So ... my blog had a major issue this past weekend. I spent Friday-Monday trying to get it restored. It took a call, several support tickets and a bunch of anguish on my part to bring it back. I lost one of my personally managed sites in the process. It was all sorts of sadness for me, especially because I truly thought I'd lost my daughter's birth story (even though I had backed up the database).
Posts from the ‘Expo’ Category
As of 11 a.m. today, I am officially no longer running a marathon in a week. I traded in my dark-blue bib with my name emblazoned on it for a teal replacement that signifies the switch to 13.1.
I had a moment, as I was walking in to Sports Basement in Walnut Creek, where I asked my husband if he just wanted me to try and run the marathon so we could get our money worth. We both agreed that with the stomach issues and training changes over the past couple months, it would be best to not go that route.
So I walked it, turned a corner and found my way to packet pickup. I went through pickup for the full, with my number 344 being assigned to me. I grabbed the shirt and headed around to the answers desk. The race director was cordial about everything and got me switched out really, really quick.
Part of me wants to be sad. I wanted to finish 2013 with six marathons under my belt.
Instead, I’ll be running 13.1, likely slowly, and adding another half marathon to my list.
Speaking of that shirt, I love it. All the shirts are the same, saying “26.2 Miles of Running Heaven” so I didn’t have to switch my full marathon shirt for a half shirt. It’s a large Brooks shirt, so it’s good quality. This will be my first of two Brooks shirts in the next couple weeks. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series also has Brooks shirts. I love how durable they are.
I don’t know much about this race, but I’m already liking what I see. The Half Moon Bay International Marathon has only been around three years now. It seems to have gathered some great traction, though, with a hefty list of sponsors.
When I first found out about it, I was excited because it sounded exactly like a Big Sur race without the need to travel a long distance and book an overnight hotel room. (It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive early in the morning from where we live.)
Big Sur, though, is a very well established race that splits its main event into two: An April marathon and a November half marathon.
I actually first ran the Big Sur Half Marathon in 2011 on suggestion from my mom. She had a friend who had run the marathon. I, without really looking into the run, decided I wanted to do the 13.1. The full marathon included way too many hills. I found out later, during my 21-miler along the coast there, that it was a tough one.
But the Big Sur Half happens in Monterey and in nearby Pacific Grove before finishing near downtown. It’s not exactly the same as running along Highway 1. That said, I love the Big Sur Half. It’s one of my favorite races. I’ve already told my husband I hope to be back to it in 2014 as I ramp up for California International Marathon next year. Schedule conflicts have prevented me from doing so many of my favorite races this year.
That said, I’m hoping I enjoy Half Moon Bay just as much. I love the feel of smaller races. And I love that more and more are popping up in coastal areas. One of my best experiences in running was at the San Luis Obispo Marathon this year. That route doesn’t run along the coast, but it is beautiful.
So as much as I’m upset that I won’t be tackling the full 26.2 next week, I have a lot of reasons to be really excited about taking on 13.1 along the California coast. I just hope my stomach and body cooperate.
My husband accompanied me for a very quick trip to San Francisco today to pick up race packet for Sunday’s 26.2. I mean quick. We weren’t even in the expo for an hour. We were trying to get into the city and back home before all the Bay Area rush-hour traffic hit. The good news is that we were successful.
First off: Why did I sign up for a marathon that marathoners fear? Am I that crazy? The answer is yes.
I’m kind of over expos. I’ve been to a lot of them in the past couple months. I’m just tired. I’ve purchased what I’ve needed to at other ones recently.
I usually make a day of my trip to the San Francisco Marathon expo. This year I’ve just been too busy and too exhausted to make that happen. So I settled for the speedy trip.
The expo was larger this year, occupying the whole San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center. The past two years runners have entered on the complete opposite side. This year, I was a little confused with the address and directions.
It was like a completely new place.
First things first, we headed to bib pickup. Except I went where it said “1st Half” and “Marathon.” But it was actually “1st Half Marathon,” the run that I did last year. When I asked where my bib number pickup was, the volunteer told me to “go ask the service desk.”
Yeah … all she had to do was point me across the aisle where the full marathon bibs were.
I was handed by “swag bag.” Unlike the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races, these bags actually change every year. The first year it was four racing shoes on a bag. Last year, the bag commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. This year, it’s a nice homage to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
We then headed to the shirt booth.
And things got a little weird.
The shirts look just like the bags and are nicely designed. I actually love them more than the half marathon ones last year, which had the corporate sponsor emblazoned across the chest. I kind of hate that. These are much more simple.
The front includes a smaller logo on the left-hand side. Yellow is obviously the color for the full marathon this year.
Maybe it’s just me, but when you write “26.2” on a shirt, it’s kind of implied that it’s the “full marathon.” I’m not actually as hung up with that about these shirts. Almost immediately, the people around me started talking about the race shirts. Right at the booth.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I heard a woman say before I even looked at the shirt.
I turned toward her. I’m sure I looked concerned.
“This is just bad,” she added later.
Then I saw it.
The sleeves were really short. I looked at my size medium shirt. I realized there was no way it would fit across my torso. I’ve asked for mediums for the past two years from the San Francisco Marathon. Both times I had no issues with fit. I still wear my 2011 half marathon one a lot.
I know I’m not supposed to, but I immediately went back and asked to exchange.
“There’s no way this will fit me,” I said. The volunteer sympathized. She probably shouldn’t have. I’m sure there will be people in the next few days that won’t get their size large shirts because of people like me, but I could make fit half my torso in that shirt. I thought she’d handed me a small. So did my husband.
The large fit me better, except for in the sleeves.
Well. OK. Smallish.
It couldn’t be that bad, though, right? I put it on when I got home and realized it was more of a 3/4 length sleeve than a full sleeve.
Then I compared it to past race shirts.
Hello short sleeves! I’m pretty sure this is a good compromise actually. Some people want long sleeves. Others want short. This one hits somewhere in the middle.
People on the San Francisco Marathon Facebook page are complaining about the “boxy” cut of the shirt. I didn’t notice that so much. Instead, I noticed the smaller-than-usual head hole, which is bad for me because I have a large head.
The sizing, though, is similar.
The shirt from 2011 is about the same length. Folded over it shows a difference, but it is really about the same length. I don’t mind the length. I have a longer torso, so most race shirts don’t fit me too well. That’s why I like the longer Lululemon shirts as an under layer.
As for quality, the shirts are similar quality. I think last year’s shirt, with the nice screen printing, looked and felt nicer, but it’s essentially the same fabric. I actually think the yellow is maybe just a tad more lightweight.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it now: Race shirts divide people. Pretty significantly.
And the race shirts at this race, one of the biggest runs I do, have divided people repeatedly over the past three years. The first year people complained about the dark grey used on the marathon shirts (Too dark! I can’t see the design!) and the half marathon shirts (I hate orange! I don’t like the words on the sleeve!). In 2012, people complained about the corporate logo (I hate brands across my chest!) or the color (Why Blue? That’s so boring!).
There’s always something. You can’t make everyone happy. That said, I do like the design this year. And I don’t necessarily mind if the sleeves are short because I like to roll them up anyway.
That said, I only really had three goals when I went to the San Francisco Marathon expo today.
- Pick up my race packet.
- Check my status for the “52 Club.”
- Register for the Berkeley Half Marathon.
I took care of the race packet. Then I turned around and checked out the “52 Club” booth. I wanted to confirm that my name was on the list so when I finished the marathon, I’d be entitled to the “52 Club” sweatshirt.
I admit, I ran the first year for fun. The second year for the Half-It-All bling. And this year for the sweatshirt.
I didn’t expect to be handed the sweatshirt BEFORE finishing the race. But the nice guy at the booth handed it right over to me.
That makes me even more nervous about running on this slightly battered leg. I’m already not sure I’m going to be able to make it through. When he handed me the sweatshirt, I kind of wanted to refuse it. I haven’t exactly earned it yet.
That’s the logo on the back of it. It’s pretty inconspicuous. But I kind of love it. It makes me really eager to finish the full marathon. On my gimp leg and all.
The third goal was to register for the brand new Berkeley Half Marathon. Registration opened for it today. At the expo, it was 20% off the $65 price. It came to $55 for a single registration. That’s a steal for a half marathon. I was able to sign both Sam and I up for the half marathon. It’s Nov. 24, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
I’m really, really excited about this race. I love the Oakland Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon in 2011. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve run it now three times. I signed up for it because I love the community of Oakland. I lived there for two years while I was in graduate school. I went to graduate school at University of California, Berkeley.
So Berkeley represents just as much to me. So I was excited when I saw the announcement posted on the San Francisco Marathon’s Facebook page. I’m so excited that I decided to sign up even though I was hoping my race season would be done in October. I have a lot going on in the later part of the year, including being a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding.
But now I’m registered to run Berkeley.
So I, essentially, accomplished everything I set out to do on Friday.
