Friday, October 14, 2005

the first eight miles

I know the marathon is over. However, as the cliche goes, the experience will stay in my mind forever. Last night I went to Zebulon for Ricky and Angie's surprise baby shower. It's been a few weeks since I've seen everyone. Although I know we needed the space, it was so great seeing everyone again. It's rough because we spent thirty weeks together (the equivalent of two straight semesters) and now we're lucky to see each other in passing. I realized how much I missed everyone last night. Also, if you are looking for a cool place to hang out in SF, Zebulon is definitely a great find. It's in the financial district and is walking distance from BART. Plus, there was plenty of parking.

Last night I realized that I never really wrote about the actual marathon. I talked about the beginning and the end, but never the middle. I guess it's because before I even did the marathon, I could only envision the start and the finish. I had no idea what the middle would be like. I still don't know how to describe the actual journey. However, I'll do my best starting now. Here is the first eight miles.

The wake-up call was early - about 2am. I had to make sure I got up because I had to eat and prep for the marathon (my ritual is long and exhausting and is detailed somewhere in another entry here). We had to be at the buses by 3:30 to get us to the start line in time for us to have a briefing. The bus ride was long, quiet and nerve-wracking. It didn't help that somewhere in the middle we hit a huge bump. As we got off the bus, I decided to use the port-o-potties while they were still semi-clean. That would be my last bathroom trip (because I am physically incapable of answering nature's call in nature's settings or in port-o-potties that are set out in the Maui heat).

The briefing was nice. Throughout the whole thing, I kept thinking, "This is it. This is our last team briefing." It was sad, but it was also exciting because all that training came down to that day. I couldn't believe that thirty weeks had passed by so fast. Everything was so serious that there was no room for my quirky dedication to our hopeful Filipino rockstar. Oh well, sometimes humor just isn't appropriate. While waiting, we took photos, stretched out... I tried my best to calm my nerves.

After waiting with the crowd, the race finally started. It was exciting because I had no idea what to expect. Bullet X fell behind, but for us, it was important to pace ourselves. For me, as long as I could see at least one other team, things were fine. The weather was decent, although even within the first hour, the sweat was pouring because that humidity was killer! I don't remember much except hoping the darkness would stay a little longer, seeing teams Tung Yee and Wahat not too far from us, and of course, the shared experience of the team bush:)

There were three locals we met - Diana, Mele and Sama (who switched off between his slippers and shoes in order to conquer the course). It was Mele's birthday. Although she didn't finish, she did make it to the half way mark in order to celebrate her 40th birthday. The terrible person in me noticed the non-running shoes, cotton socks and missing dryfit. They were very kind and told us that our teams were in great shape. I wasn't sure the two would make it, but they ended up finishing way before we did. See? Never underestimate how people conquer the course. Everyone has their own method to the madness.

I didn't realize how much the heat was killing me until we reached the first coach's stop at about 8 miles. I changed socks and realized that my shoulders were tight. I'm not sure why they felt that way. My form was solid and I got proper rest and hydration. Looking back, I feel like some unspeakable force, some spirit was following me and squeezing my back and shoulders, which made them hurt and hard to breathe. Cici and Angie were rubbing my back trying to loosen up some of the tension and even they noticed how tight the muscles were. I was also feeling a little off because my blood sugars were higher than usual (in the 160s).

So here I was trying to avoid my chronic blisters (which were fine at that point), loosen my shoulders which I think spirits were crunching, and battling the blood sugars. Up ahead was the most difficult part of the course: the rolling hills.

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