Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘California International Marathon’

Battling the elements at California International Marathon: Part II

I had planned to do the rest of this race recap yesterday, but in the past 24 hours have started feeling significantly more under the weather than I have been lately. I’m blaming the deluge from the race.

It started, as colds do, with a little itch. It’s now a sore throat and general soreness.

But I was feeling really good on Saturday. I fell asleep at 9:30 p.m. and, unlike my last marathon, actually slept really well during the night.

I woke up and immediately got to work “lubing” up, for lack of a better term.

Glide under my sports bra. Aquaphor between my toes, along my arms, etc. Anti-chafe anywhere I could put it. My greatest fear was that I would be running and suddenly realize I was chafing somewhere thanks to the rain.

That definitely should have been a fear, except not in the spots I thought.

My husband and I got out of our hotel, near downtown, at about 5:30 a.m. It took us about 20 minutes to get up to Folsom, two miles from the start line.

It was then that the rain was really coming down.

Someone posted the image above to Facebook, showing what we ran through that day. In the morning, when I got to the busing area for the marathon start, it was already pouring. The wind was howling. A local transit line had crews all along the street because a tree fell on the lines. That wouldn’t get fixed for another day or so.

I ran across the street toward a line of school buses. There was no escaping it at this point. It was pouring down rain. It was crazy. The wind was blowing so much that it was hitting me horizontally. I threw on the $1.47 poncho.

It kept me dry for about two minutes. That’s right. My legs were wet by the time my five-minute wait for the bus was over.

Speaking of the bus … it was warm. But our bus driver took us a very different way than last year. We ended up behind the start instead of in front of it. There were a couple questions on the bus whether she knew where she was going, but we ended up right where we needed to be.

I quickly ran over to the long line of portable toilets.

There was hardly any lines, but people were also sticking around in the stalls rather than getting out. Seriously. I waited five minutes and no doors opened in front of me where there were seven or eight toilets.

Come on people. When one, further down, finally opened, I jetted to it. I didn’t care at that moment whether or not someone else was in line. (Sorry folks, put waiting in a portable toilet line in the pouring rain is not cool. Wow. Thanks for being considerate folks.)

I huddled under a gas station cover until about 6:58 a.m. along with everyone else.

At 7 a.m., the race began.

And it was downhill, crazy fun for the first couple miles.

Mile 1: 10:36 — Nice start, my legs didn’t feel cold at all. I was still mostly dry.

Mile 2: 10:34

Mile 3: 10:50

Somewhere around this time, my Garmin turned itself off. I got to the three-mile sign and realized the Garmin hadn’t beeped. Instead it was stuck at 2.67. When did that happen?

And how was I supposed to get it back on track.

Crap. Less than three miles in. I turned it back on and kept going.

Mile 4: 10:52 — Still feeling good.

Mile 5: 11:11 — It’s pouring down rain. But I’m going fairly consistent. I’m actually enjoying the run here. About this time I get to the relay switch, which always brings a good amount of people. (Remember, Garmin was off the entire time, so the real exchange is somewhere at 5.9 or so.)

Mile 6: 6:30 — This isn’t right. I only ran .53 miles here to get my Garmin back on track with the signs.

Mile 7: 11:21

Mile 8: 11:58

Mile 9: 11:54 — I felt as if I was being fairly consistent here with pacing. But it appears to be a little more off than I thought here.

Mile 10: 11:41

Mile 11: 12:12

Mile 12: 11:50

Mile 13: 11:47 — My half time was somewhere close to 2:30. I was excited to be coming in pretty strong in this area. I wasn’t tired, yet, but that would come soon enough.

Mile 14: 12:25 — And here’s where the fatigue actually set in. It came so quickly. The rain was still coming down. I was running through puddles, but also skipping here and there. It was killing my feet. Killing. It hurt so bad.

Mile 15: 13:30 — Slowing down. Lame. But the rain is letting up. Good sign, right?

Mile 16: 12:38 — Gu to pick it back up. Trying to get back into this. Trying.

This is the point where the rain was letting up. I realized then that I was drenched. I mean I was wet in places where I really didn’t want to be. Seriously. My underwear? Yes. My sports bra. Yes.

And I still had the poncho on.

The water had absorbed through my clothes and the poncho was basically useless at this point. So I took it off and threw it to the side near the end of this mile.

This is about right after I ditched the poncho. When I realized my long-sleeve shirt was also wet, I just took it off. It was a warmish 60-degrees, so I felt as if I could finish in my tank top.

