Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Presidio 10 - 4/18/10

I was afraid to take my socks off after my soccer game on Saturday. My feet were beginning to heal up nicely, but with every quick change of direction I made, I could feel the damage I was doing. The socks come off and sure enough I was right back were I started just a few short weeks earlier. Unfortunately, all the blister pads and band-aids I used did no good since they just slipped off with all the movement. Here I go again, just in time for a race the next morning. I was not happy at all.

I let my feet stay out in the open the rest of the night in hopes of drying them out. It helped, but not much. After another painful night of throbbing feet, I woke up and tried to decide what to do. The night before I'd gone to the store and bought everything I could possibly need to protect my feet. I remember my friend John telling me before the last race to use duct tape. I thought he was kidding, turns out he wasn't, so I bought some of that too. After some research on the internet I went to work again. I layered blister pads and band-aids over the problem areas, and then wrapped giant pieces of duct tape around my feet, toes, and heels. They felt secure and I was positive everything was going to stay in place, which is more then I could say without the duct tape.

Today's race was the Presidio 10. You can choose between running a 10k or a 10 mile race. I'd done it last year with Emily and thought it was a beautifully scenic course, so I knew it was a must do again. I'd sent out an email to the usual suspects a few months prior trying to garner some interest in this race, but didn't know if anyone would actually run it. Turns out, Geri and Gil both beat me to registration. When I found that out, I knew I had to get it together and register myself. I was thrilled to have the company. I'd gone down to Sports Basement in the Presidio the day before and picked up all of our bibs. Turns out if you registered early enough you got your name printed on your bib. Apparently, I was the only one out of the three that registered too late :(

I picked up Geri and Gil and headed off to the Presidio to make it in time for my 8a start. The sun was already out and the sky was clear, and it was obvious it was going to be a gorgeous day. Perfect for some of the views we were going to get on the course. I dropped off my stuff at the sweat check, said good bye and good luck to Geri and Gil who were doing the 10k, and joined the rest of the 10 mile runners. Before the race kicked off, the national anthem was sung, but the majority of runners were trying to hold back laughter because they forgot to turn the back up speakers off which were blaring some hip hop song that I can't seem to remember right now. It was somewhere around "bombs bursting in air" that they finally realized it and turned it off. Soon after, all 717 of us were off.

Immediately I realized this course had way more uphill then I'd remembered from the previous year. I was hoping that the 10k followed a different route since I recall telling Geri that the course was mostly flat and didn't want to get in trouble. So up I went with the rest of the runners for the what was at least the first 2.5 miles of the course (some parts being quite steep), trying not to look like I was sucking wind too bad. Luckily for me there were plenty of people around me breathing WAY heavier then I was. For not doing much hill training, I was quite pleased with how well I survived it and how quickly I recovered. This first part of the race was through a nicely wooded and therefore shady part of the Presidio. I almost forgot I was in the city.

We ran on a dirt trail, which then led up some steps where a huge bottleneck occurred. Everyone basically had to stop and wait for their turn to funnel up the steps at a very slow walk. This took at least a few minutes off my time. There was one overweight guy who was shoving his way up the stairs, literally pushing runners aside. Many people were yelling at him, asking where he really thought he was going considering the wall of people in front of him. His response, "I'm just trying to run the race". Usually the attitude amongst runners is always so positive, it's a shame there's people like this guy that don't go along with the spirit of the race, especially when everyone is stopped waiting to go themselves. Eventually we all made it to the top and were spit out along a ridge on the coast with breathtaking views of Marin, the water, and the bridge.

We then made it to the Golden Gate bridge and ran along the walkway. By this time we were almost 4 miles in so the field was spread out enough to allow runners ample space to navigate around each other if need be. I'd heard from Geri and Gil this was not necessarily the case with the 10k since they headed to the bridge straight from the start. Soon after we hit the bridge, I passed the pushy guy from the stairs who looked like he was one or two steps away from walking. Not that I find anything wrong with walking (I've done it in previous races myself), but come on, did you really need to push everyone out of your way when that's the pace you're semi-running at when you're not even half way into the course?! Pretty ridiculous.

As we approached the end of the Golden Gate, we took the steps that went underneath the bridge and then back up the other side. More stairs. Argh, my feet did not like them at all, but the duct tape seemed to be doing it's job of keeping everything in place. As we headed back towards the city, I was reminded again of why I love San Francisco. The views of downtown, the bay, the sailboats below, and Alcatraz were all so beautiful, and it was oddly peaceful despite the cars rushing by. As we got off the bridge my feet were killing me, and then we hit a fairly steep downhill which just made it that much worse. I wasn't sure how much more they could take, but at this point it was only a few miles to the finish.

We ran along the coast into Crissy field. At one point I looked on the beach and wanted nothing more then to take my shoes off and go sit in the sand. About this time I could tell that the duct tape was cutting into the side of my left foot. I knew I needed to fix it, so I sat down really quickly, took off my shoe and rolled the duct tape slightly back and then took off again. It did the trick. Right before the turn off for the 10k finish line, I saw Jon and John, Geri's and Gil's boyfriends, on the grass with the rest of the spectators. Always fun to see people you know cheering you on.

Only one mile left, thank goodness. As we approached the final stretch to the finish line there was a girl who was waiting to run her friend in who was a few steps behind me. Her friend asked, "so how did you do?", and the girl responded, "I won.". I turned around and had to get some clarification from her. Sure enough, she was the women's first place finisher in the 10 mile race by nearly 6 minutes. As they passed me and headed towards the finish I watched her run. She looked like she was barely running, while I felt like I was sprinting. I can only imagine how magnificent her stride must be when she's running at her usual 6 minute a mile pace. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to win a race.

I saw the big red finish line in the distance and sprinted in. My feet could finally take a break. My GPS time for 10 miles was 1:29:10, and my chip time for the course was 1:29:50. Just squeaked in at under 1:30. I ended up finishing in the top 32%. I was not all together happy with that, but given the sorry state of my feet and all the bottlenecks on the course, I was happy just to be done. I chugged some water, grabbed my lululemon goody bag and finishers t-shirt, and headed over to the booze tent to grab a free beer before the line piled up. I then hobbled over to where Jon and John were to see if I made it in time to cheer in Geri and Gil. Not two minutes after getting there, Geri and Gil came cruising by looking fantastic. I was so happy to see the big smiles on their faces because I knew that meant they were enjoying themselves.

We all met up for the post race party and sat on the grass to swap stories. Munching on one of the free breakfast burritos from Asqew Grill, and polishing off my beer in the sun, I was so happy to have them all there to enjoy the race with. It's for reasons like this that I pester all my friends to run races with me! They did a great job.

I finally took off my shoes and peeled off the duct tape. Not pretty. Thankfully I remembered to bring flip flops. Shortly after, we all decided to head to La Terrasse for some drinks and brunch when we noticed the beer and bloody mary line was ridiculously long. After some food and another drink while sitting on the patio it was time to head home, full and very satisfied!

You really can't go wrong running this race. It's in a great scenic setting and the free bloody mary's, beers, hot pancakes and breakfast burritos just make it all that much better!

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