Sunday, July 25, 2010

The San Francisco Marathon: Plant-Powered Persistence

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly

What: The 2010 San Francisco Marathon
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 25, 2010
Why: Because my life isn't difficult enough

The Scoop: Does rising at 4am on a Sunday to run 26.2 miles sound like fun? Indeed. Especially if your training has, shall we say, been a bit slacking. Translation: no run of greater than 7.5 miles in more than five weeks. But vegans are super human, am I right? Yes we can.

Dawn in the City by the Bay

Press Pass fans might remember that I have a "running" challenge with one Martin Rowe of Satya Magazine and Lantern Books fame. We're founding members of The Publishers' Running Club. I covered Martin's NYC Marathon spectacular (along with my Marine Corps jog) back in late 2008. Martin is tall and young and handsome and English and smart and fast and if that's not enough a Brooklyn carpetbagger to boot. But I do trump him in one important category: This was the seventh time I was toeing the line for a full marathon (to Martin's five).

Except that I didn't know I was. Huh? My (adopted) hometown marathon consists of a series of races. There's the aforementioned Full Marathon, or you can choose to run the First Half Marathon or the Second Half. Since the full and first half begin in the same place at the same time, even as I lined up to start I hadn't decided if I'd take the "easy" way out and call it a day after 13.1 miles. But the perfect running weather—60 degrees, fully overcast skies (typical SF summer) and little wind—was an omen I couldn't resist to see what I could do... sans animal protein for 20 years.

The first half: Enjoyable conversations with a woman from New Hampshire running her "first full" (as advertised on the back of her leg) and the guy trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon who had trained shall we say just a slightly wee bit more than I left us all loose and relaxed. And wouldn't you know that running across the Golden Gate Bridge from miles five through 10 always adds a bit of encouragement? I was feeling fine through first half when I reached the fork in the road: decision time. Turn left and finish the first half; right and commit to 26+. As hard as it is for me to do anything right, I did.

I'm in there somewhere. No. Really

Maybe I should have turned left.

The second half: Wasn't long before the fun began. Both my calves and my stomach started cramping during mile 15. Since I'd crossed the half-way point, I decided to take it one mile at time. One. Slow. Mile. At. A. Time. What's 12 miles of fun, among friends? I stumbled through Golden Gate Park then the notorious Haight-Ashbury hippy enclave, and somehow managed to stagger home with a 12 minutes improvement over last year. Not bad for an vegan old guy, eh?

The reward

Will I do another? Today I'm thinking "no," though once the pain evaporates, the memory tends to turn sunny. Maybe the NYC Marathon on 2011. Martin can pace me. We'll see.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Joe! I'm sooo impressed. I was thinking about all you marathoners as I ran my wimpy 6 miles in (sunny) Oakland.

Amy said...

congrats! that course is NO JOKE! beautiful, but a challenge. I was there cheering on 3 vegans. 2 of my friends did their first marathon and my husband (he wore a No Meat Athlete shirt) did his 4th half.

SantaCruzDad said...

Well done Mean Joe !

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