Monday, May 16, 2016

Bay to Breakers 2016

I did it! I'm as surprised as you are. 
Every year, it seems I have an interesting story about why that year's Bay to Breakers was so special. How even though it's the same race every year, it never loses its sheen, and never fails to reduce me to tears when I see the ocean appear in front of me. This year -- yesterday -- was no different. In many ways it is the same race, but you know, you can't really say that. No race, even if the course is the same, is ever the same race twice. 

This year has found me, much to my chagrin, in a similar space as last year. Last year I was coming back from an injury, and hadn't been running much. This year, I've been struggling with plantar fasciitis, and before yesterday I hadn't run at all in more than a month! In fact, until Saturday, I hadn't really known what I was going to do about this year's event. Would I walk? Walk and run? Run? It all really depended on how my foot was feeling. 

Thankfully, as with previous years, I seem to have received a gift of that Bay to Breakers Magic that seems to follow me around. Last week, I visited my podiatrist, who taped me up and sold me some inserts that have worked magic on my heel. She also told me that if the pain in my foot went away, I could do a "test run." Over the next few days, the pain in my foot dwindled to nothing, and on Saturday morning, right before I went to the race expo, I experienced my first pain-free yoga class in months. This was a really big deal to me. I also walked extensively on Saturday, to the race expo and back, and it still felt ... dare I say close to normal? This was amazing to me, given how much it had been causing me constant pain just weeks prior. 

I knew that day that I'd be running the race. I didn't really tell anyone, though Gabe told me he knew after the fact that I'd run the entire thing. I  gave myself some ground rules: I'd stop if it hurt at any point, I should feel free to take walk breaks, I'll take my time and just aim to be better than 12 minutes/mile, and I'll enjoy every darn second of it. And guess what? It went perfectly. Just completely perfectly. Again. This race always goes so well for me, and I am so grateful. Looking back over my blog posts from this race in previous years, I'm struck by how magical it always is, and by how far I've come, and by how little pressure I always put on myself. It's just a really fun time. 

The weather was absolutely perfect this year, bordering on too warm, which -- hey, this is San Francisco, I'll take it! I ran with my windbreaker balled up in my hand, and that was just fine with me. When the race began, I felt the euphoria of running take over, on a level I hadn't felt in some time, and I knew I would be running the entire race. I felt it in my soul. And run it, I did. I even ran the Hayes Street Hill without stopping to walk, and I don't believe I'd ever done that before! Something in me was breaking free, and I felt so elated.

As in previous years, after crossing the finish line (this year's time: 1 hour, 27 minutes), I walked 3 miles back to the Haight, where Gabe and I had lunch at the Citrus Club, then walked home to Hayes Valley. A nap ensued, followed by a movie, tons of food and an early bedtime. It was a great day.

And today? My foot feels fine, which is more than I ever could have hoped for. The rest of my body is aching pretty hard, but I'm so happy it is. It means I got out there and ran again. 

Thank you, all of you, for all of your support during the last few weeks, as I've been unable to run and struggling with fears that I'd never run again. I now know I will be running again, and hopefully will come out of this latest event a better runner than ever. Until next year, Bay to Breakers!

The crowd at the beginning of the race. As always, lots of Waldos. 

At the finish line, Ocean Beach. Another perfect day.



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