Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Stormy Marathon: CIM (December 2, 2012)

California International Marathon (CIM)
December 2, 2012

CIM 2011 was one of the best races I've ever experienced.  Everything went perfect on that day including the weather.  A nice cool morning and a beautiful sunny day, but not too hot.  Just a perfect day for me.  That was CIM 2011.  So, I signed up for CIM 2012.  But, CIM 2012 was very different than CIM 2011. . . .


A torrential storm arrived in Sacramento the morning of the race.  Everything is wet with rain.  The wind is super intense, 25+ mile gusts.  All the runners are in ponchos or garbage bags.  At the race start, many are huddled under the gas station shelter.  I am pressed up against the wall of the 7-11 trying to get some shielding from the wind and rain.  The storm is ridiculous and all we can do is laugh at how ridiculous this weather is and that we are about to embark on a 26.2 mile adventure in this weather.

As it nears the race start, the runners start to gather towards the start line.

The Race

Start to Mile 13.1

The gun goes off and I start running.  I can hear the swish of all the plastic ponchos and garbage bags everyone is wearing.  I run along with my poncho on.  I have never run with a poncho and it's kind of awkward.  

About a mile in, I am running along the right side of the road.  Then, I step on a small pine cone and my right ankle rolls.  Badly.  Argh!  It hurts really badly.  A couple runners near me gasp at seeing my ankle roll.  I have rolled my ankle before on trails and know it takes a bit to shake it off.  This was a bad roll and I hobble for a bit trying to get my running stride back.  It takes a minute or two and then I am able to hobble less.  The ankle feels tender but at least I am running again.  

I turn onto Oak Avenue and continue running along.  I am starting to warm up now and not wanting to wear this poncho too much longer.  I don't like all this plastic all around me.  I run a couple more miles and then peel it off and toss it on the side of the road.  There are many ponchos and garbage bags all over the road from other runners.  

Another mile passes and I start to notice some fallen tree branches on the road.  I am watching the road more carefully now for any other debris.  The wind is blowing hard and I see the trees flailing in the wind.  I have no idea how the poor volunteers at the aid stations are managing.  There is no way paper cups of water can stay on a table in this wind.   Volunteers are doing the best they can for the runners in these horrid conditions.

As I run along Oak Avenue, a runner near me says "Watch out!"  I look ahead and see a big tree branch on the ground.  I start to veer my away around the branch when a giant gust of wind blows and a giant tree branch comes crashing down just a few feet away from me as many runners scream.  Luckily, it did not hit any runners but all of us are a bit shaken up by it.  

I turn onto Fair Oaks Blvd and seem to be doing okay on my pace.  Not quite as fast as I desire but figure I will keep it kind of conservative now and try to pick it up after the halfway point.  I run along getting more wet.  The wind is still blowing but since I turned, it seems a little less intense.  I am getting wetter and wetter.  

And after a bit, I finally pass through Old Fair Oaks.  As I make the turn out of Fair Oaks, there is a rushing stream of water across the road.  The water is rushing hard and there is just no way of getting around it.  I see many runners stopping and tip toeing across.  I am already soaked all the way through and I am a trail runner and we run through stream crossings.  So, I go right up the middle.  The stream is a good foot or so deep.  I splash my way through feeling grateful for my trail running training in being adaptable to the conditions today.  I am amused by those that were so tentative in crossing the creek.  

As I near sunrise, I keep my eye out for my running friends that were going to be out spectating.  I see a few spectators I do not know.  I think wow, the spectators and volunteers are quite impressive.  Having volunteered for a race in the rain, I know it can get pretty cold standing in cold rain for hours.  While running, I generate heat so I am not cold but I know the spectators and volunteers must be really cold.  And, they do not have to come out here.  I am extra appreciative of them today. 

As I run along, I hear Scott's voice and he yells out to me!  I look back at a crowd of folks in rain coats and umbrellas and presume those are my friends.  It is hard to recognize anyone out in this rain.  I lift my arm up to wave back at them.  

A couple miles later, I see the mile 13 sign and know my friend David is supposed to be there.  And sure enough, he's standing there in the pouring rain with a poncho on and ringing a cowbell.  I run up close to him and wave at him!  He cheers me on as I go by.  

0.1 mile later, I pass through the halfway point.  

Mile 13.1 to Loehman's Plaza (Mile 20.4-ish) - The Terrible Teens

I turn onto Manzanita and continue on.  Halfway done.  I remember how I felt when I was at this point last year and this is a much different race.  I continue running along thinking about trying to pick up the pace.  But, I can't.  I am completely soaking wet and I feel like I have ten extra pounds of water weight on me now.  My feet feel heavy as my socks and shoes are all wet.  Not just a little wet but completely drenched in water.  

A few miles more, I continue running.  I cannot seem to pick up the pace and seem to be slowing down.  It is becoming harder to lift my legs.  I should have worn my shorter runner shorts than my knickers.  I feel the water has weighed down my thighs.  I also feel my left side of my leg bothering me.  I never feel this while running.  I think when I rolled my ankle, I started to overcompensate on my left side and now I am feeling it.  

I am frustrated and tired.  I hate these miles.  The upper teen miles.  They always get me.  I call them the terrible teens.  They feel especially terrible today.  I just need to get to mile 20.  Craig is supposed to be at mile 20.  Just need to get to mile 20.  Don't cry.  I want to cry.  But, I tell myself not to cry.  Just get to mile 20.  

