I have completed The San Francisco Marathon for the past 5 consecutive years. Most people assume it is an extremely tough course with lots of hills, but that is just not the case! The full marathon course is ½ flat, ¼ uphill and ¼ downhill. Personally, I love the changes in elevation and scenery, which are just a few of the reasons it keeps calling me back year after year. Each year holds special memories and I would like to share them with you.
My first year running The San Francisco Marathon was 2009, just a few weeks after my very first marathon and I was hooked. My family joined me for this marathon and cheered me on. This was the ONLY time my entire family had attended one of my marathons. My mom, dad, husband, 2 sons, daughter, and aunt and uncle all were there cheering me on along the course, and at the finish line. It means so much to see your family there for you! My dad still recalls how much fun it was cheering on the runners, coming up with cleaver ways to encourage perfect strangers to keep running. My elderly aunt and uncle sat at a near by bus stop, the only area where there was seating, waiting for me to run by and catch a glimpse of me! Since then, it is usually just my husband out there, meeting me every 7 miles to hand off a water bottle, take a photo and give words of encouragement. The kids have decided they would rather sleep in!
In 2010 I ran my personal best at The San Francisco Marathon. It was a perfect day, the weather was cool and overcast but not too cold. I felt great the entire race, even after crossing the finish line. No aches and no pains, just pure exhilaration! My BQ (Boston Qualifier) and PR (Personal Record) 3:44:05. A few months later, everything came crashing down. A stress fractured to my right femoral head had gone all the way through the bone requiring surgery with 3 screws, crutches and 8 weeks of recovery.
My first marathon post surgery was The San Francisco Marathon 2011. It was hard! I literally had to start back from scratch and work my way from Dec. 25 at mile 1 to complete the full 26.2 in July. I was just praying to finish under 4 hours and ended up with 4:00:10. After realizing how hard it was to gain back the fitness I had back in 2009, I began to wonder if I ever would qualify for Boston again.
I continued to train and get faster, I ran the LA Marathon in 2012 with a new PR of 3:43:16 and a BQ! I was so excited to finally get to run The Boston Marathon! My long term goal has always been to run a marathon in 3:30:00, so I continued to train hard for San Francisco 2012 and I ended up pulling my hamstring one week prior to the marathon. I still ran San Francisco, but it was very difficult and very slow. I had to maintain my mental focus and running form, otherwise I would have ended up dropping out.
The Boston Marathon 2013 marked my 10th full marathon, and one of my worst marathons. Not only did the bombs completely take away the experience I had hoped and dreamed of, but my body wasn’t working right that day. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. My hopes were to at least finish below my BQ time, but I missed it by 35 seconds. Yes, I did finish and I was luck to cross the finish line unharmed and I found my husband seconds before the bombs went off, but I felt defeated. SO many hopes and dream were running on that day. After the bombs, none of it mattered. So much sorrow for all the spectators affected by the terrorist acts of violence.
Still determined to get what I had hoped and dreamed of, and not to be derailed by the acts of terrorists, I set out to get my BQ only 9 weeks later at The San Francisco Marathon 2013. My 5th year running my favorite race. I have memorized the entire course in my mind, every curve, hill, bridge, tree, and yes…. buffalo along its scenic route. So excited to return to the road race after Boston. Never feeling anxious or nervous, but victorious and determined to earn my BQ at my beloved San Francisco Marathon. What a beautiful morning, Father’s Day June 2013 would bring, full sun and the most incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Never had I been able to see the bridge or even the water below in the previous years, it was a glorious day! The heat and full sun did get to me, but not until I crossed the finish line with my BQ! Yes, I did it and I returned to run Boston 2014!
What I most look forward to as I prepare for my 6th consecutive San Francisco Marathon is running it as an ambassador! What a blessing to be among the other ambassadors chosen to represent this great race! I can’t express the excitement I felt when I received the email confirming I was on of the chosen ones! This year will be one to remember. I look forward to crossing the finish line with fellow runners and I hope to for the next years that follow. It has become a tradition that I hope to continue for as long as my body will allow.