After hearing how fast this course usually is and deciding I wanted to try and run a fast marathon before the end of the year, I suggested to Kris James that we go to Sacramento and run California International. We then heard of a large contingent of runners from the Detroit area that were also going to be there along with Steve Menocvik. Leading up to the race however, the weather and injury dwindled our group down quite a bit. We expected about 15-20 people and only 4 of us made it. Steve, Kris, Joe Whitman and me.
Race morning, I was laying in bed, wide awake at 3:30am because that is what I do every morning when I am going to race. I grabbed my phone, checked the weather, and said F*$%!! I didn't realize Kris was awake so I shared the news that at 7am, race start time, we were going to be getting heavy rain along with winds coming from the SSW at 38 mph, gusting to 55 mph. Not great on a point to point course that runs SSW! The good news was by 10am when we were going to be done, the rain would almost be done and the wind would be down to 27 mph.
We were bused out to the start in Folsom. Our crew decided to go use the porta johns before it got too crowded. We put our garbage bags on headed out. It didn't seem too bad walking down toward the road the bathrooms were on but it turned out the rows of buses were protecting us from the wind because as soon as we made the turn right, the wind almost picked my garbage bag and I up off the ground. Feet are now soaked and the wind is nearly ripping the doors off the porta johns as people come out.
We headed to the start line and decided to look for the 3 hour pacer. We found him and after running with the guys at 7:03 pace for the first half mile, I decided I was going to get after it a bit. I ran a 6:44 first mile. Not terrible but there were a lot of people ahead of me. I thought that I would just find a good pack to settle into and run with them. I kept working forward but it was just me doing it solo. After clicking off the next 5 between 6:07 and 6:12, we made a slight turn and it was the worst we had felt the wind. To make matters worse, I was not in a pack and about 15 seconds behind the one in front of me. I worked to try and get to them and figured I would sit with them. Instead, I moved through them and on to the next pack. This happened for the next 6 miles. I ran between 6:15 and 6:27/mile for this stretch. The next stretch of the race for me was my best from 12-23, I ran 6:05-6:16/mile. I was constantly passing people and felt really strong through this stretch. At mile 14, I let out a "This is f*$%ing awesome" as we started to climb a hill. The guy next to me asked what was up and I told him I was misinformed that this course was flat. I loved the rolling throughout and usually run pretty well on rollers. The rain had let up some but it didn't matter at this point. I was soaked, cold and had a huge blister that had formed on my to at mile 16 from all of the squishing. With 3 miles to go, I took what I planned to be, my last drink of the race and it didn't sit too well. I started to slosh a little and burped up some of the water. At this point, I had to decide to try and push through the stomach issue, knowing I have a propensity to puke late in marathons, or back off, essentially giving up a PR but still running a respectable race. I backed off and finished with a 6:25, 6:26 and 6:40. From mile 2 through mile 25, I never was passed by a single person. A few got me in the last mile but I was on damage control at that point!
My finish time was 2:45:19, my second best ever and only 36 seconds off a PR in the monsoon. I was very pleased when I saw the clock and knew that was the best I had today. It was a little disappointing knowing that I was ready to run quite a bit faster than this but I controlled what I could and the weather took care of the rest. Kris ran a 3:05, Joe ran a 3:07 and Steve ran a 3:09. Also, the new friend we met, Lindsay, ran a PR of 2:50:37. All in all, we had a great time, despite the weather and I was very happy with the end result. What to do next??