23 October 2009

A "W" for #TeamDanie (iv)

Jesse & Joel were right near the starting line. I saw Jesse before he saw me (thanks to his bright orange hat) and he took my picture. I wouldn't see him for another ten miles. I took in the empty San Francisco streets. I noticed the empty San Francisco sidelines. There were few people out aside from security and I did notice there was no gate blocking the cable car route on California Street.

I made sure to pace myself, knowing the adrenaline usually makes runners start too fast. I cursed walkers who had started in my pace group and were center-lane. And then we saw the first "restrooms" and I had a decision to make.

I had to go, but I didn't have to go a lot. I wanted to stop and stretch, but we were just a mile into the course. I knew I should go before I really needed to, but I have a strong dislike of public restrooms. and really wanted to get through the race without using a restroom. Portable public restrooms honestly make me throw up a little in my mouth. Ultimately my decision was made by another runner who told her friend she was waiting for the next one. That told me to get while the getting was "good." The line was short and even though it wasn't my most thorough stretch ever, it was a stretch. I think the whole stop took about five minutes.

Joanne and I chatted and ran comfortably. We were running along the Embarcadero, where we had run several times before for training. We talked about the costumes we liked. We reminded each other to maintain our pacing and not race ahead just because we knew what was coming. We talked about where her husband would be and where Jesse would be and gushed over how excited we were to be doing what we never thought we could.

I started to feel like I was in a movie, sound tracked by the gospel choir near Pier 39. In my mind, I was the underdog - running the race despite the doubts and against the odds. And then I was in a documentary, where I had put in the training and finally in the moment. I was happy to be there, among 20,000+ runners being cheered and applauded by strangers. My breathing was good. My body felt good. All was right and the whole experience was turning out to be very emotional. I could have cried when I heard the bagpipes near Fisherman's Wharf. Instead I tried to take a picture of the band.

Apparently I had some work to do on my technique.
(cell phone picture taken @ 7:28:30)

Speaking of the wharf, it my least favorite place of all the places I run. It's narrow and usually crowded. Maybe I dislike it because I know there's a hill right at the end. Maybe I dislike the smell of questionable seafood. Maybe not. Either way, I don't like the wharf. And when Jesse suggested he meet me there, I said no. We agreed on the Marina. I promised to find his bright little head.

But guess what? He was at the wharf. Not know that, I did not look for him. Supposedly, he & Joel were looking for me. The were across from the bagpipes.

(video from our camera @ 7:27:41)

We took our pictures less than a minute apart. But I didn't see them and I don't think they're video captured me. Apparently Jesse's note of times & mileage put him on the right pace. But if two people don't know they've coordinated a meeting, does it make a sound?

There were three hills leading to the Marina. Only one had been part of my regular training. But the others weren't bad. Joanne and I ran up and maintained our conversation. That was a big deal. If the race had ended there, I would have been fine. It didn't. We kept going. I decided to start pausing for the pictures. I wasn't running that fast or that hard, and I didn't think I'd trip anyone behind me if I stopped, clicked, and resumed. I got a nice picture of the third hill, which was so narrow we all essentially walked to the top. Once it was conquered, we headed into the Marina, which I had expected to be my favorite part of the run.

I scoured the Marina, and never found an orange head. Joanne helped me look and as we headed into the Presidio I had to accept Jesse (self proclaimed documentary picture taker) was not there. I stopped. The disappointment was that overwhelming. I was sad. I checked my phone and saw a message telling me he was at the wharf 20 minutes earlier. I ate my shot block. I drank some water. I lost a lot of the wind from my sails. I was angry. I mean we did have a plan. He agreed to it. And when I wasn't looking, he changed it to what he wanted, instead of what we planned. The mile that had been the expected favorite was actually quite miserable. We had one more planned meeting place. But there was no reason to think he'd be able to pace me and be there when I was. I tried to get back to where I had been mentally with the scenery and the camaraderie. But I just felt really alone. And then it was time to head up the hills.

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