It was still dark out when us early start runners took off. It was nice running through the city at that hour. Though I couldn't say it was quiet. There were thousands of us just in the early start alone. But it was neat to be running through the streets with the stores still closed and no traffic noise.
I was looking forward to mile 1.5 which is where the first on route entertainment would be. The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir was there dressed out in their robes and everything! They sounded great and as you ran by they'd look you in the eye and smile and wave at you while they kept perfect pitch. They were just awesome! To top it off, they were there ready to go for us early starters. Many of the other on route entertainment weren't there when we went by. I supposed they planned to set up for the regular start. Too bad for me.
At mile 2 there was a coat donation station. It's pretty cold in the morning when you start. But you warm up pretty fast once you start running. So instead of having to carry your coat with you or toss it on the side of the road, a group is waiting to take your coat from you and they donate it to the homeless. They are helping people in need and keeping the streets clean! Cool!!!
The weather was pretty nice in the beginning. But as soon as we turned right at Ghiraradelli Square a COLD wind blasted us right in the face! Oh it stopped us in our tracks! But we had to push on.
It was still dark when we hit Chrissy Fields. There were motorcyclists perched at certain points on the trail to shine their headlights down the paths so we could see where to run. Very nice!
There were so many people who came out to help.
The next several miles were just hills. Uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill, uphill and so on. I was getting tired and the temperature was dropping even though the sun was up now.
We were climbing this stiff hill that just went on forever! I was about to tell Cindy I needed to take a break when I saw this young boy up in the distance wearing a bright orange shirt. He was looking down the hill at us expectantly. As we neared I saw he was holding a HUGE pan of orange slices!!!! Oh wonders of wonders!!! Carbs and liquid that wasn't out of my hydropack!!! I get sooooo sick of my stupid electrolyte drink over a long course. But you have to keep a steady supply of carbs, sodium and fluids going through your system. So you keep drinking it until you just can't stand it. The oranges looked better than slices of gooey chocolate cake!!!!
"OOOHHHHH ORANGES!!!!!!! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!" I gushed as I grabbed an orange on my way past. The boy just looked at me with a worried expression. I wondered if he understood why one little orange sliced made me so happy.
We kept climbing the hill and there were people in orange shirts lining both sides and they literally cheered you up the hill!! As I said, I was already exhausted and this was the steepest, longest hill on the course so far. But I didn't even slow my stride simply because there was not one yard where there wasn't multiple people cheering you on. You just couldn't stop when they were working so hard to encourage you to the top! It was just freaking amazing!
And I did make it all the way up the hill! And at the very end there was a man holding out a canister of handy wipes!!! I just wanted to cry!! Why would handy wipes make me cry?? Ok, sometimes when your body is under extreme stress you get a little fragile and sensitive.
Actually, seeing the handy wipes sent a clear message: "We thought long and hard about what you runners would need from us to support you." They thought about how our hands would be sticky after the oranges and they gave us handy wipes so we wouldn't have to run the rest of the race with sticky fingers. Seriously, that was so sweet. In a marathon, any little annoyance is amplified into a huge annoyance! Those handy wipes was a symbol of their caring about us. :)
If you think I'm crazy talking so much about a stupid handy wipe. Just wait until mile 23 when a piece of licorice saves my life.