Saturday we finally got to sleep in. We got ready around the house and set off for Fresno. Fresno is about 130 miles east of us and it took just over two hours to get there. It goes through some pretty boring and pathetic parts of California, including a town called Los Banos. Yes, the bathrooms. I hadn't been to Fresno since I was a kid and my memory of it wasn't very positive. I remember it being kind-of "oakie", you know a place where people don't always have all their teeth and their okay with that. When we hit Los Banos I had my first low point. All morning I kept telling Ari please be patient with me. I was very anxious and had no patience for ANYTHING. I was afraid that the course I was gonna be running on would be like Los Banos and I was thinking there was no way I could run through such a desperate town for 26.2 miles. I wanted to turn around. I didn't want to run. I started to cry and tell Ari we had made a mistake. But in good husband form, and knowing I was just anxious, he calmed we down and we kept going. Ari's cousin Rod had just moved to Fresno for his job and that was going to be a plus to get to see him. If anything, we could hang with Rod even if I didn't run.
We finally arrived in Fresno and went straight to the Expo. The Expo was at a brand new junior high they just built. It was pretty nice, well organized and everyone was quite friendly. That calmed my nerves. I didn't spend much time there and we headed off to find the hotel. What a nightmare that was. Even with the maps from Mapquest and our GPS, it took us over a half an hour to find that hotel even though the maps said it was only 5 miles away! We drove in circles for what seemed like forever. Again, another low point. I wanted to leave. I was making excuses not to run and this was just helping in my own personal argument. I am not usually too anxious or nervous for a race, but this day everything was setting me off. By the time we got to the hotel I was spent. I had also realized that I had forgotten the clips for my Spibelt to wear my bib with and shampoo! I thought I had remembered it all! Tears again! Poor Ari. But we called his cousin and he happened to be at a Target down the road with his girlfriend and we made our way there for zip ties and shampoo.
Fresno turned out to be a lot like Elk Grove. Elk Grove is the city we lived in where we bought our first house. It's a little "hickey" but all brand new and really easy to get around. Thank gawd was all I could say. And what girl doesn't feel at home in any Target? That definitely calmed my nerves roaming the aisles of Target with Ari and Rod and Stephanie. Plus, the boys kept pointing out all the crazies in there. A great way to distract myself. We made our purchases and by this time it was already 5:30 and I knew we had to eat. We went to a cute Indian food restaurant I had found on the internet and it didn't disappoint. Rod, Stephanie and I enjoyed a really nice long, relaxing dinner and before we knew it, it was 8:15 and I had to head home for a bed.
Race morning didn't have to come too early. The full marathon didn't start until 7:30 and our hotel was just 5 mins away. I got up at 5, had my pre-race breakfast and got ready. We left the hotel around 6 and arrived with plenty of time. I have to say that this race was one of the most well organized I have been to. Much like a Rock 'N Roll marathon. They had billions of porta potties. You didn't have to wait but a minute to use one. They were all pretty clean, too. I was so thankful, too. I think I went five times before the start of the race. They had the half marathoners start at 7 which didn't make sense to me until I was on the course. I thought I would be running in to them, but most of their course wasn't on mine until mile 22 on.
After the half marathoners started I got ready and lined up for the full. The had corrals assigned but no one was checking bibs really. There were about 1,000 people running the full, with 500 of those doing a relay. So in reality, only 500 of us were running the full in its entirety. Not at all crowded. Right way I saw the 3:30 pace guy in corral B. I went over to him and asked him what his mile splits were gonna be and he said 8's all the way. Bingo! I hadn't planned on running with a pace group, but he reassured me and I knew I could do 8's all the way. I had planned on running the first half around 7:45's to bank some time for the second half. But running straight 8's sounded more logical. So I started off with them no problem. When the gun went off, I was finally ready.
