The San Francisco Marathon, Knee Pain, and the Glorious Feeling of Finishing

That’s what she said.

July 25th. A day that will live in infamy.

I can officially say that I am a marathoner. Which is a pretty awesome feeling if I do say so myself. I honestly didn’t think that I could/would do it … and around mile 14 when I realized that I was actually jealous of people running 13.1 miles, I knew that I would probably never do it again. But … never say never, right?

So here’s what went down:

July 24th: Laura (my friend from North Dakota who flew in to run it with me) and I go to the Runner’s Expo to pick up our bibs, shoe tags, and a bag full of goodies (of these goodies, my favorite was the razor burn cream … seems like a good thing to put in a marathoner’s goodie bag … right? no?) and of course to buy ourselves some t-shirts and shit.

And then we went to bed at 9:00 p.m.

July 25th: RACE DAY.

We get ready (I have massive nerves) and the taxi arrives to take us to our death at 4:55 a.m.

We stand in line for the Port-a-potties for about 35 minutes (yes, I went before … but we were an hour early … ) and then we hand off our bags to the bag check guy and walk toward the starting line.

(The actual race started at 5:30 a.m. but you sign up for start times based on your projected finish time, so Laura and I didn’t actually start until 6:02 a.m., in Wave 5.)

At 6:02 a.m. we cross the start line … it’s ON.

Laura and I are truckin’ along and around mile 3 we are running really well … a little under a 9 minute mile.

Mile 4: We see my parents taking pictures of us, we are all smiles and still really excited.

Mile 5: We start the ascent up to the Golden Gate Bridge, and I start thinking … holy fuck, I still have 21.2 miles to go.

Mile 7.6: Somewhere in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. You think this would be pretty and scenic and relaxing. No such thing. It’s 7:00 a.m. in San Francisco, in the “summer”, which means that it is misting, freezing balls, and foggy as fuck. Oh! And the ENTIRE first half of the bridge is an uphill climb. So really all you can see are the people kicking your ass on the way back across the bridge. But their faces don’t instill any confidence in me. Most of them read: why THE fuck did I sign up for this shit?! And then there are the crazy bastards that are trotting along, happy as pie. Assholes. Oh, my 7.6 mile split was 1:16:08 … good, 10 minute mile.

My parents took this, we weren't actually running into oncoming traffic.

Mile 10: Coming off the Golden Gate Bridge, continuing into the glorious hills that are the Presidio. Fuck the Presidio. The uphill climbs were killer on the thighs and calves, but the down hill is what was killing my knee and shins.

Mile 11: Started getting serious pain in the left knee, but still making really good time, even though I had to stop at an aid station to have them tape my knee.

Mile 13.1: 2:22:19 Half-Marathon time. Shoulda just stopped there. Knee is getting worse.

Mile 14: My knee gives a final stab, I stumble, Laura catches me, and I know that from here on out it’s gonna be a battle: me or the marathon, which one will finish the other? Only time will tell. Cue dramatic music. I tell Laura to save herself, to go on without me.

Mile 16: At this point, I am able to run for about three quarters of a mile until my knee gives way again, I stagger, limp to the side, and get my speedwalk on. I walk for about a tenth of a mile, then start sunning again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Mile 20: I am now in constant pain, and I run until I can’t take the pain anymore, start crying a little (don’t judge me, did you run the SF Marathon? Didn’t think so.), and then walk for a few minutes. It’s a very vicious cycle. Oh, p.s. at this point, I think: wow, I’ve made it 20 miles … that is farther than I have ever ran. OH MY SWEET JESUS I STILL HAVE 6.2 TO GO. Annie Tucker Morgan (oh, you don’t know who that is? Sucks to be you.) pops in my head and this is my only thought for the next 3 miles: Fuck this noise. FTN. FT Effin’ N.

Mile 23: Literally the worst pain I have ever been in … and my right knee and hip are starting to hurt from being favored for 11 miles. No big deal.

Mile 25: My right knee gives out. Yay! It’s a party now. My left knee was a sharp stabbing pain that I suspected was from the impact of running and would only be temporary. The right knee, on the other hand, was not. This shit feels serious. I am in extreme amounts of pain, but I am also EXTREMELY frustrated because my body is not tired. If I could get a new set of knees right now I’d sprint the rest of this beast.

The last 1.2 miles were the longest 1.2 miles of my life. Fa REAL, yo.  But I had to finish. This son-of-a-bitch-cock-sucking-ass-mongrel of a course was not going to beat me. I was going to beat it.

And I did.

Hey, it might have taken me 5 hours 18 minutes and 19 seconds, but I finished it. And that is ALL that matters. And that I beat 1002 people. Yeah, so what if 4997 people beat me.

Me: 1, San Francisco Marathon: 0. Eat it.

Literally, eat it.



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shingwong
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:24:13

    Congrats!! Very impressive! Fun post to read too!


  2. Casi from
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:25:09

    You have encouraged me never to run a marathon. Thank you Nikita!


  3. Zack
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:29:07

    I found the course more than conducive for my Vespa.


  4. Laura
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:32:18

    Awwww I’m proud of us 🙂 and I promise that the next time you have a foolish idea (such as run a rediculously hard marathon) I will try and talk to you out of it and talk you into doing something much funner


  5. Leah
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:37:44

    This is awesome – EXACTLY how I would narrate if I ever ran a marathon (not that I ever would)! Congratulations on finishing 🙂


  6. Sarah
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 19:00:09

    Just curious.. How happy is pie, exactly?


  7. Trackback: Hope You Brought Some Dawn, Cuz Shit’s About to Get Sappy! … You Know, Cuz Sap Is Sticky … And Soap … Nevermind … « SanFranciscoSooner
  8. Trackback: Istanbul Adventures, Why Buying an Area Rug While Backpacking Makes Total Logistical Sense, and the Point When You Know You Should Have Bought Gloves. « SanFranciscoSooner
  9. Israel Travel
    Jul 10, 2013 @ 10:42:58

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