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So, I left off on the plane to San Francisco.  I’ll pick back up right there.

I got about half way through my book and I’m really enjoying it.  I found it very inspirational and perfect for the weekend ahead of me.  When we landed in San Francisco, we had to wait quite a while for the bus that was going to take us to the hotel.  That was a pain, but I kind of expected it.  On the bus, I sat next next an older woman who is a leukemia survivor.  She has to wear compression sleeves and gloves every single day.  She calls it her survivorship gift.  She explained that it’s very difficult to get that stuff covered by insurance because they didn’t know how to handle it.  It is a side effect of chemo and for the longest time, there weren’t a lot of survivors, so the fact that she has to argue with the insurance company to cover her sleeves and gloves is a blessing.

When we arrived at the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the hotel.  We stayed at Parc 55 in Union Square.  It was actually right off of Union Square, but close enough.  The line at check-in snaked from the 2nd floor desk down a set of escalators and into the 1st floor.  It was kind of overwhelming.  I met a really nice girl named Amber and we decided that we’d kind of stick together on the trip.  She was running the full marathon and it was her first, as well.  When it was my turn to check in, the guy says, “so, you have a roommate?”

I said, “Yes, but I’ve never met her and I have no idea what she looks like.”

He looked at me like I was crazy, but he got me taken care of and I was off to room 657.  I immediately started to unpack my stuff.  I claimed the bed furthest from the door, next to the window.  About 30 seconds after I got there, my roommate walked in.  Her name was Consuelo and she was running the half marathon.  She seemed nice, but I was in a hurry to go get my race registration packet so I was out the door.  I met up with Amber in the lobby and we were off to Union Square armed with a map of the city.

Unfortunately, I was in charge of the map.  Yes, we got lost.  We passed a strike of Union workers at the Hilton, which was odd…

“What do we want?  CONTRACT! When do we want it? NOW!!!”

I knew we might have been heading the wrong way when the ratio of homeless to non-homeless people reached 3:1.  We eventually found our way to Union Square and we couldn’t miss the huge Nike tent in the middle.  Amber and I had discussed changing our start time to the early start just so we for sure had enough time to finish the race.  It was decision time.  I decided that I wanted to stay put at the 7 AM start.  I figured that I would have enough adrenaline to get me to the finish line on time.  We didn’t stay at the expo very long.  It was kinda crazy in there and I was happy to leave.

Heading to Union Square
Can you tell me where I can find the Nike tent?
Picking up my packet.  These poor people were swamped!

We headed over to Nike Town, which was a complete ZOO!  Outside of Nike Town, they had a huge billboard with the name of every single participant.  It took me a while to find my name, but I did and I got a picture.  That was pretty neat.  There was another billboard that said that the participants of the 2010 Nike Women’s Marathon raise $195 Million for LLS.  That’s pretty awesome.  I believe there were around 30,000 runners/walkers.

My name is centered under the bar
about 4 lines down.

Here’s a shot of the entire wall.
It was HUGE!

After the flight, the check-in line at the hotel, and the chaos in Union Square, I was feeling pretty tired.  I told Amber that I needed a nap and I headed up to my room.  I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t.  I had a weird little headache so I just tried to relax before dinner.  I finally gave up and headed down to the hotel bar to watch the Rangers’ game.  I had a glass of wine while I waited for Stephanie to come pick me up! SURPRISE!!!

This is me watching the Rangers game in the bar.
I almost hit a lady while I was cheering.  She was from Oklahoma,
so I felt okay about it πŸ™‚

I was so happy that Steph was coming in town to support me.  It’s a pretty quick drive from Tahoe and we planned to have dinner in Marin (right across the Golden Gate Bridge).  She picked me up around 6.  We promptly got ourselves lost trying to find the 101.  Seriously, we were lost for about 1 hour and there was traffic.  It was miserable.  We didn’t have an address and at one point, I had to put on my glasses because it was getting dark and I couldn’t see very well.  She laughed at me and about 5 minutes later, she had to put on her glasses.  We died laughing that we were mini Jan and Nancy’s.

