The California International Marathon (CIM) holds a special place in my heart for being my first marathon I ever ran. Actually it was the last marathon I ever ran too. Not last as in “Never Again!” but last as in, “I haven’t ran a marathon since.” I ran it the first time in 2010, and again last year in 2012. CIM also has a four person relay race during the marathon, which I participated in 2011 and again this year (2013).
The first year, the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy, but it turned out to be perfect running weather. 2011 was a bit chilly during my relay leg, but not that bad. Last year, 2012, was the 30th anniversary of CIM, and the monsoon year. During the race we had 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of rain during the first three hours (not to mention the 4 inches (10cm) that fell the 6 hours before the race start), all driven by 15-20 mph (24-32 kph) winds, with some lovely 30-40 mph (48 – 64 kph) gusts. But I ran a sub 4 marathon! The posterboard for the 2012 CIM actually had water drops imposed on it, while the rest were white. Actually, after the 3rd hour, it actually cleared up and became quite nice. But there were some flooded streets we had to run through.
This year, it was FREEZING!! I mean literally, the race start was about 25°F (-4°C). I think it got up to about 38°F (3°C) by the 6 hour cut off time. There were frozen water cups, icy roads, frozen puddles, but there were also clear skies and sun. Since I have run some part of this race ever since I moved to California, I decided I needed to run at least the relay. I had some trouble getting a team together. I had Dashing Sister and Dashing Friend as part of the relay, but needed a fourth. I eventually found somebody at the Drag’N’Fly race. This was Dashing Friend’s Husbands Friend (DFHF) from high school who was going to be in the area that weekend anyway.
Two days before the race, and about a week after my 10k PR at Run to Feed the Hungry, I get a message from DFHF was getting sick. I figured that I would run her leg too, it would have been close to 15 miles, but doable. The only issue was I was planning on running with the Dashing Sister for her last 5 miles so it would have been more than 20 miles.
Then the day before the race, I get a text from the Dashing Sister that she wouldn’t be able to run. She had to get her car worked on, and her free (or super cheap) mechanic was only available that Sunday morning. Now, do I run 20 miles, or just do the second leg, and be done? I talked to Dashing Friend, and she was willing to do half, but the second half. Neither of us had been training for a half marathon, and her pace may not have been enough to stay ahead of the sweepers in the cold.
Luckily, DFHF said that while she didn’t feel great, she could still run. Then Dashing Friend’s Husband knew somebody who wanted to run. And that is when Dashing Friend’s Husband’s Coworker (DFHC) joined the team. Here was the fun part, at least for me. I was running the third leg, so DFHF was handing off to me, and I was handing off the DFHC. I had only met these ladies one time, DFHF nearly 3 months prior to the race. To partially quote Nicolas Cage in The Rock, “How in the name of Zeus’s BUTTHOLE…” am I going to recognize these ladies in a crowd of 500 other folks waiting for their runner?
When I handed off the bib to DFHC the day before the race, we agreed that we would meet well before the relay exchange, just to make it easier. Also, she was a fan of Dashing Dad (translation: she’s cool like you), so she knew the outfit I always wear during races: Dashing Dad shirt with bright yellow shorts. She would probably spot me before I spotted her.
For DFHF, I was planning on wearing my bright yellow running jacket while I waited for her (it matches my shorts), but CIM thwarted my plans. The shirt for the relay was a bright yellow long sleeve shirt. Now, I never have, and never will wear a race shirt on race day. It’s bad luck. But that doesn’t stop about 25% of the other people from wearing their race shirts. Luckily, Dashing Friend’s Husband would be at the exchange point to spot DFHF.
Race morning, I got to sleep in because I didn’t have to be at my exchange until 9:15 am. By sleeping in, I mean 6:30am to wish the team good luck. The Dashing Wife drove me to the exchange, Dashing Friend and Dashing Husband were there too. She had slipped and fallen at one of the water stops because spilled water had frozen and iced the road. She had said it was really cold, and was bundled up like the little kid in the Christmas Story.
After hearing Dashing Friend’s falling story, I hit the porta-potty, did a bit of running to warm up (it was still below freezing). Then I stood with everybody to cheer on runners. I was trying to spot pace groups to see if I could spot anybody I knew. I knew that I RUN California was shooting for 3:55, and Endorphin Dude was shooting for 4:30.
Next thing I knew, I hear “There she is!” from Dashing Friend’s Husband. I am pretty sure I swore (in front of my kids), and started to strip off my warm up pants and my jacket. DFHF ran up, and I had to get the relay chip off her leg (CIM uses timing chips instead of D-tags or bib-tags). I found out that Velcro and knit gloves don’t mix. After struggling with that for what seemed like an hour (in reality 15 seconds), I got the chip on my leg and took off running my 7 mile leg. Then I turned on my Garmin watch. Not started it, turned it on. Luckily, I had already turned it on when we got to the exchange to let it find satellites, then turned it back off to save the battery. My Garmin has a memory that allows it to find satellites quickly when it is close the same location. It powered up and found satellites in record time (5 seconds), and THEN I started it.
I caught up to the 4:55 pace group within the first quarter mile. I knew catching up to I RUN California was out of the question, but Endorphin Dude was a possibility. Along the route, I spotted a buddy of mine that I didn’t know was running. I had paced him at a race and recognized his gait. He had ran a 50 mile race the day before, and was still gunning for a sub 5 marathon. Yes, you read that correctly, he ran 50 miles the day before a marathon. I ran with him for 30 seconds, he took my picture, and I kept going in search of Endorphin Dude.
I was wearing three layers that day. A cheap compression shirt, a long sleeve tech shirt, and my Dashing Dad shirt, plus I wore my hat, a neck gator, and gloves. I pulled my sleeves up for about 3 miles, then a breeze picked up, and the sleeves came back down. The gloves never came off, it was cold. I also walked through, or avoided all together, the water stops. Luckily, the sun had kept the water unfrozen.
I never caught up to Endorphin Dude in that 7 miles. I did spot DFHC well before the relay exchange, and it had finally gotten above freezing. I spotted her because she was waving me down. After the exchange, I walked to get my medal, and then to find the Dashing Family. She had parked a half mile away and was walking toward me because the line to get to the exchange was outrageous. I walked back with them to the car, and we went to the finish line.
The Dashing Son had to go to a birthday party, which by happenstance was only 4 blocks away from the finish line. I changed in the mini-van, and ran over to the finish line with the rest of the team and Dashing Friend’s Husband to cheer on DFHC and the rest of the runners.
We were standing at mile 25.9 and it wasn’t long until we saw Endorphin Dude. He had fallen behind the 4:30 pace group and was on pace to finish 4:35, which would be a PR for him by more than 15 minutes. As he ran past I gave him a hearty slap on the back and told him to keep going.
He told us later that his calf had cramped up at mile 23 and he spent 8 minutes massaging it out. Apparently my slap on the back caused his calf to cramp up again and he nearly fell over.
Right after that we got a text from DFHC saying that she had finished. We had missed her. Oops. We walked over to the finish line, found DFHC, and chatted and took some pictures. We also found Endorphin Dude, and because he is Endorphin Dude, he insisted on getting his picture taken with all of us.
I went back to the birthday party, which was finishing up. We then met the relay team for lunch and we had a nice conversation about all the fun things we saw along the course, including DFHC watching Endorphin Dude getting his calf massaged by a lady police officer.
CIM is a great marathon and it brings in a ton of money into the community, and I will try to run at least a relay leg every year. Of course, it sometimes falls on the same weekend as Honolulu Marathon, and I may have to run that one year.