I had intended to prepare for this race by continuing the 3-4x weekly runs I'd been doing since late November, and building up to ten miles. My longest run ended up being just under eight miles, a Crissy Field run in February that left me soaked through and through with freezing rain. Since then I never stayed quite on a regular schedule, but figured I'd still have it in me to go the 12K (~7.5 miles) for this race as long as I did 9 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals.
I felt relaxed the day before, didn't carbo-load or do anything special to prepare for the race, other than getting to bed relatively early. I got up at 5:30 a.m., and had my usual cup of black tea with soymilk and sugar but no other food. Showered, dressed, kissed boyziggy goodbye, and headed out to walk to the SOMA start line by 7 a.m., hoping to arrive by 7:30. Saw lots of people with runner's numbers, with and without costumes, heading in the same general direction.
Arrived at "Corral C", i.e. 12 min/mile runners, and began looking for inki. Miraculously, we found each other. Though I knew we would be running at different paces, it was good to see a familiar face before the start of the race. Snapped a few pics with my crappy cell phone camera, then put it away; I would not be shooting, texting, Tweeting, or otherwise occupied with gadgets during the race itself.
The race began, I crossed the start line about four minutes later and started my watch. I stuck to my planned 9 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals, always moving to the right side of the road before slowing to a walk. It was hot and I definitely felt the heat despite wearing only a bra and shorts. I brought some water in my Camelbak even though I knew there would be water stops, and that turned out to be a good plan as the first water station I stopped at was ill-prepared. When I did get some I poured half of it directly over my head, which felt great.
The Hayes Street Hill was not fun, but other than the planned one-minute interval I did not need to slow completely to a walk. Still, I was feeling pretty miserable going up that hill in the heat, but once I crested the top I was fine. From then on I felt actually pretty good, and was pleased to see I wasn't as far off the 12 min/mile pace as I expected I might be.
Ran out of water by mile 5, and unluckily the water stops disappeared by that point as well. Despite the thirst I still felt strong. If I had any doubts, I just told myself I wasn't going to be running for over 90 minutes, I was just doing a lot of small nine-minute runs with breaks in between. Crossed the finish line in 1:34 by my watch, which turned out to be very close to the official time of 1:33:52.
Got water as soon as possible, drank and doused myself quickly. Posed for a finish-line photo, then followed the crowd hoping to find food. Got a goodie bag, dug in eagerly and found only a tiny airline-style packet of honey-roasted peanuts. After walking for nearly a mile and still not getting to the "Footstock" expo, I gave up, turned around, and headed to inki's where I was planning to go anyway.
Greeted by missionista, soaked our feet in the hot tub along with inki and whynotkay. While it was too warm for me to want to immerse myself completely, the sunshine felt great on my bare skin. We then went to brunch a few blocks away; I violated my vegan diet with a dutch-apple pancake which was too eggy for my taste, and the cow's milk in my tea tasted quite weird. But the company was good nonetheless.
Caught the N-Judah, after an hour we stopped at Van Ness, did not move, and were eventually told the car had a malfunction. People panicked when the doors wouldn't open and were trying the emergency override. I just grumbled and waited. When the doors finally opened I walked toward the 49 bus stop while sending Ziggy a text, and he invited me to come visit him at the opera a few blocks away. I enjoyed his company and a great pumpernickel bagel-hummus-avocado-onion sandwich he made me from their brunch leftovers; ideal refueling food. Refreshed, I walked home.
I really surprised myself with how well I did in this race. Granted, 12:35 pace is hardly elite level, but considering how little running I've done in the past month I expected worse, especially with the heat. I truly felt like I could have turned around and run the whole thing again afterward, and in fact walked probably a good 3-4 miles total after the race.
So I've been officially bitten by the running bug again, which will hopefully be a good thing this time around. I even e-mailed the San Francisco Marathon to ask if I could change my 5K registration to a half-marathon registration instead, as I'll have over two months to train for it. It will cost me another $65, but it would be great to run the Golden Gate Bridge. Wish me luck!