Imagine that you're standing on Embarcadero Street at dawn, looking out across San Francisco Bay to see the Bay Bridge lit up in all its glory, hearing Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago" in the background, and surrounded by near 25,000 other people who spent however many months training for what comes next: 26.2 miles of scenic, albeit physically demanding, running around and about San Francisco.
Well, this fat-kid-at-heart didn't just imagine it; I did it! This is my second marathon, after Vancouver, B.C. back in May--and it was a grueling endeavor, to say the least.
Runners had the option to run the full marathon, or the first or second half, which ended and started in beautiful Golden Gate Park. If you ever decide to partake in this rewarding experience, I suggest you run the first half (if not the whole), as that is where all the scenery worth seeing (Embarcadero, the Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, and part of Golden Gate Park) is to be found (as well as some glycogen depleting hills).
The second half consisted of several back-and-forths through Golden Gate Park before shooting you out to Haight Street, continuing down through the Mission and Potrero before heading back north to AT&T Field, and finishing right back where you started on Embarcadero. It was a snoozefest, which is why I decided to make the most of it around mile 24; spectators were handing out hot dogs and cans of Tecate. As I had already "hit the wall" twice--yes, twice! Around miles 15 and 22--I couldn't resist. My body was craving sustenance no matter what it was.
At mile 26, with the finish line square in my weary sight, I put on a smile, let the roar of the crowd fuel my final moments of the race, and snapped open that can of Tecate the instant my feet crossed that finish line. My final time was 4:03:41. It wasn't my best, but come on! It was hard!