I Ran San Fran – Part 3 of 3

Post race.  After inhaling some In -n- Out burger, we headed over to San Fran for some touristy things.  First order of business, the drive down curvy Lombard street.  View from the top.

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Next, we headed over to Coit Tower only to find the view at its top closed due to an elevator malfunction.  They wouldn’t let you take the stairs which was probably ok for each of us as we were waddling our way around like a pack of ducks.  Some views from the parking lot.  We were all running in the hills to the left of the bridge the day before.

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B ready to drop a load.  Not sure why I’m smiling behind him?

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The man and his medal.

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Even though it was raining on and off, we headed down to the wharf and Pier 39 for some shopping.  Brooks made a new friend.

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Not a lot of sea lions out today, but one really big seagull was around.

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I had my trusty rain jacket on, but B was tired of the rain so he purchased an umbrella that he kindly shared with Brooks.  Their friendship reached a whole new level in the city of gay love.  Front view.

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Back view.

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After the ambiguously duo ate their ice cream desserts at Ghirardelli, we headed over to a small venue called DNA for my first true metal concert.  Yeah, we’re tough.

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Fuller’s in full effect.

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We grabbed a spot upstairs with a great view.  Saw Blackguard, Jagnostic (I may or may not have made that up), Scar Sanctuary, and Epica.  Blackguard had a killer chick drummer.  Jagnostic’s chick seemed to have a Satan voice buried inside her.  Not much to report on Scar but Epica was really good.  Also witnessed my first mosh pit.  I didn’t experience it, just watched.  I was surprisingly impressed with how “nice” they all were to each other.  It was moderately forceful shoving with forearms and if anyone fell down, someone was right there to help them up.  It was also an all ages crowd so you had 16 year olds up against 400lb big guys.  Quite the entertainment.  I, of course, forgot to eat dinner and was left with bar nachos that were not quite delicious but it was all about getting calories at that point.

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Final day in San Fran = 3rd beer of the trip.

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What has gotten into me?  I don’t think the trend will keep up for me back here in the Midwest, but at least I know what I could order if needed.  FYI beer burps are awful.

I will admit that I had high excitement for this trip and it exceeded everything I wanted it to be.  Bittersweet to be home, but always good to be back in the company of my friends.

Who’s ready for a 5 mile loop this weekend on the trails?!  I’m serious.  Really.  Serious.

I Ran San Fran – Part 2 of 3

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.

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Me with the ultra runner badasses.  Maybe someday I’ll be in that category *yikes* did I just say that?

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I put the seat down and set my alarm for 7am.  I awoke to blue skies and a great view of the city.

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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!

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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!  

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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.

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Some video of the event.

I Ran San Fran – Part 1 of 3

Pre-race recap.  Woke up early Wednesday morning to what I am now calling a 24 hour stomach flu.  TMI, cleaned me out.  I was nervous Wednesday because I was leaving for San Fran the next day and I really didn’t know why I felt so bad and how long it would last.  Did not want to be sick on this trip.  K stopped by to drop off some dinner and a surprise while I packed!

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She got me balloons and made a course map with sayings and pictures all over it. I got teary eyed to which she says “you don’t have to get all emotional about it…”  I’ve been soooo looking forward to this race that anything about it got me excited and emotional.

Flew out to San Fran on Thursday afternoon to meet up with Brandon who was out working at his company’s base location in Milpitas for a few days around the race. We hit up what he calls the best Mexican in the land for dinner and called it a night. B had some meetings to attend on Friday so I called in my back up travel mate, Brooks, to keep me entertained.  We all met at the LT100 earlier this year.  Brooks and I hit off a friendship over the past few months and he wasn’t planning on doing this race until he decided to join in the Fuller fun the day after I did.  When B came back to get me for lunch, I surprised him with Brooks joining us so they could swap ultra running secrets and stories.  When B headed back to work, Brooks and I drove into the city for packet pick up and some sight seeing.  Some famous statue at the skating rink in Union Square. 

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Headed back to Milpitas for a pasta dinner and talk race strategy. At dinner, we were putting bets on who would finish when, how many bathroom breaks, how many blisters, etc. The boys seemed to want to just pick on me. “Natalee, what’s been your longest training run?” I replied “10 miles.” With the laughter that came, you would have thought I told the world’s funniest joke. I continued to tell them to F off and I had my own training plan and that they could shove it. Brooks was betting I’d lose my virginity of puking, falling, and having to take a dump during the race. Happy to say, I’m still a virgin in all those areas. Back at the hotel, I got all my gear ready for our 2 am wake up call.  1059 was ready to go!

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