Finally, we made it to the Larkspur Hotel where we met one of Steph’s colleagues.  It was a cute little hotel and I would totally stay there if I went back to SF.  We were starving and decided to have dinner at the bar.  I had another glass of wine and ordered some delicious pasta.  I have no clue what it was, but, my goodnes…it was amazing.  In fact, it was so good that Steph and Jocelyn (her colleague) ordered a 2nd dish for themselves!

We left Jocelyn in Marin around 9PM.  Steph and I headed to her friend Ashleigh’s house.  Ashleigh lives in the Presidio (I think).  In any case, I was really starting to not feel well.  I basically introduced myself to Ash and told Steph I needed to get home.  They took me back to my hotel and I went right to sleep…until 2AM.

I woke up puking my guts out.  I felt weak and exhausted and I couldn’t keep a thing down.  I was finally able to go back to sleep around 7AM.  I had scheduled a massage for 9AM so I had to be up at 8AM.  I’m so glad I made it.  That massage saved my life.  Afterward, I went back to the hotel and I slept ’til 1.  When I woke up, I called Steph.  We decided to meet a a restaurant called “Witchcraft.”  It was a great little sandwich shop.  I was able to keep my food down so we decided to do some shopping. I didn’t want to spend money, but I packed very poorly so I did buy some pants and 2 shirts at GAP Body.  That gave me something wear after the race on Sunday and on the way home Monday.

I had a great time walking, talking and shopping with Ashleigh and Steph.  San Francisco is a much bigger city than Dallas.  I can’t tell you how many times I was walking down a crowded street, realized I needed to go the opposite way, stopped dead in my tracks and turned around only to be swept up by a sea of people moving toward me.  I loved the fashion.  I loved the diversity.  I didn’t love the manners.  I’m a Southern girl…what can I say?

I left Steph and Ash to finish their shopping at about 3:30PM.  I headed back to the hotel (stopping at Chipotle on the way) to get ready for the inspiration dinner that night.  I truly didn’t know what to expect at this thing.  Our whole group of about 50 people met in the lobby and we took a 10 minute walk to a big conference center.  We had to wait outside for a bit while other groups joined us.  I think that there were about 7,000 TNT people there.  When the doors opened, the 7,000 people were overwhelmed with the loudest cheers I’ve ever heard from the people inside.  Coaches, mentors and TNT staff lined the walkway and cheered us as we walked to our dinner tables.  I honestly felt so proud.  At one point, we had to go down a huge set of stairs, I thought that was the end of the cheering.  I was wrong.  It kept going and going and getting louder and louder.  A-MA-ZING!  That’s really all I can say about it.

Entering the convention center…the loudest cheers ever!

Walking down the stairs into the ballroom…even more cheering!

We had pasta, salad and bread. There were bananas and oranges on the table and I took a banana for breakfast.  I didn’t eat a ton, but I got full.  We heard motivational speakers and a story from “Team Nancy,” a group of 6 sisters that were walking for their 7th sister, who lost her battle 2 years ago.  Definitely a tearjerker.  The walk back was very cold and everyone was so ready to get prepared for the morning and get into bed.  We had a team meeting at 8PM in the lobby and after that I sprinted to the room.  I had my jersey, my leggings, socks, shoes, hat, belt, watch, sunscreen, goo, water and breakfast all laid out.

At one point, I looked over to see Consuelo attaching something to her shoe. I asked her what it was and she looked at me like I was nuts.

“It’s my time chip!” she said with a bit of sarcasm.

Well, I had thrown mine away. I had to dig through the trash, but I found it and I got it laced into my shoe.  I set my alarm for 4:30AM and hit the hay.

I slept very well.

