Half Marathon #13 today–and with this race, the Summer 2010 training season officially ends. What a great, great ride it has been, and it couldn’t have ended on a more uplifting note.
I hadn’t done the Nike Women’s Marathon in a while. It’s always been a special course for me; it was the site of the first half marathon I ever ran back in 2005, and also where I ran my very first full marathon in 2008. I skipped it last year following the Victoria Marathon and decided to cheer on my teammates instead, but watching them last year, I got the itch to do it once more, so I signed up to run it this summer.
I had forgotten how much fun this event is–and it is an “event” in the fullest sense. The weekend starts off with a raucous, emotional “Inspiration Dinner,” where we fill up on pasta and get to listen to some motivating speeches. Before you even get into the hall where the food is, you are greeted by a chorus of applause and cheers, and you feel like a hero. Among those cheering are our Honorees, who are just as excited to see us, the runners/fundraisers, as we are to see them, the true heroes. One of them carried a sign that stopped me dead in my tracks and had me in tears before I could even make my way down the stairs into the entrance hall. His sign said: “I’m a survivor because of you.”
Inside, we heard from several speakers. The second to final one of the night was one that I don’t think anyone in the room will ever be able to forget. A fellow runner from Portland, Oregon got up to tell us about her sister, whom she lost to Lymphoma last year, and the story of how she and her seven remaining sisters (“Team Nancy,” they called themselves) all banded together to train for this year’s Nike Half Marathon to honor their sister, Nancy. She spoke with tremendous passion and emotion, and by the end of her speech, I was sobbing.
Once again, I was reminded of Siobhan, and the pain of missing her, the pain of losing her, overwhelmed me as it so often has since March 6. I went to sleep with a great ache in my heart and a promise to her that I would do my best in this race to show her one more time how much she still–and always will–inspire me.
As in Victoria, rain was called for in the forecast. Having dodged it last week, I wasn’t sure if my luck would hold, but I felt strong, loose, and ready when I stepped out in the cold, dark streets of San Francisco.
The first five miles flew by and before we knew it, we were charging up a hill (ok, maybe not charging up it, but we did climb up it!) and already at the halfway point. I was focused on having fun and honoring Siobhan–not on getting any kind of time goal. This made the experience so much more enjoyable, despite all the hills.
As per usual, my little dragonfly made her presence known to me when I most needed it :). As I made my way along the course, I came across this sign: “Go Britt!” It made me smile and I do think it was Brittanie Siobhan’s way of saying hello to me while I was out there.
We made our way into Golden Gate Park where we were met by the very energetic Janine, who was a sight for sore eyes. Actually, we HEARD Janine before we ever saw her; she was brandishing a monster of a cowbell and its unique sound reached us for what seemed like a mile away.
Unfortunately, this is also when the light drizzle we’d been feeling turned into full on pouring down rain. By the time we made our way into the finisher’s chute, the rain was gushing out of the sky. It didn’t matter at that point, though–I had finished my second race in as many weeks and it felt FANTASTIC!
Now it is time once again to rest up, because yes, yet another race is just around the corner. Next up is the Morgan Hill Marathon Relay on November 7, and thankfully this time, I will not have to run any more than 6.5 miles. I also have three weeks to recover/rest, so I can get that long-awaited break I’ve been looking forward to.
Now my Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings will be mine once again, but I am already missing my teammates. I will see many of them over the next few months, but it won’t be until next June that we will get together once again as a team and train for another race (or two or three ;)). What a fun summer this has been. Simply unforgettable.