How I Ran The 2011 San Francisco Half-Marathon And Lived to Tell The Tale.

Half Marathon SF

Half Marathon San Francisco

I started running for real in March 2011. I decided to start running just for the heck of it. No tangible goal in mind. When people asked me why I was running so much, I answered that I wanted to see how far and how fast I could really go. One thing I really knew for sure is that I was definitely not at my best yet. I ran a few times a week and only a couple of miles each time. It was not impressive at all.

I heard about a couple of  races in Palo Alto (10K) and in San Francisco (13K). I signed up and ran. The first one was on my own and the second one with two friends of mine. Esteban and Shawn. I learned that running with a partner is a great experience. It pushes you further. I loved the feeling of accomplishing something new and exciting with someone by your side.

After those two small races and with decent times for a novice runner I got interested in the San Francisco half marathon which was happening in November. We were already at the end of July and I had not anything close to 13 miles but I  decided to sign up anyway. What’s the worst that could happen, right?

A sweet pain set in my legs the day after I finished the San Francisco Half Marathon. I finished among the top 500 runners and I felt exhausted physically and mentally. The first day after the race I devoured a hamburger, a full breakfast, three mini kitkats, 3 mini twix bars and liters of cold water and warm mint-citrus tea. The second day was similar so I added vitamins to aid in the recovery. It was tough.

A few days before the race, my mind quieted down and started repelling outside noise. Meaningless conversations, frustrations, unfulfilled goals – everything out the window. There was no space for junk in my brain. You have to disengage from the internal and external sources of noise and focus in what’s important so that you can accomplish something you’ve never achieved before.

I stopped wearing normal running shoes in favor of the barefoot kind. I now have strong opinions about brands and types of barefoot shoes. I will post them soon. But that is just a technical detail that I personally enjoy since not many people ran the race wearing barefoot shoes.

You really don’t know what’s coming during your first half marathon. It felt great the first two miles. I was excited and full of adrenaline and running a bit too fast. I slowed down because I knew that I would need that spark of energy later during the big climb in Marin. I really didn’t know how big the hill was until I was half way up and almost ready to give up. Right before I started running the hill I had the chance to see the front-runners as they flew by us after the had finished the climb. They looked focused, determined, strong and driven. They were truly inspiring.  A beautiful human machine in fast and elegant motion.

After I saw them fly by me, I felt inspired to pass a few people. Once I hit the hill, the reality of my mental barriers set in. I had to face them and choose to push through or  give up. There was no way out of this binary decision –– you do it or you don’t, simple. I was afraid I would not bring myself to start running again if I stopped so I kept going up the hill and made it up running. Took a couple of gels from the aid station and started the downhill. It was tough but I felt great. I put on my earphones and ran to the beat of Lady Gaga’s You and I which is a favorite of my three-year old twin sons. I was almost dancing down the hill and across the Golden Gate bridge.

Then mile 10 came along. That last stretch was so difficult, draining and challenging. The tiniest hill became hard. But I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop. Not in the last three miles. I was exhausted and losing strength. Looking down at my watch I saw that my speed wasn’t terrible (9:00 per mile) and I decided to conserve the pace. To my surprise, very few runners passed me in the last stretch. That last stretch was about camaraderie and making it happen. I was on the verge of finishing but with the real possibility of failing. Failing didn’t scare me. What I was fearful of was feeling that I didn’t give it my best, so I kept pushing one leg in front of the other and remembering the routine I’d practiced in my runs at the Stanford Dish. I repeated it out loud. Land soft, push back, lift the other foot, take a short stride and repeat. Breathe. Keep your back straight. Don’t worry about the distance. Be fearless.

1 hour and 50 minutes later. 13.1 miles were behind me. I was at the finish line. Excited. Exhausted. Accomplished. Fearless… and possibly changed forever.

21 Comments

  1. Howdy! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and superb style and design.

  2. I wasI’m very pleasedextremely pleasedpretty pleasedvery happymore than happyexcited to findto discoverto uncover this websitethis sitethis web sitethis great sitethis page. I wantedI want toI need to to thank you for yourfor ones time for thisjust for thisdue to thisfor this particularly wonderfulfantastic read!! I definitely enjoyedlovedappreciatedlikedsavoredreally liked every little bit ofbit ofpart of it and Iand i also have you bookmarkedsaved as a favoritebook-markedbook markedsaved to fav to check outto seeto look at new stuffthingsinformation on yourin your blogwebsiteweb sitesite.

  3. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such wonderful information being shared freely out there.

  4. I enjoy you because of your entire labor on this web page. Gloria take interest in setting aside time for internet research and it’s easy to understand why. We know all concerning the compelling manner you offer advantageous secrets on your web blog and encourage contribution from visitors on the concern plus our own princess is becoming educated a lot. Enjoy the rest of the year. Your conducting a stunning job.

  5. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  6. I cling on to listening to the news bulletin speak about receiving boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i get some?

  7. I simply couldn’t leave your website before suggesting that I really loved the usual info an individual supply in your visitors? Is going to be again frequently in order to check up on new posts

  8. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  9. Thanks for one’sfor onesfor yourfor your personalfor afor theon your marvelous posting! I actuallyseriouslyquitedefinitelyreallygenuinelytrulycertainly enjoyed reading it, you could beyou areyou can beyou might beyou’reyou will beyou may beyou happen to be a great author.I will make sure toensure that Ibe sure toalwaysmake certain tobe sure toremember to bookmark your blog and willand definitely willand will eventuallyand will oftenand may come back from now ondown the roadin the futurevery soonsomedaylater in lifeat some pointin the foreseeable futuresometime soonlater on. I want to encourage you to ultimatelythat youyourself toyou to definitelyyou toone toyou continue your great jobpostswritingwork, have a nice daymorningweekendholiday weekendafternoonevening!

  10. Fantastic beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept

  11. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street,3rd Floor,New York, NY 10013,+1 646 205 3214

  12. MetroClick specializes in building completely interactive products like Photo Booth for rental or sale, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage, and experiences. With our own hardware production facility and in-house software development teams, we are able to achieve the highest level of customization and versatility for Photo Booths, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage. MetroClick, 121 Varick St, #301, New York, NY 10013, +1 646-843-0888

  13. I simply want to mention I’m new to blogging and honestly savored you’re web page. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly have wonderful well written articles. Regards for sharing with us your web-site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *