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Last weekend, AG ran her first-ever marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, CA, as part of the NYC chapter of Team in Training. Not only is she EN’s girlfriend (which is a sterling recomendation), but she is also funny, thoughtful, a talented baker, and an admirer of the elites (yes, she knows their names and can match them with faces). She is also supportive, having come to Staten Island just to cheer EN and the rest of us on a few weekends ago. Because of all of this, I invited her to write up a race report, which follows.

But before I launch you into her report, I ask you this: can you imagine running the race of your life–a race in which you finish under 3 hours, and beat the elites invited to the course–but yet do not receive proper credit? You don’t get to break the tape as the first finisher, you don’t get to be acknowledged on the podium, nor do you get any of the prize purse? I can’t imagine ever being that fast, but I can imagine the crushing humiliation, and the subsequent anger, of being completely overlooked and underestimated. As it turns out, the winner of this marathon was a talented runner (outrunning the declared winner by 11 minutes), but Arien O’Connell was not an elite, and therefore her winning time was not credited as winning. Click here to read about the gross mishandling of the situation by race officials, who finally declared Arien a winner just today.

Without further ado, onto AG’s account of the race, which is much more uplifting.

Dearest TK, 
I pasted a few emails together in hopes that some part of the following ramble might be useful for Pigtails Flying.  Seeing John Bingham was super-duper awesome and I am glad my notions of celebrity are understood by others. [“Others” being me–PF]
Happy Thursday,
AG

The 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon, and my own first marathon, began on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday morning, only to end on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday afternoon.

I was part of the early start and hit the road at 5:30 AM, after my mandatory double-shot of espresso and Clif Bar.  The group was bubbling with excitement and thinned out early as we navigated the darkened streets of Fisherman’s Wharf.  I picked up my pace at mile 3 and trotted up to the front group by mile 5.  The first 10 miles ticked off pretty easily, but goodness was it cold!  Passing toward mile 11, I caught site of a few firemen [Firemen! Yummy!-PF] in tuxedos making their way to the finish line to get those medals ready for the finishers.  That was the second-best site of the day (of course the best was the Finish Line!). 

Funny moment: Mr. Pace Car hit the brakes and stopped quickly just before mile 8.  As the road was super narrow, yours truly was right on the bumper and ran into the back of the car.  Cross my heart, there is a bump on my knee to prove it! 

The back half of the course was very lonely and one of the most physically challenging tasks I have encountered (can you say “hills?”).  As the elite runners starting breezing by, a few took a moment to wish me a good race and offer a word of encouragement.  Thank you, elites!  At mile 15, I did a quick check of my watch and some pseudo mental-math to learn I could break 5:30, my achievable goal.  Around the rear of Lake Merced, my watch read 4:22 and I thought of some friends who would already be finished running if they were here in San Fran.  So, EN/TK/CN/DH, here’s to you.  I figured ya’ll would be eating up all of the post-race food and I should hurry it up to get my fair share.  That pushed my pace a bit and I came off the lake with a fury to conquer the last 4.2 miles.  Back on the highway I saw that the ocean and the sky were still melted together in a curtain of misty grey fog, which seemed to be unconcerned with the fact that I like a bit of sunshine in my runs. 

The course teased a small amount of flat ground on the last mile.  Lost in the dream of warm clothes and a cup of coffee, I looked up to see our head coach, Ramon Bermo, clanging his cowbell at the 0.2 mile mark.  I caught his eye and saw him check his watch and raise an eyebrow in surprise.  Either he didn’t recognize me or he was shocked to see me actually still running at that point in the course. 

When all was done, I came through the finish in 5:14:30….not bad for my first attempt.  To the joy of my sweetheart, I barely noticed the firemen with Tiffany boxes and made a beeline to ice, water, and bananas.  A quick stop to the medical tent for some ice was highlighted by my first celebrity encounter.  As I sat with a bag of frozen water on my already frozen leg, I looked up to see the face of John Bingham.  He dropped in to stow a bag and chat with the doc, and graced me with a few words of wisdom after hearing I ran the course in over 5 hours: “Good, then you got your money’s worth.”  After picking up my jaw off the ground, I decided to close this chapter on my first marathon and joined the pit of stretchers behind the medical tent and congratulated myself, as I’d just entered the small circle of runners who have successfuly completed a marathon. 

Of all the competitors, about 25% were associated with TNT.  The national total for this event’s fundraising was $18 million!  Thank you all for helping us get to that finish line.

[Congratulations AG on a race well run, and on contributing your portion of the money raised to find a cure for leukemia!–PF]

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