My First #Marathon @theSFMarathon

on (ttk.me b/4qK1) using BBEdit

Morning of the race

We woke up so early that morning of July 23rd — I cannot remember exactly when. So early that maybe I blocked it out. My friend Zoe had crashed on my couch the night before — she decided just a month before to race with me in solidarity.

Having laid out our race kits the night before, we quickly got ready. I messaged my friend & neighbor Michele who came over and called a Lyft for us. The driver took us within a couple of blocks of Harrison & Spear street, and we ran the rest of the way. After a quick pitstop we walked out to the Embarcadero to find our starting waves.

I only have a few timestamps from the photos I took before the race.

The Embarcadero and Bay Bridge still lit with lights at dawn

05:32. The Bay Bridge lights with a bit of dawn’s orange glow peeking above the East Bay mountains.

We sent Michele on her way to wave 3, and Zoe & I found our way around the chain link fences to join the crowd in wave 5.

Tantek, a police officer in full uniform & cap, and Zoe lined up in wave 5 of the San Francisco Marathon 2017

05:47. We found a police officer in the middle of the crowd, or rather he found us. He had seen our November Project tagged gear and shouted out “Hey November Project! I used to run that in Boston!” We shared our experiences running the steps at Harvard Stadium. Glancing down we noticed he had a proper race bib and everything. He was doing the whole race in his full uniform, including shoes.

Tantek and Zoe in wave 5 waiting for the start of the San Francisco Marathon

05:52. We took a dawn photo of us in the darkness with the Bay Bridge behind us. Zoe calls this the “When we were young and naïve” shot.

We did a little warm up run (#no_strava) back & forth on the Embarcadero until just minutes before our wave start time.

Sunrise behind the Bay Bridge

05:57. I noticed the clouds were now glowing orange, reflections glistening on the bay, and took another photo. Wave 5 got a proper sunrise send-off.

As we were getting ready to start, Zoe told me to feel free to run ahead, that she didn’t want to slow me down.

In the weeks leading up to the race, all my runner friends had told me: enjoy yourself, don’t focus on time. So that’s what I told Zoe: Don’t worry about time, we’re going to support each other and enjoy ourselves. She quietly nodded. We were ready.

The San Francisco Marathon 2017 Full Marathon Course Map

Map of the 2017 full marathon course from the official website.

Mile 1

06:02. We started with the crowd. That was the last timestamp I remember.

We ran at an easy sub-10minute/mile pace up The Embarcadero, you could see the colors of everything change by the minute as the sun rose.

It took deliberate concentration to keep a steady pace and not let the excitement get to me. I focused on keeping an even breath, an even pace.

That first mile went by in mere moments. I remember feeling ready, happy, and grateful to be running with a friend. With all that energy and enthusiasm from the crowd, it felt effortless. More like gliding than running. Then poof, there went the Mile 1 sign.

Mile 2

It was like gliding until the cobblestones in Fisherman’s Wharf. The street narrowed and they were hard to avoid. The cobblestones made running awkward and slowed us down. Noted for future races.

Mile 3

Running into Aquatic park was a relief.

Yes this is NPSF Mondays home territory, look out. We got excited and picked up the pace. Latent Monday morning competitive memories of so many burnout sprints on the sand. Turned the cove corner and ran up the ramp to the end of Van Ness.

Hey who just shouted my name from the sidelines? It was Lindsay Bolt at a med station. Stopped for a lightning hug and sprinted back to catch Zoe.

Back on asphalt, made it to the Fort Mason climb. Let’s do this.

Time to stretch those hill climbing legs. Strava segment PR NBD, even with a 1 min walk at the top at our 5/1 run/walk pace. Picked up the run just in time for...

Those smiles, that beard. Yes none other than perhaps two of the most positive people in NPSF, Tony & Holly! This race just keeps getting better and better.

These two are so good at sharing and beaming their joy out into the world, it lifts you off the ground. Seriously. I felt like I was running on air, flying.

