The 30th running of the California International Marathon happened on Sunday December 2, 2012. As expected the storm was ready to attempt to ruin the day for all of us who planned to tackle the 26.2 miles from Folsom to the Capitol in Sacramento, CA. However, those who had this mission of taking on the marathon did not let Mother Nature “rain” on a runner’s parade. The race had so many elements during the course of the event that most runners could not explain or prepare for what needed to be done before the race. I will bring the course and the marathon into more detail a little later in the blog. As many of you know a marathon weekend is more than just showing up to a starting line and running, there are a lot of steps and procedures that go into the run before the “gun” goes off.
Marathon Expo / Marathon Eve – Saturday December 1
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Friday was when the marathon expo started and that is when I did the “runner” thing and picked up my goodies. However, Saturday was a little bit different for me as it was the first time I ever had to work a booth at a runner’s expo. Outside of my social network interactions promoting and talking about The San Francisco Marathon, working the booth was my first assignment as an ambassador for the marathon. This was an awesome experience as I was able to talk to runners about a great course, while others came up and talked about the course themselves discussing how much they loved the event, some of those where so excited they jumped towards the opportunity to register and receive a $10 discount at the CIM Expo.
While working the booth that morning, I was able to meet other SFM2013 Ambassadors who I have been chatting with and getting to know online over the course of the last few months. Along with working with Laura at the booth, I was able to meet Meg and Charlie during the expo. Both Charlie and Meg PR’d during the CIM, with Charlie finishing at a smoking time of 2:44 (YES FOLKS 2 HOURS 44 MINUTES).
After my assigned shift for the booth, I was able to catch one of the presentations during the expo in the expo hall next door to the vendors. This was one chat I was looking forward to. Since my goal going into the race was to earn a Boston Qualifying time of 3:05:00, I thought perhaps it would be good to know who the pacer is and what his plan was. The plan to attack the weather sounded like a good one considering that the group was pretty big, and I could benefit from this with drafting off others and return the favor at other moments in the race. I left the expo feeling confident and was ready to take on whatever Mother Nature had to offer come Sunday morning. However, I think she knew what I was thinking and right as I walked out of the Sacramento Convention Center, a pretty hard rain dumped down as to say … “I’m here” in a creepy horror flick voice.
Once I got home, it was ready for the marathon eve dinner and movie. As like at other races, the night before is a pretty sacred night. The routine is pretty similar for each night prior to a marathon. The night included a home made dish of pasta with tomato sauce with a side servings of garlic bread. This meal got me the carbs I was was craving for an always like to take in the night before the marathon. Once the meal was consumed it was time to sit in my recliner and throw on the marathon eve movie for the night. “The Spirit of the Marathon”, is a great movie that I always watch as it allows me to relax but also stay motivated and focused on what needs to be done. Though I know the story of each runner by now, it seems that each time I watch the movie before a race, I am able to relate to a different runner in each of the viewing times. With the end credits scrolling I was now ready for bed and to take on whatever the CIM had to offer in the morning.
Pre Marathon Day – Sunday December 2
It was an early morning for me when my alarm got me up at 3:00 am to start the day. With a 7:00 am start time, I had to be on my running clubs bus at 5:00 am, which was taking us from the finish to the start. Before getting my gear on and ready to head out of the door, I consumed a couple staple breakfast choices like every long run morning. The typical cup of coffee, cinnamon raisin bagel, a banana, 30 pieces of Energy Bits, and a bottle of Nuun Hydration. The routine was nothing out of the norm as I got ready by putting on my gear. Once I got everything ready I double checked to make sure I had the key items, my Garmin, bib, timing chip, and shoes (I wear a different pair of shoes to run in than what I get to the race with). With everything all set it was time to jump into the car and see what the day and race had in store for me.
|I decided to tweet / instagram a quick laugh to remind runners to bring their goggles to the start.|
Once I got into the bus it was the typical friendly greeting by all of the familiar faces of the Buffalo Chips Running Club members. The ride from downtown Sacramento to Folsom was pretty quick, outside of the extra turns our bus driver opted to take since he didn’t know where to go. On the bus the energy was good, most runners just talking and chatting about the strategy for the day, while others opted to use the time to get a few minutes of added rest in, since we were still 2 hours from start time. Upon arrival to the start, the rain started to really come down and hit the ground. In fact it was clear that this storm was going to hit us pretty hard as we jumped off the bus to make a stop at the porto-potties just feet away. As we got back onto the bus we were all soaked. Still the energy was good and positive, there were a lot of laughs and chuckles going on the bus. With the race starting to come closer, we started to make our way to the start after dumping our gear bags off at the assigned trucks. The final, good lucks and run smarts were suggested to one another, and though we are a team, it was time for the individuals to shine over the course of the next 26.2 miles.
