The race course follows the American River Parkway (hence the race moniker) and starts at William Pond Park. The route is lined with signs that have factoids or funny/motivational sayings along the course to keep you going, plus there are several bands playing music, mostly bluegrass and dixie, along the course. This race directly benefits the American River Parkway, which is a 32 mile paved pedestrian/bike/horse trail from the Sacramento River to Folsom Lake along the American River, plus about another 50 miles of ancillary trails, which is used by 8 million people annually (according to the factoid signs along the race route). The Dashing Wife and I use this trail for long runs or long bike rides because it has frequent water fountains and bathrooms, and it has mile markers every half mile during its entire length. The race starts with a processional of bag pipers, followed by a choir singing the National Anthem.
About 4 minutes before race start, I realized I had to pee, and knew I would never make it to the port-o-potties, stand in line, and make it back in time. I figured I would hit a port-o-potty further down the course. The race starts, and within the first half mile, I spotted a permanent bathroom with an open door and no line. So I hopped off the course, dashed through the parking lot, and used the facilities. Then I SPRINTED back on the course, eventually catching up to some of the people I had been running with when I left the course. I found out after the race, that I was the cause of a bit of conversation to the people who witnessed my pit stop.
This year, the course changed a little bit, and it was a nice improvement. In previous years, after mile 3.5, the course went along levee trail until the half way point, and we returned along the trail. The levee trail has no shade and is not the best surface to run on. This year, the course went out just over 6 miles along the trial, then turned onto on the levee for less than ½ mile, then we crossed the river at Sacramento State University, ran 2.5 miles along the south side of the river, then ran back over the river at Watt Ave, and re-ran the last 3.5 miles back along the trail. The new course provided more shade and a couple nice views of the river, despite having to cross the Watt Ave bridge. The only downside was that I didn’t get to see the leaders on their return leg, nor did I get to cheer the folks who run in the back of the pack.
The race was good, but it was getting hot, well hot for running. It was mid 60s at 8am, but was over 80 degrees by 10am. Because I usually do my runs before the sun comes up, and it has just started getting warm in Northern California a week or so ago, I had not acclimated to running in the heat. My race/running plan is to take about a minute walk break at each water stop, which usually occur every 1.5-2 miles. I managed to stick to that plan pretty well until about mile 8. By that point, the heat started to get to me, and I took 30 sec breaks every half mile. After mile 10, I dropped to a minute every kilometer (the mantra of “10 mile mark, just a 5k left. I run 5ks before breakfast” was not working that day).
I eventually adjusted my race goals because of the heat, adding about 5 minutes to my originally planned end time. I usually kick it up a notch for the last mile, but I only managed the last half mile, and still not as fast as I usually finish a race. But I managed to finish the race about a minute and half faster than my goal once I started overheating. After I crossed the finish line and drank a bunch of water, I talked to a few people I had seen on the course, asking how they did. Most said that the heat really got to them, but all in all people were happy. We all got a nice shirt, a nice medal, and some bonus stuff like a license plate frame and a water bottle.
When I got home, I took an ice bath to ease my muscles then a shower. I also figured out that I had experienced some dehydration during the run, so I drank a bunch of water. Once clean I put on one of my favorite Hawaiian/aloha shirts and my compression socks and hung out with some friends for the rest of the day.
Overall, it was a great race, nice course, but just a bit hot. Now, two days later, my legs (calfs especially) are still a bit sore, but nothing too bad. Looking forward to a nice recovery run in the morning.
On a side note: on Sunday, the Dashing Wife had a 5 mile race, her first race since a 5k in September. The Dashing Son had a half mile kids run before hand, and managed to beat mom to the finish line by a good minute. DW completed her 5 mile run in under an hour. There was also a car show around the corner from the race finish, so Dashing Dad got to drool over some old cars. The orange 1956 Chevy Wagon was probably my favorite.