I was starting to get ridiculously tired now.

The wind and water had taken nearly everything out of me.

Mile 17: 12:30 — One foot in front of the other.

Mile 18: 13:16

Mile 19: 13:59

Mile 20: 13:02 — The “wall” party wasn’t as exciting as it could be. I’m sure it had everything to do with the weather. There were hardly any people out there. I realized, however, that we didn’t even have the start arches at the beginning because of the rain.

Mile 21: 13:28 — This is when I looked down and realized something was very wrong with my right foot. It was rubbing really bad against the back of the shoe, which is something that it has never done before.

Mile 22: 14:21 — I briefly stopped at an aid station to grab a Band-Aid. Except it wouldn’t stick. My feet were too waterlogged. Both were completely saturated.

Mile 23: 13:59 — I had to keep going. My foot was killing me. My IT band was hurting too now.

Mile 24: 14:37

Mile 25: 12:29 — Just need to keep going. By now, the feet were really killing me. I’m nearing the end here, and I look as tired as I am.

Mile 26: 13:05 — Notice the overcast sky? It didn’t seem that dark, but it was.

Mile .31: 3.27

Chip time: 5:24:52

I added four minutes onto my time from last year. I was actually aiming at coming in around 5:15 this time, but the weather and the wet feet kind of killed that for me.

I crossed the finish line and was handed by epic medal and I wandered, now in pain and wanting to take my shoes off, through the end corral.

It seemed as if there were more people around this year when I finished, probably again because of the rain. I took a heat sheet and a bottle of water, though I’d been hydrating well along the course too, and walked out.

My husband wasn’t yet at the finish line. Apparently he didn’t have as high hopes for me as I did. He figured I’d be done around 5:30.

I did shave more than 10 minutes off time from San Diego, but that’s not even comparable.

I’m upset that I was doing so well and, yet, it all kind of fell apart after the fact. But I was pretty damaged. My feet hurt. My face had wind burn. And heels were torn apart.

Yes. I put up a photo of one of my feet. Both were completely pruned up. Little blisters everywhere. (That blood blister was there beforehand. It wasn’t caused by the race, but the blister on top of it was. I didn’t even know that was possible.)

And when I got home, I realized that only Duct Tape could have saved that heel that Band-Aids wouldn’t stick too.

The back of my running shoes and my socks were bloody. It was a wet, bloody mess.

I’m thankful that I was able to get most of it out. It now just looks like a faint pink stain. Sorry to put up the gross stuff, but I’ve never had that happen in a race before. In San Diego my shoes torn up my feet completely. My Nikes were fine for the first 15 miles or so before this started.

In fact, I don’t think this happened until it started to get dry outside. The water was apparently lubricating my feet, along with the Aquaphor and Glide. Then it ran out.

Would it have been better if I had applied for Glide instead of trying a Band-Aid? I think by the time I realized it was happening the damage was already done.

I should be upset by this race. I should be mad that I didn’t make goal.

But I’m not.

I ran a good race. The things that came up were unexpected. I was exhausted by mile 15. After battling the rain, I just had little to nothing in me. My foot was killing me the last six miles. And I ran, in the rain, for nearly the entire thing.

And I finished.

That’s a lot more pain on my face than I was expecting. I heard some people say at the expo that they weren’t even going to run the race because of the weather. I know more probably woke up and decided against it that morning.

I never doubted I’d be out at the start. I never doubted that at some point I’d get to the end.

I battled through this thing. And I won the battle.

A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought about waking up and running a whole 26.2 in the mostly pouring rain. Critics say you shouldn’t run a marathon your first year as a runner. I believe that now, even though I did it last year.

This year, I realized that the marathon isn’t just about running all those miles. It’s about realization. It’s about finding something deep within yourself to pull you through. This year, I had that in me from the start line. Last year, I doubted myself until mile 25. Only then I knew I could do it.

I know I can do it now, even in the pouring rain. I just want to get better, and maybe achieve that 5:15 goal soon. Then, maybe, work on getting my time to under five hours.

But I’m not disappointed in this race. Not at all.

In fact, it was even a little bit fun. Or at least it was before my feet started getting torn up.

Battling the elements at California International Marathon: Part I

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.

Or not.

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.

Not a best, but a good time nonetheless at CIM

I finished my second California International Marathon yesterday. It was a blast through the first part, with crazy weather and 40 mile-per-hour wind gusts for the first 13.1.

