I am very happy to report that I completed an extremely beautiful and extremely challenging 20 mile run in San Francisco this Saturday (23rd Sept).
My mentor had organized carpools for the run, and thankfully I did not have to drive all the way to San Francisco. Driving to SF was not a problem; driving back after a tiring 20 mile run, definitely would have been tough. On the way to SF, I had asked my mentor what she thought of the difficulty of this run, compared to the previous one. She said this one should be simpler as the route is not as hilly as Woodside. Well, she was miles away from the truth.
We ran miles 1-11 of the final Nike Women’s Marathon course, in both directions. The course itself is really beautiful, taking us through the beautiful parts of San Francisco. We started off at the Presidio, around mile 5.5 of the final course. First we ran until mile 1 of the course along Marina Blvd and Embarcadero. We turned back at the Ferry bldg and ran back to the starting point. By this time we had done 9 miles of the route, and I was still feeling fresh and energetic.
Then came the second loop on the course, which was much more challenging. This time, we ran in the other direction on Marina Blvd, towards Golden Gate bridge, and then up Lincoln Blvd, and then a couple of other roads, before hitting the Great Highway. We first ran up a big uphill, which was manageable as it was between miles 10 and 11 on this particular route, when I was not as tired. Apart from that, we had two big downhills, and one simple enough uphill. All the time that I was running down the two hills, I was thinking- I have to run up those hills on the way back!
The way back was therefore the killer part of the route. We had already run 14.5 miles, and the first stretch we had to tackle was the huge uphill on the Great Highway, towards the Cliff House and a bit further towards Lincoln park. It was just too difficult to run up that one, and I decided to walk that one out. After hitting the top of the hill, I ran downhill without any problems. Then came the second big uphill, and again I walked up that one. I was thinking- I am just so tired, how am I ever going to finish this run? But once I saw the top of the hill, I was just so happy, that I finished the last 1.5 miles of the route with a well-paced run. All my team-mates cheered me in at the finish line, and all three coaches personally came up to me and congratulated me on the run. They were doing that to everyone, so no big deal; but it did feel nice to be personally congratulated by them.
The two uphill walks resulted in degrading my time a lot, and I was quite disappointed with myself. As I was stretching out, I remarked about that to one of the coaches, and she reminded me that fortunately we don’t have to run back up the two hills on the final course. That was such a relief!
Between this run and the run at Lake Merced, we have now covered most of the final Nike course. I am sure I can handle it just fine. With the four months of training so far, and as long as I manage to stay injury-free for the next four weeks, I am now quite confident about finishing the marathon. I am very much looking forward to the event day…