They say home is where the heart is, and being back in my hometown for the day was wonderful.Showing up at the starting line and seeing 50 smiling faces was about the best homecoming I could ever ask for. There were many friends, acquaintances, and familiar faces in the group, and the energy level was phenomenal.
We started off on our way along the Embarcadero to the well-wishes from the crowd and from the other runners passing by on their morning workout. Crossing into Fisherman’s Wharf, the smells of fresh baked bread and seafood filled the air. As we ran past a gentleman standing on the street corner, he asked, “What’s this was all about?” One of the runners answered, “Life.”
Yes, today was going to be a good one.
As far as marathons go, San Francisco is not the easiest. There are hills, plenty of them. But the group today seemed used to hills. We climbed up the road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge at a steady clip, everyone looking undeterred by the steep ascent and warming temperatures. Running across the Golden Gate always holds a special magic to me, and today was the most memorable crossing ever, and it will remain the most memorable for the rest of my life. On the north side of the bridge, I met my dear friend and longtime training partner, David Ames. David was always way out in front of me when weused to run together, and today was no exception. The only difference today is that he was just an arm’s distance ahead. You see, David has Lou Gehrig's disease and is now confined to a wheelchair. I had the honor and privilege of once again running with my friend David, only this time I was pushing him. With the sun sparkling on the bay, and the glistening blue Pacific off to the other side, we made the return loop back across the Golden Gate, together (and doggone it, he was still out in front of me).
After bidding farewell to David on the south side of the bridge, the course drops down to Baker Beach, heads south across Geary Blvd, and then enters Golden Gate Park. In our group today was a runner from New Zealand, a runner from the Philippines, a runner from NYC (who didn’t get in on the lottery to the NYC Marathon, so decided to fly out to join us), a runner running her 17th marathon on this 17th marathon of the 50, a former student of my mom’s 7th grade class, and California State Senator Tom Torlakson.
Access to our support vehicle was good along the course today, so we spent plenty of time eating and drinking as we ran. The weather was flawless; little puffy clouds accented the sapphire sky above, and the breeze was just enough to keep the air refreshing, but not enough to be a burden to run against.
The main group hung together fairly tightly at a pace that was brisk. A couple other groups went at a more relaxed pace, which was absolutely fine. It seemed like every corner we turned, the group from ‘Girls on the Run’ was there cheering us on and offering support. We passed through the Haight, crossed into the Mission district, wound down behind the Pac Bell Park, and finished along the waterfront on the Embarcadero.
Several of the other groups came in behind, and everyone applauded their arrivals. Some folks just wanted to finish no matter how much time it took, some folks had no intention of running the full marathon, but decided midway to go for it, and some folks just wanted to spend a little extra time taking in the sites along the way. Either way, it all seemed to work out, and I, for one, had a blast. Judging from the hugs and high-fives amongst the group, I think others did as well.
There were six first-time marathoners who crossed the line, and a number of PR’s. One gentleman who had run the SF Marathon in July shaved nearly half an hour off his time!
At the finish, I was presented with a $2,620 donation to Karno Kids by Fleet Feet Stockton (I’m not very good at math, but I think that works out to a hundred dollars per mile for the marathon). Overall, through our running, we’ve raised close to $50,000 for kids outdoor activity programs!
I signed some books for the group, handed out some water, swapped some email addresses, had a couple great laughs together, and reminisced about the good times we had just shared. Sure, it’s about running. But mostly, as the runner in our group had said to the gentleman standing on the street corner in Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s about life.
Wishing you my best from the City by the Bay,