The first 3 miles were through some residential homes that were quite upscale. I was just trying to find my stride and see if 8:00 miles would be good for me. This is a bit slower than I have been running lately but I knew that I should probably try to conserve. I stayed with him for almost 6 miles. I felt great. Ari was right along side of me handing me my water, keeping me focused on my breathing and kick and I was running along really well. Those first few miles were kind-of a blur. I was just trying to keep even paces and enjoy the scenery. Just before mile 4 we went down a little hill, through a tunnel and then up a bigger hill. I was worried. There were three of these in a row. And I knew that we would hit them on the way back. But the pacer was doing well, getting us speed on the down hills and letting us recover well on the top. I kept chugging along and feeling great. The temps were awesome, too. Low 50's - perfect running weather. I gu-ed at 45 mins, or just before mile 6. I was also taking in my gatorade mix every 2-3 miles. At this point though, I felt like the 8 min mile pace was too slow for me and I broke away from the pace group. I hit my strides in the 7:45 range and was crusing. It was nice to get away from all of the cluster and just run my own race. I felt really good at this point. Then, the tummy struck at mile 8. I had to go, and I had to go NOW. Like I said before, there were porta potties everywhere. Two at each aide station. So right before mile 10, I gu-ed and drank and hit up the porta potty. I told Ari to look for the 3:30 pace group. He said they were about 1 min behind me. So I stoped and went. Ari said I was in and out in 1:05. And the 3:30 pace group had just passed a few seconds ago. I didn't panic though. I knew I was in good shape. I just found my own pace again and took off. I was running 7:50's again and crusing. We hit mile 12 and were on our way back to the ups and downs. At this point I was pretty much on my own. I was passing a few men, but there were hardly any women out there. In fact, if I cam across one, I would pass them. And I started passing people who were in the 3:30 group that had fallen back. I was so glad. I was feeling awesome and good. I hit the half around 1:45:10. Pefect. Right where I wanted to be.
Mile 14-16.5 I was crusing. Gu-ing and drinking well. I had Ari next to me calming me down, reassuring me and I felt great. He said that I had told him around mile 15 that I didn't think I was going to make it. I don't remember this. Apparently whatever he said to keep me going worked. When we made the turn at mile 16.5 on to mile 17 I could see it was straight into nothing. It was a long flat road straight into fields. I hadn't caught up to the 3:30 group but I wasn't worried about that. I was worried because this looked sooooo daunting. There was hardly anyone out there except for the well manned water stations. No spectators. Just mile markers. This was hard. And I could see on the other side of the road all the half people - mostly walking. This was an out and back, too. I was getting nervous because I didn't know how far I would be on this straight away and then knowing I would have to go back the other direction through all the walkers. A very low point for me. But Ari was right next to me and I was chicing so many dudes and people. I was cursing well. I was still on pace for a 3:30- 3:32 finish. Awesome.
At around mile 15
At around mile 16
As we came up on mile 19 I could finally see down the road to mile 20 where they had us turn left for the loop back. I had gu-ed at mile 18 and it had finally kicked in. My pace was in the low 7:50's again and I was feeling great approaching the last 10K. At the 20 mile turn I think I had a grimace on my face because one of the medics asked me if I was okay, when I said yes, he said I was lookin' good. I needed that. This was a very well manned stop, too. You hit a timing mat and there were quite a few race officals around. I put my head down and kept running telling myself I had only a 10K left - perfect. I hit this at 2:20 or so. I can run a 10K in under 50mins I told myself. Right on for a 3:30 finish. Then disaster struck. When I looked up at around mile 20.5 Ari was no where to be found. Righ away I thought maybe he had stopped to use the potty. So I tried not to panic. I needed him this last 10K. And not to mention - we were in the middle of no where and I could see that we would be on this awful curve and a bit hill. By mile 21.5 though, I was in full panic mode. I was thinking he got arrested for riding with me or taken off the course. I right away stoped focusing on my run. I was tiring, too. I had a HUGE hill to climb at mile 22 and was fading. I was running 8:30-9 min miles! I just felt frozen. Where was he? Was he okay? Is he arrested? Did he get hurt? I was a mess thinking about what could have happened to him. At mile 22.5 they had a gu station. I took one. I needed something. But there was no water station to follow! What? My mouth was full of gu and no water or running sherpa? Ugh! Again, my miles started to slow. I hadn't recovered well from that hill either and I was doing the math in my head now. I needed to step it up to get that 3:40, now. But my legs didn't want to move.
When I hit mile 23.5 or so I was done. Ari was gone, I was dodging walkers and 26.2 still seemed so far away. I was starting to really hurt now, too. But I kept chugging along. Thankfully by this time there was some crowd support. At mile 24 they had a beer stop and I really wanted to stop. But I had worked so hard and had to keep going. Mile 24 was a blur. By mile 25 though, when I was just a wreck with worry and pain, Ari's cousin and girlfriend were there! Rod ran along the side for me for a bit and said he would meet me at the finish. I started to cry. Just 1.2 more miles and I could see someone! I stepped up my kick and headed toward the finish. Thank gawd for crowd support is all I can say. I really needed it at this point. I could see mile 26 ahead and I new I was golden. My watch was reading 3:34 and change I knew I had made my goal - even if it was a few mins off.