Now all I have to do is run the 26.2 miles. For the first time in a long time, I’m really nervous. It’s not just the 13.1 I’ve been running in recent weeks. It’s twice the distance. On a still bothered leg. I’m hoping for the best.
But I’m also crossing my fingers for a good race, a sub six-hour finish and an amazing run.
Since many of the Rock ‘n’ Roll runs have very similar expos, I figured I won’t recap the entire experience. Instead, I figured I’d put together a photo post of the highlights of my hour-plus inside the expo.
My husband dropped my running buddy Sam and I off right when we got into San Diego, after a long eight-hour drive (which included a stop for lunch in Mission Viejo. He decided to take a ride down to, nearly, the California/Mexico border, thereby letting Sam and I spend as much time as we wanted to at the expo.
The Convention Center, as always, was packed. There were more people than could fit inside the crosswalk area streaming out of the expo. There were only two and a half hours left of it…so the expo was kind of winding down.
First stop was the check-in area and into the standard Brooks area. I was excited to see a huge Brooks tent shaped like a pasta bowl. I was hoping, more so, that the Brooks shoe-shaped pasta would be for sale.
Nope. No shoe-shaped pasta, at least not by the time we arrived. Too bad. I’ve been wanting to buy a bag.
We didn’t stick around for the gait analysis or anything. We’d already been there, done that two weeks earlier in Portland. That expo was pretty epic.
So we headed out for the rest of the expo. It was packed. There were more people than my anxiety could handle for a minute.
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE? OH MY GOD. TOO MANY PEOPLE. NO ONE TALK TO ME!
Sam was good at maneuvering us through the crowds and to her sister, who was waiting in the tape line. It would be Sam’s sisters second half marathon. She met us down in San Diego and, thankfully, picked us up from the expo when my husband wasn’t answering his cell phone. I had fears that he, and our race gear, got stuck in Mexico. That didn’t happen.
Lots of temptations at expos. I’ve actually become so much better at not trying to buy everything.
There’s some stuff, though, that’s just funny too.
For the record, I’d never wear an “I (heart) bacon” headband. I just thought it was funny because there was only one left. Really? That many people bought these headbands? I guess there’s a market for them … just not with me. Sam actually bought a Halo headband. She wore it for most of the race, but the verdict is still out on whether she liked it or not. She ended up taking if off and wearing it around her wrist most the race. That said, it was warm and humid, so I’m not sure she can fairly review it.
As much as I don’t fall into temptation, I decided there were some good deals at the expo.
I scored a box of my favorite Gu for $24.
And I visited the Tiger Tail booth. Last year I bought the Tiger Tail roller, which I love more than my Stick Roller because the Tiger Tail doesn’t pinch me. I tried to convince Sam to buy one. Instead, we both got Tiger Ball Massage-On-A-Rope.
I got it for $24. A nice price for, being that it cost $28 regularly and then you also have to pay for shipping. To be fair, I was on the lookout for this booth because I knew I was going to either get this or the Knot Buster.
I’ve buried the lead a little bit on this one, but as we were walking around something exciting happened: I saw Deena Kastor signing race items. I KNEW I had to get in line, being that my Kara Goucher-signed race bib got me to a PR a couple weeks earlier.
Deena-freaking-Kastor signed my race bib.
I’d like to think that’s what led me to my 2:16:41 half marathon, which is a marathon-distance time for her. You know what? Runners are nice people. Kara was gracious. Deena was super sweet. They were amazingly nice to everyone who stood in line for a little bit of their time.
Before we left, we headed to the main Rock ‘n’ Roll booth where I eyed the “Heavy Medal” series.
This year, I should earn the Grand Slam medal. Last year I earned the “Rock Encore” and “Triple Crown.” That said, I accidentally registered for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego with my maiden name, so I had to send an email asking that my name be changed in the results. I just registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my last Rock ‘n’ Roll Half for the year.
I was considering doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, but instead I think I’ll be staying closer to home and running the just-announced Berkeley Half Marathon on Nov. 24. Sam is going for broke with her Tour Pass, which is ending up to be a good value for her, and trying to earn the medal for six Rock ‘n’ Roll Races in the year.
I was hopeful, but not certain, that I would be able to beat my 2:19 time from Portland … and that would come Sunday in a very amazing run.
I’ve had an incredibly busy week. We made last weekend a long one, adding the extra day at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Then I came back to a 10-hour work day to catch up on my freelance assignments. Yesterday, my boss for freelance left for a well-deserved vacation. She left me a ridiculously long to do list.
My anxiety is a little off the charts right now. But I’m trying to handle it.
