Monday, December 3, 2012

California International Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, December 2
Marathon #16 (Wow. I had no idea I'd done this many)
California Marathon #2
Sacramento, CA
Weather - Monsoon/Windy

The Monsoon California International Marathon (CIM) was on my radar as soon as I saw the results of all the people who ran last year and qualified for the Olympic trials. It is supposed to be a fast and pretty course. And usually, the weather is fantastic. I registered for this back in July, before the beginning of the end of my running injury free and enjoying myself (SFM). I roped my BFF Heather into joining me.

Starting about a week before the race, I start seeing panicky tweets about the weather. It's supposed to rain like crazy, flood watches, etc. I mean, I've had pretty good luck with no truly terrible weather during a race, so I headed to Sacramento assuming everything would work itself out.


My flight out of Denver was not delayed. I flew Frontier and paid the $6 to watch tv, watching the newest Batman movie. Which, unfortunately, was longer than the flight, so I have no idea how it ended. Landed on time. Sacramento's airport is GREAT. Outlets EVERYWHERE. I found Heather's gate, and only had to wait about 45 minutes for her to land. Grabbed a salted caramel latte from Sbux, then headed outside. Apparently, Heather had booked the BEST HOTEL EVER. We paid practically nothing, and we were able to get picked up and shuttled to the hotel. They also shuttled us downtown for the expo. WHAT?? (A++ to the Hawthorn Suites).

We checked in and sat around until 1, when we were taken to the convention center. EASIEST EXPO EVER. No lines for ANYTHING. Nothing too exciting at the expo, and we were STARVING, so we walked a few block to the Firestone Pub and got something to eat. And by something, I mean, the giantest pretzel ever in the universe.

In addition to being giant, it was the best tasting thing ever. While we were eating, it started raining. I'm not sure if I can call it a "downpour" yet, but it was substantial. We had some time to kill and didn't think heading back to the hotel was worth the time, so we braved the elements and wandered around Sacramento:

This water is mid/upper calf deep
Hrm. And it had not even been raining that long. Heather had actually looked at the course profile and said that the puddle I was standing in was pretty much mile 26 on the course. EXCELLENT. Also, my boots were fairly "water resistant" as my feet weren't saturated after this.

We found a weird "mall" and wandered in and out of stores trying to find festive holiday knee socks for Heather. I'm guessing California has boycotted these, as we checked a dozen or so stores and found NOTHING. Well, except for Nutcracker socks, but Heather finds them DISTURBING and refused to get them.

Random Sacramento Alley Art
We discovered there was a Lululemon nearby and walked there in hopes of seeing the new "Chase Me" print. Turns out it was the smallest store ever and there was practically no product to even look at. Thankfully, we got the message that people were already at the bloggy meet up at a pizza place and we headed over. I finally FINALLY got to meet Average A - the very FIRST running blog I ever started reading. And there were some of my friends from Colorado there, and Reneigh, one of my favorite runner friends ever.

Heather, Reneigh, Me
The girls of the bloggy meet up (Pic from cisforcourtney)
The pizza was DELICIOUS, and I had a couple of beers. I swear, it felt like the middle of the night when we left. In actuality, I think it was 6:45? We got picked back up by our awesome shuttle service (after FAILING MISERABLY TO FIND DONUT HOLES). TV, outfits ready, in bed by... 9:30?

Race Day

Turns out the forecast was NO JOKE. First thing I did after my alarm went off (at 4:26) was to look out the window. I believe the adjective I used was "marshy" to describe the parking lot.

It wasn't raining THAT badly when we headed to the lobby to catch the shuttle. Grabbed a cheese danish and got on the bus at 5:15. We got about halfway to Folsom when the monsoon began. And the howling winds picked up. Thankfully, we were allowed to stay on the bus as long as we wanted. Which, turned out to be... about 10 minutes before the gun went off. I'll admit that there was some talk about maybe NOT getting off the bus. It did NOT look pleasant outside.

