They say running marathons changes one’s life. Prior to the San Fran Marathon, I had run 43 marathons. Running the SFM, it changed me. I realized how blessed I was to represent, to participate in, to run and to experience this amazing race and be a part of this amazing organization. The saying goes “life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”. These moments were absolutely once-in-a-lifetime. I got to build on my friendships with my fellow ambassadors, and got to inspire and give advice to numerous amounts of runners. Now that’s truly a RUNNING EXPERIENCE!!
The day I arrived…I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Inside I questioned if I could handle all those expectations and duties I promised to deliver. The pressure was mounting! Not until Friday afternoon when I arrived at the expo, I felt such an excitement…I couldn’t wait to meet everyone. Like a little child attending their first day of class, I introduced myself, and right away got to mingle with the ambassadors. I felt happy, excited, and most definitely proud! I was on such a natural high for a while; I asked myself, was this whole thing for real??? Everyone was taking pictures with one another. So neat! I hung around, picked up my bib, went over and talked to Lark and Nick. That was the highlight of my Friday expo! It seemed like the conversation could go on forever. On my way out, I met a few more ambassadors and chatted for a while longer.
On Saturday morning, many of us gathered @ 8:30a.m. to have a run led by the famous running legend, Mr. Bart Yasso. The ambassadors were told to lead the run. Knowing my pace, I kind of snugged behind. During my 5 km run, I managed to chat with a girl who was running her first half marathon ever; a group from L.A. doing their first half together; a couple from Quebec city; a guy from Vienna – literally so many international runners. Everyone was so enthusiastic…wow, what energy! After we completed the run, I made sure to get pictures with Bart – of course, I wouldn’t miss my chance to have my pictures taken with him. He was so friendly and so entertaining. He said he was hurting that morning, so I asked him what distance he ran recently despite his pain. He replied with “ONLY 40K” last weekend. When most people are in pain, they might run a 5km max, but here was Bart…he ran 40km!! After the run, everyone dispersed. For me, I was supposed to go back to my hotel, shower and come back to meet everyone for a casual lunch. Instead, guess what happened? I was stuck on the Bay Bridge for 2 hours. I missed such a precious opportunity! Next year… I hope!!!
Nonetheless, I made it back to the expo a bit later and ordered my food: burgers and fries! Yum, it was so good! I was extremely hungry in that moment!!
Okay, race morning! Asked the hotel concierge for wake-up call at 4a.m. The night before, I went to bed at 9, but tossed and turned for at least an hour. The phone rang! I jumped out of bed, got myself ready and did a mental check of what I needed that morning, and off we drove to the race. The parking lot was already full when we got there. I joked that pilots and runners were the only ones who could be so excited at such an early hour while the rest of the city was still asleep! I managed to find our special ambassadors tent. We were outnumbered by the pacers. The line up for the potty was good. And the goodies they provided were excellent. Anything the ambassadors needed, they were there, from gels, to electrolytes; mini doughnuts to bananas. Very well thought-out!
5:30a.m. Gun went off. All the speedy runners were off. I was in Corral 6, so I got to watch many groups take off before me. It was such a beautiful morning (although I was a bit overdressed). We ran along and by mile 5, we began this slow climb up the iconic Golden Gate Bridge! Wow, it has to be the most amazing bridge in the world! And the view… breathless! This course was known to be hilly, so ups and more ups and more ups. We passed along many famous San Fran districts: the Embacadero, the famous Golden Gate Park, and the Haight/Ashbury district, where a guy was offering free hugs and some groups were blowing bubbles. There were a number of diversions as illustrated on the course map. On one of the diversions, I was the first runner leading a group and I had no idea where I was turning. I asked the volunteers so many times just to be sure I was on the right course!
Five hours had gone by, and I was coming up to my last half mile, which was flat(Yes, flat!!!). I could see the finish line…at 5:06:51, I crossed the mat. My journey was done! Wow, I was so very happy. For I didn’t just earn the one San Fran medal, I earned a double medal for completing the Ocean Series. This marathon was monumental!
I came, I ran, I conquered! It was a tough course, but I wouldn’t trade anything for such an unforgettable weekend.
Thank you to all! Goodbye is just for now, until we meet again. Next time, we will be sharing stories of how many more medals we have earned and races we have ran!
Take care my fellow ambassadors. And to Lark and the whole TSFM organization, my heartfelt gratitude for the most amazing experience!!