Wow, I simply can’t believe that in 2 days from now I’ll be finished with my first marathon!  I’m very excited, a little nervous, and still feeling ready.  Taper’s been good – the last of the stiff muscles from 3 weeks ago have faded and I’m really feeling antsy.

I never did get around to saying more about the 26 miler.  All in all it was a good experience.  I dropped back to a slower group since I’d not finished the 23, and off we set.  Peter came along and manned a water stand too, somewhere around miles 5/16 I think.  Right before the REALLY BIG 5 BLOCK LONG HILL.  It’ll be a long time before the coaching staff is forgiven those hills…  😛  We set off from the park, along Lake, OVER the hill toward the marina, and along the Embarcadero.  it was a great time, since the half marathoners started passing us on the way back at around mile 6, and then around mile 8 or 9 we started to see the return of the elite runners, so there was lots of support and encouragement.  then out on the embarcadero, there were even a few people who recognized the program and decided to cheer.  my feet sped up, suddenly I’m leading the group…  😉  This is about where I realize not only will i make it thru today (mile 10 and no knee issues, YAY!) but that it’ll be no problem going faster on race day because, well, I’m an extrovert and performer at heart and people will cheer.  If people cheer, I WILL keep going. (YOU ALL COME OUT AND CHEER YOU HEAR?)  We turn around about 10.5 miles in, go back UP the hill (curse you coaches!  😉 give Peter a big sweaty hug and keep on going in one big mob of 12 runners.

Its really funny, running 26 miles…  Honestly, around mile 18 I’m still flying high and making odd statements like “wow is that mile 18 already?  I’m not even tired yet…”  By mile 20 the pace group is falling apart and my tune has changed to “sorry, can’t wait for you if I stop now I won’t start again”  Instead of a large group of runners, we became a stretched out string of runners, each of us just putting one leg in front of the other.  My knee had actually started to whine several miles ago, so I had to really watch my stride, cuz it would HURT if I got out of alignment, but I was fine if I kept in line.  By mile 20 or so the rest of me hurt too so I didn’t care so much about the knee  😛  I started to really feel like a machine for putting one foot in front of the other, with pistons and gears instead of muscles and tendons.  We came back into the park, and most of the way through it, then set off BACK through it for 3 miles to the AIDS memorial grove at mile 23.  now, I’d promised myself that I’d walk the last 3, since I’d not done the 23, but the grove was so emotional – very shady and quiet.  Coach was there and I think she was a bit concerned because I was crying.  Really, seeing mile 23 on that sign, there in the memorial grove, was when I KNEW, down to my bones, REALLY KNEW I would make it.  And of course I couldn’t stop running there.  So I kept on at the walk-run pace for another mile or so before the emotion wore off and I remembered I was supposed to walk now to not hurt myself.  And I got to watch oh, pretty much everyone in the long stretched out line of our pace group that I’d passed, pass me back.  It was a slow walk  😛  I managed to pick up someone that also wanted to walk it in easy, and we finished the 26 plus the little recovery walk together.  I hugged the 26 mile sign.  A couple picnicking there said they’d seen a lot of that today…  Right before you turn the last corner and get back to base station, they’d set up a sign saying “Run across the finish line!”  We laughed and checked for the words “just kidding” on the back, and strolled across the line.  Then Peter and I headed out for a really nice beach cantina lunch (I was starving to death, i swear) complete with seared ahi and a big Ben and Jerry’s banana split.  😛  I earned it, right?

Just FYI I was up and walking the next day…  😛  even walking NORMAL by Tuesday and running again by Thurs.  The 8 mile with the team went well, tho I think I was the only person in our little group that would agree with that statement.  Mom, dad and Valerie were up, so Val joined me while mom walked.  Then we headed up to Ottawa for the linux symposium.  4 people joined me for my runner BOF thurs (including one who is running the same marathon) and well, no one seemed to be awake Saturday, which was okay because I still got to see the only sun that day by getting up at the ungodly hour of 7.  This week I’ve been taking it really eeasy, and sticking to the “no more than 30 mins, no really” rule.  its kind of a letdown, really.  I’m just feelign warmed up after 30 mins…  But the up side is all the stiff muscles really do seem to have worked themselves out and I’m feelign ready to go on Sunday.  We’ll take off tomorrow midday, check in for the race, and find a nice Italian place for me to stuff my face with pasta, then I hope to sleep before dragging my arse up at o dark o’clock for sunscreen, oatmeal and a date with my foam roller before meeting up with Melissa at 5:45 at the AIDS marathon tent, in more than plenty of time for the 6:25 tortoise wave start time.  Off to packing my run bag!I’ll try to pop back on and leave my runner number so you all can track my progress on race day.