This race was so special for me.
I’ve shown horses for a large part of my life, and much like the running community, the community of people who we show horses with is tight knit and takes great care of each other. Holt Graham-Pope is also part of this community. She and her husband had a little boy, Stone, who was born with a congenital heart defect. They also have an adorable daughter who is their oldest child. I followed Holt and her husband on Facebook as they battled the surgeries & hospitals with Stone, along with whatever else life threw at them. They did this with an unwavering positivity, commitment to God, and gratefulness in their hearts unmatched by any human I have, and probably ever will, meet.
When Stone passed away on February 3rd, 2015, I was taken aback by the pain in my heart for him and his family. I had come to love the updated and his sweet smiling face. I wanted him to get better. This was so unfair. And yet, there was the Pope family, their gratitude and grace still in tact in some of the most difficult moments of life.
I knew I wanted to be a part of the outpouring of love and support for them, so when I signed up for the 2015 San Francisco Marathon, I started a crowd rise fund for Heart of Stone cause – donations that went towards the American Heart Association. Once again, I was taken aback by the support and kindness of my friends and family to be a part of this cause as well.
In late February on a hike after a long training run, I tweaked my knee. Classic runner’s knee syndromes. Naturally, I did nothing to stop, slow down, or otherwise repay my hurting body. And naturally, it repaid me by getting much, much worse. I hobbled through the Rock N Roll Half Marathon at the end of March. Weeks after the race I was still going down the stairs one legged and so slow that my boyfriend would carry me down in lieu of waiting an extra 5-10 minutes while I figured it out with the pain. I was devastated in the thought that I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon.
My mom, my Rock of Gibraltar, and my dad, with his staunch belief that I can do anything, were my saviors here. They were behind me 120% to find whatever it took to help me get running again. With lots of patience, physical therapy, a running coach, and umpteen doctors, I was running again. However, I did have to make the decision to notch it back to the half marathon. In keeping with the theme of gratitude, I reminded myself to be very grateful that I could run at all, and that I still had the support of my friends and family.
And so – here we are!
The morning of the race it was just my mom and I. We drove into the city and managed to find parking even with calling an audible to our original plan. As we walked down to the start area with 30,000 other people, I could feel the familiar pangs of nerves and anxiety starting to flutter around in my chest like trapped pigeons. They used to make me feel sick, but now I know I can use them. We did the porta potty thing, and my mom headed off to her bus. I ran into my good friend, Veronica, which was awesome. She was also running the first half and had a great race! As I scooted into my pace corral, I was just on time. Not much waiting, which was great. No time to stand and get cold and even more nervous. My pace group was very congested as we toed the line and started off. That meant a lot energy bouncing between clusters of people to get to a good pace and spot to run in the crown.
As we started running, I waited patiently for my legs to turn from gelatinous nerves to a strong cadence. When they did, I felt much better. My thoughts leveled out, my breathing slowed, and my heart rate dropped – ready to race now.
The course started off along the Embarcadero, through the marina and Chrissy Field, over the Golden Gate, through Presidio Parkway, and ended in Golden Gate park. It was a fun course, although just having recovered from the knee injury, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get back to training hills hard, so those were a little tougher. The tight quarters on the Golden Gate were also tough. It was hard to get around people to run faster, but I should have put myself in a faster pace corral, and will know that for the next time. My favorite parts of the course were the start along the Embarcadero, and the finish area in Golden Gate park.
My mom was really impressed with the runner tracking, web cams, and race day app. I can say I will be back again next year!
After the race, my mom and I hit up Sweet Maple for mimosas and breakfast. So yummy and I even ran fast enough that we missed the line that always forms there on the weekends! I can’t say thank you enough to those that remembered to wish me luck, send good thoughts, like, share, click ect. It meant more than you’ll ever know.
Final chip time, 1:44, avg pace 7:55.
Also, Pizza 1, Jennifer 0. I couldn’t finish it. But it was SO DAMN GOOD.