My biggest concern was the See Jane Run expo happening this week. This race, unlike many of the ones I’ve run lately, is on a Saturday. It’s nice because it gets my long run done at the beginning of the weekend. But there’s no Saturday expo, either.
I spent all Wednesday trying to figure out when I’d have a free moment. Then I realized my husband worked incredibly close to the packet pickup area. So I politely asked him to brave the expo and pick up my race packet.
I have to say, I was a little nervous. I kept expecting a phone call. It never came. He brought home my race packet perfectly tonight. I was worried he didn’t grab my chip, but it was on the back on my race bib.
The race, which includes Chipotle as a sponsor, includes a coupon for a buy one, get one deal at the restaurant. It also has the amazing “champagne glass” ticket at the bottom ready for me to claim my chocolate and champagne after the race (I’m so very excited for that!).
Plus, the race packet actually came in an incredibly cute back with the See Jane Run manifesto on it.
It’s a good size too, one that I’ll definitely use for lugging around things. I’m a big fan of reusable bags. I have quite a few little backpacks from Rock ‘n’ Roll series runs. I also have some reusable backpacks from the past two marathons I’ve run. But this bag is not only functional, it’s also cute.
I’ll definitely be using it a lot.
The best part of my packet?
The race shirt!
I LOVE the shirt design and color. I’ve always been a fan of my bright race shirts, but this one is perfect for running in the evenings around town. (I’d rather wear something bright, because people tend to pretend like they can’t see me, even though I made myself pretty visible.)
Words cannot express how excited I am about this race. I know that barring nothing horrendous happening on the course, I will definitely do better than my 2:42 time from 2011. If my recent races are any indication, I also know that I’ll have a good time while pushing myself hard. That part of running is all new for me.
This is also my last long run before the San Francisco Marathon, which I’m excited to finally get to as well.
Lots of amazing things have happened in my running life lately. And I know See Jane Run will be another chapter in that.
This one time, at a race expo, super runner Kara Goucher signed my race bib. She was super nice about it and even let me take a photo with her. Which is amazing, because she’s Kara-freaking-Goucher. She can run marathons in the time it takes me to run a half marathon.
This is a fan girl moment for me. A running fan girl moment. I not only have photos of it. I also have the bib.
Now I keep all my race bibs anyway. I’ve included posts on this blog that include my “bib wall” in my home office, i.e. the place where I spend most of my day coding and working on WordPress blogs. I like to look up and be reminded of what I’ve done.
I also keep my half marathon “PR medal” right in front of my computer. All reminders of the amazing things I’ve done running and how far I’ve come just in the past five months.
But a bib signed by Kara Goucher deserves more than just a spot on the “bib wall.”
No. It needs to be put in a place of reverence. It needs to be put somewhere where not just my husband and I will see it. But it also needs to be incorporated into the decor of our home.
So it needed a frame.
Yes, I framed the Kara Goucher signed race bib.
It’s not a custom job, because that would have cost a lot of money. This is a Michael’s 12X12 frame matted down to 8X8. I found an online coupon for 25 percent off. I went for it. The matted area is almost the size of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race bibs, enough to fake it. And see Kara Goucher’s signature. Because that’s really what is important here.
And now the bib is sitting in my family room, above the mantle for my fireplace. It’s part of the decor. Because it’s so awesome it should be.
I should mention this isn’t my first race-related art piece in my home. I should probably do a blog post on all of them one day. Since running is part of my life, it’s also featured prominently in my home.
But this is now my newest prized possession. I’m actually considering taking it to school and putting it on the wall in my office.
So I mentioned how Sam and I made our way to the expo with a very expensive cab ride. We wanted to get out of the cab so bad, as to not incur any more charges, that when the cabbie asked us where we wanted to be dropped off we said “here!” the moment we could get out of the car. That’s how we ended up in a different expo hall that we should have been.
A gun and knife expo. This was definitely uncharted territory for me.
I was confused. Sam was interested. But it cost $10 to attend. If it hadn’t of cost anything and if we had not just taken a $40 cab ride, I bet we would have gone. I could have at least taken a lot of photos for my husband.
“Where is the runner’s expo?” Sam asked a very nice security guard. He smiled, because he’d obviously been asked the question numerous times during the day. He pointed us out another door and through the parking lot.
The hall for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon’s expo was far larger than the smaller one we’d walked into. We were greeted by cheerleaders. Very happy, jumping-up-and-down-type cheerleaders. The good thing about Rock ‘n’ Roll expos is that they are well-oiled machines. There is little or no deviation from one to the next, outside of the addition of one of two things here and there.