Fort Mason downhill, more NPSF Mondays home territory. Glanced at my watch to see low-6min/mile pace (!!!). I know I’m supposed to be taking it easy, but it felt like less work to lean forward and flow with gravity’s downhill pull, rather than resist.

Mile 4

Slight veer to the right then left crossing the mile 3 marker to the Marina flats which brought me back to my sustainable ~10min/mile pace.

Somehow it got really crowded. We had caught up to a slower group and had to slalom back and forth to get through them. It was hard to keep a consistent pace. Slowed to about a 10-11min/mile.

Just as we emerged from the slow cluster, the path narrowed and sent us on a zig towards the beach away from Mason street. Then left, another left, and right back onto Mason street after the mile 4 marker.

What was the point of this momentum-killing jut out towards the bay? They couldn’t figure out some other place to put that distance? Really hope they fix it next year.

Mile 5

The long and fairly straight stretch of Mason street was a nice relief. Though it was at this point that I first felt like I had to to pee. I figured I could probably ignore it for a bit, especially with the momentum we had picked up.

I should note that Zoe and I have been run/walking 5min/1min intervals so far this entire time, maybe fudging them a bit to overlap with the water stations so we could walk at each one. We grabbed a cup of water every time. One cup only.

So it was with the station before the mile 5 marker. That station was particularly well placed, right before one of the biggest hills in the course.

Mile 6

We flew by the mile 5 marker and started the uphill grind towards the bridge. I just ran this hill 3 weeks ago. Piece of cake I thought.

Practicing hills for a race course is a huge confidence booster, because nearly everyone else slows down, even slowing to a walk, because hills seem to intrinsically evoke fear in runners, likely mostly fear of the unknowns. How long is this hill? Am I going to run out of energy/steam/breath trying to run up it? Am I going to tire myself out? Practicing a hill removes such mysteries and you know just how long you’ll have to push how hard to summit it how fast. Then you can run uphill with confidence, knowing full well how much energy it will take to get to the top.

Despite all that, hills are still the hardest thing for me. Zoe quickly outpaced me and pulled ahead. I kept her in sight.

We kept a nice 5/1 run/walk pace. And while running up the hill, I glanced at my heart monitor to pace myself and keep it just under 150bpm.

Now for the bridge. Did I mention the view running up to the bridge? I did not, because there was almost no view of the bridge, just a blanket of fog in the Marina.

On the bridge we could see maybe a few hundred meters in front of us, and just the base of the towers. @karlthefog was out stronger than I’ve seen in any SF Marathon of the past four years. And I was quite grateful because I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen.

Mile 7

That blanket of fog also meant nearly no views, which meant nearly no one stopping to selfie in the middle of the bridge. This was the smoothest I have ever seen a race run over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The initial uphill on the bridge went by faster than I ever remember. As the road flattened approaching the halfway point, it started to feel like it was downhill. I couldn’t tell if that was an illusion from excitement or actually gravity.

Sometime after the midpoint, as the bridge cables started to rise once again, I finally saw my first NP racer wearing a November Project tagged shirt coming the other way. He was a tall guy that I did not recognize, likely visiting from another city. We shouted “NP” and high fived as we passed. Smack.

Mile 8

As we crossed the bridge into Marin, the fog thinned to reveal sunlit hills in front of us. Pretty easy loop around the North Vista Point parking lot, biggest challenge was dodging everyone stopping for gu. It was nice to get a bit of sunshine.

We looped back onto the bridge with just enough momentum to keep up a little speed, with the North tower in sight.

Mile 9

The Golden Gate Bridge felt even faster on the way back, and it actually felt good to run back into the fog. Sunglasses off.

We picked up even more speed as the grade flattened, eventually becoming a downhill as we approached the South Tower. That mile felt particularly fast.

Mile 10

Launching into the tenth mile with quite a bit of momentum, I kept us running a bit longer than the five minutes of our 5/1 run/walk, flying around the turns until the bottom of the downhill right turn onto Lincoln Boulevard.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had just set PRs for the Strava segments across the bridge, having run it significantly faster than any practice runs.

