Well, I finished it, and it wasn't pretty.
I slept badly the night before, and finally woke up for good at about 3:00AM. In a way that was nice, because I could lounge around a bit before leaving at 4:45 to pick my Sis for the Drive to SF.
We got to SF around 6:10 AM and had an easy time finding parking within a block of union square. We felt it was a warmer than it was, and left our warm gear in the car, which we regretted the whole day.
After getting to Union Square and using the porta-potties, we get our speed group and waited. I think it was about 6:45 at that point. We wasted time by sharing a candy bar and dancing to Sean Paul on my iphone (with shared head-buds). I'm sure we got some strange looks but we were so amped to get started that we couldn't help it. I remember the first marathon sis and I didn't even want to move before the race because we didn't want to waste needless energy. Today, however energy was overflowing.
I'll break down the race in my "memorable segments"
Miles 1 -6
It took us about 12 minutes after the gun went off to get across the finish line. We ran at a comfortable 12 minute mile pace for this time, not slowing down for the first 2 hills, Sis commented that the hills were welcomed because "they focused on different muscles", I actually agreed with her and we both were amazed at the difference from 2 years ago. Sis had to take a potty break around mile 5, before the big hill that would take us up through the Presidio.
Mile 7 - 10
Totally uneventful. This was the hilly part and we took the hills a bit slow, knowing that we'd have the downhills to make up for any lost time. Lots of people walking these hills, and when we did run, it was hard to navigate through the runners. The weather was still cold, but it was nice in a way because I wasn't sweating and didn't feel like I needed water. We didn't feel winded or tired at this point. Everything was good and it seemed like we would have a fine race day ahead of us.
Mile 11 - 16
At mile 11 things started to falter. My sis asked for the Biofreeze because her hip started bothering her a bit. My left knee (not like my ITB that used to bother me, but a deeper pain) started feeling a bit of a twinge, so I lathered some on it was a precaution.
At mile 12 or so, we get to Golden Gate Park; here my knee really starts to act up. To the point that I'm feeling a sharp deep pain when I run. Not a very strong pain yet, but enough to know that I still have 16 more miles to do and to get a little worried. We slow and start doing more walking than running. Sis' hip is still bothering her but she decided not to turn off with the 1/2 marathoners and keep with me. Our energy levels were great.
At about the 1/2 way point we both stop to stretch a bit and use the porta-potty. Stretching never felt so good, but I didn't really make my knee feel any better.
At the first downhill in Golden Gate Park, my knee pain got suddenly worse...Worse to the fact, that I announced that I was done running. I was really worried that if I continued to run on it, that I would really injure it and would not be able to do Atlanta in March.
I think it was a good call.
I'm a really fast walker and that didn't bother my knee at all, so I was able to do about a 14:30 - 15:00 mile walking pace. Sis' had a hard time keeping up with this walking with her hip so she opted to walk slow and then jog up to catch up to me. Every time I'd look back for her, she'd wave me on, a signal that she'd catch up. At this point. I just wanted to see mile 16, I just wanted to know I "only had 10 miles to go".
Mile 16 - 20
Most of these miles were done on the Great Highway. It was nice to call out the number of miles we had left to do. Sis still continued to stay with me. She could've crossed over on the great highway and finished and waited for me, but she still had energy and her hip was holding up with my "pace" so it was nice to have her around. Sis forgot her timing chip and never really even intended to finish the full marathon, she knew the bling was the same for the 1/2 as the whole so she didn't think it matter how she finished as long as she completed the 1/2. She knew she was going to get a DNS since she didn't have the chip..she didn't care.
Anyways....around mile 19 she makes the decision of to continue on with me around Lake Merced. This is really the point of no return. She finishes the full marathon or nothing. We keep continuing in the walk fast, sis slow and then runs to catch up fashion this whole time; we stop at every mile to do a minute or so of stretching; it just felt good and at this point, I wasn't caring about finish time. I so wanted to run..I had the energy, and my body felt great, except for my stupid knee. It was really slow and getting really, really, lame.
Miles 20 - 23
I hate Lake Merced. It is the most boring, trafficky part of the course. I lost count on how many times I told my sister how much "I hate this fucking lake", at one point, Sis and I imitated her 2 year old son, and shook are fists to the lake and called it a "big fat dummy" and completely fell into teary hysterics, like on-the-floor-can't-breathe funny. I'm sure the runners around us thought we completely lost it...Actually I think we did. Sis and I both agreed this was the last time for Nike, we can't bear to see this fucking lake again.
My brother calls me around this time and tells me he and his girlfriend were at the finish time and we should "hurry up". ; )
At this point both my hip joints were starting to bother me from this quick walk thing that I never trained to do...more biofreeze....
Chocolate mile was welcomed, as we blew through our 3 candy bar (not enough) stash by mile 13. We both got like 3 chocolate squares each and gobbled them down.
Miles 23-to 26!
The really really bad part about this marathon was I never felt safe. I never felt like I reached the point that no matter what, I would finish it. I always felt the danger of my knee completely giving out and that I won't be able to finish. When we were finally done with that fucking lake, we got back on the Great Hwy, and there was one last hill to climb (no problems) and to descend (big problem!). I couldn't go down the hill without my knee killing me, I had to walk downhill backwards (and SLOWLY), but luckily it was a pothole free stretch and I was okay. These 3 miles were bad for us both. We were both hurting, my knee started to act up from walking now, and my hip joint thingies were really starting to feel tweaked.
It felt like the final stages of labor. We both wanted it to be over, and there was no joy at all. I wanted it to be done. It was the longest 3 miles in my life. The most frustrating part of this was that our energy levels were still great.....but we had gimpy body parts to contend with. It was lame, really lame.
Mile 26 - 26.2
I was never so happy to see the sign for mile 26. Only at this point did I know that I would make it. I could even crawl to the finish line at that point. My brother and his gf were at the 26 mile point and cheered us to the finish.
Our official time was 6:33:28, which actually is a PR for us, since we did the first one 2 years ago at 6:53. So, really, I can't complain.
We got our bling, which my sis pointed out right away that it was made for us...2 girls running...This was our run, and somehow we ended up doing it together once again.
Today, my quads are sore (weird), and my knee feels okay, but I haven't tried to run on it. I'm just been sleepy tired. I'm not sure what was/is up with my knee. I haven't had any knee problems this training season.
Today I got an email from my brother's GF (she's a runner), and her and my brother want to do Nike with us next year. I asked her if my brother would want to do a more guy friendly race like SJ rock and roll, or Sacramento International, but she's got her heart set on Nike. So, we might be seeing that lake again...Yes, Sis and I talked, and we're still game.