Location: Folsom to Sacramento, CA
Oh CIM, where do I start? CIM was/is my 20th marathon and I had wanted to run a good/strong race if only because it was a milestone race for me. I started out the training cycle strong but lagged during the second half due to other things going on in my life. At the end of the day, I'm proud that I made it through the storm (literally). Many times during the race, I wanted so badly to just quit and be out of that rain and perhaps at any other race I might have but I was not about to DNF on my 20th marathon milestone. I have no regrets because every time I go up against something that pushes me to my limit I grow stronger mentally. That is one of the reasons I love running...well I don't love it right about now but overall I do.
On the one hand, the course would have been a lot of fun had it not been raining but on the other hand after running yesterday's race I don't know if I will ever be back to find out. Here are my thoughts about the race.
1) The expo was conveniently located across the street from the host hotel, the Sheraton Grand.
2) The bus pick-up in front of the host hotel was really convenient.
3) The buses letting us stay on board upon arrival at the start was a lifesaver this year due to the heavy rain and strong winds during the early morning hours.
4) The separate finish chutes for men and women. The women's chute was closer...haha.
5) The volunteers who came out to support us in the heavy rain for many hours are my heroes.
6) The spectators who came out to cheer for us are also my heroes.
7) Downtown Sacramento is a really cute little town that I would have loved to have explored more had it not been raining and windy the entire weekend.
1) I knew this prior to running the course but the course is not downhill. It is more like a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
2) Not the race's fault but the rain was really terrible. To run 26.2 miles soaked to the bones was not fun. I think that over the years I've done a pretty good job of conditioning myself to be more mentally tough when it comes to pushing through discomfort and such but I broke down many times yesterday and seriously considered dropping out. The first time being around mile 10. To be fair, I'm a warm weather runner who does not perform well in the cold and apparently extremely bad in the rain.
3) Running through massive puddles along the course. Obviously, my shoes were soaking wet and became leg weights from mile 1. I think I shuffled along for the second half of the race when my legs became so tired that I could barely lift them up.
4) The host hotel charges $50 for late check-out (check-out is at noon). Totally worth it to me yesterday since I got really cold walking back to the hotel from the finish line and had to run a boiling water bath and sat it in for an hour.
1) First and foremost...the course water tasted really really strange to me. At some of the aid stations, the water was bitter, while at other stations, the water tasted heavily of chlorine. Every time I stopped to grab water I was dreading if it would be bitter or chlorinated. I was also really worried that I would get sick from the strange tasting water.
2) Those people who holed themselves in the starting line potta-potties to stay dry while there were lines of people outside in the rain/wind. You suck!
3) The finish line area was crazy, partly due to the rain but it was logistically a nightmare. Everything was really spread out. A little too much. I didn't even get a space blanket because I didn't see them. There were long lines for finish line photos. It took me and many other people probably around 10-15 minutes to find the post race food area. Some of my friends didn't even get any food because they didn't know where it was. The gear check tent was also not easy to find, directional signs were very unclear and there was no one stationed anywhere to point people in the right direction. That area was a nightmare for me. I just wanted to get a bagel and my bag and leave.
4) The gear check left something to be desired. By the time I got to the gear check tent to get my dry clothes to change into, my bag was all muddy and everything inside was soaking wet. I don't know why they just didn't leave everything in the truck that was used to transport the bags to the finish line. It was just a muddy mess inside that tent.
Aside from the rain, I had a really fun weekend in Sacramento!
Well, except that I missed my outbound flight because I had changed the departure to an earlier flight a couple of months ago but had forgotten. I didn't realize this until I was boarding the plane and the attendant noticed the earlier time on the boarding pass. Luckily, the flight that we thought we were flying on was only half full, so they just reissued our tickets. Phew!
I probably should have looked over my paperwork instead of leisurely sucking down my Starbucks.
This giant red bunny hanging from the ceiling greeted us when we arrived at the Sacramento Airport. It seemed like a good omen because bunnies are fast!
The host hotel, The Sheraton Grand.