Around mile 17, I start to walk a little bit.  Ugh, I feel awful.  I trudge along and Rahner comes up behind me and tells me to keep going!  He gives me a smile of encouragement as he passes and I try to run again.  I run alright but am frustrated.  I stop a few times to walk a little but keep going.  Just need to get through these terrible teens.  I can't wait to see Craig.  He will tell me it is okay I don't meet my goal time.  He will tell me I am doing great.  He will make me feel better.  This, I know.  But, I need to see him and hear him tell me these things I know he will say to me.  

My garmin tells me I am near mile 20.  I can feel tears welling up but I try to hold them back.  Just keep going.  I hit mile 20 and I do not see Loehman's Plaza.  Where is it?  I must be close.  

About a half mile later, I see it and there are a lot of people there.  It is also a relay exchange point too.  Too many people.  I run through the relay exchange point and do not see Craig.  I need to see him.  There are too many people.  I think we will miss each other as there are too many people here.  I want to cry even more now.  I am so sad.  This is a miserable race.  

Then, I see him.  Craig standing on the side of the road, a little farther down from where all the crowds are.  He smiles as he sees me and he has a coke for me.  I am so happy to see him.  I did not miss seeing him.  I run straight to him, hug him tightly and then I start to sob uncontrollably in his arms.  I cry for awhile as he tries to comfort me.  He tells me it is okay.  

I then realize my friend Theresa is there too.  She sees me crying and tells me it is a really tough day out and I am doing great.   

I eventually collect myself.  I drink the coke that Craig gave me.  I give him my hand held bottle saying I didn't want to carry it anymore.  I then start running again.  I know all I have left is a 10k and I know I can get there.  

Loehman's Plaza to the Finish 

Marathons always amaze me as to how your mood can change suddenly.  You can go from up to down...and then from down to up.   I hope I have not worried Craig too badly as I am feeling better now.  It is just a 10k to the finish.  

I run along and in a little bit, I am passing by Sacramento State.  I toss my wet arm warmers as they are no longer "warming" me in any way.  I should have tossed them awhile ago but I like them but I can buy another pair.  

Finally, I get into  J Street.  This is the final stretch.  The rain has stopped.  I still feel heavy running in wet clothes and shoes.  My legs are aching but I keep going.  I see the numbered streets.  The blocks seem to go by so slowly.  Then, I catch glimpse of the 4:00 pacer.  This is surprising.  He is not too far ahead of me.  I can still finish under 4 hours.  I keep him in sight.  

Oh, I am tired.  I feel like walking.  I just don't have the energy to push myself anymore.  I run a bit and walk a bit.  Run some.  Walk some.  As I run along down J Street, I see Valerie and Linda (Craig's sister and mom) standing on the side of the road.  They cheer me on.  Linda holds out a coke can for me.  I tell them I am okay.  They continue to cheer me on and this gives me a nice little boost of energy.  

Finally, I turn and head down L Street.  The Capitol is not too far now.  And, the clouds have opened up.  It is blue skies and the sun is shining now.  I look up at the sky and think Seriously?!  I feel like the weather gods were just messing with us runners today.  The sun is no good now.  I am already all wet.  

I run by the Capitol and know there's just one more turn left to the finish.  I take the turn and see Craig standing there cheering me on as I head into the finish line.  I think he's pleased to see I am smiling now instead of crying.  And, into the finish chute I go!  

Finished.  4:05:58.  


I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to PR or get a sub-4 hour marathon time under my own name, which was my main goal.  Though, it was not my slowest marathon.  My right ankle ended up getting super swollen after the race making it hard to walk the rest of the day.  But, as I told someone before the race, the storm just makes for memorable stories to tell.   And, it was another marathon experience under my belt.  And, the race time isn't so bad considering the weather and my ankle roll.  I have to remind myself of that.  

After the race, Craig and I joined some running friends at Rubicon for lunch.  It was fun hearing everyone's adventures during the day.  And, we runners are a crazy bunch. . . even rain and heavy winds do not stop us from getting out there and running.  

And, I will probably run CIM many more times and I will always remember the one CIM in the crazy storm. . . . :) 


Thank you to all the volunteers out at the race!  It was not easy conditions at all and it must have been super cold being out there in the rain/wind but you showing up really matters to us racers.   I express much thanks to all the volunteers!   

Thank you to all the spectators too for going out to cheer people on.  You have the choice to stay in where it is warm and cozy but you choose to go outside in the cold, rain, and wind to cheer runners on.  And, those cheers are especially helpful in a tough race!  

Thank you to all my running friends who were out there either running, volunteering, and/or cheering!  Having friendly faces out there really make for a great experience.  

Special thanks: to Scott, David, Valerie and Linda.  Seeing you guys/gals and hearing your cheers gave me a much needed boost; to Rahner, when you ran by and gave me some encouraging words, it was really helpful as I was just on the brink of crying then;  to Theresa, your kind and comforting words as I was crying there was immensely helpful as I was in a really rough patch.  

And, lastly, thanks to you Craig for being out there in the rain for me.  I am glad you were not only at the finish line but at mile 20ish too.  I needed to see you at mile 20 too.  You really help me out when I hit the low points in my crazy events.  Thank you my love!  :) 

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