Someone asked me recently why I post videogame based music in some of my facebook posts. It’s quite simple really. I grew up with videogames when I was a kid. I have fond memories of having friends spend the night playing Goldeneye on the N64 till past midnight (and the agreed upon rule of not using proximity mines). And while I don’t play much these days, what with work and training taking a good chunk of time, I can still draw some fun parallels to racing. Days leading up to the race? Normal exploring my Open-World. My workouts during the week? Grinding my Stats. My Cytomax and Gu? Potions that replenish my HP and MP. My Rudy Project glasses and rocktape? Armor that increases my accuracy and defense. My shoes? My weapons, each with unique abilities. (I realize by this this point I’ve probably lost anyone who’s never played/doesn’t like videogames or D&D. But humor me. I’m having fun with this. ^_^ )
So what does that make the actual races you ask? Boss Fight!
It’s 6am when my twin alarms let loose, and I’m quick to silence both, lest they continue to blare at me. I’m fully refreshed for the most part as I climb out of bed, despite the long stressful day volunteering at Rocky Ridge, and proceed to get ready for the morning’s quest in the land of San Francisco for the Bridge to Bridge 5K. I get dressed in my Forward Motion battle gear, which composes of tri-top and shorts (+2 to Speed) after which I apply rock tape to my achillies as music from my laptop helps wake me up. Fully dressed I double check my bag of holding before a quick post on the “Book of Face.” Then it’s off to my truck Silver and onward to the land of San Francisco for a 9am race. I can hear some asking why I’m leaving this early, as SF is not a long drive for me, and I can answer that in a simple word: Parking. The race is along the Embarcadero, where parking outside of lots can be quite difficult, and I want to get a decent spot. Fortunately there aren’t many enemies on the road this morning so no random encounters, and I’m able to find the parking lot in the Embarcadero Center with ease, parking in one of the few spots on the Street level.
Time on my side, I grab my map and head to the Embarcadero next to the Hyatt Hotel to grab my Bib and consult my map screen of the course, which for the 5K is a point to point. My music pumping through my headphones, I notice that for one of the few times I’ve ever raced in SF, the wind will mostly be at my back (The 12K will not be so lucky). After a quick pit stop back at Silver to refuel with Gu and Cytomax, I do a small workout, noting the growing amount of people as time passes and that to my dismay there seems to be no way of distinguishing who’s doing what race, other than asking of course. It’s during the warm-up and stretching I run into fellow racing adventurer Molly Karen Krantz and her husband, who’re battling the 12K, and we chat about possible epic marathons that are coming up (Yours truly hasn’t quite given up the marathon bug yet…). One thing I note is that the sun is starting to rise and it’s getting hotter, so the arm-sleeves that I wore for defense are quickly becoming a hindrance. As Molly and her husband leave to get ready for the 12K, I swing by Silver once more to drop off my arm sleeves and save my progress before heading out to battle. Jogging out to the Embarcadero, I reach the starting line and run into Anthony Cortez, a younger racing adventurer who looks like Niners QB Colin Kaepernick’s younger brother. We chat for a bit as my back-up watch once again fails to register the GPS, much to my dismay (Note to self: Must save rupees to buy a new watch asap) Instructions for the race are announced like conversations from an NPC that you can’t skip by pressing A and then as we line up, with yours truly in my low stance as we wait for the countdown to battle.
Bridge to Bridge as a race might be one of the simplest courses that I can remember, being a point to point that is mostly flat with one major hillside. It’s simply a race along the Embarcadero through Fisherman’s Wharf that ends at the Marina Green. As the battle is announced we take off, with Anthony and yours truly blasting off like bullet from a gun, my lightweight Nike Lunar Tempo shoes (+2 to Speed, -2 to Defense) tapping the ground with every stride. Having already faced Anthony once before at the Niners Rush 4.9K a few weeks ago, I already know that he’s faster than I am, so I don’t bother trying to keep up at the insane pace he’s taking, instead focusing on myself. The song “The Bounty Hunter 9 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kpoQJxeF_E)” is roaring through my head (Every Boss Fight needs Epic Boss Music right?) as I fly on the concrete, spectators cheering as my legs pump in stride with the music in my mind and my focus intent on the lead cyclist ahead of me. Anthony is within sight distance, but considering the long stretches of the course that’s not saying much.
I hit the first mile marker at 5 Minutes flat, and unlike the Niners 4.9K I know in my heart that this is probably accurate. I’m a little stunned, as despite the flat course I didn’t think I’d be going this fast. But now that I’m here I’ve no intention of slowing down as my feet pound the concrete before whipping up to crash down again. I may be only 5’7” but my killer turnover speed allows me to move quickly as I careen through the Embarcadero and into Fisherman’s Wharf, memories of when I did the Nike Women’s Marathon coming back as I lean forward to help maintain the speed I’ve got going. I figure I can hold onto second, given I can’t hear anyone approaching behind me. People are crossing the street, but thankfully the volunteers do a good job of clearing the way so I can pass. Heading towards the Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli square I’m quickly reminded of where I am and what I’m approaching, as the last time I was here was the 415K which had you start up a massive hill at the end of Van Ness, and as I gaze down the pathway I realize that’s where we’re been led towards. Oh boy…
I curve around the Aquatic Park, hitting the second mile marker at 5:30 pace or so I’ve calculated, several people cheering us on as I head upward onto Van Ness and make my way towards the hill. Thankfully I hadn’t forgotten how I handled it the last time I was here and, though it means I have to go slower, I quickly shift to a slower gear in order to maintain a solid pace up the hill, as I would’ve burned out otherwise trying to keep the earlier speed. There’s a few walkers on the hill who cheer me on as I pass, my breathing ragged from the critical hit but steady as I push up the hillside. Finally at the top I’m able to steady myself for a bit before starting up again on the downhill section that winds around hitting Marina Blvd. though I feel as if I’m out of MP; the first two miles and the hillside has used up most of speed. Staying the sidewalk per earlier instruction, I continue along the coned pathway along Marina Blvd., the gorgeous views of the bay ignored as my focus is on the task at hand. I have a slight moment of panic as I realize someone approaching behind. A sneak attack? No, just another lead cyclist giving instructions to the one leading me onward. My legs continue to grind as I can see the finish area ahead, and with a grin the cyclist fist-bumps me as I head around the final curve to end this battle.
I cross the finish line 2nd Overall at 17:45, a fight which leaves me drained but still victorious. Grabbing some water and food stuffs to quickly recover my HP and MP, I hang with Anthony for a bit checking out some of the booths before getting a massage to heal, because after a race I’m all about the massage. Entry to the race gets you a free beer at one on the tavern tents, so I quickly grab one and relax for a bit as a large LED screen with sound system shows the early Football action. I’m able to gain my Age Division Medal as reward for this fight with no trouble, but when it’s comes to announcing the winners there seems to be confusion among the staff, who suggest I wait a bit as they figure things out. Hanging around as the breeze kicks in to combat the heat, I listen to the bands playing and chat with various people before heading back and finding that there’s not going to be any major ceremony as they can’t find the top three medals (Your princess is in another castle anyone?), though I’m assured they’ll be mailed. Satisfied with what items I have procured, I head out to the buses that’ll take me back to the start and get ready for the next adventure…