We headed over to the expo shortly after checking in to the hotel. It was a medium-size expo with the usual vendors. I stopped by the NUUN stall to taste some of the flavors that I've been curious about but turns out that Lemon Tea and Kona Cola are still the best tasting to me. I'm not sure what happened but I didn't get some of the 30th anniversary swag items that was promised. For one, I remember that a pair of gloves was advertised as a swag item. Oh well.
After the expo, M and I headed to the Pyramid Brewery to meet up with one of M's friend/coworker/teammate (Lee) who is also my coworker since we all work at the same place, who use to be the neighbor of Sarah/Brian (OUAL). I met Kristina for the first time and Margot/A joined a bit later. In conclusion, the beer was good but the pizza was not so much.
This beautiful cathedral was across from the Pyramid Brewery and there was not one but TWO weddings going on during a rainy day. At one point, rain just dumped down on one of the brides and her groom who had gone down the street to take photos. They were running to try to get back inside and a guy walking by gave his umbrella to them to use to run to get back inside the cathedral but he followed them all the way there to ensure that he got his umbrella back.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to unpack and unwind a bit before dinner. I looked outside and noticed that it was raining. It was the first time it rained since we got there.
For dinner, we went to Paesanos which was just a short walk from the hotel. Friend and coworker, Darren's cousin who lived in the area suggested the restaurant. The food was pretty good and priced right.
Speaking of Darren (front, right-hand side of photo), I just wanted to take a moment to mention that he PRed by 13 minutes using the Hanson Brooks Plan. In his quest to find a better plan that did not include those infamous 20-mile training runs (which included those oh so lovely ice baths and possible injuries), amongst nay-sayers and tradition-ist who thought he was nuts to train without ever running more than 16-miles on a long run, he proved that the plan works and I'm confident to say that he would have gotten his sub-4 in better weather conditions. Nice work out there D! Darren's closing statement about the HB plan is that the tough training schedule made him more mentally tough.
In addition, Amber (blond hair/black sweater) PRed by 9 minutes and Jen (pink headband) BQed training with the same plan. Darren started his blog to document his experience with using the Hanson Brooks Plan but he got busy and left off somewhere along the way but those are some remarkable testimonies to that plan. Also, a shout-out to Antoinette (white sweater) for an outstanding performance. She ran her first marathon in 4-hours and change, not using the HB plan.
I had a hard time falling asleep the night before the race. The hotel pillows were too soft, the rain against the hotel window was too loud, my nerves about running in rain were going nuts and Inception was on TV.
I finally fell asleep and woke up to this lovely news...100% chance of rain. At dinner the night before we noticed that the percentage for rain was dying down a little bit so we were all a little optimistic. At last, it was meant to be.
I started to get ready and mentally prepare myself. Yes, that IS a shower cap you see in the upper right-hand corner. I was not about to be unprepared for rain. Especially not after having been a part of LA Marathon 2011.
When we all stepped out of the hotel to catch the bus, it was windy but not yet raining. We were still a little bit hopeful. Once the bus started making its way to Folsom, we could hear the heavy rain drops hitting the top of the bus. Rain water started to leak into the bus from the overhead emergency hatch. By the time we reached the starting area, it was pouring and the wind was so strong that it rocked the bus back and forth. I somehow lost D and the gang during the potta-potty trip and had to line up at the start on my own. Coincidentally, Sarah/Kristina/Margot were lined up right in front of me and it was nice to see some familiar faces in those awful conditions.
This was the starting line (courtesies of the Sacramento Bee). As you can see, everyone was already wet even before the gun went off. It was like this for the next 3+ hours. Just constant rain coupled with the occasional blast of wind. Yeah that was super fun especially when you were running up.
I was wearing a large black yard waste garbage bag and a shower cap for the entire race. Sexy, no? I only took it off shortly before crossing the finish line. :)
I ate a salad after the race. Nothing else sounded good after having eaten countless GUs and strange tasting water all day.
Oh and here's the kicker...this photo was taken just a couple of hours after the race...nothing but clear blue skies with a couple of fluffy clouds. How's that for a slap in the face from Mother Nature?
And the rest is history!