When my alarm went off, I hopped out of bed and immediately ate my breakfast of 2 granola bars, a banana, bottle of water and a bottle of juice.  This get a little personal, so be warned:  My biggest fear is that I wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom before the race.  That’s why I ate so early.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get it through my system.  After I ate, I got dressed and gave the bathroom 2 really good shots.  NOTHING.  I was really worried at this point.  The one time I didn’t got to the bathroom before a training run, it was an emergency.

I was ready to go!!!  I didn’t know what I had ahead of me πŸ™‚

I ended up having to leave the hotel without going.  It was cold and dark outside.  We got to the corrals at about 6AM and hung out a bit.  I was still anxious about the bathroom situation and gave serious thought to the port-o-potties lined up near the corrals.  I couldn’t do it.  At 6:30, I went to my corral with Amber, Consuelo and a couple of other women that I had met.  We were paced at 12-13:59 min.

As we waited for the start, we danced to music and it was really fun.  The race started on time at 7:00 AM, but I didn’t cross the starting line until 30 minutes later.  There were a ton of people.  I ended up taking a whole Shot Block before the race started, which screwed up my schedule because I could only fit exactly what I needed in my belt.  “Oh well,” I thought, I ‘ll deal with that later.

Hanging out with 30k of my best friends waiting to start my run!
It was dark when the race started and the sun was rising as I finally got to the starting line!

My first 2 miles were fast.  I ran past a gospel choir that was singing “this is the way we praise you…” and I got pretty emotional.  As I headed along the pier, I got warm and donated my jacket.  I passed several port-o-potties on my way that had 10 minute long lines.  Thankfully, Steph’s friend, Ashleigh’s house was on the race route.  If I could just make it to mile 7, I could use the bathroom in her house.  I held off.

I met a nice woman named Heather at mile 5.  We ran together for a while and I found out that she was originally from Dallas.  She lives in Long Beach now and has run the Nike Women’s Marathon several times.  I’m really glad I met her.  We ran past Alcatraz and some pretty awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was starting to rain.  When we got to Ashleigh’s house, I ran right up the back porch, where she and Steph were watching the runners pass by.  I used the bathroom, but I just peed and I was okay with that.  I stopped to talk to them for about 5 minutes and I was off again.

I’m so intrigued by Alcatraz.  This was a pretty good view of the infamous island.

Golden Gate Bridge…what a view?!?!
This is me walking up to Ashleigh’s back porch.  I thought I was tired then…

The hills were ridiculous.  There was not even anything good about the down-side.  That hurt just as bad.  There is absolutely no way to train around here that would have been comparable to those inclines. I swear I have skied down less steep “hills” in Colorado.  I hit mile 10 in about 2 hours and 15 minutes.  It started to really pour and it was getting really cold.  Coincidentally, this happened to be where the half marathoners split off from the full.

This was truly the hardest decision I have EVER been faced with in my life.  I’m not kidding about this and I had plenty of time to think about that statement.  I am divorced and I have recently left, not 1, but 2 jobs.  I have made some tough decisions, but this one…this one was the most difficult.  There’s no turning back at this point.  I stayed true to my commitment and gained confidence since my time was pretty good.

As I hit a turn and started to pass people going in the opposite direction, I saw the “Grim Sweeper.”  That’s the name I gave the pace runners.  They run the course and if you fall behind them at certain check-points, you get “swept up” off the course and moved, by bus, to a location further down the route.  I was not okay with this.  She was about 2 miles behind me, but I never wanted to see her again.

The second half of that marathon was a whole different story.  Seriously, the rain and the cold were miserable.  My body shook as I ran and raindrops dripped on my hat. Thank God for my hat.  I wished that I hadn’t donated my jacket at that point.  My shoes were soggy, my socks were soaked and I still had 13 miles to go.  The people cheering “GO TEXAS!” really got me through this point.

I couldn’t help it.  I had to stop and take a picture with this sign.
Another notable sign said, “Skinny jeans ahead.”

