Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Run, Walk, Crawl

Finally the day is here. All those training under the hot sun and cold morning will pay off. It's do or die. That's what I thought when me and hubby were walking towards the crowd at Embarcadero San Francisco on Sunday morning July 26. I heard a girl told her friend that she is anxious. Yeah..I was too. I couldn't sleep whole night. By the time my eyes got some rest, hubby woke me up because it's time for us to leave.

I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day. Perfect marathon weather. Morning temperature of 55 and high of 68. We missed the 5:45 wave and finally started with the 6:15 wave. I started slowly not wanting to aggravate my healing knees. Two weeks ago I discovered that my left knee started to bother me. It turned out to be runner's knee which is pretty common injury. I stopped training completely and thought I wouldn't be able to make it to my first marathon at all.

We started from Embarcadero, going along the bay all the way to Golden Gate Bridge. The familiar route that we usually see from inside our car. When we reached the GG Bridge, fog was still very thick. Two girls stopped to pose in the middle of the bridge to have pictures taken. Runners had to run around them. Seriously it was too foggy to even know that it was GG Bridge.

By the time we came to Lincoln Blvd with the longest and steep inclination, most of runners were tired. Some chose to walk up. I ran most of it but walked towards the top. It was almost 10 mile into the run. Water station was positioned on the top. Coming down the hill was very steep too. That's when I first felt my knee pain coming back to me, haunting like a nightmare. I turned my back to it and walking backwards.

That was the beginning of a series of up and down hills before we finally crossed Fulton St to go into the Golden Gate Park. We came to the split for the half marathon. Bah..that only means that we still have 13.1 mile more to go ! By mile 15 I couldn't run anymore and decided to walk instead. Stopped by to pick up a tylenol and got some roll on for my knee. Didn't really help much. I saw a woman that stopped and sprayed her calf every 5 minutes. I guess I wasn't the only one with pain.

Just before we came out the park, the sun has become bright enough to call for sunglasses. I thought we would never have to wear them that day.

I remember being so happy to see a sign coming that turned out to be the mile 21 sign. That was only 5 hours into the run. I thought to myself I could actually get it done in 6 hours. Hubby was encouraging too. Little did we know, only half mile into that, my knee pain got worse. My body tensed each time I lift up my left leg. The whole time I was being so positive thinking that even if I couldn't run I could still walk. That didn't work. I was faced with reality that I couldn't even walk without pain. I felt so defeated that I couldn't help crying. I had my sunglasses on so it didn't draw any attention. Hubby tried to console me. Finally I stopped crying and started walking backwards. It's painless walking backwards. I tried that before so I knew but it's not easy and it's very slow. So that idea only worked for about 2 blocks. I tried going forward again but hit with the pain once more. Then I figured out that it hurts only if I bend my knee. So I started walking with straight knee. Not easy but doable.

By then the road was starting to be opened, we had to move the side walk. Runners were all gone. We were the only one in the warehouse area. I felt lonely.

Finally we reached the mile 25 sign. I stopped to pose for it. There were still photographers near the AT&T park waiting for runners/walkers. I didn't wave to them like I did earlier. I was more into reaching the finish line. I was worry that the finish line won't be there anymore. It was way more than 6 hours by then. I wanted my medal badly.

When I saw the sign welcoming runners back showing the splitting between half/full marathon then I was convinced that there were people waiting for us at the finish line. I got back on the road because that portion of the road was still closed. Tried to look like I was running towards the finish line even though my knee was killing me. I was limping but I had a huge smile on my face. An elderly couple cheered me and I waved to them. I vaguely saw hubby jumped out and ran towards the finish line to get ready to take my picture. There were commentators waiting there. Cheering and smiling welcoming me back. It felt so good. I ran towards to finish line feeling like a winner eventhough the 'FINISH' sign was taken down already.

After collecting my medal and had some photos taken, we went to Acme Bread to get chocolate croissant to celebrate. That's the real purpose of the marathon. :)

"Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must. Just don't give up"
(Dean Karnazes)