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California International Marathon Race Report

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, I ran the California International Marathon (CIM) in high winds and driving rain. What a day. Normally I have lots of pictures of my races. Not this one. First, non-runners aren't allowed at the starting line (we were bussed out to Folsom and ran back to Sacramento). There are spectator viewing spots along the way, but the weather was so bad that DH kept his camera (and himself) in the hotel until the end of the race. I don't blame him at all. In fact, had there had been some way to get back to Sacramento short of running there, I might have taken it myself. However, I'm glad that it wasn't an option and that I did run the race.

This was supposed to have been a BQ (Boston Qualifying) attempt for me. The night before the race, as I heard the weather predictions, I seriously considered not making the try if the weather turned out to be as bad as predicted (it did). However, about half way to the start, on the bus, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to attach the timing chip to my shoe, which meant I would not get an official time for the race. That sealed it. I wasn't going to waste one of my BQ attempts on an unofficial race. I called DH to let him know why he wouldn't be seeing me in the Runner tracking system and to tell him that I was going to run the marathon at a comfortable pace.

I had caught a bus to the start at 5 am in Sacramento. I actually was hopeful at that point because the weather wasn't that bad. Not much wind, only a little rain. But as we drove to Folsom, the rain increased and so did the wind. As we approached the start, I heard the lead driver talking on the radio. He said that he had arrived and that he hoped that the portapotties were tied down. That did not sound promising. Shortly thereafter, we arrived.

Exiting the bus was psychologically difficult -- since you were stepping out into the wind and driving rain to head to the portapotties. On my way there, I walked though a big puddle. Great. My shoes were already soaked and I hadn't even started running. When I got to an available PP, I opened the door and the wind tore it from my hand. I had a hard time getting it closed. I was not having fun.

The busses all stayed at the start so that runners could shelter in them, if they chose. I did. I started chatting with the runners around me, only to discover that they were all from Austin! What are the odds? We all agreed that we wished we could send the rain home (we are having a mini drought at the moment). At about 30 minutes before the start, I decided that I should revisit the PP's. Again, it was difficult to exit the shelter of the bus. I had an (empty) drop bag with me. I had planned on dropping off my jacket before I started running. The walk to the PP's convinced me that would be a mistake, so I handed off the empty bag and went back to the bus.

About 10 minutes before race start, I left the bus to head to the start. I was surrounded by a sea of runner garbed in every imaginable form of trash bag, garbage bag and other forms of rain gear. We listened to the National Anthem, the horn blew, and we were off with a big cheer. A big gust of wind "helped" us on our way.

For the first mile or so, we had to dodge lots of discarded garbage bags and other garments. I kept mine on, and, by sheer luck, I turned out to have clothed myself just right for this race. I had read about running in the wind and rain and the importance of protecting against hypothermia with layers that wicked sweat away from the skin, trapped warmth and protected against the wind. I had a tight singlet as my base layer (sleeveless), a garbage bag over that and then a plastic coated, light weight jacket over that. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn't planned on running in the jacket. I wondered if it would be too much to have both the trash bag and the jacket, but it worked well. The trash bag was very light weight, but longer than the jacket. The jacket stopped at my waist, but the bag hung below that to cover my hips and my fuel belt. That meant I did not have a water logged fuel belt.

The jacket did a good job of protecting me from the wind. Normally, I can only wear this jacket for a couple of miles before I get too hot for it. I wore it for 20 miles in this race without getting hot. Without it, I'm fairly sure I would have been much too cold.

After the initial shock of running in the gusty wind and rain, it didn't seem as bad as I had feared. Probably because I wasn't cold or hot. There was a lot of water in the road, and it was impossible to avoid wading through fairly deep puddles in some spots. I was pleasantly surprised by how well my shoes and socks coped with the soaking. Yes, they were wet, but not "squishy." The water ran out of the shoes quickly and the socks wicked the worst of the moisture away from my skin. I had almost no chafing. I did wear thick, cushioned socks which I think are better for wet conditions. (Injinji's in this case.)

About half way through the race, the wind calmed down. But it was still raining hard. I had wrapped my Gymboss in plastic and thought it would be well protected under my trash bag. Unfortunately, since I ended up wearing my jacket too, all those layers of plastic, plus the very loud sound of the wind and rain, meant I couldn't hear it very well. So I decided to carry it in my hand. At each walk break, as I lowered my arm, water ran down my sleeve into my hand. By mile 15, the Gymboss had stopped working and I ran "free form" from that point on.

I was using my Garmin, of course, but it was covered by the sleeve of my jacket, so I rarely looked at it during the race and just ran by feel at a comfortable pace. I glanced at it occasionally only to figure out when to eat my gels, since a good many of the mile markers were missing in the first half of the race. The rain stopped at mile 20 and the skies began to clear. I took off by jacket and trash bag and was surprised to see the elapsed time on the Garmin. I had been running faster than I had realized. It occurred to me that DH might not be at the finish line when I got there since, unless I slowed down, I was about 20 minutes ahead of my usual 5 hour "easy" time.

It was nice to run the last 6 miles of the race in sunshine. Our hotel was about a mile from the finish line . Fortunately, DH came out of the hotel just as I was running past. So there are a few pictures. Here I am at around mile 25:

Crossing the finish.

Glad to be finished.

Back in the hotel.

I finished in 4:40 (unofficially, of course). I felt good crossing the finish line and not terribly tired.
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