Monday, December 3, 2012
California International Marathon Review and Results (CIM 2012)
"Call me Ishmael."
I thought of the first line of Moby Dick more than once on this swirling maelstrom of a race course at the 2012 California International Marathon. To further butcher a good metaphor, by the end of the race, I wasn't sure if I was Ishmael or the Great White Whale...
First, let's take care of some business.
If you're just looking for results, here they are. They're only unofficial results until Wednesday, I believe, then they should get the official results up.
And here's an article on the winners: Daniel Tapia and Alisha Williams, the first two American winners at CIM since 1999 and 2000, respectively.
Wow, what an experience this one was.
First, as you know if you're a regular R's reader, I simply was not ready for this race. I had injuries. And setbacks.
And if you recall, I had wondered publicly if one could run a marathon on no training. Well, according to my personal sample size of one: yes, you can. But it won't be fast.
So let's go back about a week before the race. It wasn't a secret - the weather forecast did not look good for the 2012 CIM. But it's one thing to look at an online forecast a week before the race.
And it's another to look out your Sacramento hotel window at 5:00am the morning of the race. The rain was coming down in sheets...and the sheets were being blown sideways by huge gusts of wind. It was ugly.
Here's a photo album of the damage the storms had done in the Sacramento area in the days before the CIM.
The third and final of the storms in that series to hit Sacramento was hitting, you guessed it, on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
But what to do except run the damn thing? Well, if I had lived in Sacramento, I may have skipped the whole thing. But I already flew down, got a hotel, rental car, etc, etc...I was running it.
So I put on my finest definitely-not-rain-proof-running-outfit and headed for the buses to take me to the start line. Jen snapped a picture of me in the hotel, looking like a kid heading to his first day of school in a new town, dry and happy.
So Jen drove me as far as she could, then dropped me off. I ran through the driving wind and rain, which in the dark before sunrise, had a scary biblical quality to it, and jumped on a bus to take me to the start line. There were supposed to be tents and such near the start line, but the wind was howling and garbage was flying through the streets; you really couldn't see much of anything. I scrambled to a strip mall next to a gas station, where I actually found decent shelter from the wind and rain. I vowed to stay there until 6:55am, five minutes before the starting gun.
In this photo gallery from the Sacramento Bee, the gas station in Photo #1 is just across from where I was hiding pre-race, and the shelter in Photo #2, is where I was huddled, trying to keep warm.
At 6:55 exactly, I sprinted out to the start line and got close to the 4:00 pace group. I tried to hide behind people, but the course started out directly, head-on, into the wind that was gusting up to 40mph. There was just nowhere to hide. See Photos # 13 and 14 in the gallery just above to see what I'm talking about.
They played the Star Spangled Banner, gave us a couple "good lucks" and we were off! The first two miles were IN. SANE. The wind and rain was hitting your face like hail, so you had to keep your head down, and hopefully had a hat on, so you could keep some rain off your face. Only that made it so you didn't see the garbage bags, gloves, t-shirts and sweatshirts that were coming back like missiles, blown by the wind. Cardboard garbage cans and plastic garbage bags were flying around. People were jumping and dodging trying to miss branches and palm fronds down in the street.
The wind was coming from the South, so as you can see on my Garmin map, it was either in our faces or blowing sideways across us the whole way. It was never behind us, on this point to point course, so it never helped us.
As befitting my horrid last two months of training, I went out fairly well, then faded oh so quickly right around the half marathon mark. I wanted to stay with the four hour pace group as long as possible and actually slowly moved up with the 3:55 group for quite a while. But after 13 miles, I faded back.
There were huge streams flying down the gutters during the entire race and every couple miles, there would be lakes that covered the entire street, like this.
There were also two sections where there were rivers - I'm not kidding here, these were 4-6 inch deep rivers flowing across the street. There was absolutely no way to get around them. You had to go right through them. If you were thinking right before you got to those rivers, "well, we can't get any wetter," you were wrong, weren't you?
Lots of good signs along the way, but my favorite was "Embrace the suck." I couldn't have put it any better.
I was having trouble meeting up with my support crew, Jen, but she finally found me at around mile 18. My quads were just trashed at that point - have I mentioned I didn't train for this race - and this series of photos is me telling her "no, I won't be finishing around 4:00, my quads are done." And her yelling, "But you're doing great, you've got a good time." And me yelling, "You don't understand, I'm done. Look for me at 4:30!"
And it turns out, that's exactly what happened. I totally seized up in the last six miles and was lucky to get across in 4:28:54.
And while Jen didn't get any shots of me in the first half of the race, when I actually looked like a normal runner, she did get me shambling across the finish line like a zombie.
The course itself was as advertised: up and down, but with gentle rollers and an overall downhill slant. I could see myself trying this one again...if I'm in shape...and the weather report is better.
So of course the sun came out at about noon and the rest of the day was positively beautiful. What are you going to do, right? Since we were flying back that night, and since our hotel wasn't allowing ANY late check-outs (and we couldn't get back there before noon), we found a local YMCA and I paid the day-use fee so I could take a shower!
Good race expo and great organization and volunteers there and at the race itself. Decent swag and a good looking black tech race tee. Also got some cotton gloves, a cinch backpack, a weird handband thing, and a big ass medal (B.A.M!), that you can apparently use as a coaster. It weighs about four pounds.
All in all, the race went as expected because I didn't have any expectations coming in. Being totally unprepared will do that to you.
But I'm not giving up. I'll roll my Boston goal to 2013 and I'll be back.
Next planned race: Corvallis Half Marathon in April. See you there.
credit for the opening video of the CIM to franzevna.