We stood there at the start line trying to figure out which way the race would start. Maybe that should have been a warning sign. I am just saying… there were signs.
The pace car was a Mini. Should that have been another sign? About 1 mile into the race my race buddy said, “I wonder what it feels like when you are at the front of the race.” – “You’d be chasing a Mini”, was my reply. Then we pondered, would you feel lonely, ecstatic, trying to outrace the pace car? With a sigh we realized that we probably won’t ever know.
Around mile 2 (or 3?), we ran down a hill that we ran up 2 weeks ago at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. That was weird and maybe just another sign that that things were backwards. But then again running downhill is good no matter where you are.
Mile 5 we reached the Golden Gated Bridge. My sole reason for running this race 2 weeks after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon was the medal, the t-shirt, the glory of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge running. No one ever told me that the Golden Gate Bridge goes uphill!
“All right”, I said, “What goes uphill must come downhill eventually”. That’s somewhat of a life philosophy I probably shouldn’t get into right now. I was also expecting the bridge to go “uphill both ways”, because as a runner I know very often routes go uphill both ways. A phenomenon I am trying to explore more.
At the half-way point we had completed the Golden Gate Bridge one way and were looping around to get to the other side of the bridge. This was a pretty moment with the sun coming up over the city.
Granted, the photo doesn’t show the city, but trust me it was pretty. Somewhere around this point I noticed all the other runners around me. No, really, 5,000 runners and I wouldn’t notice them before, you think. Duh! Of course, I was still trying to catch up to the front… No, but what I suddenly realized was that I heard all these different languages: French, German, Spanish, Danish, Asian languages. Considering the (relatively) small amount of runners: 5,000 (compared to the 30,0000 running the Nike Women’s (Half) Marathon 2 weeks before), I heard a lot of different languages. I am not the only one who wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge running. It made me feel at home. I am most at home in a international group of people.
Where was I? Oh, yes, at mile 6.5. I took the underpath to cross underneath the bridge to start my way back on the other side and was totally expecting the bridge to turn “uphill” on me also on the way back. But geography (geology?) was on my side (and on logic’s side) and the run back was downhill. Well, at least the bridge part…
I am going to confess once I passed the bridge and was back on solid ground (ok, that’s a somehow far-fetched term in San Francisco on top of the the San Andreas Fault), I was ready to cross the finish line. My running buddy left me around mile 8. I wasn’t going fast enough, but “the view is so pretty. Just one more photo!”. I am just saying… Anyway, she left me and I was doing ok for a mile or 2, but at mile 10 the last 2 weeks finally caught up with me. All I wanted to do was stop moving. “Please, let the finish line be here!” (at mile 10) to the more explicit “Where is the $%^&# finish line??” (at mile 11.8). At mile 12.6 I was nearly run over by a skateboarder. Not making this one up.
At mile 13.1 (or 13.4 according to my GPS watch.. just saying…) I crossed the finish line. Finally! Very happy!! Yes, it felt like a long run and maybe I don’t need to run this race again, but I DID IT!!! I CROSSED THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!!!! And now I can wear the t-shirt!!! 🙂