I was doing really well. But battling the elements took more out of me than I thought it would. I finished in 5:24:53. Four minutes more than my time last year, but 10 better than my San Diego run in June.

It was a wild, crazy run. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make my goal of finishing in 5:15. But I sloshed through very wet streets in pouring rain.

I’m planning a full race report, but with a Garmin malfunction (it stopped for more than a half time only 20 minutes in!), a face reddened by windburn and my quads burning from my great first half, I’m still recovering.

It’s too bad I don’t have any photos of that morning. I was trying to stay dry as long as possible (that didn’t happen). But it will be a fun race report.

About that rain forecast for CIM

So rain is still on the forecast for Sunday’s California International Marathon. And it’s what everyone is talking about on Facebook on the race’s page. A lot of people have even asked if the race would be canceled due to the inclement weather.

That doesn’t surprise me, in light of the cancellation of the New York Marathon after Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast.

Except this is California.

And it’s rarely THAT BAD here.

In fact, one of the last times we experienced epic flooding in the Sacramento area was 1996. That’s when levees were breached. That’s when whole areas of homes were flooded, including some in areas down by my hometown of Stockton.

But it is never really that bad here. Sure, flooding is projected. But we sometimes define “flooding” as streets getting six inches of water. All the news stations today showed “flooding” just like that.

In any case, I’ve taken a couple days to prepare a plan.

A plan? If it’s not that serious, why would I have a plan?

I’m trying not to start the race completely drenched. I know that will be a fruitless effort once I get going, but I’m going to try to keep dry for a least a minute or two.

First off, the weather is projected to be about 60 degrees.

That’s not cold.

UPPER: So I’m actually planning on wearing a Lululemon Run:Swifty tank as my main race shirt. I’ll wear a long sleeve over it, but not something too heavy. I don’t want to wear something bulky, but I want to be warm. I’ll likely take a Nike wool pullover I have. The wool will keep me warm in the morning, but it’s light enough that I can tie it around my waist during the race. I’m not worried about it getting wet. I’ve run in the rain with it before.

I may, though, opt for just a regular Nike pullover. I’ll take a variety of clothes, just in case.

LOWER: I’m planning on wearing Lululemon Run: Bright at Night capris. I was considering pants, but because it won’t be too cold, I’d rather not have wet ankles. The capris will mean my ankles get wet, but with the wind (it’s supposed to be strong), I’m hoping I’ll also dry off a little too.

VISOR: I’ll wear my Asics visor to keep the rain out of my eyes. I’m opting to not wear a hat, if only because it will just get wet and my hair will get wet. I can handle running with wet hair, so why not just start out that way?

CONTACTS: I rarely, if ever, wear my contacts. I’m more annoyed with them than not most the time. And I’ve just become incredibly comfortable with glasses since I started wearing them in 2004. But my contacts come out every once in awhile, mostly for special occasions. Last year I ran with contacts for CIM. I’m doing it this year mainly because I’d rather not have rain all over my glasses.

SHOES AND SOCKS: I’m applying the fabric protector above to my shoes and socks. It may not work. That’s fine. My hope is that I can get through at least some of the race with dry feet. If it’s the downpour it’s expected to be, I’ll be all wet at the end. I’m hoping that a comfortable pair of socks will mean I don’t have blisters.

TOES: I’m still having issues with my baby toes curling under the toe next to them. I’ve gone through three pairs of shoes and this is still a problem. I actually bought toe spacers because if I end up with blisters, it will be in this area. I used similar toe spacers for the Clarksburg Country Run a couple weeks ago.

These ones are thicker, but I have a blood blister on one of my toes I don’t want to aggravate.

CHAFING: I’m going to use Body Glide everywhere. I’m also taking a small container of it, purchased at an expo a while back, to carry in my capri pocket just in case I chafe along the way. I know there will be Vasoline along the course as well.

BEFORE RACE: And I bought a poncho. I grabbed one for Jennie too. I’m not planning on running the entire race with this, but I likely will run a couple miles if it’s really bad. Or I may just throw it to the side once the race starts. I’m hoping it keeps me dry before the race though, when we’re all standing waiting for the gun to fire.

I know that I am going to be a mess at the end of this. That’s inevitable. But I’m hoping taking some precautions beforehand, and at least planning, will set me on the right path on a rainy day.

I’ve never run a half marathon in rain let alone a marathon, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m trying not to be worried about beating last year’s time. If it happens, it happens.