Flying run turned into fast walk, we shuffled up the Lincoln climb at a good clip, which felt less steep than ever before.

Fast walked right up to the aid station, our run/walk timing had worked out well. After we downed a cup of water each and started running again, we both related that a quick bathroom stop would be a good idea, and agreed to take a pee-break at the next set of porta-potties.

Mile 11

One more run/walk up to the top of the Lincoln hill. Been here many times, whether running the first half of the SF Marathon, or coming the other direction in the Rock & Roll SF half, or running racing friends up to the top. Again it felt less steep than before.

All those Friday NPSF hillsforbreakfast sessions followed by Saturday mornings with SFRC running trails in the Marin headlands had prepared me to keep pushing even after 10 miles. Zoe pulled ahead, stronger on the uphills.

We knew going in that we had different strengths, she was faster up the hills and I was faster down them, so we encouraged each other to go faster when we could, figuring we would sync-up on the flats.

Having reached the end of our 1 minute walk as we crested the hill, we picked up our run, I leaned forward and let gravity pull me through. Zooming down the hill faster than I’d expected, by the time I walked through the water stop at the bottom I had lost sight of Zoe. I kept walking and looking but couldn’t see her.

Apparently I had missed the porta-potties by the aid station, she had not, and had stopped as we had agreed.

Mile 12

Crossing mile marker 11, I turned around and started walking backwards, hoping to see Zoe. A few people looked at me like I was nuts but I didn’t care, I was walking uphill backwards nearly as fast as some were shuffling forwards. And I knew from experience that walking backwards works your muscles very differently, so I looked at it as a kind of super active-recovery.

After walking nearly a half mile backwards I finally spotted Zoe running / fast walking to catch-up; I think she spotted me first.

Just after we sync’d back up, and switched back to walking, a swing-dancing friend of mine who I had not seen in years spotted me and cheered us on at 27th & Clement!

We finally got to the top of the Richmond hill (at Anza street I think), and could see Golden Gate Park downhill in front of us.

Mile 12 was my slowest mile of the race, just after my fastest (mile 11). We picked up the pace once more.

Mile 13

We sped into the park, and slowed once we hit the uphill approaching the aid station there. I remember this point in the course very clearly from last year’s first half. At that point last year my knees were unhappy and I was struggling to finish. This year was a different story. Yes I felt the hill, however, my joints felt solid. Ankles, knees, hips all good. A little bit of soreness in my left hip flexor but nothing unmanageable.

However this hill did not feel easy like the others. Not sure if that was due to being tired or someting else.

Making a note to practice this hill in particular if (when) I plan to next run the first half of the SF Marathon (maybe next year).

Speaking of, just after the aid station this is where they divide up first half and full marathon runners. At the JFK intersection, the half runners turn left with a bit more uphill toward their last sprint to the finish, and the marathoners turn right, downhill towards the beach.

I have lost count of the number of times I have run down JFK to the beach, in races like Bay to Breakers, and Sunday training runs in Golden Gate Park. Zoe & I in particular have run this route more times than I can remember. This was super familiar territory and very easy for us to get into a comfortable groove and just go.

Mile 14

As we flew past the mile 13 marker, we high-fived (as we did at every mile marker we passed together), and I told Z hey we’re basically halfway done, we totally got this!

This part of JFK is always so enjoyable — a sweeping curving downhill with broad green meadows and a couple of lakes.

I saw the aid station at Spreckels Lake and gave Z a heads-up that I needed to take a quick pit stop.

Ran back into the fray and while I knew we were passing the bison on our right, I don’t actually remember looking over to see any. I think we were too focused on the road in front of us.

Mile 15

The mile 14 marker seemed to come up even quicker, maybe because we briefly stopped just a half mile or so before. Seeing that “14” had a huge impact on me, a number I had never before run up to in any race.

I remembered from the course map that we were approaching where the second half marathoners were going to start.