At the start runners like myself started to scramble to find our pace leader with his “3:05” sign in the air. Fortunately, for us he hadn’t already lost his sign from the wind gusts hitting us face on. Along with the strong winds were some welcoming sharp bits of rain pelting us in the face. The National Anthem played as normal before each start, and this meant we were only seconds away from starting this journey.
BOOM! There went the gun to get us going, the first part of the run was nice and smooth, in fact a little fast than I thought we would start off but nonetheless, I was ready to keep with the pacer for today. My goal was 3:05 and for me I would be willing to do anything to get after that specific time at the CIM. Fortunately, the first few miles were all with a tail wind, this gave us a an opportunity to get together as a group before we had to attack the headwinds and the climbs that the first half of the marathon had to offer us. The first 6 miles we ran faster times than needed knowing that mile 7 and on would be some pretty bad weather in front of us. According to my Garmin we ran the first 6 miles with times of 6:55, 6:49, 6:41, 6:49, 6:49, and 6:49. My legs were feeling good and I was ready, know that after the first relay exchange we would be heading south bound onto Fair Oaks Blvd, and this is where we would meet the wind and some of the rolling hills that would offer a challenge.
After the relay exchange we continued to travel as a group, tight and compact, the communication and the alternating between the workload of blocking the wind was being pretty well executed at this point. We slowed with our splits at this point as we hit some nasty puddles in the road and winds that I feel were gust hitting us harder than 40 mph. Miles 7, 8, 9 and 10, were ran respectively at 7:11, 7:20, 7:23, 7:06. We were still okay as the magic number for the per mile pace is 7:02/mile.
The next 2 miles is where I started to fall behind but would battle to play catch as we moved past Old Fair Oaks and crossing Sunrise Blvd into the larger of the climbs on the route. I felt I just needed to collect myself and as long as the pacer was within eyesight I would be okay, however when I looked back and noticed that more and more runners started fading hitting the elements together was not an option. I decided to try to close the group a little more, which did not pay off at that point. My splits starting really falling behind and I opted to slow a little just to try to regroup going into the half marathon split I had miles of 7:34, 7:48 and 7:45. My half marathon time was 1:34:38. At this point I was 2 minutes out of my split I was looking for but thought I could try to give the second half a go and see what I had left in my legs.
Within steps into the second half of the marathon, it was starting to get more and more difficult for me to battle the elements alone with groups spread so far apart. Along these next 4 miles I would be fortunate enough to hear some familiar voices giving me a cheer along the course. I struggled during the second half of the marathon including making the final steps into the finish. The slowing definitely had my heart rate drop a bit causing my body temperature to drop. However luckily, I am a bit too stubborn to quit an athletic event. The second half of the course took me 2 hours 4 minutes and 54 seconds to complete.
As I crossed the finish line I had a feeling of disappointment, but I did make sure that goal C was still in tact. Goal C was to cross the finish line with a smile. After I had some time to walk off the 26.2 miles that caused me frustration, I made my way to get my gear, layer up and head to spend some time with my Buffalo Chips teammates to talk about the run that just happened and disappointed many of us.
The weather was not in our favor during the race, but still there were just higher levels of expectations for many of us as we all trainer pretty well going into the final race of the year. A day after the race was completed my feelings of motivation are probably stronger knowing that I have 15 weeks to my next attempt to that 3:05 time to get me to Boston. One thing that I did learn from this experience, is that “what challenges us most, defines us” is very true. It could have been easy at the half way point to say, today isn’t my day and it can be easy to walk off the course jump on a bus and have a DID NOT FINISH next to my name on the timing sheet. Well this marathon is something that challenged, and boy was there a definition after this … a defining moment of NEVER QUIT.
Congrats to all that finished the CIM and a big THANK YOU to all of the volunteers and spectators that put themselves out in the storm to make this marathon happen. December 8, 2013 will be the next CIM and it will be time to conquer this course. I have a date with a marathon that day.