Flight, Friends, Expo & Pasta
A Thursday evening run and Rebel send-off dinner at Cafe Napoli fueled me up for a Friday morning flight from Philly to
San Jose. The only thing that slowed me down was a 3 hour layover in Phoenix. Spent Friday night at Bill's place in
Castro Valley, then headed to Chris & Wendy's in Sacramento, dropping into the Race Expo enroute for chip and bib.
Pasta dinner downtown and then lights out at 10pm.
Marathon Man's bib
Up at 4am to find a good parking spot near the Convention Center in downtown Sacramento at 5am.
Fast loading of buses was appreciated with temps around 30 degrees. 40 minute drive to the start in Folsom.
Typical excited chatter on the school bus. Many locals (such as my seat-mate) run the marathon, besides 1,000 four person
relay teams. Last year had been similarly cold, but with fog to make it extra dreary.
It was great being able to stay on the
warm bus, quite close to the start. They're proud of their "best in the nation" port-a-potty to runner ratio and I
disembarked the bus just in time to get on line. Although I removed my throw-away shirt at the start, this may have
been my coldest marathon!
Running to stay warm
The 7am start for 7,500 marathoners was on time, but fairly narrow roads led to moderate congestion for the first 2 miles.
I was just a little behind the 3:10 pacer, with his red, rectangular sign. Missed out on first water stop since I was in
the middle of the road. Because of the cold, it felt great to get moving, and if it weren't for being so packed in, I
could have easily gone out too fast. By mile 3, I was just ahead of the pacer (and his big pack of runners) and remained
there thru the half.
Cold & Sticky
The course is consistently flat to gently downhill sections and occasional brief and mild uphills. Just a few 90 degree
turns. A lady wering antlers was in the vicinity, so I'd hear appreciative comments from the small groups of brave but
bundled up spectators. I was happily comfortable with the pace and my body parts. Only started feeling exertion
near the half. First real problem was openning my strawberry Power Gel around mile 12. My magic gloved hands weren't
uncomfortably cold, but were numb enough to make tearing the top difficult. I used my teeth and took about a half
mile to open it, getting gel all over my gloves in the process. I also started getting aggravated by occasional frigid
Starting to fall apart
I fell behind the 3:10 group at mile 14 and they slowly pulled away, dropping me from sight by mile 16. Dreams of a 3:10
ended and my upper thighs were rapidly tightenning, so hopes of a (3:13) PR were next to be left to die on the cold pavement.
My frustration grew, since I had the energy, but not the legs as my pace slowed to a jog. By the time the 3:15 pace group
passed, I had considered stopping to stretch but didn't since I've never done so during a race. Mile 20 wasn't significant
since I'd already hit the wall.
Admitting defeat, but gutting it out!
I eventually walked for 2 minutes, in hopes of regaining energy for a respectible last few miles. It was a good decision
and at least I had some remnants of a stride while passing the larger crowds in the final mile. A fun finish of 2 left turns
and separate finishing lines for men and women. Each runner's name was announced. Just before grabbing water, I saw my
friends Chris & Wendy and we agreed to meet at the Christmas tree in front of the capitol steps.
Always a unique food item
Bananas, Bagels & Bars. Each race seems to have it's own signature food item and in this case it was pancakes, handed out
plate by plate from a tent. A table had a huge vat of syrup, monster slab of butter and trays of strawberry topping.
They tasted great, even though they quickly got cold.
Chris & Wendy have lived in Sacramento for years, but had never before been to the marathon. Wendy showed me a photo that
she'd snapped right before my finish and mentioned that a few minutes earlier had photographed a guy finishing in a
pink tutu. I immediately wondered if it could be Keith Straw, well known in the Philly area for his signature outfit.
She showed me the pic on her camera and sure enough, it was him! (Beat me by 5 minutes.) They enjoyed watching the
finishers and later looked up the results of several of their friends who ran.
Photos & beer
Wendy got a great pic of me eating my marathon pancakes while the foil blanket fluttered in the breeze. At least the
finish area wasn't as cold and windy as Boston had been in April! After explaining my disappointment with my time,
I let my friends get on their bikes to ride home, where I'd catch up with them after a 64 calorie beer -- which at this
point was like giving away snowballs in winter. It was still really to cold to drink a brew, but it tasted good anyway.
Thank God that even with a sub-standard performance, completing the 26.2 still gave me a runner's high.
To get back to my car, I had to walk around the finishing chutes and some of the final mile, so I stopped a couple times
(when the sun peeked out from the clouds) to cheer on the 4:30+ finishers. I offered words of encouragement like
"Hurry up before the beer runs out!" and "Cold beer waiting at the finish!". Seeing the determinatin on their faces
reminded me how proud I am to be one of them.
Finally some warmth & comfort
Just as I'm regaining some feelings of pride and toughness, a final insult of the race was that my car was now
covered with bird droppings. But I got in the warm Kia, sat down with little groaning and life was good again.
Chip time: 3:24:15
Top 16.4% overall - of 5840 finishers
Top 18.5% Male (45-49) - of 542 finishers
Special thanks for their hospitality to all my great friends who hosted me during my California trip:
Bill, Chris & Wendy, Craig & Susan, Bart & Veronica
2009 CIM race expo
Race Start (official photo)
Early in marathon (official photo)
Starting to fade (official photo)
Finish line looked good (official photo)
Time for brunch! (official photo)
Pancakes for the runners!
Ray with college classmate Chris