A lot of people are saying they are just hoping to finish this year. I’m trying not to be too pessimistic about my chances, but I think it’s going to be a “wait and see” thing for me.

But I’m ready. Even with the 100 percent chance of rain.


Forecast calling for a very wet California International Marathon

So the weather for this weekend looks awesome for staying inside and lighting a nice fire.

But I’ll be out running 26.2 miles from Folsom to Sacramento instead. On Sunday, the forecast for Sacramento even calls for a “potential for flooding rains.”

Earlier today, the forecast called for 70% chance of rain. Now it’s higher.


I’ve only run parts of half marathons in the rain and cold. This looks like it will be a full deluge for the five hours or so it will take me to finish this thing.

Maybe if it’s pouring down rain I’ll run faster? One can only hope.

But this means I’ll pull out the contacts, which I rarely wear. But it’s better than having my glasses covered with rain drops everywhere. I’ll wear a visor (because a hat will just get wet anyway, so I might as well just wear the visor).

I’m still trying to figure out what shirt to wear, if only because I think it will also be cold. So I want to be warm. But if I get soaking wet and then it clears up, I also want to dry out quick. I also don’t want to lug around a soaking wet long-sleeve shirt forever.

I’m planning on taking a garbage bag to the start. I’ll also take Aquaphor to make sure I don’t chafe. I can’t imagine what chafing would feel like after that long in the rain.

So while I’m not looking forward to running in pouring rain, at least I have a plan.

That said, I’m still crossing my fingers to hope the storms pass and dump all four inches of the rain we’re expecting (apparently it would be a record for rainfall) before Sunday.

It started raining today, so I think we have some hope.

There was a bit of a clearing today during the lunch hour before an afternoon appointment I had to go to. So I headed to a sweet shop in the small town I live in. I picked up some homemade rocky road (nothing like killing a diet during taper week, oops).

Our town put up the Christmas tree in our town square area this week. But the photo is more to show the clouds than the tree. It’s a pretty impressive cloud showing.

I’m not going to let rain ruin my marathon. But I’d love to have a little less wet, a little more sun come Sunday.

Taking on 20 in Clarksburg

The 20-mile run is the pinnacle of marathon training. In a training cycle it’s the training run that is often feared. It’s also the one that most would-be marathoners rejoice about when it’s over.

It’s daunting for many reason. For me, it’s been incredibly more daunting for the past couple weeks. I was considering not doing this race. I figured, if anything, I could go out and do my own the same day. I knew the likelihood of me actually doing the run on my own was really low, though.

So I was more than glad when Jennie decided to head up and run with me. Overwhelming glad.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. after having a not-so-great night on Saturday. I just didn’t want to leave the bed. So I laid there until I fell asleep. I put on my running clothes, opting for long capris over my winter running pants, and headed out the door when it was still dark.

By the time I go to Jennie’s house to pick her up, the sun was rising. At that point, my nerves were killing me. I’m trying to stay away from things that trigger my anxiety. I felt okay, though, as we got on the freeway and started our 60-mile drive to Clarksburg.

Clarksburg is a little town right next to the Sacramento River. We run along the river in many areas (including a beautiful levee that I just seemed to fly on) and on country roads that go by vineyards. Needless to say, it’s an amazing run.

Jennie and I got to the southern part of Sacramento around 7:15 a.m. I had a moment when I didn’t know which way to turn…but then saw the signs.

This race was good for more than a couple reasons, but one was the signs leading the way.

Immediately upon exiting Interstate 5, there were signs pointing the way. There was one pointing over the only bridge to access the levee road leading to Clarksburg. From there, a man with a bright-orange flag led us into the Delta High School parking area, in an athletic field.

Jennie hadn’t pre-registered, but we had a good amount of time for me to pick up my race packet and her to do so.

We were greeted with only a small number of people, being that the half marathon started 45 minutes after the 20-mile run.

There was a lot of space, not a ton of people.

I waited in the pre-registration line for about five minutes. That was it. I was handed by bib number and some safety pins and then pointed to the shirt table.

By the time I was finished checking in, Jennie was done with her registration too. We were there early enough that, even though she registered that day, she was able to get one of the event shirts in her size. Kind of a win with smaller races.

We headed back to the car and started getting our supplies ready, including our water bottles.

Then we headed back to the start line area where there was zero wait for the portable toilets.