The nice thing is that it means you can usually get through the main check-in area pretty quickly. Sam and I were done picking up our numbers in about five minutes. We were also given “Run Now” bracelets in honor of the Boston Marathon. We headed over and grabbed our race shirts, which were a nice gray color that kind of matched the weather conditions.
I’ve noticed that the race shirts for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races have started to be a lot nicer. I actually want to wear them now as opposed to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race I ran where I was handed a unisex shirt that was basically way to big for me to even bother taking out of my closet.
I particularly like this one and one from the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon last year. My Pasadena one is kind of so-so in terms of design, but it’s red so I like wearing it when I run in the evenings.
As with all the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos, you exit the main check in area and then go right into the Brooks-sponsored merchandise. Sam normally HATES this part. It’s all overpriced and, since we already got a race shirt, it’s usually full of things we absolutely don’t need.
That said, something was different about this race expo.
The moment we walked in, we noticed a strange carnival-style set up.
Brooks had a huge area dedicated to its “Cavalcade of Curiosities.” To say we were curious would be an understatement. We kind of stopped right in the middle of the expo and tried to figure out exactly what we were looking at. In all our previous Rock ‘n’ Roll experiences, we’d never stumbled upon anything this grand in the merchandise area.
A guy handed us two cards to fill out, which we did, and then told us to head to the prize area and see if we won something. Everyone was guaranteed a prize, he added. Plus, after the noon “show” we could stick around to see if we’d won a pair of Brooks shoes.
Sure enough, we walked over to the booth and handed our tickets over to a Brooks representative, and were each given a prize. Sam won a red T-shirt. I got a Brooks Run Happy bandana.
It was nearing noon, so we stuck around for the “show” not really knowing what it was.
It was pretty amazing.
That’s my edited version of the 15-minute show that was part fun, part marketing pull for Brooks shoes. My trail shoes are Brooks. I run, primarily, in Nikes. The one time I switched to something else, I tore up my feet. I never broke my pair of Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes in. I ended up giving them to my mom instead.
So I wasn’t convinced. Sam wanted to check out the Brooks, though. So we did.
It was around this point Sam declared this the “best race expo ever.” She even looked up where the “Cavalcade of Curiosities” traveled to. Not one stop was in California. That was surprising if only because California hosts a lot of races, including many Rock ‘n’ Roll races.
One thing we both had done was a gait analysis. I wish the video that was sent to my email worked, but it doesn’t. The Brooks representative had be run barefoot on a treadmill. I’m a overpronator. That’s why I’ve always run in stability shoes. My stability shoes started out exactly as they sound, kind of clunky with a big sole. When Nike moved into the Lunarlon padding and discontinued my Nike Equalon’s, they also moved into prettier shoes.
All that said, I now see how I overpronate thanks to the analysis. My right ankle bows out a little when I run. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable.
See how jam-packed this expo was? We weren’t even out of the Brooks main merchandise area yet!
When we decided to leave the area, we came across the the Brooks fortune teller. She told our running fortunes for the next day.
In total, we spent more than an hour in that one area alone. When we finally got out to the main merchandise floor, Sam and I even purchased lightweight running tank-tops with the race name on them.
The rest of the expo was just as filled. Our stops included numerous food vendors, including getting free regular-sized Chobani yogurt samples, and finding other runner knick-knacks along the way. Sam recently got a new phone that doesn’t fit inside her Nike water belt. So she found a new belt that expands to probably 10 times its size from the Hippie Runner booth.
This was also a more densely-packed expo than we were used to as well. Sam always tries to get in the tape line, to get her knee taped, but it’s usually ridiculously long. Even with only 10 people or so, it ALWAYS takes forever. Sam, like me, is impatient when it comes to that stuff. So she got out of line.
While she was in that line, I was in another one. But mine went by quickly because I was waiting for Kara Goucher to sign my race bib. You know how fast she is when she runs? She’s also that fast signing bibs. And that’s not to say she didn’t spend time with me. She signed bibs or other race items, then took photos with nearly everyone.
Because Kara Goucher is amazing. And I’m pretty sure her signing my bib made me a better runner during the race. At least it propelled me to do my best.
After more than two hours at the expo, we decided to call it a day and hit the train into downtown Portland where Sam had booked a hotel for herself when she registered. I’m thankful she let me crash with her and I didn’t have to get my own hotel room.
