i work at a running/swim specialty store and there are some awesome perks, like trying out the newest shoes and a sweet employee discount. another, albeit rare, perk is getting race entries. i was able to get an entry to Nike SF, which was my first race that i actually ran. then Nike opened up the race series to a half in DC, which i promptly signed up for last november. i was only doing it because it was the inaugural DC race and my first out of town/state race. unfortunately i got injured just weeks before it (read previous post) so i didn't get to run.
this year was also the inaugural Rock n Roll SF half marathon, which i was able to score a last minute entry to the sold out race. i was also able to get a friend to be my guide for the race, even though she had never done a half before. the RnR series people were so great about providing a second bib for a guide; my previous experience in trying to get a bib for Nike SF was a mess and also for DC. The original plan was that my friend would run the first half of it and i would pay for a cab ride back to the start/finish line. She wanted to run across golden gate bridge, which was about the 7 mile mark. in the end she was feeling great and ran the whole thing, which i was super grateful for. RnR SF was about 6,000 runners, a much less crowded race in comparison with the 22,000 Nike runners and had a much more staggered start line. those two things alone really helped improve my race experience.
i learned from Nike that i needed a guide, i learned from RnR how wonderful racing can be. i get it now! racing alone was such a stressful experience that i never got to focus on the running aspect of it. racing with a guide made a world of difference because i only needed to focus on her when in crowded situations, like right at the start and running across the bridge. plus she made sure to look out for me at times too, whenever there was a curb or getting water at the aid stations. it was also helpful having her around to keep a steady pace. i, ever the procrastinator, didn't really train for it (yeah, another race without training, bad sarah!). around mile 9/10 i hit a runner's high and couldn't help but run faster. i ended up leaving my friend behind for those last few miles (she was listening to music the whole race so it wasn't like we were chatting and i was abandoning her) and felt like i was running for reals for the first time in a long time. the kind of running that felt effortless, where your body seamlessly flies along the road. where you feel free and invincible...passing others only fuels your speed. and then finally, i saw the finish line and instinctively started my kick. i felt the rush of my old racing days in high school come back to me and i realized i was smiling as i ran. then BOOM some girl cut me off and we both trip a little before regaining our strides. oh right, a reality check. i can run like the wind but i still can't see who's on my side. whoops, it was like i forgot about the blind girl running part.
the incident definitely threw me off a bit, and there were a couple more bumps and near collisions so the last quarter mile was slower than i'd like. but i crossed the finish line and knew i had a better time than my Nike race. i waited around for a few minutes for my friend and we found each other in the crowds, grabbed water and food and headed towards the much needed beer garden. oh yeah, the rock n roll race series has a beer garden after the finish line. you get a medal and a beer!
we stretched out and ate bananas and as we walked to the entrance someone asked if we were going to use our beer tickets. um, yeah! we had been up since 5 am and just ran 13.1 miles. a beer at 9 am is totally justifiable, and really, almost necessary.
it was a great race, a beautiful course and perfect weather. when i checked my official finish time i ended up with 2:10, which made me want to run 2:00 in DC. i know i would have been able to do it, but life (meaning injuries) get in the way sometimes. there's always next year for Nike DC, and you better believe i'm going to get my PR on that course. i joked about having a Nike curse: i got a stress fracture and dropped out the week before Nike SF 2011 and then a tibial fracture two weeks before Nike DC 2013. but i'm a glutton for punishment because i signed up for Nike SF 2013, the 10th anniversary race. it's in october which gives me three months of rehab/training after crutches. i dream big, what can i say?
speaking of dreaming big, this november will be the inaugural berkeley half marathon and yup, i want to run that too. so far my strategy has been sign up now, find a guide later. it's only june which means i have plentyyyy of time to convince someone to run with me =)
my vision continues to get worse over time and there very well may be a point when i will have to retire my beloved running shoes (which are currently Brooks Drift, Nike 3.0 v4 and Altra Torin- and don't worry, i am well aware i have a running shoe probem. my collection is currently up to 14 pairs) and give up running. but for now i can keep my dreams alive with a little assistance. eventually i am going to run a damn full marathon, and i'd really like to stay healthy enough to get a BQ. running Boston is the crowning achievement for many runners, and the competitive side of me wants it bad. plus, i will admit, there is a part of me that wants to relish the bragging rights of saying i ran Boston, and oh yeah i'm blind too. not gonna lie, i would feel so badass if i could do that.