Monday, August 23, 2010

San Francisco Marathon - Part 1

Context: This happened in July of 2010.

Encouraged by some friends, and based on my experience in Holland, I signed up in January to run in the San Francisco Marathon. I viewed it as an opportunity to see my birth place in a way that I never had before.

I am not sure at which point between January and July I made the transition to calling myself a “runner”. It might be my tenth time I woke up before the sun rose to get my miles before starting my day. It might be when I recognized the same people along the trail and waved back when they raised their hands to me. It’s most likely when I looked down to realize I was going to lose a toenail – either I was dedicated or crazy -likely both.

There were ups and downs in my training schedule (missing a day, trying to make up for it the following week) and diet (I won’t even go into some of the binges to satisfy some of the strongest cravings I have ever felt.) As the big day approached, I felt ready, but daunted- mostly owing to my strict work schedule that included a lot of travel immediately preceding AND following the race.

The preceding Thursday, I fly out to Richmond, Virginia to participate in a round-table discussion on disaster preparation strategies for a particularly large customer’s environment. After geeking out all day Friday, I fly back to San Francisco and meet Wife at our room at around Midnight.

Saturday, I wake up early despite my wish to sleep (excitement and time zone changes had me bright-eyed at around 7 AM.) We walk to the expo, pick up my bib, and wander back through the city. To satisfy Wife’s hunger, as well as our constant addiction to Irish pubs, we stop in at Johnny Foley’s – where I make the most painful decision of the day : to drink or not to drink. Flashing back to the constant advertising plastered on the side’s of Irish buildings and ask the bartender, “Does Guinness really give you strength? I am supposed to run the San Francisco Marathon tomorrow.”

“Oh absolutely. It is in no way a marketing campaign and will certainly give you strength.”

“Pour me a pint, then.”

Our next stop was another one of our favorite pubs - The Irish Bank (on Bush Street). I order Bangers and Mash for lunch and another pint. The elderly man next to me is from the south of Ireland used to train boxers (he said he was a golden gloves champion, and I believe him.) I said that most runners are “carbo-loading” today, but I am “Irish Loading” which consists of drinking Guinness, eating pub grub, and working myself into an emotional frenzy.

He gets serious and asks “Are you confident in your training?”

“Yeah, I know I can physically do it, I mean I ran most the distance a couple of weeks ago.”

He taps his temple and says, “Then it’s all up here then. If you know you can do it, you need to commit now or not show up – or you’ll regret it for years. How old are you?”

“Thirty five.”

“Well, just remember that, when you are passing mile thirteen, that if you don’t finish now, you will be kicking yourself all the way until you are seventy. You’re at the halfway point in your life and you don’t want to have that on your conscience.”

I stare into my glass, “I’ll remember that.”

He smacks my ribs and say, “You’ve got HEART, lad, leave it all out on the track!”

“I will, sir, thanks for the words, enjoy your visit to San Francisco.”

1 comment:

Sabrina said...

There is nothing better than pep-talks from old Irish dudes in pubs. Life lessons: Learned! There you go lad!