I started laughing at myself because every time I would hear “GO TEXAS!,” I would say, “WOO HOO!”  I don’t think I’ve ever said that in my life.  It just came out.  I ran into Heather again around mile 15 and that brought new meaning to “sight for sore eyes.”  I really needed someone at that point.  The joy of seeing Steph and Ash and being in a nice warm home seemed days away.  We ran together up until mile 24.

We passed the finish line and heard the cheers as we turned onto the Great Highway.  At one point, we turned to go around Lake Merced.  I thought, surely we aren’t running all the way around this lake.  I was wrong.  We ran all the way around that damn lake.  By this time, I was so thankful for the people who stood outside in the cold and rain to cheer us on.  I couldn’t have done it without them.  The last hill was right after the lake and I was able to run it.  I was really proud of that.  This was my last stretch.  4 miles to go.

I started to get choked up.  I wanted to quit so badly, but what are you gonna do?  Just stop with 4 miles left?  Hell no!

I kept going.

I finished by myself, with the “Grim Sweeper” not too far behind.  I didn’t even have any tears in me to cry.  I hyper-ventilated a bit, accepted my finisher’s necklace and headed straight to the Nike tent to purchase a sweatshirt.  I could hardly sign my name on the credit card slip.  I could hardly walk.  People just started handing me things; a bag, a finisher’s shirt, a bottle of chocolate milk.  I just wanted to sit.

My finisher’s jersey, necklace, bib number and a post card.

Front of my finisher’s necklace.  It’s from 2006.  They ran out of 2010
necklaces, but they’re sending me one in 10-12 months.

Here’s the back.  Oh, I forgot to mention, they offered me a guaranteed spot
in the 2010 event for my “inconvenience.”  Hah!  You can’t trick me into running
another marathon!!!  FOOLS!

I made my way to the buses and was so relieved to be out of the rain.  I was still wet and still cold.  We couldn’t get back to the hotel fast enough.  I truly don’t remember getting off the bus or going up to my room.

I know that when I got there, I took off my wet clothes, put on a dry hoodie, wrapped a towel around the lower half of my body and took the trash can to the ice machine.  I had to fill the trash can twice, but I got my ice bath and thank goodness for that.  After that, I took a long hot shower and then went to lay in bed,  I was starving.  There was going to be a victory dinner, but I knew I couldn’t walk that far so I decided to order room service.

When I placed my order, the lady asked if we would need place settings for 2 or 3 people.  Nope, just 1. My food came, I ate, I slept.  I woke up and got more ice.  I could hardly balance.  I would stand up to get out of bed and fall right back down.  I had no motor skills.  I couldn’t even speak the words that I wanted to say.  It was a tough night, but I’m glad I stayed in and I’m glad I continued to ice.  I woke up on Monday feeling okay.  I was ready to get home.  I did take another walk back to Union Square and was glad I did.  It was beautiful!

A gorgeous day after a great personal victory!

I am so proud of what I did.  I told someone today that it was one of those moments where every aspect of your life intersects and you know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.  I must say, I am still cold from that run.  I feel like I can’t get warm.  I don’t know how long that my body will be sore, but my toes will ugly for a long time to come.

All in all, it was a little anti-climatic.  I said I wanted to do something, I trained for it and I did it.  That’s pretty predictable.  This tells me two things:

1)  I can do anything I want.  I am only limited by the boundaries I set for myself.
2)  I’m pretty stubborn.  If I want something, I find a way to get it.  It may not be pretty, but isn’t that the best part?  Isn’t that what makes life fun?

I came home to roses, lots of hugs and kisses, supportive texts, emails and phone calls and best of all, a warm bed.  This is an experience that I will never forget and I thank everyone who was a part of this journey, in any way, from the bottom of my heart!

Now, IT’S TIME…for Rangers baseball and skydiving!!!  Hey, 30 is right around the corner.  While we’re at it.  I might as well give you my goals for 40:

A family and a book (maybe in that order and maybe not).


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