Obviously, we are not quitters and eventually got off the bus. Pretty sure my feet were soaked within 60 seconds. Since it was about 6 minutes before the race started, there was no line at the bathrooms. (Which, by the way, there were a JILLION of). Bag drop was easy, and we followed the herd. I vaguely remember hearing the Star Spangled Banner, but did not hear a gun.

And then we go...

Neither of us was wearing a watch, but I started mapmyrun on my phone (in it's Ziploc bag) and off we went. Um. It was rainy. And windy. The raindrops felt like bullets and HURT. Within about a minute, one got in my eye and I swear it knocked my contact lens RIGHT OUT OF MY EYE (Related: 24+ hours later, I still have no idea if my contact is in my brain or not). Solution to the rain bullets in the eye? Not looking up.

Rainiest/Windiest EVER
First mile was fine, and the fastest of the day, 10:47. Pretty psyched, no calf issues off the bat. A mile or two in and we saw the 4:45 pacer. I certainly have no business running that fast. We decided to just go with it. The rain sucked, but it wasn't THAT BAD. It really wasn't. I mean, it was unpleasant, but since it wasn't that cold, it was not the worst ever.

Mile 3, the insoles of my Newtons start scrunching up. I have to keep stopping them to flatten so they don't bunch up under my feet. Finally, after a few miles, I just take them out altogether. Um. Something happened, we ran, and then, early on, my brain broke.

Around the first relay checkpoint (mile 5.9), the rain kicks into high gear. I have never experienced anything like it. It was the rainiest rain ever. The end. The intersections were flooded:

Heather's Famous Picture
I wish I could say I was exaggerating when I say the water was probably 6 inches deep. I'm sure I wasn't. It was crazy. Even more crazy, was there were SPECTATORS out in this. Yes, even in the above picture, there were people out CHEERING FOR US. Spectators are the best.

So. More "running" happened. But also, lots of complaining. My feet hurt. So I put the insoles back in around the halfway point. Heather stopped to use the bathroom, and since I was going slower than slow, I told her to catch up to me. The second half went on FOREVER. We had a 24 mile split around mile 18. That might have been when I stopped to use the bathroom and the line was the slowest moving EVER.

Then, something funny happened around mile 20. THE SUN CAME OUT. I didn't feel like taking any pictures, but Heather got some good ones off a bridge if you want to check out her recap here. When we finally got to LOOK at the course, it was really pretty. I took this around mile 23(?).

I'll spare everyone the whining and complaining. I'll just say my feet hurt. A lot. And there was a lot of walking.

We were going slow enough that we had to worry about sweepers. WTF :(

Anyway, we finished, and the medal is pretty glorious:

Bib #8802
Official Time - 5:57:52 (yes, slower than MCM)
Pace - 13:48 (ouch)
Overall - 5886/6496
Division - 452/502
Phone died before we finished, so I guess course measured long for me
Get our pictures done at the finish line, and then we grab a pancake (tasty) and cookies (even better) and then get our drop bags. Sadly, the monsoon didn't miss our drop bags and our nice dry clothes were no longer dry.

We were hoping to eat downtown, but since it took us SO long to finish, everywhere was packed. Instead, we got a Sbux and got picked up by our shuttle. Changed in the bathroom of the hotel lobby, where I discovered that I did, indeed, get crotch chafing again. Owie.

Lunch at Denny's on the corner, and then shuttle to the airport. I had a beer and Heather and I split the tastiest Nutella cheesecake:

We managed to run into Faster Bunny while we were people watching, then I had to catch my flight. Thankfully, it was on time. Landed EARLY, and got home at 10:45.

Yet another crazy race weekend, complete.

