San Francisco is a charming city. The best time to be at San Francisco is early in the morning to see the city wake up. The marathon starts at 5:30AM in the morning. I started running around 6:00AM. It was a nice cool weather of about 54 Fahrenheit . I did not have to use my home-made non-organic jacket, the garbage bag. The first sign that breakfast was ready was around Mile 1. The aroma of fresh baked bread from Boudin made every runner around me gasp, as if we could breathe the calories into us!
We ran through Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge. This was the first real hill of the course. Rajeev and I decided to slow our pace slightly. It was a good idea to hold off a bit at this time. Once we were on the bridge, the course became very crowded. We had to run around many people, speed up at some places and slow down at others. With all this going on, it was easy to forget to look at the mile markers or worry about the hill. I missed all the mile markers on the bridge and I saw mile marker 10 after we came off the bridge. This turned out to be good because we did those 5 miles at a faster speed than what we had planned. After the bridge, there is another hill. I remember coming down from that hill the most, because that was a steep down hill and it was also my fastest mile of the entire course, Mile 11.
I had lost Rajeev in the crowd on the bridge, he then caught up with me between mile 10 and 11. From that point, we got into good rhythm and breezed through the next 7 miles at a consistent pace. The first half marathon runners finished at mile 13 and the second half marathon had not started when we crossed, so the number of runners reduced after mile 13. At mile 18, Rajeev said that real marathon starts now. That was so true, this is where all the training and mental preparation really helps.
Rajeev had to slow down a bit to adjust his shoe laces around mile 19 and I was waiting for him to catch up again, as he did at the bridge, but that did not happen till the end of race. Mile 21 is another easy mile at the race. It is all down-hill and I got my second fastest mile after mile 11. At Mile 24 my body was all ready to give up, but I do not know what kept my legs moving. The next mile was the slowest mile of the race for me. After Mile 25, there is small jump to get on to the sidewalk along Embarcedero road, the last mile is mostly on concrete. The Bay Bridge acted as a homing beacon to the finish line and it was just awesome feeling to complete the marathon in my best ever time.
The marathon was perfect in many aspects. I had very positive and encouraging training partners through this season. The weather on the day was good, it was a cool and cloudy through out the race, with not a hint of sun. The best of all, I had my running mentor pacing me and looking out for me through 18 toughest miles of the course. It is for days like this that I run. What a wonderful day!