Our trip on the Tri-Met was about 30 minutes. We got off at a street called “Couch” but pronouced “Cooch.” I’m pretty sure I nearly died laughing when I heard the train’s automated voice say that. (I know, pretty juvenile of me, but whatever. It WAS funny.)
We checked in and then headed down to Voodoo Doughnut for our first of three stops there where only one ended in us getting doughnuts. That will get its own blog post later on. By then, it was raining. And the rain just kept getting worse. And worse.
It was about that time we realized we were also very hungry, so we walked back up to the area near our hotel called the Pearl District (or at least that’s what many of the signs said). There we stopped first at a fun place called Lardo, but the menu was all sandwiches. Instead, we found ourselves in the bar area at Jake’s Grill Seafood Restaurant.
And we were starving, so much so that we both ordered an appetizer.
The bruschetta was just what I needed, despite the fact that the cheese didn’t really have any taste. I then ordered a $4.95 cheeseburger and fries. I have to say it was the best $5 meal I’d had in a long time, exactly what I needed.
I also had a margarita. And a mango mojito. Before a race. I was living dangerously.
After dinner, I made Sam head to a fancy cupcake shop. Because I’m all about the fancy cupcakes.
Outside of the fact that the staff completely ignored Sam when she was hoping to order to, the cupcakes were pretty good.
I ordered six cupcakes. Six. Probably because I’d had a couple drinks and was convinced it was a good idea at the time. It was, actually. But I kind of regretted it the next day when I had to take four of those cupcakes home to California. I was literally stuffing cupcakes in my Voodoo Doughnut box so I could limit my number of carry-on bags.
Confession: I was not a fan of the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But the butter cream frosted ones with sprinkles on them were amazing. I ate the last one yesterday. I tried to savor every bite.
Once we got back to our hotel, Sam was exhausted. She had an ear ache from the plane. The moment we got to downtown Portland we had to find her some antihistamines. By the time we were done with dinner, the pills were really starting to work.
That means we actually got into bed at an early hour. So early it was still light outside, which my husband said is because we were in the Pacific Northwest. It was about 9 p.m. when I decided to turn in too, because I was feeling the impacts of a long travel day too.
Surprisingly, we both slept well. And were ready to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning to Rock ‘n’ Roll our way through Portland.
I realized when I was printing out my confirmation for the San Luis Obispo Marathon that I registered on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. By 7 p.m. that night, I was laying in a hospital bed curled over begging the emergency room staff to give me something for that pain.
When they finally did, the marathon I had just signed up for was the farthest thing from my mind. I was pumped full of Dilaudid and sent home. A week later, I was back in the hospital being rolled into an operating room having my gallbladder removed.
Ominous beginnings, right?
Good thing the San Luis Obispo Marathon didn’t turn out anywhere near bad. It was actually an amazing, pleasant experience. I had fun. I felt good. It turned out to be a great weekend, actually.
My husband and I left home at around 11 a.m. I completely forgot how long the drive down to the San Luis Obispo area was, a total of about four hours with a pit stop for lunch. The drive was relatively uneventful. In fact, we hit very little traffic on the way down, likely due to our late start.
By 3:30 p.m. we were driving down into central San Luis Obispo on Highway 101, passing right by the tented expo at the Madonna Inn.
I should explain why I decided I wanted to run this race.
One of the issues I’ve had lately is with running really large races. Nothing spikes my anxiety more than being around a huge group of people. So I’ve been avoiding large marathons. I’m lucky that California International Marathon only has about 8,000 people. I was slightly hyperventilating at the beginning of CIM. The fear was masked by the rain, thankfully.
I read that the SLO Marathon had a cap of 1,200 marathon runners. The half marathoners were capped at 4,000.
I hate to say this, because it’s a great race, but I knew that the races wouldn’t sell out. The event is only in it’s second year. I heard about it from another runner’s blog, but otherwise there was very little Internet chatter about the marathon. I signed up when I did in order to avoid rising prices, though it still wasn’t cheap.
On Sunday, only 672 people ran the marathon. It started at 6 a.m. It was still dark. By the time I was hitting mile three, the half marathon was starting. Most of my time on the course, I only saw one or two of the fastest half marathoners. Small. Nice.
Plus, I love the SLO area. My husband and I went on our first vacation together in Morro Bay. We went back for years before our lives became too busy (note, we need to go back more now).
I ignored the elevation chart. I just wanted to run somewhere beautiful.
And it was beautiful when we arrived at the expo. It was also easy in and easy out to get my race packet. The only people lined up for the marathon were two misplaced half marathoners. It took me about five minutes from start to finish to get my race packet and number, which was assigned the day of. The race organizers then wrote my shirt size on the bib tag for me to claim my shirt.
