Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spectator’s Recap: California International Marathon {12.04.11}

I already shared my decision about CIM to DNS because of The Right Leg Rebellion Against Running.

“And on race day, instead of running the race, I did the next best thing.  I spectated with all my heart and love for running.  I held my spectating sign proudly, cheered loudly for everyone, rang my cowbell fiercely … and I watched the emotions of pain, joy, love, defeat, and amazement on the faces of the husband, our friends, and all the other marathoners as they ran the race I love.” 

Going out and spectating the race was so much fun!  I was so happy to be out there cheering everyone on and to see the husband and our friends {and Maureen from Buttoning my Jeans} several times on the course, and on the final stretch to the finish line. 

My morning started much like a race morning --- with an early wake up call.  The husband got up at 3am and he woke me up at 3:30.  I made a big pot of coffee and went over all his gear and fuel with him to make sure he didn’t forget anything.  He got his post race clothes/water/food ready and left a big bag for me to bring him after the race.  His dad arrived around 4am to drive him to downtown Sac to catch the bus to the start.  He was meeting up with a friend of ours, Leo, whom I use to work with at my last job to ride the bus together.  After CIM last year I convinced Leo to run the race this year.  He’s been running all year and training hard.  He suffered some ITBS a few weeks ago and that put a halt to his training.  As race day approached we were texting and I suggested that he should run the race with the husband and our running buddies.  He was concerned about not being able to finish so I reminded him that I ran last year with shin splints & ITBS and I finished and he said “you just gave me hope” and that he would run with the husband & crew and do the run/walk.  His goal was to finish and I knew he could do it.  One more big disappointment for me was not being to run the race with him like we had planned --- but we’ve got big plans for next year already!

I had also been emailing with Maureen.  All along I had been looking forward to meeting her at CIM but as the race approached and I knew I would be sitting it out we emailed back and forth and I told her I would be spectating and to look for the husband at the start and me along the course.  She said she would keep an eye out for my crew and that the husband’s “distinguishable facial hair” would give him away!  Amazingly she saw him right around the first relay exchange point and I had already texted him to tell him I was just past that location so she stuck with my crew until then so I was able to “meet” her and wish her luck with a BIG {{{hug}}}.  And then since I knew she would be just ahead of my crew and I knew to watch for her the rest of the race! 

I’m getting ahead of myself though.  Back to before the race.  I made my spectating sign the day before.  I love the way it turned out.  I picked out the tie dyed poster board for my hippy of a husband and because it would be easy to spot along the course.  I used stencils because there is no way I could have written big enough for the words to be able to be read. 

IMG_1053Seriously.  Its said that less than 1% of Americans run a marathon.  That’s because “if it was easy, everyone would do it”. 

I loaded up my car and picked up my SIL at 6:45 and we headed to pick up my FIL.  We hit the road to our first spectating location.  Originally I thought it would be fun to be at all the relay exchange points but when we arrived at the first one it was a mad house!  Duh, I should have realized it would be with runners being dropped off and picked up and spectators galore.  Thankfully my FIL had brought a county map book with him and my SIL was able to find some side streets in the neighborhood around the relay exchange and navigated me to a much better location just down the road.  That map book was super duper handy the rest of the day! 

We were at the location for about half an hour before we started to see the crew heading towards us.  I was so excited to see everyone!

IMG_7077IMG_7077 edit 1 Our other running buddy, Rene, was trailing just a little bit so she’s not in this photo.

I gave everyone {except the husband, oops} BIG {{{hugs}}}, asked they how they were doing and told them all they were looking great.  Everyone seemed happy to see me and I told them to look for me again in a few miles.  I was pretty emotional when I got back to my car.  I dreamed about this day, running this race again with the husband and our friends, for so long.  But I quickly wiped away my tears and off we went for the hunt for the next best spectating location.  I knew I wanted to be either right before the big hill at Sunrise or on the big hill or right after it which meant we had about 45min to an hour before the crew would reach that location so we stopped at Panera Bread for some coffee and breakfast. 

After our pit stop the SIL busted out the map book and found us the very best location for our next spectating spot.  We were right on the big hill.  I talked about this hill all summer long when we were running hills every weekend and  I warned our friends about this hill when we were training with them.  I loathed this hill last year.  Loathed it.  With a passion.  So I was happy to be spectating here to give encouragement to the racers and to my crew when they arrived.  At this spot my SIL busted out her spectating sign also and everyone loved it.  We timed our arrival just right and got to see a lot of the same racers again that we saw at our first location {this happened the rest of the day and was awesome!}. 

IMG_7095The SIL made this sign specifically for her brother, the husband. 
BUT everyone loved it. 
Later in the day, and at the finish, racers that we saw several times asked where their beer was!  LOL.  

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First we saw Maureen {I didn’t get a picture of her here} and I ran with her for a little bit up the hill giving words of encouragement.  Up next we saw Kat & Leo who were a little ahead of the husband & Rene.  I knew we were around mile 11 and that the group pace had dropped.  They had stopped to use the port-o-potties {one of many stops} and Rene was struggling.  Everyone seemed in good spirits though and Kat reminded me to make sure I gave the husband a {{{hug}}} this time since I didn’t the first time we saw them! 