We turned left toward MLK drive, right by the second half start, and there was no sign of the second half marathoners.

My dad was running the second half, originally in wave 9, and we had thoughts of somehow trying to cross paths during our races. Not only was he long gone, but he had ended up starting in wave 5, and the second half overall started 15 minutes earlier than expected. Regardless I knew there was very little chance of catching him since all the second half runners were long gone.

MLK drive is a bit of a long uphill slog and we naturally slowed down a bit. It finally started to feel like “work” to get to the mile 15 marker.

Mile 16

Right after the mile 15 marker we zigged left then right onto the forgettably named Middle drive, which I had not run in quite a while, I’m not sure ever. I vaguely remembered rollerblading on it many years ago.

The pavement was a bit rougher, and the slow uphill slog continued. I decided I would chew half of one of my caffeinated cherry Nuun energy tablets at the next aid station, swallowing it with water.

The half tablet started to fizz as I chewed it so I was happy to wash it down. The fizziness felt a bit odd in my stomach. So far in the race I had had zero stomach problems or weirdnesses, so this was maybe not the greatest idea. Yeah, that thing about don’t change your fuel on raceday, that. I was mostly ok, but I think the fizziness threw me off.

I wasn’t really enjoying this part of the race, despite it being in Golden Gate park. I wasn’t hating it either. It just felt kind of meh.

Mile 17

Crossing the mile 16 marker and high-fiving I remember thinking, only ten-ish miles left, that doesn’t seem so bad. Turning right back onto JFK felt good though, finally we were back in familiar territory.

Then I remembered we still had to run up and around Stow lake. When I saw the course map I remember looking forward to that, but at this point I felt done with hills and was no longer looking forward to it.

After we turned right and started running up towards Stow Lake, I decided to walk and wait to sync up with Z, which was good timing it turns out. My friend Michele (who started a couple of waves before us) was just finishing Stow Lake and on her way down that same street.

She expressed that she wasn’t feeling too good, I told her she looked great and she smiled. We hugged, she told me and Zoe that it was only about 15 minutes to go around the lake and come back down, which made it feel more doable.

Still, it continued to feel like “work”. As we ran past the back (South) side of the lake, it was nice to have a bit of downhill, especially down to the next mile marker.

Mile 18

Crossing the mile 17 marker I turned to Zoe and told her hey, less than ten miles left! Single digits! She managed a smile. We kept pushing up and around the lake.

The backside of the lake felt easier since I knew the downhill to JFK was coming up. Picked up speed again, and then walked once I reached JFK, waiting for Zoe to catch back up.

We could see the first half marathoners finishing to our left, and I had flashbacks to how I felt finishing the first half last year. I was feeling a lot better this year at mile 17+ than last year at mile 13+, and I actually felt pretty good last year. That was a huge confidence boost.

As they got their finishers medals, we had an uphill to climb toward the de Young museum tower. This was really the last major hill. Once we crested it and could see the mile 18 marker, knowing it was mostly downhill made it feel like we didn’t have that far to go.

Mile 19

More familiar territory on JFK. Another aid station as we passed the outdoor "roller rink" on the left. The sun finally started to break through the clouds & fog, and we could see blue skies ahead.

I chatted with Z a bit as we passed the Conservatory of Flowers, about how we have done this run so many times, and how it was mostly downhill from here.

Up ahead I heard a couple of people shouting my name and then saw the sign.

Tim Johnson holding a sign 'Tantek: faster than fiber optics' cheering at mile 19 in the San Francisco Marathon

Photo by Amanda Blauvelt. Tim & Amanda surprised me with a sign at the edge of Golden Gate Park! (you can see me in the orange on the left).

I couldn’t help laughing. Ran up and hugged them both. Background: Last year Amanda ran the SF Marathon (her first full), and I conspired with her best friend from out of town to have her show up and surprise Amanda at around mile 10 by jumping in and running with her. The tournabout surprise was quite appreciated.

In my eager run up to Tim & Amanda, I somehow lost Zoe.

