The marathon was a success! I finished in 4 hours and 32 minutes. From start to finish it was a ton of fun. My friends, Wendy and Rudi, and I left the hotel at 5:30 am and made our way over to Union Square in San Francisco. It was a madhouse, packed with people and music. We found our way to the right corral and waited for the race to start at 7:00 am. There were so many people, it took us almost 4 minutes to even reach the start line, but we had on race chips so our official time did not start until we got there.
The first two miles I kept up with my friends, but they were running almost 9:15 minute miles and were weaving like crazies through the crowd. I kept up at first but after the second steep hill I knew I would be in trouble if I kept up with them. At about mile 2, I gave up and lagged back and went to my normal long run pace of about 10 minute miles. I tried to pick up a conversation with women running near me, but every one was wearing headphones or already in a group of people. Instead, I enjoyed the scenery which included the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and Golden Gate Park (with it's huge trees, buffalo, waterfalls). My favorite part was after having climbed a very steep hill, we rounded a corner of the hill and were presented with the most beautiful view of the ocean, coast, trees, and houses for as far as the eye could see. I also saw people wearing shirts that said "Toenails are overrated" and " Does this shirt make my butt look fast?" which I thought was hilarious and kept me entertained. I got passed by a woman in a pumpkin suit and a man in a pink wig and matching dress. Too funny!
For awhile I was a little sore that my friends had taken off without me and I found myself thinking a lot about going through the experience of running a marathon alone. In the end I came to the conclusion that it just showed that I could be strong and get through anything I wanted or needed to. I also decided that I wasn't truly alone. I had my family waiting for me at the finish line. My best friend Jessica and her girlfriend surprised me at mile 11! I stopped and made silly poses for them to photograph. The head coach Ramon ran most of the last mile with me! Also, the crowds were really amazing. I had my name on my shirt so people would call out to me and tell me that I was running strong. The cheering really does help, especially when you are hurting or really tired. I saw a women wearing a shirt saying "It is supposed to hurt" and a sign saying "The pain is temporary. Pride is forever". Somehow I found it helpful to keep reminding myself of that.
I had my ipod on and every time I reached a critical point an inspiring song would play giving me (mental) strenght when I wasn't sure I had any left. I remember Aerosmith's song "Amazing" that says life is a journey not a destination, The Dixie Chicks singing about taking the long way around in life, and finally The Flaming Lips song "Do you Realize" which I had listened to nonstop after my favorite patient Senia died of leukemia.
More than anything I was inspired by the 20,000 people running to raise money to help victims of blood cancers. Most people had someone's name on the back of their shirt. The whole time I was running I was thinking about the friends, family, and patients with cancer that I have known and what they went (are going) through. I knew that as much as they endured, this was the least I could do to try to make their suffering meaningful and try to save anyone else from going through that.
I want to thank everyone again for supporting me. If anyone is interesting in training for a marathon with Team In Training, I am happy to talk about it. It was a fantastic experience and I would really recommend it. They helped me turn a vague life goal into reality - not to mention raising money for those suffering with blood cancers!
I am still fundraising through the first week of November so if you would still like to make a contribution, it is open. Every dollar helps bring us that much closer to a cure and gives financial assistance as well as information to patients who are undergoing treatment.. More than anything, it brings hope that someday we will find a cure not only for blood cancers, but all cancers.