Wednesday, April 6, 2011

race wrap

The final stretch of the race was a two-mile descent. At the bottom of the hill, I looked out onto a beach and watched the gray waves roll in, the kids building sandcastles as their parents sat on blankets. It was an idyllic ending to a race that had taken me 2,200 feet into the rolling headlands, past just-blooming poppies, through marshes, under canopies of eucalyptus trees, past World War II gun bunkers, and awarded a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline in the distance.

Then I realized I would have to run my last half-mile across the sand.

A tide pool separated the beach from the finish line. I removed my shoes, waded through, and crawled up a small dirt hill onto the asphalt. I ran the last 100 feet sans shoes, crossing the finish line barefoot, covered in mud.

I finished the race in 2:22, four minutes under the average finish time and placed within the top half of runners. Not bad considering how completely unprepared I felt going into it. My friend Kathy finished in 2:06. When we had speculated on our finish times the day prior, we were both shooting for three hours.

Back in Kathy's apartment post-race. We didn't make any of our three dinner reservations that night.

Given the difficulty of the course, I think this was the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. It's a an entirely different mindset from derby where I had thirteen teammates depending on me to deliver points, and in turn, I could depend on them to help me through the pack (and let's not delve into the countless instances where we let each other down. It's all part of the game). At the Doll Factory, there were 2,000 people cheering me on -- something I've always had a complicated relationship with. When I finished the race, I had Kathy to high-five and encouraging text messages from my friends. But I also had a singular sense of accomplishment and euphoria that I've never experienced before. I knew immediately that I wanted to do more Envirosports half-marathons (an ordinary half-marathon would probably seem boring after this).

On Monday, I started my research. Big Sur half-marathon in September? Sign me up. Death Valley 30K in December? Yes please. Then I calculated that 30K = 18.6 miles, and thought, well, I still have seven months to train....

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