That’s a runner’s favorite site ever. There were ample enough portable toilets for everyone. The wait, even about 20 minutes later when I decided to go again, was minimal at best.

One of my favorite things to see are portable toilets. I won’t lie. It’s beautiful.

We watched the beginning of the children’s races as we waited for the 8:30 a.m. start time.

And pondered the fact that we wouldn’t be seeing the finish line for likely some time. I estimated it would take me around four hours, maybe a little more, to finish. But I was running naked — it’s been almost a month since I sent my Garmin 405CX to Kansas for servicing. It still hasn’t come back. I figured it would be back for this run.

No go. So I ran without.

I’m starting to think that might have been why I did so well.

Jennie and I started getting prepped for the run as we waited.

Jennie was checking her phone for the last time before she put it away for the run. We were talking, at that point, about moving to a sunny area. It was cold. The temperature was in the 40s it seemed. I’m not really sure what it was exactly, but there was frost every.

Jennie also got a photo of me stretching.

Apparently I’ve lost weight. I’ve also dyed my hair red, in case you can’t tell from previous photos. I haven’t been eating well, but I’ve been running miles upon miles. I also, lately, felt as if I need something new in terms of my hair. I’m not sure how much I like it.

For the first week I had it, the dye seemed to get all over my workout clothes every time I ran.

But I digress.

Soon, it was time to line up at the start.

The gun went off before we knew it and we were off.

The first three miles were tough.

I started wondering how I’d make it through 20. Even though large groups aren’t the biggest trigger of my anxiety, I’m afraid of what could potentially trigger it. Familiarity is huge for me right now. It soothes me.

But Jennie hung with me for the first five miles or so before she had to cut off and go to the bathroom. I kept on. I didn’t see her again until right after mile nine. At that point she was only about 10 minutes before me.

I kept pushing, along the roads (with cars going by in some cases, yikes), and it didn’t seem that long until I hit mile 10.

After that, we hit a levee area as we ventured into mile 11.

That’s when I really hit my stride. I just kept going. I was running like I’d never run before. Why? I don’t know. There were very few people around me. I even past 10 or so people.

Jennie always comments that I tend to get stronger as a runner in the later miles. She was completely right for this race.

I just jetted.

And then I found myself at mile 13, then 14, then 15, then 16 and so on.

I just kept going. I walked through aid stations and drank both water and Gatorade. There were the perfect amount of water stations. The volunteers were amazing. They cheered as we went through and offered words of encouragement.

I walked here and there, but never for longer than a minute.

I had no idea what time I was running. Not at all. As I came up to mile 19 and slight hill, I walked a little before deciding to push it to the end.

When I came around the corner into the finish shoot I noticed the clock still read in the three-hour area.

I finished at 3:59:17. Below the 12-minute mile mark, but just barely. I would have likely done better if I hadn’t had walked so much here and there, but I didn’t want to risk injury with a half marathon next week and a full in three.

Then I waited for Jennie.

She came in looking strong as well, finishing about 20 minutes after me.

Jennie always seems to have a lot better form than me when she runs. She got a little behind in the run, taking care of some personal stuff on the phone, but ended up passing a ton of people to get back into it. Plus, she was so nervous about running 20 miles when her longest run had been a 15-miler with me more than six weeks ago.

But she did great.

And I did great. I felt great too.

After we finished, we were told the race officials had run out of medals. After 20 miles, they’d run out of medals. As bummed as I was, it didn’t matter because I finished in under four hours. (They have promised to send them to us when they make some more, though when I had to find the person to put my name down she asked “do you want a medal?” which I thought was weird. Of course I do. The medals were fairly epic, though, from what I’ve seen.)

We got a hot, free pasta lunch too. We sat down, a little sore in some areas, and enjoyed the spoils after such a long, and successful, run.

As we started to get ready to leave, we noticed something strange.

This portable toilet had tape preventing people from entering. I was looking for a toilet with paper, because the rest didn’t seem to have any, and was wondering why, so we approach.

Turns out if had a bit of a hornet problem.

That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that at a race. Jennie and I had a laugh about it.

The Clarksburg Country Historic 20-mile Run turned out to be an incredible experience. Not only did I feel accomplished after the run, but a day later my legs feel fine. I’m really proud that I got up and out instead of avoiding it altogether like I initially wanted to.

This experience gives me hope for next week’s Big Sur Half Marathon. A lot of hope.

Why was it so good?

