What a great race... fabulous course... super spectators... inspirational runners. My report is divided into sections for easier reading ... feel free to skip ahead to the race itself. :D
~~~ Departure ~~~
A few weeks ago, DH suggested that we go without the kiddos and asked if my mom couldn't come over to watch them. Thankfully, she was able to... she came over Friday afternoon and the kids enjoyed decorating our Christmas tree with her that evening. Sweetie said, "This is so much fun. Especially with you, Grandma."
The next morning, DH and I left home at 5 a.m. We had a 7+ hour drive ahead of us and we wanted to arrive in Sacramento with sufficient time to spare. We didn't make a single stop and checked into our motel shortly after 12. We were both hungry and not eager to sit down and wait so we went to Del Taco (our first time - we both ordered Tacos al Carbon - small in size but very good).
We then drove over to the Expo and browsed around a little after we picked up my race goodies and bib. I sampled a few Luna Moon gels at the Clif booth. I enjoyed the small size and taste so I bought 4 packages for the race.
We went back to the motel so DH could nap as I laid out everything for the morning. We watched a bit of the civil war game and I took a short nap myself. We then decided upon The Olive Garden for dinner. We arrived at 5 - waited 30 minutes for a table - and then had poor service. Food was yummy, though. We went back to the motel - I soaked in the bath for a while, we watched a little TV and we were asleep by 9 or so.
We were awoken at about 2 a.m. by our 'neighbors' upstairs. I don't know exactly what they were doing (doors closing, bath water running, flushing toilets, hard heeled shoes clicking on the floor and wooden steps, loud voices/talking...) but they made it very difficult for us to fall asleep again. We tossed and turned until it was time to wake up at 4... they were still at it when we departed. I mistakenly didn't make reservations at a 'convention hotel' so we were not on the loop the shuttle buses would be stopping to pick up runners. DH thereby had to drive me to a 'participating hotel' and dropped me off.
~~~ Race Day Morning ~~~
In the lobby were two newbie marathon runners - their goal was to finish before the police 'sweeper vehicles'. They were excited and nervous. I wonder how they did? As we waited, a group of 'veterans' joined us. I ended up sitting next to one on the bus. It was nice to talk with someone with so much running experience. I inquired about race strategy, etc.
We arrived at the starting point in Folsom about an hour before the start. Most of us stayed on the bus until absolutely necessary. As lines for the porta-potties were getting quite long, I decided to get in que at 20 after. As I waited in line, I scanned faces hoping to see a familiar face. Just a few minutes later, I saw a woman that looked remarkably like Lillie, so I walked up to her and asked her name. It was her!
I was elated to meet her. In many ways, I look up to her. She is the type of runner I desire to be someday. She is also very, very sweet. Down-to-earth, warm, encouraging. She was there with her brother and we thereby chatted for several minutes. I wish I had had a camera!
After talking with the 'veterans' and Lillie about race stategy, I decided to start out a few seconds slower than the 3:45 pace group. As I warmed up and if I felt it, I would try to catch up with them and then just hold on until the finish.
~~~ The Race ~~~
I lined up between the 3:45 and 3:50 pace groups and was impressed to see there were more runners lined up behind me than there were in front. That was a good feeling. The race started promptly at 7 and I crossed the start line and thereby started the Garmin a few moments later. It is always an awkward feeling not to start running immediately.
I had gloves and a headband to cover my ears - I removed the gloves at mile 1 and the headband at mile 2. At mile 4, I removed my windbreaker and tied it around my waist. By mile 5, I had caught up with the 3:45 pace group... they were about 100 yards ahead of me. Unfortunately, I also had to use the porta-potty desperately at this point. There was a bit of a line so I lost several minutes here. After the call of nature, I picked up the pace and managed to catch the 3:50 pace group a few miles later. At the half, the Garmin read ~1:55, about 5 min. slower than my half PR. However, at this point, nature called once again. URGH! A few more minutes lost. When I stopped this second time, my legs started to tighten up. I couldn't quite resume the same pace I had previously maintained. I never saw the pace groups again.
My time at the 30K was approx. 2:45 - the same time as the Circle the Bay a few months ago. However, I had slowed significantly from the pace with which I had started. I thought of my family - of Sweetie cheering, "Go, Mommy, Go!" I thought of my blog friends and imagined them along the sidelines encouraging me to stick with it. I knew at this point that I wasn't going to achieve a qualifying time but I knew that if I dug deep, I would be able to finish under 4 hours. I couldn't falter though. I had to maintain. "Hang On." "Even Effort" became my mantra.
I ate the Luna Moon gels at miles 6, 13, 17, and 22. At the aide stations, I generally took GU2O unless I had just eaten a gel, in that case, I chose water. I even ate an orange slice somewhere along the way, Carmichael? I never really encountered a wall - not like I did in Portland in '06.
As I approached the finish with just a little more than a mile to go, I was able to pick up the pace.
I am fortunate to have always had a good kick, but it was all I could do to finish strong. When I rounded the corner and saw the finish line, the clock read 3:58... I knew then that I had made it under 4 hours. I got a little teary eyed. I've never been emotional after a shorter distance race - but completing a marathon - let alone finishing within goal time is a powerful thing.
My Mile Splits:
1 - 8:55
2 - 8:45
3 - 8:35
4 - 8:25
5 - 8:40
6 - 10:56 *
7 - 8:23
8 - 8:33
9 - 8:37
10 - 8:20
11 - 8:26
12 - 8:37
13 - 8:35
14 - 10:40 *
15 - 8:51
16 - 8:47
17 - 8:53
18 - 9:12
19 - 8:53
20 - 9:30
21 - 9:16
22 - 10:17
23 - 9:35
24 - 10:02
25 - 9:19
26 - 8:56
.02 - 1:40
Garmin read 26.39 miles at 3:57:50 - official time 3:57:46.
~~~ Post-Race ~~~
I found DH immediately. We slowly walked to the car and were on the freeway headed home by 11:20 a.m. He had saved a few things from breakfast for me (apple, banana, blueberry muffins) but I didn't feel like eating them. All I wanted was water and I couldn't find it - not even at the finish. We were eager to get going and I didn't want to wander around in the crowd. I drank a little of the Kefir yogurt I'd brought along - it was still cold. It tasted good but wasn't as refreshing as I desired. I napped for about an hour in the car. I was still tired but couldn't really get comfortable. My legs ached. We stopped at an In-n-Out in Redding shortly before 2 p.m. It was the best burger I've ever eaten; I probably could've eaten 2 but I didn't.
We encountered blizzard like conditions shortly after Redding. Travel was slow. We stopped in Weed for gas (just in case) and proceeded on our way. We made good time though - we're equipped with snow tires and DH is a fabulous driver. We made it home around 7:30. The kiddos were happy to see us and of course weren't as eager to go to bed as we were. I'm just glad that we chose to make the trip without them - it would've been difficult to travel so far with so little time had they accompanied us.
I absolutely loved this race. The course was beautiful. Leaves were falling. The weather was perfect. The spectators were awesome. I would love to run it again. Perhaps with a few cushion days on either side of the race for site-seeing/relaxing with the family. My girlfriend mentioned on Friday that we should have planned a girls weekend away and gone on our own. Perhaps we can make something happen in 2008?