Anyway, we headed to San Francisco early Saturday morning to pick up our bibs and do some shopping at the expo. Because the expo was at Fort Mason and parking was limited, we parked by the race start and took the shuttle to the expo. What a mistake. The shuttle ride took 30 minutes and ate into our 2 hour parking limit. So we decided to look around for a bit then take the shuttle back to the car to park at Fort Mason, which would allow us lots of time at the expo.
First, we stopped to purchase some official merchandise and then Courtney and Heather headed back to pick up the car. Anyway, Courtney and I each wanted to purchase a zip up. After showing them to Marissa and Heather months ago, we all wanted one so now we have matching zip ups! After Courtney and Heather left, my mom, Marissa, and I walked around the expo sampling lots of goodies and making a few purchases. I bought a few Mama Chia squeeze gels (so good!) and sparkly headbands from Sparkly Soul.
Side Note: These headbands are incredibly comfortable. I like them better than my SweatyBands. They don't itch the back of my ears and they stay on incredibly well. Plus, they just look better without the black elastic in the back. They are my new go to headbands! I picked up a few for everyday wear as well.
When Courtney and Heather got back, we picked up our bibs and walked around the expo again. It was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I expected it to be like CIM's expo. That being said, there were lots of high quality vendors.
After the expo we headed to Gracias Madre, our favorite restaurant in San Francisco. It's an all vegan Mexican menu and it is delicious! We love their Papas Al Horno, roasted potatoes and spicy cashew cheese sauce. This time we ordered the Papas Al Horno (of course), Coliflor Frito, Quesadillas de Calabasa, Chilaquiles, and the Flautas. I loved the Chilaquiles, but they were super spicy.
Then it was back to the hotel to prep for race day and relax. We laid out our clothes, loaded up our packs with fuel, and took flat runner pictures. Our room was pretty nice...comfortable and it had a nice view from the 25th floor!
Courtney's mom and dad arrived later and went out to dinner. Because we had just eaten we didn't go, but they brought back tomato chow mein. Yum! We visited in their room for a bit and then headed up to our room to go to sleep.
We woke up at 4 AM on race morning. I like to shower before a race and Courtney likes to eat hours before she runs. My mom was just along for the ride! Anyway, the shower was such a pain. It was literally hot or cold, no in between. After showering and getting dressed, I ate my pancakes and peanut butter that I had brought along. I like pancakes before I run and they work well, so why fix something that's not broken? I packed up all my non-race stuff so that Courtney's dad could load up our stuff and easily check out of the room later.
We met everyone else in the lobby at 5:30 AM and headed to the race. Surprisingly it wasn't that cold. I would even say it was perfect weather. I think it was .8 miles to the start line, which was a nice warm-up. We dropped off our drop bags in the UPS trucks (clever!) and then hit the porta potties. The lines were so long I was freaking out that we would get locked out of our corral. Thankfully we made it in time after jogging from the bathrooms to the starting area. Although we really didn't need to jog as they hadn't even let our wave into the chute yet. We took a few pictures and then it was time!
I kept telling Courtney how nervous I was and she kept reassuring me. It felt good to finally cross the start line and GO! We went out pretty fast. We knew we would have to run around people as we had estimated our finish time at 5 hours but training dictated we could run a 4:30. We ran the first 3 miles weaving in and out of people and up and down curbs. Probably not the best idea, but I think we both knew we needed a fast start to create a buffer for the hills.
The first hill around mile 4 was scary. We ran the whole thing, but it was hard. Then it was on to the Golden Gate Bridge for miles 5.5 - 9.5-ish. This was my least favorite part of the race. I knew that it would be foggy, damp, and a bit of a hill, but I was unprepared for how crowded it would be. There was one lane out and one lane back, which was far too narrow for the number of runners in the race. Most of the time Courtney and I were dodging around people...again.
By mile 10 my legs were tired and heavy and I was questioning what I was doing. I told Courtney that by mile 20 I would be begging to walk, but also told her not to let me unless it was a walk break or a steep hill. I also knew that Courtney's parents would be in Golden Gate Park at the halfway point so that kept me going. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see them until mile 19. I really struggled from the halfway on. Golden Gate Park was pretty, but there were lots of turns and we had to run by the first half marathon finish line. Talk about disheartening!
After we saw Courtney's parents at mile 19, I got a little boost. I kept mentally switching between 'I can't do this' and 'I CAN do this'. It was hard. I knew I was holding Courtney back, so I told her to continue on without me. I knew by this point that I would finish, but I knew that she deserved a better time. She wouldn't leave though, so I kept plugging along. I haven't looked at the stats yet, but we were moving at a decent pace. We were passing lots of people, so that helped me keep going.
Miles 21 through 25 were hard. Endurance wise I felt fine, but my legs were so tired from the speed and pushing up the hills. Seeing AT&T Stadium and the mile 25 marker was a shock. I knew we were close, but I didn't realize how close. The last .2 of a mile was the longest section of the course. Thankfully there were some friends from our running group cheering us on near the finish line. I was so happy to see the finish line, but it never seemed to get any closer. Obviously it was getting closer and Courtney and I finished in 4:33.29 (unofficial). When we ran across the mats and I paused my watch and saw our time, I wanted to cry. We were so close and I knew that I had held Courtney back. I thought she was going to be pissed. Like a good best friend, she wasn't and reassured me that she knew I had tried my hardest and that finishing together was worth the 3 extra minutes.
Courtney really helped me through the race, she had a great attitude and would talk to me even if I wouldn't respond. I was happy that we ran together the entire time as planned. She knew when to push me and when I was struggling. Plus she would stop at aid stations to grab me Nuun so I didn't have to stop.
Interestingly, I never hit the 'wall'. Yes, I struggled from mile 10 on, but I never truly wanted to drop dead and lay on the ground. I did have some fueling problems and spent a lot of time feeling cold, tingly, and nauseated. It was hard to get Nuun, Gus, or shot blocks down which only added to the problem.
We got our medals and snacks and headed back out to the cheering section along the finish line to meet with the people from our running group. Only when we sat down with them did I realize that we needed to pick up our drop bags which were in the direction we just came from. So Courtney and I went and picked those up and found her parents along the way. They had accidentally missed our finish, so we talked with them for a bit. Then it was back to the cheering section to wait for my mom, Marissa, and Heather. Thankfully there was a race app with live tracking so we could follow their progress. We figured out that my mom had split up with Marissa and Heather and would finish first. Courtney and I got to run a tiny bit with her before she ran through the finish line at 6:12.
We kept tracking Marissa and Heather, but nothing showed up beyond mile 17. After awhile, Courtney called them and found out they were at mile 25. She headed out to run them in. I had changed into flip flops, so I stood at the finish line watching all of our stuff. It was sad to see the crew breaking down the finish line. Although they diverted the course a bit, they were still registering finish times and handing out medals. My mom and I were cheering on the finishers that came through and even got video of Marissa and Heather coming in. They were so happy to finish and get their medals!
Unfortunately, Courtney wasn't with them and had left her phone with me. Come to find out Heather and Marissa weren't at mile 25. It was a guesstimate because there was no course support at that time so they had to follow the course map on their phone. Courtney ended up calling us from her Dad's phone and we all met up and headed back to Courtney's parents' car for a ride back to the hotel. Cupcakes were bought and we visited every level of the parking structure in search of the car. Hah!
We headed out of SF in search of a Chipotle, which is typically my preferred post-race meal. Almost the whole way home Courtney, my mom, and I chatted about the race and our upcoming marathon in Philadelphia!