It was a small race, with only about 500 people doing the 20-mile run. There were enough portable toilets to accommodate everyone without any problem. The people were friendly and nice. The runners were cordial, for the most part (I could have done without the Obama/Romney debate I heard for more than a mile). Getting there was easy, as was parking.

The shirt is pretty swell too.

For what that’s worth. Plus, the cost of only $45. That’s an incredibly good deal for the amount of supplies along the course, which included bananas and oranges at every aid station, as well as Gatorade and water. It also included the free lunch.

My only qualm would be that there was only one portable toilet at each of the aid stops, which meant lines went deep. That’s one of the reasons Jennie finished so far behind me, as she had to stop and go to the bathroom near mile five.

I felt supported along the entire path, though. And it was a fun day. I definitely recommend this race for anyone training for a marathon, specifically California International Marathon.

Twenty successful miles in Clarksburg

I had a lot of apprehensions going into my 20-mile run today. I won’t lie. I almost didn’t go. I wanted to call if off yesterday, when I had a particularly bad night and didn’t want to do anything but sleep. I ended up in bed at 8 p.m. I didn’t  come back downstairs all night.

But Jennie was going with me to this race. My last post, which was incredibly revealing about some of the problems currently going on in my life, gives more insight into why it was important to have her with me.

This 20-miler was on my race calendar for some time. It was to be my last long run heading into California International Marathon.

But after what happen in late October, the longest distance I’ve run is 12 miles. My body didn’t seem to want to get past the six-mile mark without difficultly. I’d feel good. Then I’d feel bad. Really bad. And the moment I’d start to feel bad, I’d give up.

But today was more about getting out and doing it, getting through the crowds and getting down the road without completely losing my head or myself along the way.

I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. I wouldn’t have felt so “normal” without having her there.

And that confidence propelled me to a sub-four hour finish, just barely. I ran the race, without my Garmin, and came in at 3:59:17.

I’ll follow in the next couple days with a full race report, minus splits, but I’m pretty I ran a negative split because I glided those last 10 miles. I’m just happy to see some light today, figuratively. I’m happy I was able to go, run and feel like myself for awhile too.

A second chance, a second try, another marathon

I hate it when bloggers make signing up for races a big deal. There’s a bit of the “I-just-signed-up-for-a-race-and-have-to-make-a-big-deal-out-of-it” moments when you come to a blog and the title of the post is “an announcement.”

So this is not an announcement. Not even close. It’s a mere statement of fact.

I signed up to run the California International Marathon on Dec. 2.

A second year of it. The 30th anniversary. Another marathon to try to bring down my time. I failed miserably in San Diego, despite months and months of extra training.

I “accidentally” ran a marathon at the Brazen six-hour endurance run in early July. But it wasn’t based on time and with the heat, I struggled at the end.

CIM presents a perfect opportunity to run a net-downhill course and revisit the route that, let’s face it, I don’t remember much of after mile 18. I’m hoping to remember it all this year. I’m also hoping to run better, both in how I feel and in how fast I run. So I signed up. I’m excited, but also nervous. I’m lining up races until then, especially since I’ll be training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon and the Nike Women’s Half, both in October.

I also, because I’m crazy, signed up for a half marathon the weekend after the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon. The Brazen Summer Breeze race is “flat and fast.” And I did it because I’m taking the week off of work. What a better way to take a vacation, right?

I didn’t think this year would be full of races, but life, and some other stuff has kind of changed things for me. So I’m looking forward to running hard and long into the next couple months. I’m looking forward to getting to the start, and finish, lines at CIM in December too.

And so the training begins…


Mind over marathon: Part III

I crossed the starting mat about two minutes after the gun went off. I was surprised it went that fast actually. And the flow was good. It wasn’t too fast, because I wasn’t in he front or anywhere near. I was making good time. Or I thought so at the time. It turns out I as going out way too fast.

Mile 1: 10:30 — A gentle downhill, through an intersection. It’s deserted, but nice.

Mile 2:10:36 — The path started going uphill a little, but not bad. Still moving along fine.

Mile 3: 10:30 — The gentle downhills seems OK about right here, but I’m starting to feel the burn in my thighs. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m just starting to warm up.

Mile 4: 10:58

Mile 5: 10:54 — Hitting some small hills here.  I slow to take a Vanilla Bean Gu.

Mile 6: 10:49

Mile 7: 11:50 — Here’s where the nerves start getting me. I can’t tell if it’s because I did the Gu too quickly or because my stomach is still in knots. But I start to slow a little over the next couple miles. I feel fatigue. I realize feeling tired with 19 miles to go is not good.