First I paused and look around, looked ahead to see if she had run past me and did not see her. Looked behind me to see if she was approaching and also did not see her.

I picked up the pace figuring she may have run past me when I saw Tim and Amanda, or I would figure it out later. (After the race Tim told me they saw Zoe moments after I had left).

The race looped back into Golden Gate park for a bit.

Mile 20

Passing the mile 19 marker, the course took us under a bridge, up to and across Stanyan street onto Haight street, the last noticeable uphill.

This was serious home territory for me, having run up Haight street to the market near Ashbury more times than I can remember.

Tantek running on Haight street just after crossing Ashbury.

Photo by mom. I saw my mom cheering at the intersection of Haight & Ashbury, and positioned myself clear of other runners because I knew she was taking photos. Then I went to her, hugged her, told her I love her, and asked where dad was. An hour ahead of me. No way I’m going to catch him before the finish.

I could see the mile 20 marker, but just as I was passing Buena Vista park on my right, I heard another familiar voice cheering me on. Turning to look I immediately recognized my friend Leah who helped get me into running in the first place, by encouraging me to start with very short distances.

She asked if I wanted company because she had to get in a 6-7 mile run herself and I said sure! Leah asked if I wanted to run quietly, or for her to talk or listen, and I said I was happy to listen to her talk about anything and appreciated the company.

I told her about how I’d lost Zoe earlier. Leah put Zoe’s info into the SF Marathon app on her phone to track Zoe’s progress to see if we could find her as we ran.

We were crushing it down the hill to Divisadero literally passing everyone else around us (downhills are my jam), and she was surprised at how well I looked and sounded so far into the race, at this point farther than I’d ever run before.

Mile 21

As we flew by the mile 20 marker, I remember thinking wow 20 miles and I feel great. I felt like I could just keep running on Clif blocks and Nuun electrolytes for hours. It was an amazing feeling of strength and confidence.

I realized I was doing something I thought I would never do, but more than that, it felt sustainable. I felt unstoppable.

My hip flexors were both a bit sore now, but at least they were evenly sore, which helped both balance things out, and then forget about them. My knees were just a tiny bit sore now, but again, about the same on both sides.

Just as we reached Scott street, they started redirecting racers up Scott to Waller. One more tiny uphill block, I remember complaining and then thinking just gotta push through. Up to Waller street then again a slight eastward downhill.

Once again picking up speed, I really started to enjoy all the cheering from folks who had come out of their houses to support us. There was a family with kids offering small cups of water and snacks to the runners.

As we approached the last block before Buchanan street, I could hear a house on the North side blasting the Chariots of Fire theme song on huge speakers. Louder than the music I was listening to. Brilliant for that last Waller street block which happenned to be uphill. Of course it was a boost.

Making the right turn to run down Buchanan street, we only made it a block before they redirected us eastward down Hermann street to the Market street crossing and veering right onto Guerrero.

Running these familiar streets felt so easy and comfortable.

Once again we picked up speed running downhill, barely slowing down to pick up two cups of Nuun at the aid station before the mile 21 marker.

Mile 22

We kept running South on Guerrero until the course turned East again at 16th street.

16th street in the Mission is a bit of mess. Lots of smells, from various things in the street, to the questionable oily meats spewing clouds of smoke from questionable grills. I think this was my least favorite stretch of the race. Literally disgusting.

The smells didn’t clear until about Folsom street. Still relatively flat, I knew we had a climb coming up to Bryant street, so I was mentally ready for it.

Just before we reached Bryant street, they redirected us South one block onto 17th street.

Still no sign of Zoe. With all these race route switches I was worried that we had been switched different ways, and would have difficulty finding each other.

The racer tracking app was also fairly inaccurate. In several places it showed Zoe as being literally right by us, or just ahead or just behind when she was nowhere to be seen.

Mile 23

Slow climb up to Potrero. It’s not very enticing running there. Mostly industrial. Still felt familiar enough, we just pressed on, occasionally looking for Zoe.

