Sunday, July 26, 2009

Part 10 - Ain't No Party Like a Vegan Party

Part 10 –

As soon as I collected as many anti-pain patches as I could, I called Kris on my cell phone.

“I’m in!”

“Great Love. I’m waiting for you right outside the entrance to the field. I’m to the side in the shade.”

“Good. It’s HOT today!”

“I know,” Kris replied. “I hate to tell you this. But you have quite a long walk yet.”

“Yeah, I remember that.” I said, “See you soon.”
But I forgot it was uphill! There was at least another mile to walk to the entrance of the post-run festivities called “Footstock”. And it was uphill all the way! No fair!

Toward the end there was another small group of the fearful fundalmentalists. What a buzz kill! I mean I had just finished my longest run ever that I had spent lots of time and effort to train for. I was feeling really good about my accomplishment and then I have to hear, again, about how I was going to hell and I needed to repent. Bummer.

But then I saw Kris’ grinning face and I forgot all about my imminent damnation.

We hugged and congratulated each other then turned to limp into the festival.

There thousands of people in this huge outdoor arena. There were booths all along the perimeter. We were to meet out group at the VegNews booth. VegNews is a great magazine for the veggie lifestyle and health. Check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it whether you’re a meat eater or not. They were providing the post race food for us and I couldn’t wait!

We headed straight down the middle of the field to a row of booths we guessed would house the VegNews group. As usual, once I had my target in sight, I made a bee line to it with the exclusion of awareness of anything else. That and the fact that I was exhausted, caused me to walk right over our group.

“Hey look Jill,” Kris said as he put his hand on my shoulder to stop me.

I looked around wondering what he wanted me to see and realized I was about to walk across the picnic blanket of our group. Oops!!

I really expected to be the last ones in. but I could see there were still a few out. Made me feel a little good not to be last. Then I saw the food. I was HUNGRY and was looking forward to a vegan feast. They had platters of fresh fruit laid out and it was all my favorites! Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, oranges! Yum! Then they had aluminum packets of the entrée, falafels. I had never had falafels before. So I was excited to try them out.

Kris and I found a vacant spot along the blanket and we were introduced to the gal from VegNews. She was cute as can be and just a sweetie.

“You ready for a falafel?” she said handing us each a packet.

“Oh, yeah!” I said as Kris and I unwrapped them.

We both took a big bite and VegGirl says: “Oh, I forgot to tell you they aren’t vegan, I hope that’s ok.”

Kris and I froze. What? I was trying to think of something to say but I was at a loss. (I know, hard to believe). VegNews is a big sponsor of Organic Atheletes. They know they are a vegan group and don’t take it lightly. What in the world are they thinking??

I was still scanning every last one of my brain cells trying to find something gracious and appropriate to say when she laughed and said, “Just kidding!”

OMG! We all laughed. I like this girl! I love people who aren’t afraid to joke around! J And the falafels were awesome!!! They tasted so good! Kris said he would have to make some after we got home. He did and they were great too!

We were right next to a tent where they were broadcasting a radio show for a local rock station. The DJ of course was describing what was going on around him and I heard him say, “Right next to me I have the Organic Atheletes. ‘Go Vegan’ ” he read off our jerseys.

We cheered.

“Vegan. Wow. I couldn’t do that.”

Why do people say that? They don’t even know. It’s not that hard. So VegGirl gets up and takes a plate of fresh fruit to him. Which he gobbles down. And during the next music break he gave us a little plug. “Thanks to the Organic Atheletes and VegNews for all the fruit. It’s delicious!!”

Later, she brought him over a falafel, then a copy of the magazine. We got nice plugs each time. By the time we left I believe he was thinking going vegan wasn’t as tough as he first thought.

The next order of business was to get back to the hotel. I had tried to keep stretching while we were sitting on the blanket so I wouldn’t get too stiff. But I was moving pretty slow. And we had a lot of ground to cover yet. We had to walk half a mile to purchase the bus ticket. (The ticket booth was at the other side of the arena and the arena was huge!)

