Race Day. Yes, I said 2 am wake up. B’s race (his story here) started at 5am but the shuttle took off at 3:45. Since we were 40 miles outside San Fran, I had to ride with B and wait for my shuttle pick up at 7:45am. No problem. Grabbed a pillow from the hotel and caught a few more winks in the car while I waited. Here are the boys ready for the shuttle, in good spirits, not considering the pain they will be enduring in a mere 2 hours.
Me with the ultra runner badasses. Maybe someday I’ll be in that category *yikes* did I just say that?
I put the seat down and set my alarm for 7am. I awoke to blue skies and a great view of the city.
Arrived at Ft. Barry in the Marin Headlands just across from San Fran around 8 am. I opted to sit in one of the runner tents because I didn’t want to be on my feet any more than necessary. As I was sitting and eavesdropping on conversations, I overheard this:
Stranger 1: I’ve run 8 marathons this year but this is my first trail one.
Stranger 2: Good for you. I’ve never done a marathon before but my coach has me doing this race as my prep for my Ironman next year.
Stranger 3: Which Ironman are you doing? I just did the one in Kona.
Are you kidding me? I was so out of my league. I just kept my mouth shut and did not want to be called out for being on amateur hour. Didn’t matter anyway. I had my own race to run. I approached this as just a matter of fact event. I was going to run/walk a marathon today. No excuses. I strangely didn’t get nervous and had no fear. Such a difference from my high school running days where I would mentally psych myself out of a race. I knew I could do this and it was all in my control. I broke the race into segments using the aid stations and never really focused on the cumulative goal of 26.2 miles. It was 5.8, 3.1, 4.2 to half way. After that, I had a few miles to the turn around and back to the Muir Beach station to finish up with 4.8, 3.1, 2.7. Let’s do this! I had a wild guess at a goal of finishing under 6 hours, but since I hadn’t done anything like this before, I didn’t have a clue if that was possible.
They called us out of the tent with 10 minutes to go, so I stripped a couple of layers off and headed to the line. Less than 200 runners in my race so it wasn’t packed and I didn’t have to jockey for positions early off. Turned on my tunes and settled into a nice 9 minute jog out to the first ascent. The B’s told me to conserve early and that’s what I did. I walked the uphills and ran the downs and flats. Everything felt so good, even the drizzle that we had. Temps were in the 40s but that was what I had been used to running in back here, plus the same humidity, so I felt quite at ease. The first half of the race went by oddly fast. I hit my first split perfect at 1:05, second split was a bit fast at 0:40, coming into half way around 2:45 into the race. Wasn’t feeling any hot spots on my feet. Made sure to eat 2 Chomp blocks each hour. Wasn’t even stopping at the aid stations for food. Just fill up my water bottle and move on. No time to waste!
The second half of the race was much harder. We gained and lost a lot of altitude in that section, but I kept on with walking up and running down when my quads would allow it. Mile 15-17ish was the worst. Muddy mess of a downhill. I would have been better off sliding on my butt to get down. Everyone was slipping. I didn’t dwell on any negativity and just got through it and headed to the turnaround. Right before I hit the T-round, Brooks comes whizzing by. We stopped for a few seconds but both of us were ready to get our respective runs over with. Again, no time to waste. My 6 hours was within reach. The climb back up that mud hill killed a lot of energy. It was horrendous. My quads and hammies were not happy after that 1.5 mile stretch. But I told them to shut up and keep moving. After each uphill climb, I’d stop and pull out the yoga forward-fold move to stretch for 15 seconds before moving on. I think it helped a lot as I was still managing to keep a 10-11 minute trot going. Once I got to the last aid station, I checked the watch to see if 6 hours was possible, and it was. WAY possible. So the thoughts started drifting towards “How much under 6 hours can I get?” Turns out, 18 minutes under!
The last 2.7 miles went by in a flash. It was over before I knew it. I finished in 5:42:09. 13:04 pace. 127th out of 180 runners. Only 72 women competed with me finishing 39th. Gained over 4000+ ft during the race. One blister on a toe to report. Pretty happy with all my stats. Can’t put into words how this race made me feel. Alive. Powerful. Focused. Fortunate. I felt like I did the absolute best I could out there and didn’t leave anything in the chamber. It was amazing and immediately after I was already wanting to do another. Even said I’d consider doing the Jingle Bell this weekend if someone wanted a running partner (let me know!).
Brooks (who breezed in his 50 miler in 8:48) met me at the finish and we bellied up for our free Michelob Ultra. And man, it was good. Anything after water and Gatorade all day was delicious. So delicious, I had 2 beers!
We hung out and shot the breeze with fellow runners and fans as we waited for Brandon to finish up his 4th ultra race of his life. I think B did amazing,even though I don’t think he has the same thoughts. He finished in 11:36 for 50 miles. He’s only been running for a few years and is well on his way to making his mark in the ultra world.
Called Mom and Dad after the race to regale in my joy. Mom asked if at any point during the race I wondered why in the hell I was doing this… NOT A ONE.
I didn’t take any photos during the event, but these guys did. Type 1059 in the bid number box if you’re bored.
Final thought… If I can offer 1 life lesson from this event, it would be to encourage everyone to take your own life/hobby/sports/whatever to the next level. Continue to better yourself. Test yourself. Don’t settle. Try something new and do not be afraid. Believe you can do it.
Thanks to Brandon for motivating me to push myself to my own next level of running. You are the best brother in the world and I look forward to many more races with you! Thanks to Brooks for putting up with the Fuller kids all weekend and sharing in our adventure. Thanks to Mom and Dad of course, you made one stubborn girl! Thanks to all my supporting friends that wished me well on this journey, A&K, CS, Papa, BD, The Pilot, Hubbs, Juan, you all know who you are. Hopefully I can return the favor in supporting you on one of your journeys.
Stole the map from my bro. My GPS lost me for a bit. I numbered the course to show how we made these pretty loops.
Some video of the event.