I’m back and starting to feel normal again. I had a great time in Sacramento and have lots of wonderful things to say about the race. I traveled to Sacramento with my husband, mom and dad. I was more excited about my dad running his first marathon then I was about my own race.
The expo was an easy half mile walk from our hotel. When we arrived you picked up your race day packet from one end and your shirt from the other. From a promotional stand point, it was well thought out, spreading out the crowd and getting runners to walk past more vendors that way. There were lots of big vendors at the expo, not surprising considering the size of the race. I am kicking myself for not taking advantage of the Goodr sunglasses deals. They are my obsession right now. The expo had a lot of clothing lines and deals and the CIM branded merchandise was surprisingly fair priced. I feel like a lot of bigger races really mark up the price for branded items. We tasted the new nuun flavors and then grabbed a beer sample as we caught the end of a couple of speakers at the expo before heading to lunch.
With a 26.2 mile run ahead of us we tried to avoid to much additional walking so we kept our activities close to the hotel. Luckily we had a pretty good location near a mall, the basketball arena and most importantly close to the finish line. My husband bought us a couple of tickets to the Kings vs pacers game.
I woke up at 4 am calm and ready to go. I had already resolved to running a more easy race and just completing the distance as my training took a huge nose dive the last 6-8 weeks. This seemed to relax me in a way I haven’t been able to before a race. I had a quiet sense of calm, I was able to stomach food well and I was unstressed.
One of the bus stops were conveniently located right outside our hotel, starting at 5 am. I got down to the lobby at 4:45 thinking I would catch a ride with my dad but he had already hopped on a bus and it took off as I was walking that way. The bus lines do fill up fast In order to limit stress and waiting around outside I would recommend catching the early buses. A huge bonus for a point to point race, the buses stayed at the starting line and racers are allowed to stay warm on the bus until the race starts. This is a huge perk verse waiting outside in a field like we did at Boston. The gear check was also awesome. Just 10 minutes before the race I was able to walk right up to the bag check and hand them both my bag and my dads, without a wait. Another perk when you are dressed for cooler weather but need to undress before racing.
The weather was chilly standing around but absolutely perfect temperatures for chasing a PR. The start line was super crowed. Basically busting at the seems with runners around the 3 hour mark. I’m guessing a big surge of male runners chasing the new BQ standards. I lined up by the 3:05 pacer thinking I would finish around the 3:05-3:-10 time. I am glad I did as the pace groups took off a bit fast, and we were running about 3 hour pace for the first 3 miles. I was feeling super awesome and thought I would maintain the 3 hour pace until half way and then allow myself to settle into a comfortable pace based on feel.
Miles 1-8 I found myself running in sync with a team of Impala runners. Even though I was creeping in on their pack running, being with the group helped that first half fly by. I skipped the first couple of water/Nuun stations and grabbed a small bottle from a kiddo handing them out. He was super excited as people were grabbing them. I find the bottles much easier to manage on the run. As we hit the first fueling station, I got a bit over excited and begin grabbing everything offered. I grabbed the first gel and realized it was a yucky flavor so when someone down the line yelled strawberry I grabbed another. Then I saw them handing out bananas and realized I wanted a banana. So I grabbed that and I ate it. It was yummy and I was glad I didn’t eat the gels. I did hang on to the strawberry gel in case I felt I needed it later on in the race.
Mile 8-12 I found myself catching the 3 hour pacer. It was a downhill portion of the race and I guess hanging on to the group of runners I picked it up at some point. At mile 12 however, I had to make the worlds fastest potty stop as nature was calling and I didn’t want to become an internet meme for the wrong reasons. I tried to keep my watch running and was seriously impressed with my bathroom skills.
Miles 13-19 I went through the half marathon point a few seconds above 1:30 which was the plan going into the race. I was feeling good and decided I would hang on to the pace through mile 20 instead of slowing down. I really don’t remember as much of this section of the race, except maybe the local “herbal” smell and a small dog that joined in for like a quarter mile. I sort of went into autopilot, I guess. I had some orange slices and another half a banana along the way.
Mile 20-23- Naively, I went through mile 20 feeling pretty freaking awesome, like I was out for a regular easy run. The course has a giant inflatable at mile 20 reading “the wall” and I laughed at it. I decided I was ready to chase a sub 3 hour marathon and began doing mental math through the next three miles. Slowly, each mile began to have little aches creeping in, my calves first but it was very manageable and my cardio still felt great. A little leg tiredness passed mile 20 should be expected.
Mile 23-26 OH CRAP! I found that freaking wall! It was not at mile 20, it was mile 23 and it was very, very evident. I had to make another emergency bathroom stop, it took mere seconds. However, when I took off again my legs didn’t go. They rebelled against me and it was as if I had forgotten how to run. Stopping may have been the worst thing ever. It was so weird to feel absolutely remarkable from the waist up but be unable to really move my legs. They felt like heavy bags of sand and the muscles continued to tighten up, greatly limiting my stride. It was very evident that my lack of training through the end of my cycle was catching up to me. I tried being mean with myself, to go all Dori the fish and “just keep swimming” and super cheerleader. It didn’t feel like a motivation issue, I wanted to push through any pain but I couldn’t get the motor function together enough to pick up the pace.
Finish- The streets were lined with people cheering and they sort of crowded the racers the last .2 miles. I didn’t really have any ability to pick up the pace as I was struggling to just get my legs moving. I saw someone crawling to the finish line and admired the ability to push herself through the adversity. I finished the race happily with a time of 3:08:22. I finished satisfied and my husband and mom were waiting right on the other side of the line for me.
The finish line area was a bit crowded when you immediately exited the area that separated the runners from spectators. Overall, though it was spread out with lots of snack and drink options for both the runners and spectators. The gear check looks like a mess but took only a minute or so as kids were running through a field picking up the bags that were lined up in order according to bib numbers. Having a super close hotel allowed me to rinse off and get out of my gross wet racing clothes and into something warm before heading to cheer my dad onto the finish. I was super excited to see him come through, looking mighty strong too. He finished with a 4:27!
Sometimes your victories can not be found on the race clock. They are found along the journey. I struggled a lot with anxiety, followed by the flu and then a respiratory infection. Really knocking me down from consistent training. Motivation ran low the weeks leading up and I just wanted to enjoy the trip and become familiar with the race so that I could come back and kick its butt next year. I am so super glad that I went. I am glad that I pushed through for that sub 3 hour, even though I missed it. I found a way to let go of a lot of the anxiety and enjoyed the race immensely. I walked away with a smile. I couldn’t ask for more.
Now to take those lessons and apply to my next cycle. To stay focused on all the things that went right and let go of things that were out of my control. I haven’t lost sight of my big goal, qualifying for the trials. I am just taking the scenic route. My one disappointment is not grabbing a race day photo with my dad.
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