But the full experience of being an Ambassador didn't become realized until the crazy marathon weekend itself, where suddenly everything rocked despite it being so hectic.
On Friday afternoon of marathon weekend, I volunteered to work the Race Expo, where I helped people set up the Wipro/SFM app on their phones and answered some general questions about the race. It was very neat meeting people who were coming from all over the world to be a part of this iconic race.
Cate & tiny Ellie, visiting at the Expo
That evening, I joined all of the other Ambassador at a nice dinner where most of us were able to meet face-to-face. I'd shaken the hands of a few other Ambassadors earlier in the year -- either meeting up at other races, catching people as they passed through town, and a few others at the expo right before dinner. But this was the first time we all got to share a meal, talk about running, and learn what an inspiring and motivated little "family" we had all joined.
Crazy am-bad-ass-adors after dinner
Saturday morning started bright an early, as I volunteered at the San Francisco Marathon/Lululemon shake-out run. A nice & easy trot down the Embarcadero followed by coffee with friends (... and Bart Yasso) is always fun.
Ambassadors... and Bart.
After the shake-out, I headed back to the Expo for the SFM Tweet-Up, where runners from everywhere voiced their thoughts, excitement, and concerns about the race over varying social media avenues. We shared a few snacks and a lot of laughs.
Then I headed home to put my feet up before meeting a friend for dinner, because, after one of the most insane weeks and now weekends of my life, I really just needed some rest.
That was exactly what I did not get.
It's marathon time.
For the first time in my experience with marathoning, I got less than 2 hours of sleep the night before the race. I was dropped off at the start line after having been up for hours and already felt exhausted. Luckily, I felt no pressure to do well & I really only wanted to finish. I turned on my iPod and just cruised.
My wave was at 5:35 a.m., and I think I got going around 5:37 after putzing around for a few minutes in the VIP bathroom. I missed the starting gun, but took off on my own and quickly caught up with some of the slower runners in my corral. I made my way along the dark & empty Embarcadero and watched the sunrise as I approached the Golden Gate Bridge.
While on the bridge I got to see a bunch of my friends; many of the Ambassadors were wearing blue and white tutus and it made them SO easy to spot! Despite it being really windy and misty on the bridge this year, it was probably one of my favorite parts of the race. I love being able to cheer for everyone & also liked being cheered for.
In the month leading up to SFM, I hadn't run more than 12 miles. I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon 36 days before, and that was basically it. In my head I knew I wanted to hit the halfway point before I took any walk breaks, but once we got into Golden Gate Park, I wasn't really needing that. I didn't carry a water bottle so I was intentionally stopping at all the water stations, grabbing a few cups of water and walked while drinking those, but those were the only breaks I was taking and they were lasting about 10 seconds each.
Unlike last year where I training exclusively on the SFM course in preparation for the race, I almost completely avoided that this year. I knew what to expect, but I wasn't burned out on the race before it started. The long stretch through Golden Gate Park didn't seem to last for eternity like it did last year. We wound through the Haight, I saw a few of my friends cheering in the Mission, and when we headed up into Potrero Hill, I was feeling awesome. Mile 22 clicked by and I wasn't having my usual aches & pains that I get during marathons. I kept smiling & was enjoying my victory lap around the city.
This was perhaps the best I felt going into the final stretch of a marathon. I wasn't pushing it and I was actually enjoying the visually and mentally hardest part of the race.
The Lululemon cheer station (which is no doubt THE best cheer station on the course) showed up at mile 24 and I knew I had just a short distance left -- part of me couldn't believe the race was almost over.
We ran up and around AT&T Park and the finish line was basically in site. I crossed the timing mat & still felt like I could have kept running -- and for me, this was an awesome feeling at the end of a marathon.
I finished SFM in 3:49:11 -- less than a minute slower than I ran Seattle, but not feeling like I put out like nearly as much effort. It was 4 minutes slower than I ran the race last year, but seeing that I wasn't trying to run balls out like I did in 2011, this is a major success.
I finished marathon #9 after one of the craziest weeks and one of the busiest weekends I've ever had... but I finished with a huge smile on my face & with the feeling that I could have kept running. I loved that feeling. I love this race.
I just ran a marathon?
What's next for the rest of the year, you ask?
Right now I'm just trying to juggle training with a new overwhelming work schedule. It's quite the change for me as I feel so tired when I get home, and I'd almost rather run before work -- and this is a new adjustment for me. Aron talked me into the Skirt and Dirt Trail 25k next weekend, and I'm actually excited to get on some trails for a long run. So, there's that.
I entered the lottery for the St. George Marathon in October and, gulp, I got in... but I am 99% sure I'm not going & have essentially scratched it off my list. I'm not fully decided on this yet, but it's not looking likely.
The Humboldt Marathon in Northern California is the race I'm planning to make marathon #10. That will be a fun long run in preparation for the race I currently consider myself training for: The California International Marathon.
I decided to run CIM again this year -- the race that currently holds my marathon PR. Ideally I'd like to use that race to gauge my fitness over the course of a year... did running 6 marathons in one year help my marathon endurance, or will I just feel worn out by then?
Time will tell. :)
SFM stats:Garmin time: 26.47 miles, 3:49:12 -- 8:39 pace
Official time: 26.2 miles, 3:49:11 -- 8:45 pace
Overall place: 1,297 out of 6,493
Gender place: 209 out of 4,346
A/G place: 57 out of 453
.47: 3:55 -- 8:15 pace