Leah kept up a nice friendly distracting dialog that helped this fairly unremarkable part of the course go by quicker than it otherwise would have.

Another aid station, more Nuun. I started to feel I wasn’t absorbing fluids as fast as I had been earlier. Something also felt a bit off about my stomach. Not sure if it was the fizzing from the cherry Nuun tablet I had chewed on. Or the smells of 16th street.

I only sipped half a cup of Nuun and tossed the rest.

We were almost at 280, turned briefly down Missisippi street for a block, then over on Mariposa to cross underneath 280, and I could see the mile 23 marker just on the other side.

Mile 24

Downhill to Indiana street so we flew right by the marker.

Twenty-three miles done. Just a little over 5km left.

Made a hard right onto Indiana street where it flattened out once more. We had entered the industrial backwaters of the Dogpatch.

Still run/walking at about a 5 to 1 split, but I was starting to slowly feel more tired. No “wall” like I have often heard about. I wondered if the feeling was really physical, or just mental.

Maybe it was just the street and the few memories I had associated with it. Some just two years old, some older. Nothing remarkable. Maybe this was my chance to update my memories of Indiana street.

The sun was shining, and I was running. Over 23 miles into my first marathon and I still felt fine. There were scant few out cheering on this stretch. But I knew the @Nov_Project_SF cheerstation wasn’t far.

The sound of two people shouting my name brought my attention back to my surroundings. My friends @Nov_Project Ava and Tara had run backwards along the course from the cheerstation!

They checked in with me, asked how I was doing. I was able to actually answer while running which was a good sign. They ran with me a bit and then sprinted ahead a few blocks to just past the next corner.

Turning onto 22nd street, I grabbed another half cup of Nuun. At this point I did not feel like eating anything, my stomach had an odd half-full not-hungry feeling. I sipped the Nuun and tossed the cup.

There were Ava & Tara again, cheering me on, like a personal traveling cheersquad. So grateful. I’m convinced smiling helps you go faster, and especially when friends are cheering you on. They sprinted on ahead again and I lost sight of them.

Finally the turn onto 3rd street. There is something very powerful about feeling like you are finally heading directly towards the finish.

It was getting warmer, and the sweat was making it harder to see. This is the point where I was glad I had brought my sunglasses with me, despite the thick clouds this morning. No clouds remained. Just clear blue skies.

Kept going through Dog Patch and China Basin, really not the most attractive places to run. Except once again I saw Ava & Tara up ahead at 20th street, and they cheered us through the corner, and then disappeared again.

Just one block East on 20th and then North again onto Illinois street. I could see the next marker.

Mile 25

Just over a couple of miles left. Slight right swerve onto Terry A Francois Boulevard, and I could see and hear the very excited Lululemon Cheerstation waving their signs, shouting, and cheering on all of us runners.

Then perhaps the second best part of the race. Actually maybe tied for best with finishing.

I saw brightly colored neon shirts up ahead and heard a roar. (I’m having trouble even writing this four weeks later without tearing up.)

The November Project San Francisco cheerstation. What a sight even from a distance.

My friend Caity Rogo ran towards me & Leah, and I had this thought like I should be surprised to see her but I couldn’t remember why.

Leah and Tantek running with Caity beside them right before the NPSF cheergang at the San Francisco Marathon 2017

Photo by Kirstie Polentz. I do not remember what I said to Caity. Later I would remember that just the day before she was away running a Ragnar relay race! Somehow she had made it back in time to cheer.

At this point my cognitive bandwidth was starting to drop. I had just enough to focus on the race, and pay attention to the amazing friends cheering and accompanying me.

Tantek running through the November Project cheergang

Photo by Lillian Lauer. So many high fives. So many folks pacing me. I think there were hugs? It was kind of a blur. I asked and found out Zoe was about 2 min ahead of me, so I picked up the pace in an attempt to catch up to her.

Tantek with Nuun cup walking next to Henri asking him how he is doing during the San Francisco Marathon 2017

Photo by Kirstie Polentz. I remember Henry Romeo asking me what I wanted from the next water station, running ahead, bringing me a Nuun electrolyte cup, and keeping me company for a bit.

