonging to this group, the pre-party and the VIP connection before the race. SO fun! Now about that run…

Here is my Top Ten learnings, experiences & sharings –

1. Being a part of a team is a very good thing
I love being a part of a team. Whether it was Dailymile, who were on the course cheering me on in the Golden Gate Park in addition to all my 300+ friends were cheering me on virtually too! DailyMile rocks! In addition to the SF Marathon Ambassadors mentioned above and my DetermiNation Determinators nationwide – the “teamwork” and support of other fellow runners who can relate to your addiction is amazing! The power of athletes supporting eachother with attaboys, good jobs and speedstar comments surely keep me going!

The 2012 San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors!

2. Early start times can truly work in your favor
Crazy – we had to wake up at 4 am to get to the start on time. No public transportation, and the taxi was waiting for a better “fare” so we walked the mile to the start. Glad we got that Hilton hotel location on Union Square – it made everything so convenient! Jojo (leader of the Ambassadors) was coming in from her first marathon – she was one of a select group that ran this marathon twice (56 + miles) — they went off course and had run a few extra miles, she was changing and I got her some Aleve from a fellow runner. I was a little focused on her coming in that I almost missed my start! Crazy but true. SO I bolted out to where I thought I needed to go and they redirected me — oh boy! I could hear them saying Wave 1 was ready to go and I was sprinting around trying to find an opening — then just decided to jump the fence, actually 2 metal fences to get into the coral. Geesh! But I made it and got into the crowd and saw my sweet husband before heading out of town!
It was dark mind you. For the first 45 minutes of the race, which was definitely odd and you had to keep your eyes open not to trip on road hazards. But it was so nice and cool the whole race for a July marathon – truly AWESOME!

Marathon gear all layed out and ready to go for early morning!

3. Hills are your friends when you focus and train them.
OR:  What goes up must come down!
This was definitely a hilly course – the tagline? “It’s worth the hurt” — I had trained hills in Western MA and I really think it helped. My legs were sore for the week after — so definitely feeling those downhills!
My sweetheart was there for me to take this photo below — it was one of the last hills we climbed that day. Maybe that is why I am smiling!

Climbing yet another hill at the SF Marathon!

4. Pacers really do keep you on track if you really want it bad enough.
The coolest thing I did this race was hang out with the pacers. My friend Kevin Babb was able to do that in NYC and came through with a great time, so I thought I would try. I stayed with that 3:15 group all the way till 16 miles and then dropped a bit to the 3:20 group. That was my goal so I kept him in sight till the end.

Albert & Jesi - Pacers getting ready at the start - LOVE the yellow shirts!

5. Fuel for the miles and don’t forget to use what works for you!
GU and GU chomps were it for me and they had that on course too! I ingest one every 4 miles. It kept me at a truly even pace. Great to test it out — but I know it works for me!

6. Marathons are a great way to tour the city and get cheered on as you go!
Running across the Golden Gate Bridge was truly an experience of a lifetime — the mist and the camaraderie of the runners passing going in the opposite direction was a boost! I saw many of the Ambassadors on the bridge and cheered them on and vice versa! Very very cool.

7. Water stations of enthusiastic runners really make a difference.
Lululemon is my new favorite clothing. :) I love my pinstripe shorts that I wore for the race that were introduced to me by the San Francisco location. Sossi & her group were so awesome! LOVE their water station and they recognized me and were cheering me on to greatness! Nothing like the fun music and fun dancing and signs from this water stop!
Lululemon Water Stop on course at the SF Marathon

Lululemon Water Stop on course at the SF Marathon

8. Inspiration is all around us. You just to open up and talk to people and listen to their stories.
I love talking to people when I run — It probably bugs some people and if they stay with me for a while, maybe it becomes a little annoying. But I love to hear their stories, asking about their running, why & what motivates them? I also love to tell my story & I have a captive audience – HA! I met this young runner wearing a DetermiNation singlet on the bridge, he told me about his mom who has thyroid cancer & that is why he runs – to hopefully someday find a cure. It was awesome & I got a ton of energy from that brief conversation…. :)

9. There is nothing better than the finish line! And just a little champagne to really celebrate!
The finish line at the SF Marathon is truly a highlight — you have some corners coming back into the wharf area — but then you see it — lots of blue and a HUGE sign FINISH!!!! There are a bunch of cameras and  it was just so amazing! LOVE THE FINISH LINE! And check out my photo — best photo ever! After reading Luis’s blog on posing for this shot — I think I finally got a good one!

Me! Thumbs up for a 3:21 finish time! 1st in my age group feeling like a winner!

10.  Winning isn’t everything — but being number one in your age group truly gives you that rockstar feeling!

Check out these stats!  I was also 5th master — among all women 40 and older. Very very happy with my results! Yay me! Oh ya “It’s Worth The Hurt” !