They had express busses standing by to take the runners back into town. (We had to walk two miles from the ticket booth to the bus.) We weren’t exactly sure where it would drop us. But we knew it would be Union square. So we could get to the hotel from there.

I warned Kris. The busses were going to stink!! They pack them as full as possible and they are all runners/walkers who finished 8 miles that day. So you can imagine the funk that was emanating from the bus! Luckily we got on a bus early enough to get a seat. But they kept packing so many people that there were at least as many people standing as there were sitting.

So our bus made it into the Union Square area and I was trying to determine where our hotel was so I would know where to get off the bus. I got my bearings after we had passed the hotel. Unfortunately, the bus was going down hill. Which meant we would have to walk uphill to get back to the hotel. Ugh! But we did it.

Kris was melting under the hot sun. So half way back to the hotel he crossed the street so he could walk in the shade. My legs were so tired, I choose to stay in the sun rather than take the few extra steps to cross the street. That was how tired I was.

The day before we were in the hotel elevator and another couple were in it with us. The guy said, “You running tomorrow?”

I got excited as I assumed they were runners too. “Yes! You too!?”

“No way!” the wife exclaimed, “We’re not crazy!!”

“Yeah,” the husband backed her up, “You couldn’t pay me to do that.”

I didn’t get why some people thought runners were out of their minds. But plodding up the hills of San Francisco with the sun trying to melt me, sore feet, a screaming hamstring, and a level of fatigue I haven’t felt since I finished my first century ride, I started to understand. (But I was already considering coming back next year!)

Part 9 - Coming In

I was getting dehydrated again. And by the time I had made it to the last water stop I looked for a volunteer with a water bottle with the least amount of water in it. The bottles they were using to fill the runners cups were large and a full one would weigh more than I wanted to carry. So I approach the volunteer with the least amount of water and asked if I could take the whole bottle. She said sure. So I had a bottle with me to stay hydrated for the rest of the route.

The bottle was still heavy. But that was good because it encouraged me to keep drinking so I could ditch the bottle. Which I did in a recycle bin. J

Finally, I saw the six mile marker!!

Only two more to go!

I’m sure Kris was already in. Then I saw him jog past me several feet to my right, naked, with his running shoes in his hands. What???? I looked again. He looked a lot like my husband. Same height, hair color, hair line, complexion and build. But two things told me it was not my husband; 1) my husband would never be naked in public under any circumstances. You couldn’t pay him any amount of money to do that. So that was my first clue. 2) I know my husband naked and that was not him. But the resemblance was uncanny.

I should have grabbed my camera and got a picture. But I was too slow. He was long gone before I thought of it. To this day I sometimes entertain the idea that Kris lost himself in the spirit of San Francisco and got a little crazy.

Then came the boobies! On the side of the road were several women and a couple men with a big sign saying “Save the tatas!” They were women of all shapes and sizes holding big bowls with pink ribbons on them. They were lined up in all their topless beauty soliciting donations to fight breast cancer. What a great idea but how many runners are carrying cash on them and how many will stop? I wish I had money to donate because I, for one, LOVE boobies! I’d be happy to toss some bills in their bowls. I’ll have to remember them next time and bring some bills just for them.

All of a sudden, I saw the windmill! There’s a windmill on the West side of Golden Gate park. It marks the final turn to the finish line. This meant I had less than a mile to go!
I turned left and the Pacific Ocean was on my right. The waves crashing was a wonderful sound. The ocean breeze was most welcomed and the smell of the ocean in the air was a great break from the BO I’d been smelling for the last 7 miles!

I was tired!!!! But I kept plugging. I had made up my mind I was going to run the last full mile and then sprint in when I could. So that’s what I did.

When I turned the last corner I felt like the finish line was just up ahead. But now as I ran toward it, it seemed to be slipping further and further into the distance. How does that happen??? I kept plugging away. People were lined up along the route (as they had been for the whole run) but here they were cheering more intensely than anywhere else. You heard so much encouragement which I sorely needed.

“Way to go!!!!””Keep going! You can do it!!”
“We’re proud of you!!!! You did it!”
“You’re there! Congratulations.”
“You go girl. Keep it up!!”

