Monday, July 30, 2012

Worth the Hurt

If you're ever looking for something really fun to do, I highly suggest running 2 marathons, back to back. It's an uplifting experience, especially in San Francisco.

Yesterday, I did just that and ran my first ultramarathon. It was amazing. 

Race: The San Francisco Marathon, twice. Organized by Worth The Hurt
Who & Why: 6 sponsored athletes and their teams - 38 athletes in total, running to support 6 amazing charities. I was running for the Women's Sports Foundation on Meredith Dolhare's team (talk about an amazing woman) and raised $1,575. 
Mileage: 52.4 (in reality we ran 54 miles). In other words, way longer than I have ever run before.
Course: The marathon is a loop course (you start and finish in the same area). 1st loop is clockwise, 2nd is counterclockwise. 

The pre-race jitters reminded me a little of my first marathon, which was also my first of any kind of organized running events. That feeling when you're extremely excited, yet the unexpected is daunting and a little scary (ok, terrifying). You might question yourself and wonder why on earth you're there, but it doesn't occur to you to actually quit. So you remind yourself of all the training you've done (and all the carbs you've eaten) and question yourself a little less. 

Getting ready
It's morning at ~10.30pm.
Time to pose with the thermostat.
Preparing for this race posed it's own challenge. Given the midnight start time, I had planned to sleep a little in the afternoon. From 4-10pm to be precise. I eventually got in bed at 6pm, in line with "plan B".  I napped maybe 30 minutes in the end (plan C, apparently), but any rest is better than none at all. Especially if you plan to run through the night. 

My alarm went off at 10pm, and I treated it like morning. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, had coffee and breakfast. I said good morning to the people at the hotel (who responded with a very confused look). I had fully intended to trick my body and I think it worked! As I walked to the start, I was convinced the sun would come up any minute. Success.

Start & 1st loop
We gathered at 11.15pm at the tent for Worth The Hurt in the start/finish area. There was food, coffee, and a group of amazing people ready to party. True VIP style. I was a little overwhelmed with making sure I had everything, so I was grateful that my friend & 2nd loop "pacer", Roland, was there to sort me out and help me stay sane.

We set off a few minutes past midnight and I quickly realized that with such a small field of runners, I needed to make sure I kept pace with others to avoid getting lost. The people I ran with changed over the course of 26.2 miles, but everyone was in good spirits and super fun to talk to. Given everyone else's crazy impressive level of experience, I was pretty sure I would be dead last, but thankfully that did not happen. 

The first loop (backwards relative to the official race) seemed like a whole new marathon course, partly because I generally had no idea where I was. Especially once we got to Golden Gate Park. The bike marshals and mobile support crews were phenomenal for most of the race, but missed turns in the park = bonus miles for free. In total, I ran closer to 28 miles in that first loop in somewhere around 5:15. 

This first marathon is the place where you get to practice orienteering, avoid obstacles, partygoers, drunk people, and homeless people trying to tell you the wrong way to go. Too much fun. 

Lighting up the night...

Another start & 2nd loop
What's more fun than running a marathon at midnight? Running another right after.

I had a chance to refuel and rehydrate at the tent prior to jumping into the official marathon after it started at 5:30. It was like an extended aid station break and I also had the most delicious blueberry bagel that ever existed. The crowd and the energy of the start area gave me a welcome boost to keep going. Or at least wobble until I warmed up again. Like I needed more adrenaline. I was already practically on crack loopy but as it happens, the more miles I ran, the more ridiculous loopier I got. Just ask my amazing pacer, who ran the official marathon with me. Clearly, the best pacer is one who force-feeds you Gu when you need it but really don't want to eat, while keeping you so distracted you forget that you're running and he did just that. Pure awesome.

If you've ever run the San Francisco Marathon, you remember the park. I have yet to meet a soul who likes that part of the course. It's very strange...the park is so pretty and scenic. Nevertheless, all the miles you run in it makes you just want to get the heck out. There were tears, complaints and mood-swings. Don't expect me to be rational after running 30+ miles, sleep-deprived.

Once we hit mile 16, I was counting down, but on some level getting sad that the race was ending soon. I have been having so much fun (in a rather masochistic way I guess) and I just wanted it to last. But that's what other ultras are for. 


With Michael, the master of Team WSF.
Check out #KeepHerInTheGame
3 medals! From left: LA/SF Challenge, 52.4 race and Official SFMarathon 
About 0.1 miles from the finish, that Call Me Maybe song came on. Naturally, I started to run/dance, because, well, why wouldn't you?! Crossing the finish was magical, yet bittersweet. I ran an ultra, and not only that, I ran way way farther than I ever have - or (realistically) thought I could. But at the same time, I was no longer running.

2nd loop finish time: 5:29. My slowest marathon by far, but who really cares?!
Total time: 10 hours and 45 minutes (ish). 

A few minutes after crossing the line, adrenaline started wearing off and I had never felt such shooting pain in my legs. My body was screaming at me and I heard it loud and clear. But that's what painkillers are for. And massages - which we got at the tent. I'm telling you, we were treated like rock stars. 

This was the first year that Worth the Hurt put on the event, and aside from a few issues with course marking, it was pretty amazing. It is my new favorite race. Ever. 

Even if you're not into the whole running 50+miles thing, check out the amazing athletes representing some admirable causes here.

The next day - slightly tight calves, a slightly sore right ankle, general fatigue/lack of sleep and one happy me! Definitely not as sore as I expected to be, not even close! I just have to make sure to move around every 10-15 minutes to let blood circulate & avoid muscle stiffness. CEP compression socks are my BFF du jour. 
And of course, lots of downward dog and sun salutations. No running today, maybe tomorrow. Namaste.


  1. Thank u very much for writing your feelings down. I'm not a runner type of people, but it was a really nice feeling to read your report. I could imagine how deep experience it was. Congratulations Eperke : )

  2. So looked forward to this post! :) I haven't quite decided if you're an inspiration or completely crazy - probably a bit of both!! :)

  3. I didn't even realize you already wrote this post! OOOH you are my HERO!!!! loved the post- i can only imagine how crazy you got= sleep deprived and run overload. hahaha. hope to do one with you one day!!!!! so proud of you, sole mate!!!! xoxoxoxo

    1. Thank you to all of you!!! I had such a blast, but I guess my post makes that pretty obvious! :)