Yes, this report is woefully late. And be warned, it’s a much a travelogue as it is a race report. To jump to the report itself, click here.
I left Vancouver early in the afternoon of Friday the 6th. Getting checked in and through security and customs was a breeze, Literally 15 minutes after getting off the Skytrain I was at my gate, with plenty of time to kill.
The flight to Seattle was uneventful, and I played a little “spot the marathoner” while waiting for the connection to Sacramento.
I arrived in River City in the early evening and after checking in to my hotel, decided to head out to package pickup. The convention centre, where it was being held, was right up J Street, just a few blocks away. After getting my bib, I picked up a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider, a RUN CIM shirt and, couldn’t resist, a CIM Christmas tree ornament.
Ran through my first – of many – gear checks when I got back to my room, then realized I now had 36 hours of fretting ahead of me.
Saturday was a totally free day – it was clear and bright and a bit chilly. I started with an excellent breakfast at the Fox and Goose, a British style pub in a 100+ year old former factory. After that a little wandering around the city and mild sight-seeing.
Fun fact, in a single block – quite close to my hotel – there were 3 bail bonds!
For lunch I went to Johnny Rockets for a burger and root beer float and a little shopping at Macy’s then back to the room to relax and hydrate. (Never be hungry, never be thirsty, never be tired)
An early dinner at the River City Brewing Company was followed by setting 3 different alarms (phone, watch, iPad) to make sure I didn’t sleep through my 3:30AM wake up.
Woke up, had some oatmeal, checked and rechecked my gear and headed down to the lobby to wait for the bus. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the first one there. And pretty soon it was filling up with marathoners. From what I gathered from overheard snippets of conversation, this was where a lot of the locals congregate to catch the bus too.
Shortly after 5AM the buses arrived and we all shuffled outside to board. It was cold. Below freezing cold. The sky was clear and there was almost no wind. Disturbingly, the buses that arrived to pick us up had a good inch or so of snow on top, but that turned out to not be a harbinger.
We drove through the city and out to Folsom. I knew that the start line was near the prison, but I was surprised when we pulled up with the other buses and we were right beside a chain-link, barbed wire topped fence with a Sheriff’s truck inside patrolling.
Luckily the buses had nowhere else to go, so we could stay aboard and keep warm, right up until the start of the race. About 10 to 7, I headed out, dropped my bag off at gear-check and lined up with the 3:35 pacer. It was still mighty damn cold.
And then we were off! I quickly lost sight of my pacer in the bustle of the start, but a short while later I saw a sign just off to my left and made my way over. To my surprise, it was the 3:30 pacer. Oh well, I thought, I’ll stick with her and see how long I can hold on. I took splits on my watch every 5 miles (about 8k):
Kilometres 0 – 8: It was a cold start to the race. So cold that the first couple of aid stations were little more than sheets of ice from all the spilt water. I slid a couple of times, but stayed on my feet. Average pace 4:55.
Kilometres 8 – 16: By now the sun had come out and it was a little warmer, but still hovering right near freezing. The aid stations were no longer as treacherous. Average pace 4:57.
Kilometres 16 – 24: Bathroom break! I hate having to stop during a race for the bathroom, but it is a better option than the alternative. Because of this I figured I’d lost the 3:30 pacer, but I managed to catch up with her again. Average pace 4:51.
Kilometres 24 – 32: Starting to slow down. The 3:30 pacer pulls away from me around midway here. I still feel pretty good, but the race is taking its toll. Average pace 5:06
It’s worth pointing out that, as of the 32k (20 mile) point, I was holding an overall average pace of below 5 minutes per k (8 minutes a mile). I’m very happy with that.
Kilometres 32 – 40: Damn that first walk break! Once you take that first one, it’s gets so much easier to take another, and another, and another. We enter Sacramento at 57th Street and I know that I have to get to 8th. So I start making deals – run 5 blocks, walk one. Ok, maybe run 4 blocks and then walk one? It was during this stretch – somewhere around 30th – that the 3:35 pacer passed me. Average pace 5:56
Kilometre 40 – Finish: This final haul started around 22nd – one long straight shot down L Street to 8th, followed by 2 quick turn to the chute. At 15th we get to the eastern end of the capitol grounds. It’s at this point that I realize that the 3:40 pacer is closing in on me. I’m going to have to work for this last kilometre to achieve my sub-3:40 goal. A couple of minutes later I see the turn to 8th and pick up my pace a little more, finally rounding the last corner and crossing the line. The clock overhead reads 3:40:11 but my watch is 3:39:04. Done.
Official Results: 3:39:10, 1664 out of 6429, 231 out of 577 in my AG and 1247 out of 3429 males. That’s a 4 minute PB over my time 8 weeks previous in Victoria.
The 1.3k walk back to my hotel is brutal. It’s still pretty cold – more so now that I’ve stopped running – my hips and hamstrings are screaming. But a long hot shower and then a burger and beer at Fanny Ann’s and I felt much better. Of course, no marathon is really over until the refueling begins.
The day ended with dinner at the awesome Shoki Ramen House and an early bed time.
Monday morning I had a quick breakfast across the street at Perko’s, then it was back out to the airport for my flights home. Again, checking in and security were a breeze, and other than a longer that I would have liked lay-over in Portland – but an excellent dinner at the Laurelwood – everything was great. Back home by 8:30 or so.
Many, many thanks to my incredible sponsors, the fine folks at Powered By Chocolate Milk. And even more so to Siobhan, for her unwavering support, encouragement and confidence.