I respond so well to that time of encouragement. It was so great! I love that people will come out to cheer on perfect strangers. It really helps me keep my chin up in a world that can seem so cold. Those times when I feel like no one cares about each other, I would do well to remember this day.

I knew I was going to make it when I heard the announcer.

“Coming across the finish line right now is Jeff Thompson from Oregon. It’s his second Bay to Breakers. Way to go Jeff! And right behind Jeff we have Martha Diaz who is 76 years young finishing Bay to Breakers right now! Way to go Martha!

At first I thought these people must be running celebrities that I haven’t heard of. Though I couldn’t figure out why they’d be finishing close to me. Then it dawned on me, they must have a PC hooked up to the mats on the finish line and the info stored on the chips must be displaying on the announcer’s computer screen. He’s looking at the info and reading off items of interest.

Sure enough, before the finish line there was another mat. I ran across it and wondered if he’d read off my name. Nope. I crossed the final mat at the official finish line and didn’t hear my name. Oh well, I finished my first Bay to Breakers. That was good enough for me!

After you cross the finish line there are lines of people handing you stuff . The first group was a company promoting heat patches. They make patches of different sizes that you stick on your body where ever you ache and it delivers heat to the area. I knew my hamstrings would be screaming as soon as I stopped walking. Their representatives were lined up for a quarter mile handing these to any runner who got close enough. I started with the rep in the front and made my way down that whole line grabbing these patches like a yoyo dieter snatching food off a free buffet! I thought I might gather enough to cover my whole body in them! That’d be great!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Part 8 - On With the Run

I made it up on over hill hell and was treated with a spectacular site, as I was running down a street, there were a line of motorcycle cops blocking a side street. I have always had a “thing’ for motorcycle cops and I know what it is. It’s the boots! Those shiny slick tall black boots. Yum!! And here were six motorcycle cops all lined up like lollipops in a candy store! Yep! They needed to be licked! Uh hum. Sorry.

So I stopped to take their picture. The funniest thing, I couldn’t see the viewer on my camera because the sun was glaring on it. But I tried to aim it so I got a wide shot of all of them from head to toe. But when I checked the pictures when we got back all I had shot was their feet!!! How funny!

By the second water stop I was dehydrated again. This time there were cups! Yeah! But I had discovered something back at the first water stop. Lot’s of water spills on the ground as people grab up and toss away their cups. Also, a lot of the cups are dropped on the ground and the runners trample on top of them. The cups are coated in wax and that wax gets spread on the road from the runners trampling across them. So it’s very slippery. So I knew to be careful. I slowed down, grabbed my cup drank and made sure I tossed it in the garbage. I turned back toward the road and just stepped out and started to run again when I heard a yelp right behind me.


I felt someone kick the inside of my ankle. I could tell by the angle of the kick that someone was falling behind me. I was determined not to let them take me down with them so I just tried to jump to get out of their way and tried to land as far forward without slipping myself. Luckily I have great balance and I landed out of the way of the person and didn’t slip myself. I knew the person had fallen and etiquette dictates that I turn around and help the person up. I would hate to disappoint Emily Post. So I turned to help the person up.

There on the ground was a young lady holding up a beer can while she caught herself with her other hand.

“I didn’t spill my beeeeer!” she proudly called to the crowd. People cheered! I looked at her beer and was not surprised to see it was a domestic……Budwiser…..light.


Have you ever noticed that the beer cans that are left littered around our world are usually cheap domestics? There’s a reason for that. That’s all I’m going to say.

So I reached down to give her a hand up and ask, “You ok?”

“Yeah!” she said, “I didn’t spill my beer!”

“I see.” I replied with a kind smile.

Emily Post would be proud.

Part 7 - Hill Hell

Now something I haven’t shared with you yet is that I was wearing the Organic Atheletes triatholon shorts to run in. These are my favorite shorts! Not because they are so versatile but because they have “GO VEGAN!” stamped across the butt! It makes me giggle! My big butt makes a perfect billboard for a good cause! And I could just imagine few people could have missed my advertisement! Those of you who know me know I love humor and have a lot of enthusiasm and energy.