After snapping a few photos, my pal Krissi ran with me despite a recent calf injury, grinning with infectious joy and confidence. She ran me past the mile 25 marker, checking to make sure I was ok, how I was feelng etc.

As good as I thought I was feeling before, the cheer station was a massive boost.

Mile 26

Found Zoe again! Or rather she saw me. She was walking slowly or had stopped and was looking for me.

Having reconnected I checked in with her, how was everything feeling. We kept up our run/walk, with still a bit over a mile left.

Apparently there was a ballgame on at AT&T park. I couldn’t help but feel a sharp contrast between the sports fans on one side of the race barrier and runners on the other. Each of us were doing our own thing. A few sports fans cheered us on and reached across to give out high fives which we gladly accepted.

Finally we made it around the ballpark and out to the Embarcadero, our home stretch. Half mile or so to go.

We were all tired, with various body parts aching, and yet did our best to keep up a decent pace.

Leah peeled off at mile 26, shouting encouragements for us to push hard to the finish.


Past the mile 26 marker we curved a little to the left and could see the finish just a few blocks in front of us.

I talked Zoe into keeping up a regular pace as we approached the finish line. Checking to make sure she was good and still smiling, I picked up the pace with whatever energy I had, just to see how many people I could pass in the last 400 meters.

I actually saw people slowing down, which felt like an enticement to go even faster. I sprinted the last 100m as fast as I could, passing someone with just feet to go to the finish. Maybe a silly bit of competitiveness, but it’s always felt right to push hard to a finish, using any motivation at hand.


I kept walking and got my finishers medal.

Zoe and Tantek at the finish of of the San Francisco Marathon wearing their medals

Turning around I found Zoe. We had someone take our photo. We had done it. Marathon finishers!

We kept walking and found my dad. We picked up waters & fruit cups and saw my mom & youngest sister on the other side of the barriers.

Tantek and Zoe stretching after finishing the San Francisco Marathon

Photo by Ayşan Çelik. We stopped to stretch our legs and take more photos.

We found more @Nov_Project friends. I stopped by the Nuun booth and kept refilling my cup and Steve gave me big hug too.

I was a little sore in parts, but nothing was actually hurting. No blood, no limping, no pain. Just a blister on one left toe, and one on my right heel that had already popped. Slight chafing on my right ankle where my shoe had rubbed against it.

I felt better than after most of my past half marathon races. Something was different.

Whether it was all the weekly hours of intense Vinyasa yoga practice, from the March through May yoga teacher training @YogaFlowSF and since, or the months of double-gang workouts @Nov_Project_SF (5:30 & 6:30 every Wednesday morning), or doing nearly all my long runs on Marin trails Saturday mornings hosted by @SFRunCo in Mill Valley, setting new monthly meters climbing records leading up to the race, I was stronger than ever before, physically and mentally. Something had changed.

I had just finished my first marathon, and I felt fine.

Tantek wearing the San Francisco Marathon 52 Club hoodie, finisher medal, and 40 for 40 medal.

I waited til I got home to finally put on my San Francisco Marathon “52 Club” hoodie (for having run the first half last year, and the second half the year before that), with the medals of course.

As much as all the training prepared me as an individual, the experience would not have been the same without the incredible support from fellow @Nov_Project runners, from my family, even just knowing my dad was ahead of me running the second half, Leah and other friends that jumped in and ran alongside, and especially starting & finishing with my pal Zoe, encouraging each other along the way.

Grateful for having the potential, the opportunity to train, and all the community, friends, and family support. Yes it took a lot of personal determination and hard work, but it was all the support that made the difference. And yes, we enjoyed ourselves.

(Thanks to Michele, Zoe, Krissi, and Lillian for reviewing drafts of this post, proofreading, feedback, and corrections! Most photos above were posted previously and link to their permalinks. The few new to this post are also on Instagram.)