Last Sunday, I got up at 6a and got my race gear on: my favorite Addias socks, my favorite black Gap pants, a black Lucy running top with my new Giants tank top and my hot pink Lululemon headband. My mom pinned my race bib on me (which was actually more difficult than I would have thought) while I ate a banana. We left the house by 6:45a to drive across the City to AT&T Park. There was very little traffic to be had until we got close to the stadium. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who had driven down and there was a long line of cars creeping along King St to turn on 3rd towards the parking lot. Despite my earlier anxiety, we managed to get parked and head back to AT&T Park by 7:20a.
Though it would turn out to be a lovely day, weather-wise, San Francisco in the early morning is rarely a warm and sunny affair. My adrenaline was running high, but I couldn’t stop shaking. My dad went back to the car for my jacket, so I could keep warm before the gun went off. I knew that once I got started running, my body would heat up and I’d start sweating, but I had about half an hour before that would happen. I also realized that I hadn’t loaded my carefully selected playlist onto my iPhone before I left the house, so I’d be scrambling for music to run to.
I fought my way through the crowds to find the 10min – 12min corral. There was an obnoxious women leading warmups with music blasting underneath her shouting. I know that warming up is very important before running, but at 7:30 in the morning (on a Sunday), I have very little patience for cheery people. I stretched out on my own on the sidewalk as there was not enough room in the corral for my time. My parents hung out with me until almost race time, which definitely helped the nerves. All around me, people had real race gear, running gear and shirts from previous races. I definitely felt out of my element, but more than anything, I just wanted to RUN!
Despite the advertised time of 8am, the gun did not go off until 8:10a, which was frustrating for everyone. Of course, they had to introduce all the dignitaries and talk about the charity that people raised money for. And then they had a gospel choir sing the National Anthem because apparently, you can’t do anything sporty without reminding everyone that you’re in America. (I kid, I kid, but seriously?) Finally, they removed the barriers and we were able to move closer to the finish line. The gun rang out at 8:10 and we were off! I crossed the start line at 00:40.
At first, it was really difficult to get moving at all due to the large number of people on the road. I also couldn’t get my Week 8 playlist to play in the order I wanted, but didn’t have the time or angle to deal with it properly. But I persevered and soon, I had room to run with tunes in my ears. Not having paid much attention to the landmarks on this route before, from a distance, I thought that Pier 28 was the Ferry Building (meaning I thought I was doing MUCH better than I actually was). As I got into the zone, I didn’t even notice the Ferry building as I ran passed it. I didn’t grab water at the turnaround as I was more concerned with just not stopping in the crush of people going from the road to the sidewalk.
I really started to feel how far I’d gone and how much there was left to go when I passed the Ferry building on the way back. The runners/walkers still heading to the turn around were cheering and high-fiving those of us on our way back, which definitely helped. However, as I passed Pier 28 and rounded the curve, I saw AT&T Park rising up in the distance as a beacon. My feet hurt, I was thirsty and my right calf was tight, but I knew I’d come too far to quit now.
We split from the road to run down the path behind the stadium and got cheers (and mimosa toasts) from the early brunchers at Town’s End. All of the sudden, AT&T Park was the only thing in my view and I was coming to the back gate. I cannot possibly describe the elation and emotion I felt as I crossed into the stadium and onto the field. I ran hard to the finish line, crying on the inside, even if my body couldn’t produce tears. There were people screaming and cheering in the stands and we all briefly appeared on the jumbotron as we finished. I didn’t really hear anything as I crossed under the time clock, just ecstatic that I actually finished. I ran the whole race without stopping.
I grabbed my finishers medal and a bottle of water, pulling my headphones off and my iPhone out of its holder. I was sweating too much to get my water bottle open as I stood in line to get my chip cut off my shoe. I called my parents to find them and enjoyed my time standing in Left Field. About 75% of the reason I wanted to run this race was to get the chance to touch the field and I loved it. My dad took the coveted photo of me with my medal on the field before we headed out to pick up my t-shirt and Matt Cain bobblehead.
Even with all the training and encouragement of my friends and family (which I appreciate SO, SO much!), I wasn’t completely sure I could really do it. But I’ve got the warning track dirt in my shoes to prove it. I ran all 3.1 miles without stopping with a pace of 12:04. I wasn’t the fastest, but I finished! I didn’t get an overwhelming love of running in my gift bag, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I did it!