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I told everyone this hill was their “bertha” {the big hill we would run on our training runs} and that the big hills were almost over.  {After the halfway point of the race its smaller rolling hills till mile 20-21’ish then its flat to the finish}.  I made sure to tell everyone to look for us after the next relay exchange {around mile 14}.

We knew the halfway point / next relay exchange was going to be super crowded so the SIL found us a prime location just down the street.  We set up shop with our signs and cowbell and enjoyed telling everyone that they were more than halfway done! 

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The sun was out and the temps were starting to rise.  We saw a lot of the same racers and waited for our crew.  We saw Maureen first again.  She was smiling big and looking good. 

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Shortly after we saw our crew.  Everyone was looking good but I could tell some of them were struggling.  They stopped for a minute to stretch and to let Rene catch up.  I know how physically and mentally demanding running a marathon could be so I was as encouraging as I could be. 

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I didn’t know if we would be on the course again or at the finish so I just told everyone to stay strong.  We did end up finding one more place to stop, right at a water station around mile 18 right at the bottom of a big downhill.  I didn’t bring my camera out with me at this stop.  We saw Maureen again.  Then Leo, solo.  Then the rest of the crew.  The husband said Leo was really struggling and decided to go ahead and run his own race.  He was so focused he didn’t even see us on the side of the road!  The crew was struggling and I wished I could jump in and run with them to encourage them to the finish.  After this stop we headed into Downtown Sacramento to find a parking spot at the finish.  We got there when the 4:30 finishers were approaching the finish line.  We found a spot to spectate at the corner of 8th & L which is just right around the corner from the finish. 

As the 5:00 finishers approached I was watching for Maureen but I must have missed her {sorry, I probably was too busy texting and missed you}.  I was texting with the husband and he said the crew was struggling big time.  Their pace had slowed drastically after I saw them around mile 18.  Rene was cramping badly and Kat was having some stomach issues.  The husband stuck with them encouraging them as much as possible.  At mile 22 they convinced him to go ahead and finish his race.  They were determined to finish but they didn’t want to hold him back.  With just over 4 miles to go he knew they wouldn’t quit no matter what so he went ahead and finished in 5:27:13. 

Shortly before we saw him on the final stretch to the finish our running coaches from The Running Zone met up with us to watch the finishers.  I was humbled to be there watching everyone push to the final stretch.  I remembered the emotions I felt those last few miles, blocks, steps, and down the finisher chute. 

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The husband sped by us in his speedy fashion and then made his way back over to where I was to what for everyone else.  We saw some other friends finish and then Leo was there looking strong with a kick to the finish.  The husband ran with him for the last block and then Leo sped off to finish in 5:46:35. 

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We waited for Kat & Rene and when the 6:00 finishers were going past us we started to walk up the street to look for them.  The husband started to get worried and jogged back in their direction to find them.  10+ blocks later he caught up with them and ran with them towards the finish.  They had been struggling but remained determined to finish --- not letting the bike cop make them get up on the sidewalk {the course has a 6 hour limit and the road was slowly re-opening behind our friend}.  And finish they did in 6:27:17 {Rene} / 6:27:18 {Kat} … crossing the finish line holding hands!

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2011 CIM Finishers!!!
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Let me tell you that I had an amazing time spectating this race.  No matter how disappointed I was that I wasn’t running the race I was so happy I got to see everyone and give them words of encouragement.  In the future, if I’m not running this race I hope to be spectating it again.  Though, I do hope for CIM redemption next December. 

5 comments:

Maureen said...

That big hill was the perfect spot! I would have walked the hill but when I saw you, you encouraged me to run it and I felt so empowered! I loved that you jumped right out and ran with me a little bit. I was also starting to feel pretty beat up around that mile 18. I think I told you I was feeling pretty tired ;). There were soooo many people at the finish, I couldn't see one face from the next so I missed you guys as well. It's nice to know that you were there anyway!

I'm glad you had such a positive day even after having to over come a very difficult decision.

I am about 60% on running it next year. I looooved the course and Dave was inspired as well. I think he might run it next year. Perhaps we'll see you then for your redemption!! :)

Bre said...

OK - so no wonder we saw you everywhere - My son finished in 5:27:32! I also remember your SIL's sign - I showed this post to my son and he remembers you both as well! I have been following your blog for about 6 months now and I really enjoy your stories! I'm sure we will meet sometime since I live close to you and we seem to attend a lot of the same running events. I'm also a WW and have maintained my weight loss for 2 years now (this month!)

Bre said...

Forgot to add - you might have seen me - I was running in a dark purple tutu!!

ajh said...

It looks like you were a great spectator. And is that true about the wooden spoon? And if it is I want to know why it works!

P said...

I can't figure out how I missed you!!!! I saw your SIL's sign and totally laughed at it - I must have looked right at you and just not regognized you. I'm such a loser! :(