I initially signed up for a medium. On race day, my husband went and exchanged it for a large. It was way too tight across the chest. But it was a beautiful green color, very similar to my CIM one (see above).
We made our way through the expo, which actually didn’t seem all that big. I found the race gear booth and admit that I went a little crazy. I’ve been so good at not buying anything running related lately. But I always consider marathons different. I don’t do a ton of them, definitely not as many as the half marathons I do. So I bought myself a nice jacket, my first nice race-related jacket.
The nice logo was embroidered on the front. It’s a nice jacket, with a fleece lining and no hood. It’s kind of a windbreaker material, but it’s really, really warm.
So I splurged a little. The back of the jacket also had a basic logo on it, but simplistic design that I loved enough that I was sold pretty quickly on the jacket.
I also bought a hefty water bottle. I’m already using it. Like I said, I haven’t been buying any running items lately, so I figured this would be my gift to myself for running the marathon. Incentive is always a plus, especially with 26.2 miles ahead.
We didn’t stay at the expo long. The area is too nice to stay inland. And we were staying in Morro Bay, which was only 20 minutes away. I had told my husband I would have preferred to stay in SLO, but I’m glad we stayed on the coast.
We actually headed out to the peninsula area and went exploring for a little while before dinner.
You’ll notice the difference in atmosphere here. It was nice and sunny inland. Last year the marathon was run on a relatively foggy day. This year it was beautiful the entire time. The coast, though, was layered in fog. We went for a quick jaunt along the peninsula, but I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet.
I did get to take in some ocean calm.
It helped to soothe my nerves, though, a little before my run. We ate at an Italian place overlooking the ocean before heading back to the hotel. I settled in for bed early, at about 10 p.m. Why? My iPhone alarm was set for 4 a.m. The marathon started at 6 a.m.
And you know what? I slept really, really well. The bed was super comfortable, comparable to my bed at home.
I felt like this whole marathon lead up was different than the three times before. I felt as if I was much more calm. I wasn’t cranky. The anxious nerves were being kept at bay as well. I was taking it moment by moment.
I’d like to think that’s what led me to PR success the next day.
I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. I live in comfortable jeans and T-shirts until I have to get dressed up to: 1) Do a presentation to ask for money/equipment/items related to my work. 2) Go to a wedding. 3) Go to a funeral. 4) Go on a fancy date to the ballet. In San Francisco. 5) Need more confidence than I have on any given day.
Needless to say, I don’t dress up much. Consider that good, if only because it means I don’t go to a lot of funerals.
And I haven’t been to a wedding in years. This year, I’m going to at least two.
So I don’t do “pretty” well. Laid-back? I do that well.
I’m not going to lie: When I work from home, I’m usually in my running clothes and a big sweater. Who am I going to dress up for? My dogs? If my code was sloppy my boss would care. If I haven’t done my hair? Not so much.
My husband once joked that it was good I got accepted into the journalism graduate school at Berkeley and not the program at Stanford because he didn’t see me fitting into the private university where everyone wore clothes more expensive than my car.
At J-School, I wore jeans and T-shirts almost every day. Except when I was working on my master’s project. If I was shooting video, I’d wear jeans. If not, I’d wear slacks and a nice shirt, even heels.
So today when I declared it “flip flop weather” and threw on my ridiculously durable Target sandals (I don’t wear flip flops anymore too much, I always seem to lose one on a street), I realized the dirty little secret that I’d been hiding since CIM was about to be exposed.
I have double back toenails. The one of my right foot isn’t nearly as bad as it once was. It can now pass for slightly normal.
The one on my left foot is another story. It won’t fall off. It’s not even loose. But it’s all colors of bloody-black rainbow in the world. And I bet if you got this far into this blog post, you’re probably glad I didn’t show it, though you can kind of see the nastiness poking out.
I had two options: 1) Find nude-colored nail polish and top it off. 2) Cover that sucker up.
I still wanted to wear sandals into Oakland/Emeryville/Richmond today. So I grabbed a Band-Aid (name-brand, yes, I’m fancy). And, really, who am I kidding? I’m not painting my nails. It’s only been since I stopped shooting video regularly that I can grow nails on my hands. I could care less about my feet.
So now I just look like an idiot who is wearing a Band-Aid over her toenail. At least I feel better about it.
