Why did I decide to run a race in San Francisco? It’s a beautiful city but it’s known for lots of hills! In September 2009, I was convinced and recruited to run the San Francisco Marathon scheduled for July 25, 2010. By simply helping the SFM team promote the race to Chicagoans, I was offered a free entry to run this race at the city by the bay. This is the first for me to ever travel to by plane to a race longer than a 5k. I’ve gone to races in Indiana and Wisconsin, but never to one where I had to check in my GU in a quart-size bag through TSA officials. I was so excited to run this race and enjoy the time as a vacation! I trained hard and prepared myself to conquer the hills.
But by early June, I changed my event to the first half marathon due to priorities of my racing goals this year. On race day, I was greeted at San Francisco with wonderfully chilly temperatures and high hopes of achieving a half marathon personal record (my half marathon PR was 1:51:47). I arrived at the VIP hospitality site (the $100 tickets were kindly compensated by the SFM team) and happily took in the festive environment. I was very nervous, but held all well wishes from friends and family firmly in my heart and I was ready to run an amazing race.
The first 10 miles were breath-taking and I was on track to achieve my goal. The hills were tough, but I felt prepared from doing my long runs in the suburbs (which provide more challenging terrains than the lakefront). I saw many runners walking the uphills but I ran up all the hills and felt strong! Unfortunately, the last 5k (3.1 miles) were my toughest. I had some problems that forced me to stop and walk. It happens. It happens to some runners. It happened to me. I felt defeated and disappointed. But I finished the race, I finished six minutes over my goal time. I felt sorry for myself and cried. I spoke to my coach but avoided talking to many friends.
Not all races can go as planned, which is probably one of the toughest things about running. You can train and prepare, but you cannot control everything. But what I can control is how I handle these defeats and hope I learn some lessons. I am incredibly appreciative of the hospitality from the San Francisco Marathon and this wonderful city. In addition to running this world-class race, I was featured in an article about Asian female runners. I will never forget this experience and the people who supported me throughout my training. I’m already looking forward to coming back next year to race the San Francisco Half Marathon! In the meantime, I’ll re-focus my training for the Chicago Marathon after I get back from a trip to Napa 🙂