Usually, those traits are positive ones. However, sometimes the combination causes me to have an uncontrollable urge to “act up”. For instance, all I wanted to do while wearing these shorts was wave my butt at people and shout “Go Vegan!” I’d look like those bee scouts who find a great pollen source, fly back to the hive then do the ‘butt dance”. These bees will turn in circles but stop and shake their back ends in the direction the other bees should fly to find the pollen.

That would have been me; shake my butt, “Go Vegan!”; turn, shake my butt, “Go Vegan!” ; repeat a hundred times. But unbeknownst to my husband, I took four tranquilizers before we left the hotel so I would ‘behave’. (Not behave like a bee)! J

Another side effect of wearing the shorts (and the singlet which also has “Go Vegan” on the back) is that is caused me to do my very best and at the least keep my posture strong. I know that if I acted tired or covered the course slouching like I was too tired to do this, it would give a bad impression to vegans everywhere. Some people have the idea that vegetarians and vegans are not as healthy as meat-eaters. Which, ask your Drs., is generally false. So even when I was walking I walked brisk, strong and with a small on my face.

Even when I saw the HILL.

I could see it even when I was a full mile away. It was amazing. Not only its grade was impressive but you could see thousands of people on it and approaching it. You could look onto this huge river of people moving up this hill! So I had a long time to imagine my experience on the hill. I told myself, “You don’t have to run it. Walking is fine! Don’t over do it.”

But on the hill is where I met the zombies. So I had to run up the hill after all.

So I’m walking up the hill and there are so many people in funny costumes and some non-costumes. One of the strongest memories of the hill was that the people in various states of undress all seemed in particularly good shape. Strange phenomenon. It was probably that by this point in the run my endorphins were pumping at full force. So you know, everyone probably looked good. Or maybe I had gotten too many whiffs of the funny cigarettes. Whatever, I was enjoying the view.

There were a TON of spectators on the hill. The residents of the hill street had tables set up for refreshments and many of them dragged out their garden hoses and kept steady streams spraying on us as we came by. All of us appreciated it because it was a hot morning and it was just getting hotter! People also filled the front stoops just to watch. Many others were hanging out their windows and would toss trinkets to us or spray us with more hoses or super soakers.

The hill was actually fun!! I picked up my pace and started gaining on this group in front of me. As I passed them, I realized their clothes and faces and hands were covered in blood!! They were ZOMBIES!!!!!!! Their costumes were cute and there were several of them. I asked the head zombie if I could please take their picture. Being such a nice zombie he said sure. So I trotted a few steps ahead so I could get them all in the picture.

They all straightened up and smiled nicely. Hardley like any zombies I have ever met! I said, “Hey, do the scarey hands! Act like you’re chasing me!” and even though they had already covered 5 or 6 hot sticky miles and were currently working hard to get up this killer hill, they put on scarey faces and proceed to ‘chase’ me up the hill.
What a nice group of zombies!

Once I got my shot I turned back around and started up the hill. I was trying to run but I admit it was slow going. I vaguely heard someone say, “Yeah Vegan!” Then “Go Vegan!” I kept running.
“Hey Vegan!”
“Vegan! Turn around.”
“Vegan! Vegan!”
Then finally; “HEY VEGAN LADY!!!!!!!!”
That’s when it finally dawned on me that someone was trying to get my attention.
I turned around and there was this young lady waving at me.
“I love your shorts!!!! Can I get a picture?”
I gave her the thumbs up sign, (because I didn’t have enough breath to speak) and I turned around and paused for a second so she could snap it and then I kept running.

I heard a lot of that on the route:”Yeah! Go Vegan!”

“Go Vegan Go!”

I only heard one, “Go vegan? Oh man, I could never do that!”

I turned around and saw this overweight woman taking a drag off a doobie. Just kidding. I didn’t look to see who said it. I just thought, “It’s easier than you think.”

I should state here that I can not claim to be vegan. But I am definitely vegetarian and lean to vegan eating more and more. I definitely agree with the vegan philosophy.

Part 6 - When Can I Run?