Mile 8: 11:46 — Trying to pick up the pace a little, still feeling queasy.

Mile 9: 12:19 – An uphill here. We were heading into Fair Oaks at about this time. It was a cute little area that turned into more up and downhills. People kept saying “Don’t worry, it’s all downhill.” No. I knew there was a difference between “downhill” and “net downhill.” California International Marathon was a “net downhill” race.

Mile 10: 11:28 — The quad burning continues. This was about the point I noticed the 4:55 marathon group was passing me. I decided I, perhaps, needed to slow down. Why? I was thinking I’d finish this around 5:30 in time at some point. I knew, only at that point, I’d gone out to past and not consistent enough.

Mile 11: 13:06 — I hit my half marathon wall here. This is usually when I pick it up, but I was feeling a little tired again. I was slowing. I did another Gu, despite the fact that I was feeling queasy after the first one.

Mile 12: 12:07 — Speeding up a little. There were a lot of people cheering me along here. I started to get motivated more.

Mile 13: 12:45

HALF MARATHON: 2:31:53 (This would be my third best half marathon ever if I was running a half marathon.)

Mile 14: 12:58 — At this point I hit my real metaphorical wall. I can’t describe it outside of panic and insecurity. My feet started to hurt. I slowed a little again. But I kept pushing. I was trying to not get below the 13:45 average that would mean I didn’t finish in six hours. I was really worried about that time limit.

Mile 15: 14:23 — It didn’t help that I decided at this point that I needed to go to the bathroom. I only did so because there were six portable toilets lined up and only four people standing in line. In between the water stop and another Gu, the pack of people I was running with passed me.

Mile 16: 11:18 — I had to pick it up again.

Mile 17: 11:40 — Still moving.

Mile 18: 11:53 — My last good mile. I say that will a lot of pride, but there’s a reason why that was the last good mile. My IT band, which had plagued me greatly when I moved from 5Ks to 10Ks. All of the sudden I was feeling it.

Mile 19: 13:09 — I slowed and walked to try to get back the leg a little. I spent the next few miles using that method. Run, walk, run. When I ran, I was averaging 11-12 minute miles.

Mile 20: 12:52 — “The wall” literally. We ran through an area that was marked by a fake wall. I looked happy, but the smile was masking my pain.

Mile 21: 12:54 — I thought of this mile as a plane descending into the destination point. This was the point where we buckle our safety belts and put the tray table  in an upright position. This was also the point my feet started killing me. My IT band wasn’t behaving either.

Mile 22: 13:47 — Run/walk continues.

Mile 23: 13:20 — And more.

Mile 24: 13:07 — This was actually a very frustrating time for me. People were cheering me on from the sidelines. One guy kept yelling “if it was easy, everyone would do it!” I liked that. But it wasn’t enough to pull me out of my funk.

Mile 25: 13:18 — Still moving, but getting more excited. Someone asked me when I knew I’d finish. I didn’t for a long time. When the IT band started throbbing and I knew my feet were blistering, I didn’t think I’d make it. I had four moments where I wanted to stop, cry and call Thomas to come get me. “I don’t need to finish this,” I thought. “I have nothing to prove. I knew, as I started to make my way toward the 26-mile sign, that I’d make it. It took me that long.

Mile 26: 12:46 — And then I really knew. Thomas ran across my path. I felt a huge smile stretching across my face. I had made it.

Mile .2: 3:35 — Here I pushed. I saw the clock reading 5:22:13. I could make it before the clock turned to 5:23, I thought. I picked it up.

Gun time: 5:22:39.

Chip time: 5:20:41

I wish it was like Ironman and someone said “Tara, you ARE a marathoner.” No one did. I was handed my medal and my space blanket, which I really needed at that point if just because I wanted some comfort. I saw Thomas, kissed him and handed him my water bottle (it always gets in my way at the end even though I love it).

Then I teared up a little. I had a moment. I had done it. Less than two years after I set out on my treadmill and started running. I had run a marathon.

I was surprised at how good I felt. My feet hurt, yes. My leg was killing me. And my shins were throbbing. But I felt good.

So good I even opted to get my photo taken at the end. I NEVER do this. I always say “it’s a waste of money.” But I felt compelled to do so. You only run your first marathon once.