  • We were pretty apprehensive about the logistics of the race. Turns out, no big deal. Everything was really well organized and smooth. (I heard later that because of the rain/wind some tree branches downed some power lines and some of the busses had to be re-routed, causing some people to miss the start.
  • Running in the rain, while not the most fun ever, was also not nearly as traumatic as I expected. Even with all my dumb shoe issues and inches and inches of standing water and bullet rain, I got ZERO blisters on my feet. Hurrah! However, my jacket is NOT waterproof/water resistant. It is, however, absorbent. It weighed about 8 pounds when I took it off when the sun came out.
  • Related: My phone and camera were both fine. Even in a monsoon, apparently a Ziploc bag will keep them dry and secure.
  • My ankles HURT. Like REALLY hurt. Bad. I am concerned I really injured myself by running insole-less. It felt "ok" at the time, but this morning it hurts to even touch. Inside, both ankles, below the bone, both feet. Ouchie. 
  • Our costumes were the best. I have never HAD so many comments about them. Maybe there is a picture of us on the Internet Machine, neither of us thought to get a picture.
  • Running with Heather is fun.
  • Related: Heather is the best. I feel like the crappiest friend ever for jacking up this race. She really didn't need to stick with me, but I'm glad she did. I'm a bit sad she wasted her awesome marathon training.
  • My mental game is gone. My IT Band injury July/August caused me to become a more cautious runner. I've been running WAY less and WAY slower, and it shows. My training is suffering, and I haven't been enjoying racing. ESPECIALLY not the marathon distance.
  • I have ZERO plans to register for another marathon. (Of course, I'm currently registered for a few, and I'll give them a go).


  1. I'm sad your body has rejected running, because I had the best time EVER. Even with the monsoon.

  2. How can you not chafe (everywhere) with that kind of rain/moisture. Ack!

    I love that Heather's pic went viral, Run Oregon even stole it and posted it this morning (stating that Oregon runners probably had an advantage).

    Nice job!

  3. Heather is probably the best running buddy, ever. I wish I could steal her, or maybe clone her.

    I hope your ankles aren't too messed up. Maybe trudging/dragging them through the deep water messed with them and not the lack of insoles?

  4. Wow. I am speechless. I have never run in anything like that, let alone a MARATHON! I think my feet would be screaming after something like that.

    Congrats on another finish!

  5. Way to hang tough out there! it was miserable...but fun ...simply spectating! Bummed I didn't see you two :(

  6. Ouch, but congrats on a gutsy finish! I've read a number of CIM reports, but your/Heather's pictures take the cake!

    Happy recovery :)

  7. I heard so many different comments about CIM- I'd say its pretty awesome you managed to go this long without severe weather :)

    i know this is completely random, but your writing style lately reminds me of hungry runner haha ( a good thing )

  8. i seriously am in awe that yall finished in that mess. and the viral picture. insanity. I want that cheesecake. and, i cannot believe yall forgot to get a matchy matchy picture!! congrats on another race-hope you are okay!

  9. OMG, I read this whole thing nodding my head and laughing and saying, "Yes, me too!!" Your race report is practically identical to mine, except for that picture of the cheesecake. YUM!

  10. So that's what you guys did. I'm staying at your hotel if I ever go back.

  11. Wow! I would have stayed on the bus! You guys are so brave! Congrats B!

    BTW, how do I land that hotel deal?

  12. You seriously get extra points for running 26 miles with one contact lens!

  13. I am SOOOO happy that you and Heather came to the dinner. You guys are great and we need to find another meetup race very soon. Nice job on the finish, lady!

  14. I cannot believe you guys were able to finish after all the rain. I can only imagine the horrible chafing other people must have had. Great job toughing it out!

  15. Nice work! I found you post reading others recaps- I too took part Sunday.

    One tip/thing I've learned and do before all marathons if I think there is any chance at all of rain, is to superglue my insoles into my shoes to prevent them from sliding around.

  16. Nice work! I found you post reading others recaps- I too took part Sunday.

    One tip/thing I've learned and do before all marathons if I think there is any chance at all of rain, is to superglue my insoles into my shoes to prevent them from sliding around.

  17. Way to finish even if it wasn't a great one - weather was definitely bizarre! I love your puddle photos.


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