So we crossed the starting mat and made it past the first group of fearful fundalmentalists. But we still weren’t running. The crowd was still too thick to run. It was a little frustrating. I was so worried about being on the slow range of our assigned corral (10-12 minute miles) when now I wondered if it would have been better to have started in the faster corral just so I could at least start off running.

I knew I wouldn’t be running the whole 12k. But I thought I’d run most of it and take walking breaks only occasionally. But it was so hard to run. If you found an opening it closed in just a few seconds. Runners were supposed to stay to the left and walkers to the right. But there were walkers stretched all across the width of the road. Many runners had to run on the sidewalk even though the race guidelines said we were to stay only on the road.

So I worked my way by running and walking as I could around and between the floats and oddly dressed or not dressed participants. Sometimes I could latch onto a running ‘snake’. What would happen is a runner would see another runner spotting an opening and go for it. The other runner would follow the first runner through the opening. Sometimes multiple runners would notice this trailblazing activity and runners would keep adding on to the back end forming a ‘snake’ that would wind its way through the crowd. It worked pretty well except I couldn’t keep up with the others for too long and I’d have to drop off.

I think there were several factors contributing to my poor running performance that day. One was some health issues causing random bouts of fatigue which messed with my training, both hamstrings being pulled which curtailed my training and the fact that I hadn’t hydrated well that morning or the night before.

I could tell as we were walking toward the starting corral that I was dehydrated. We woke up so early and had to leave the hotel quickly that I only drank coffee (to wake me up) and no water that morning. I was thirsty before I started running. There were water stops every two miles along the route. So we opted not to carry our own. I didn’t want to carry more weight than I had to. So I kept my eyes peeled for the first water station.

I was sure I had covered 4 miles before the first one showed. I was so thirsty! Along the way I was contemplating buying a beverage from one of the many road side stands that the locals set up. However, I couldn’t find a beverage stand that sold anything without alcohol in it. The last thing I needed was “Tequilla shooters $1 ea (3 for $2)”

There were lots of little stands selling snacks and beverages. Lot’s of stands had “Homemade Brownies” for sale. Yeah, no way am I buying “Homemade Brownies” in San Francisco! I not only wanted to finish the race but I wanted to remember it too.

It was pretty disgusting along the route because every so often you’d get big whiffs of the “Wacky Tobbacky”. That is the last thing I want to smell on the route. What the h*ll!?!?! That is the exact opposite of why I am here. I do not hang out with people who do that and I certainly don’t want to be exposed to it on a run! I’ll admit I was pretty p*ssed off. For those of you who don’t already know, I am so anti-drug use that I make Nancy Regan look like a counter-culture hippy!

I’ll admit I should have expected it being San Francisco and all. But I was taken aback. There were also surprisingly a lot of people smoking cigarettes on the route. Granted, they weren’t running with cigarettes in their hands. But I saw several walkers that were smoking cigarettes. Yuck! I hated coming up behind someone breathing hard and getting a snoutful of second hand smoke! I learned quickly to watch as I approached people and re-route if possible.

To be fair, there was a small percentage of smokers on the route. Most participants weren’t smoking anything. So that’s good. I just prefer non-smoking running routes.

So there I was thirsty as a sponge in the Mohave desert and praying for the water stop to appear and it did!!! It was a beautiful sight! 20 or more volunteers lined up with gigantic water bottles; a million cups strung along the ground from the runners in front of me. I searched for the cup table and found an empty table. I jogged up to the first volunteer.

“Where did I miss the cups?” I asked with a desperate look in my eyes.

“We’re out,” he replied.

“What?!” I’m sure my face registered desperation.

“I can poor it in your mouth,” he said.

I tilted my head up and hoped I could drink like that without drowning. Then I remembered my college days. College is where I learned and perfected creative drinking techniques. Nothing beats a good education. Thank you Mom and Dad. That’s money well spent!!

Now partially hydrated, I went on my running/walking way. I knew after the first water stop was the dreaded HILL. I just didn’t know how far ahead it was. I was worried about how long it would take me to get up it. I wanted to run it. But with how I was already performing I didn’t think I’d have any juice left for the second half of the route if I did.