I ran hard those last .2 miles. When I crossed the line, my Garmin said 3:38:19, just like the clock! I did it! I was in shock. But this finish line there was no officials there. They had you keep walking but my legs started to cramp really bad. I tried to walk and finally ahead was water, medals and a great finishers jacket that I got the volunteer to help me put on. I right away sat down and started to stretch. I chugged that water to get the gu out of my mouth. As I was in tears on the ground stretching, this marathoner came up to me and asked if I was okay. I blubbered yes, that I was fine, just overwhelmed and that I had just BQed. He was really sweet. He was eating one of the brownie sundaes they were giving to finishers and asked me if I wanted anything. I told him no thanks and he helped me up. Sooo nice. I walked around in a fog still. There were finishers everywhere from the half all eating the free breakfast, that looked good, but made my stomach churn. I finally crumbled into tears on some grass and all of a sudden Rod and Stephanie were there. I sobbed and asked them where Ari was. Turns out, he got a flat right at mile 20. He had tried to repair it but couldn't and was walking the last 10K to the finish. Thank God he was okay. But I felt sooo bad for him. We waited together for what felt like an eternity. I finally stopped crying, they got me laughing and Rod asked me to go and get my free breakfast to give to him. :) Stephanie requested the hot-fudge brownie sundae. No prob. I had to walk anyway.
Stephanie, me and Rod
By the time I got back with the breakfast Ari was there! I was excited to see him! I cried again and he was so excited for me! He wanted that breakfast though! Rod of course, obliged and Ari sat scarfing down the breakfast recounting how a nice man had given him a patch kit and a pump. But to no avail it didn't work. He had to push that bike up that huge hill, too! He felt so guilty for not seeing me finish. But it didnt' mater. He got me to that last 10K and I was greaful.
Ari and Me and my finisher's jacket!
I needed to keep walking again so we all got up and meandered over to the Micholobe Beer Garden. My race bib entitled me to two free beers! Whoo hoo! But, they were those Ultra's and they were terrible. As we walked around and drank and laughed, Ari made me go over and check the awards booth. He was convinced that I had one something. I told him, no way! I did well, but no that well. Turns out, I got 2nd place in my age group! Wow! I was shocked! I had no idea!
Stepahine made me pose with this poor lady!
I was crying, again, I couldnt' believe I had won!
Yes, I still tried to drink the nasty beer!
You can see from Ari's face how bad it tasted!
Stepahine and Me! Thanks Steph!
Walking back to the car
Technical shirt and medal
That made my day even better. One thing I learned in this race, is that the 3-3:30 time frame for finishing is quite lonely. There are very few people that run that fast and so there are very few people out there with you. Even with a small race like this, from what I hear that is the case. People thin out in this time. That is hard to take mentally when you are trying to chug along. Crowds are fewer in the middle and it gets lonely.
As I look back to the last 10K, I know that I have it in me to finish faster. Between the bathroom break and my worry for Ari, I didn't manage that last 10K well. I let my mind wander to something I had no control over and it almost cost me my goal. Yes, I had over two mins to spare for my BQ, but I could have done better and I know what I am capable of that. CIM will be my day of redemption. I have to also say that this was an awesome race and I recommend it to anyone wanting to Bost Qualify. The course is awesome. The people wer sooo nice. Millions of porta potties. For my $75 entrance fee: race entry, medal, technical shirt, finishers jacket, breakfast, beer, sundaes. Tons of stuff. And did I mention how nice everyone was?
18/253 gender place
2/43 division place (25-29 F age group)
I feel a bit sore today and stiff. But I think I recovered well yesterday. I walked a ton afterwards, I took a cold shower for almost twenty mins and I put on my recovery stocks which are still on. The top of my quads, where my legs hit my hips are sore, but other than that just a bit stiff. I am so glad I did it.
I just registered for Boston. I was so nervous filling it out. But I got my id number and a confirmation should come soon. I have to thank my Ari for all that he did for me. He put up with my insanity for two days, rode 20 miles reminding me of my awesomeness and being the best running sherpa every. He pushed a bike with a flat for over 6 miles and was the best supporter a runner could ask for. He is excited about CIM now, too. He knows I can do better and that is all I need.
Thank you to all of you for reading this and listening to me complain, worry and fret for the past few weeks. I was thinking of all of you out there as I ran, too. I didn't want to let my fellow runners down. Thanks again.
Well, I am going to take it easy today and bask in the glow of my finish. Congrats to all of you who had awesome long runs and races. You are all amazing!