I found Thomas and immediately walked over to the merchandise booth and he bought me an awesome shirt that said “26.2 finisher.” I can’t wait to wear it when I run. (I haven’t done any running this week to give my legs a well-deserved rest. I’ve also been eating a ton of food,which I feel bad about, but I also deserve it.)

I didn’t find any of the requisite food that I was told was popular. The food vans were closing down as well. (That was really discouraging, especially when I finished with 40 minutes left for the finish line to be open AND it actually stayed open longer.)

We opted to head to Red Lobster on Howe Avenue after we found the car.

And then we headed home.

I was exhaustion and in pain for about two days. Not a bad pain. A good pain.

And, four days later, I’m still in awe that I did it. I ran a marathon.

Every insecurity that I’ve ever had about my work as a journalist, as an editor, as a instructor and as a person diminished during those 26.2 miles. They say it changes you. I think it makes a person stronger. You have to get mentally past barriers. You have to keep going when you want to quit. And you have to believe you can do it when you’re body is failing under you.

I ran a marathon. And for it, and all those things mentioned before, I’m 100-times better for it then I was the day before.

Mind over marathon: Part II

Another warning: This post may now be more than two parts. I think the whole “race” will be its on separate post.

My alarm for race morning was set for 5 a.m. I woke up at 4:55 a.m.

The lights outside were bright. It wasn’t daylight. Not even close. But the La Quinta in Rancho Cordova was in a well-lit area. So the lights shined through the window. I kind of hopped out of bed. I don’t know why.

Part of me was excited. Part of me was still worried.

These are the moments were the doubt really gets you.

“I’m not ready,” I thought. No way.

“I can’t do this,” was another.

I put my clothes on, somewhat methodically. I woke Thomas up, though he dwelled in the bed for about 30 minutes before really getting out of bed. I looked outside and it didn’t look cold. I knew, though, that would be deceiving. It was near freezing.

I had asked Thomas to get me a banana the night before. And a blue Gatorade. I don’t know what flavor blue is, I think it’s Glacier Freeze or something, but I like it. Thomas forgot the banana. I had a Peppermint Luna bar in my gym bag, though. My stomach was turning knots, but I knew after my Big Sur Half Marathon no-food beforehand debacle that I had to eat.

I tweeted my nervousness at close to 6 a.m.

Jennie sent me a text message saying she was ready. I told her to come on down to the room. She was there for a good 10 minutes before we packed up and left.

The moment we stepped out the door, it was cold. It wasn’t windy, despite the fact it had been for days. I felt the sting of the cold on the few parts of my skin that were exposed. I was wearing my Zensah compression sleeves with my capris. I had my new gloves on too.

The drive wasn’t that long. Not even a week later and I don’t remember much of it. Thomas made quick work of it, though. I’ve learned one thing about my husband in the past year of racing: He’s very good at getting me to the start and showing up at the finish.

But he didn’t get us close, exactly. We saw people walking toward what we thought was a start area.

Turns out it wasn’t.

It was the place where the buses from Sacramento were dropping people off. Another set of school buses were taking people up to the actual start line.

Suddenly Jennie and I were in a line.

“Where are we going,” I asked.

“TO THE START,” responded an overly enthusiastic volunteer.

And we were put on a bus. Jennie and I both had “we didn’t pay for this bus” moments. “I think we just hijacked a bus ride,” I said to her.

No matter. The bus was warm. At least for the 5 minutes or so it took us to get to the start.

There were two huge arches to mark the start. It looked a little something like this:

The photo above is from the California International Marathon website. I’m not trying to steal it or anything, but I didn’t do a lot of shooting photos in the morning. I knew it would come back and haunt me later.

The start line was actually very nice. I was way in the back. Further behind me was a gigantic line of portable toilets.

The California International Marathon Facebook page include a photo of  it earlier in the week. This is that photo, cropped:

OK, enough stealing photos. That’s what it looked like. Jennie and I got in a line. It wasn’t too far back, but not close up either.

It was about 6:32 a.m. We literally waited in line until the 7 a.m. start.

In fact, there wasn’t much standing around at all. The start was quick. All the literature says the start line closes exactly five-minutes after the gun goes off.

I started my Garmin fairly quickly. I only had 10 seconds of time off between my chip time and the Garmin at the end.

I started near the back. I worked my way forward. And I took off.

The first part of the course is downhill. I got into a nice stride. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Keep moving.

And, as everyone had predicted, my nervousness all started to fall away.

Little did I know, this run would test my mind and body in ways I’d never been tested before.