Monday, December 3, 2012

California International Marathon–Race Report!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Actually, it was neither my best nor my worst finish time, but I couldn’t resist the quote.  In fact, this is the tale of six cities and the fun time I had running through them:

The Worst of Times

This means we’re talking about the weather.  Oh, my goodness, it was WET.  And windy.  And did I mention the wet?  I love to run in the rain, so I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal, but lemme tell ya, sitting on the shuttle bus and watching the rain come down sideways because of the heavy winds made my stomach do a little flippity-flop.

Rainy Start at the CIMI did not take this picture.  In fact, I didn’t take a single picture all day long because I was afraid it would ruin my camera.  Note to self, buy a waterproof camera for my next race.  This photo was taken by Paul Kitigaki, Jr. for the Sacramento Bee.  You can see the whole gallery of his photos for the race (and you should, because they’re really good and capture just how wet and dreadful the day was) HERE.

I had been mostly ignoring the weather reports in the days leading up to the CIM because I know darn well that there’s nothing to be done for race day weather except dealing with it.  I suppose, though, that there was still a small part of me hoping that the “drenching rain” would miss us entirely somehow.  No such luck.  We managed to avoid the thunderstorms that were predicted, though, and I was glad for that.  I’m not a fan of thunder.

The start of the race was very notably subdued this year.  I may have missed the party by staying on the warm bus until the very last minute, but I didn’t hear any music other than the national anthem.  No balloon arch and not a lot of that silly, giddy atmosphere you generally get before a marathon.  It was more like a grimly determined, “Let’s do this thing,” feeling.

The Best of Times

This covers pretty much all of the rest of the day.  The CIM is a really, really awesome race even on a bad day.  It has a million porta-potties at the start with lines less than three minutes long, warm shuttle buses that you can stay on until 6:59 am, friendly and helpful volunteers at each of the 17 (yes, 17!) aid stations, and throngs of cheering spectators at the relay exchanges.  The weather unfortunately kept other spectators away and I sure did miss the usual volunteers at the mile markers who blast music and tell you your estimated finish time.

I ran yesterday’s race with a good friend who (whom?  I can’t remember this rule and it is really bugging me.  I wrote it both ways on Grammarly and it wasn’t apparently wrong either time.  What’s up with that?) I haven’t seen since this summer.  She and I ran the CIM together back in 2009 and we made rather half-assed plans to run together this year, too.  Meaning that we said we should run together and then haven’t seen each other since.  But the stars aligned and we were able to hook up for the bus ride to the start and the run back down the hill to the finish.  We talked, and I am not exaggerating here, the entire time.  I suspect that we were incredibly annoying to the other runners, but it was absolute heaven to have her company distracting me from the dismal weather.  Among our topics:

  • good books
  • why good books should not be made into movies
  • plastic bag shoe coverings – pros and cons (mostly cons, we saw several people wearing them and they just looked uncomfortable.  Plus they splash up all that rainwater onto your ass.  Why is that better than wet feet?)
  • running
  • grief
  • our kids
  • other sports
  • good products for curly hair
  • how rain and wind turn curly hair into a giant ball of knots (thank goodness I wore braids or I would still be untangling my hair right now, 22 1/2 hours after I finished)
  • blindness
  • all the reasons we are happy to not be homeless
  • why runners shouldn’t carry their own cowbells (OMG, annoying!)
  • chafing
  • voting
  • how Facebook and social media in general is pretty much ruining common decency
  • strength training
  • funny and/or interesting things we saw on other people’s shirts (my favorite:  Suck it Up and Make it Happen!)
  • funny and/or odd things people wrote on cheer cards (funny:  “It’s a 26.2 mile wet t-shirt contest!!”  odd:  “You trainded for this!”  I couldn’t decide if that was an inside joke or the writer was spelling-challenged)
  • how bizarrely quiet the race course was
  • badass points and how many we should earn for running in a monsoon

and much, much more!  We laughed a lot.  We sang a few times. We ran through puddles that came up to our ankles.  We stopped to use the porta-potties THREE times (all me on that one – I think the rain was actually soaking through my skin and into my bladder).  We joked about how we were just here for the party.  I used the phrase “When I ran my 50-miler” waaaaaaaay more than I should have and my wonderful friend never even rolled her eyes at me.  We said thank you to all the volunteers and many of the spectators because they looked even more miserable than us.  We walked a lot, but the miles seemed to just fly by.  Every time we would see a mile marker coming, I’d smack her in the shoulder and shout, “Dude!  We’re already at Mile (fill in the blank)!”  Yes, I have the social graces of your average high school jock.

Most importantly, though, we FINISHED!  With smiles on our faces and hands in the air, we crossed the finish line at 5:01:08.

CIM State Capitol FinishI love the finish of this race at our State Capitol.  Can you believe that it was sunny at the finish??  Crazy, crazy weather!

Honestly, finishing was never in doubt.  Even though our bodies rebelled and complained, we both felt happy and mentally strong the whole day.  It was no PR effort, but it was still a good day overall and another marathon (#7!) completed.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every time I run one of these things.  Oh!  And there were warm, delicious pancakes at the finish which really helped with that happy/lucky/cheerful feeling.  I horked down two of them without even using a fork and then went and found the cookies.  Hell to the yeahs.

CIM 2012 Finishers MedalThe finisher’s medal is a coaster!

The Aftermath

This means we’re talking about chafing, blistering and pruning, oh, my!  Have you ever run 26.2 miles in soaking wet clothing?  Your skin does not enjoy it, lemme tell ya.  My fingers and toes were like soggy, stinky raisins and my feet picked up a few (easily popped and removed, thank goodness) blisters.  The chafing was everywhere – under my bra, under my arms, and … uhhh … my “undercarriage.”  I even have some spots on the front of my thighs where my drenched and heavy skirt kept slapping my legs.  Not pretty.

I have the usual amount of muscle soreness today and a little top of the foot pain which is reminding me that no matter how many marathons I do, you gotta respect the distance.  I plan on taking at least a week to recover, maybe more if my body says so.

And Finally…

My apologies (and congratulations!) to everyone who traveled from out of town to run the CIM this year – you did not get to see this race at its best!  Come back next year when the weather is sure to be glorious.  You know I’ll be there!!