I’m getting ready to head into the Bay Area today for packet pick-up for the Oakland Half Marathon. I’m even meeting my husband, who works in Richmond, for lunch in that neck of the woods. A trip to Ikea might happen. Or maybe UC Berkeley’s student store (I get a discount! Cal Alumni Life Member!). I’m not sure. I don’t drive in the area as much as I used to. I’m wearing contacts for the occasion, if only because I also declared it “sun glass wearing” weather. And I’m taking the sports car.
I’m totally pulling out all the stops today, to impress no one at all. Just because. Actually, it probably has something to do with confidence. And needing more of it. Maybe I should have pulled out the red patent heels instead.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure where to begin this race report. In many ways, California International Marathon should have been a better run for me. It should have been the race where I recorded a new personal record, after months of solid training runs. It should have been where I finally felt as if I was ready to run 26.2 without problems.
Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas.
ying it wasn’t fun. Not at all.
But the elements took everything I had out of m
For the first 18 miles of the run, it was pouring rain. There were wind gusts up to 40-miles per hour. At one point, I swear the rain was coming at me horizontally. I’m not sae. And it sucked.
Let me rewind, though, to the day before. My husband and I left for Sacramento when the sky was overcast in Tracy. It was actually present until we reach the county line.
Then we saw ominous foreboding of what was to come.
And we knew that was only the beginning of what was coming. Forecasters projected up to an inch of rain during the morning hours on Sunday. It was to start raining the night before.
It was going to the rain. No matter what. No doubt about it.
The forecast couldn’t get much worse than that, right? Then it did. Suddenly the wind speeds were projected to be higher. Add to that a possibility of thunder storms and it’s every runners dream to tackle a marathon in.
We made it to Sacramento around 3 p.m. and made our way to the expo. It was already pouring down rain then. Plus, the streets were flooded in most directions. To get to the convention center, we literally had to jump over puddles that were more than six inches deep.
Needless to say, my shoes got wet.
My jeans were also wet up to my knees. The expo was, just like last year, quick to navigate. I picked up my packet and Jennie’s, again without needing an identification, and we wandered around for a couple minutes. I picked up a $5 poster commemorating the 30th anniversary of the event in addition to the race swag.
Let’s talk about the swag for a minute folks.
The marathon runners were given some extra prizes this year in addition to a nice green long-sleeve shirt.
Each runner received a reusable bag, a nice one not one of those cheap ones the Rock ‘n’ Roll series gives out, a pair of gloves and a neck gaiter with custom CIM logos.
The items were pretty nice.
I’m especially excited about the neck gaiter. It can be used as a headband, or a neck wrap or a cap. Lots of uses, definitely an awesome addition to the swag bag.
Now I know it was raining and people tend to be cranky when it rains, but the complaints from the relay teams about not getting the extra swag was ridiculous. A guy in the line behind my husband and I was getting angry with the volunteers. Angry. With volunteers. Really?
“When we registered it didn’t say anything about NOT getting this stuff,” he complained.
The timid teenager who was opening up the swag bags just kept telling him that the items were for “marathoners only.” The guy kept getting more and more upset.
Wow. Calm yourself dude. Seriously. Sure, the website didn’t say anything about relay runners not receiving the goods, but at the same time it’s not the volunteers who made the decision. Don’t yell at them. OK. Rant over.
We didn’t stay at the expo too long if only because I was wet and tired. Instead, we headed to our Sacramento hotel. It wasn’t one of the shuttle hotels, but my husband would be driving me to the start.
After check in, we decided to head downtown, as we kept checking the weather reports, for dinner. The problem is we didn’t have reservations so our first attempt at a pasta dinner was thwarted.
We ended up getting a nice pasta, chicken mix at the 4th Street Grille, where other marathoners were also eating. Our waiter was awesome, despite teasing about the weather for the next day. I know, I told him. It will be bad.
Just then, it really started raining.
The storm system had come in. It was bad. Awful. Buckets upon buckets of rain.
Not really buckets, but it was pretty bad.
We watched the rain out the window as the television showed a storm tracking into the area that would likely deliver the brunt of the storm at the beginning of the race. So. I’ve never run a race in the rain before. Never. There have been times where the rain threatened a race, but in the end it only rained for a couple minutes or not at all.
I was going into this blind. With a rain poncho. And lots of Body Glide.
I kept telling myself I would be fine, just fine. The poncho would keep me dry. Right? The Glide would make sure I didn’t get blisters anywhere. Yes? I had no idea what I was in for the next day. Not at all.
See all my anti-chafe stuff? Little did I know it wouldn’t be enough when my feet were soaking in my shoes for more than three hours. It was going to be a wet and wild run, that’s for sure.