I went to bed the night before the marathon feeling like I had done the best I could to prepare for the morning. I ate well. I even stretched (OK – I waved to my toes while slightly bending from my waist…who am I kidding). As the sun came up, I really felt like I was in a positive frame of mind – as my grandfather once put it, I “woke up ready to bite the ass off a bear”. (NOTE: I have no idea what that really meant – I’m guessing it was an old saying that he learned on the streets in Hell’s Kitchen back in the 1920’s). As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I was nervous about this race. It’s San Francisco – a marathon whose mottos include “The Race That All Marathoners Fear” and “Worth The Hurt”. Since I usually lack much backbone at all (let’s face it: if it wasn’t for the extra starch in my dress shirts I’d be unable to walk upright), this race played with my psyche since the beginning of the month. So this gung-ho feeling was….well…odd.
I took in a decent breakfast (translate that into 2 Smores-flavored PopTarts) and properly hydrated. I went through my usual marathon morning preparation and, by the time I left the hotel and began my expedition to the starting line, I felt like I was ready for the day’s hazards. Once outside, I couldn’t get over how chilly it was! 50 degrees and windy. On July 29th! As a New Yorker, needing a jacket on July 29th just seems WEIRD!
I had no idea how to get to the starting line from the hotel, so I figured I’d just grab a cab. HA. Good luck with that. None of the cabbies wanted to pick up the marathon runners and drive them to the starting line unless they were paid the amount of money that would be the equivalent of taking us to the AIRPORT. No thanks – I’ll walk first. And so I did.
And…..the starting line was in simple walking distance after all.
Everything was EXTEREMELY well organized. UPS trucks were very close to the Start and Finish Lines. The Starting Line was well attended and it was very clear that the race organizers really orchestrated a first-rate event. It was the kind of starting area that a runner can simply show up to 30-45 minutes before his/her scheduled starting time and still not feel rushed.
Bart Yasso (if you don’t know who he is, here’s a link: http://www.bartyasso.com I just consider him to be one of the Godfathers of marathoning’s Five Families) was on hand to kick off the race and provide color commentary as one starting wave of runners after another began their 26.2 mile trek. I read his book and, as a result, I identified several things that I needed to work on in order to become a better distance runner – so naturally I thought that his participation in this race was…to use a technical term…COOL. Some people look for famous sports athletes or actors within the starting areas or in their starting waves. For example: I once heard a young runner – in a high-pitched scream – blurt out “OH…MY….GOD! That’s Roger from Season 6 of The Real World!!” While sightings of illustrious celebrities such as Roger (whoever the hell he is – no offense to all you Roger-lovers out there…) are assuredly key moments in a distance runner’s life (insert a sarcastic chuckle here), star-gazing doesn’t quite do it for me. To me, dudes like Bart Yasso, John “The Penguin” Bingham (http://www.waddle-on.com), Amby Burfoot (http://www.ambyburfoot.com) and, of course, Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com) are the ones that I like to listen to during marathon Expos or on marathon mornings.
I enjoyed listening to the color commentary and watching as the first couple of waves began their journey around the city. As the time for my wave’s departure approached and I headed toward my corral, I hoped – albeit in vain – for an Elvis sighting. THAT would be a great omen. But alas, I had no luck. It appeared that my goal of running once more with The King was dashed. But the fates had something interesting in store for me as I sauntered past a long line of port-o-crappers. I noticed someone close by that appeared to be a hippie. Brown, shaggy beard. Weatherbeaten red 1980’s style mesh hat. White athletic socks circa 1978 that were pulled up almost to the knees. Then it hit me. The light bulb went off in my head. I couldn’t resist the urge…and I blurted out “GUMP!”
His name was Forrest. Forrest Gump. And if he was going to show up to this marathon, he….was…running! Talk about a good omen.
Minutes later I was standing in my corral. We moved forward slowly to the starting line, listened to a few quick recommendations from Don Yasso, Capo of the Marathon Addicts, and off we went.
Another 26.2. Let’s hope this is worth the hurt.
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