The race morning started with my brother dropping me off in front of Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel at around 4:25 AM. I walked 1.5 blocks to Pick-Up Location A1 at the Sacramento Convention Center. While waiting for the buses to arrive, the only person I recognized was Heather (@runs_4reeses_pieces). Around 4:40-4:45 AM, the first buses arrived. As the buses filled, more buses made their way to the location.
The buses arrived at the starting line at Folsom before 6 AM. At 6, I exited the bus to get some snacks and water from the Gold Country Run + Sports tent. Afterwards, I took off my extra layers of clothing and put them into my bag and then handed the bag to the volunteers at the gear check. It was in the high 30s or low 40s, so I entered one of the buses to stay warm.
At 6:30, I exited the bus to look for 9RUN6 & SacRUNmento members for the group photo that was taking place at 6:40. After looking at both side streets surrounding the gas station, I was not able to find the group because they were just behind the gear check. I was not able to access the map for the exact location since I left my phone along with my Halo Headband in my gear check bag. I found David (@fitfam6) while I was lining up to use the Porta-potty before the race started.
There were two lanes at the starting line. I decided to go either the 4:38 or 4:50 pace group. Since the right lane was completely packed, I decided to line up on the left lane horizontally across from the 4:38 pacer. As the race started the left lane crossed the starting line much sooner than the right lane did. I was left pacer-less since I did not wait for the pacer to catch up to me and ended up running at my own pace. I was a bit nervous because I did not want to go out too fast like the 4:30 group at Run the Parkway which caused me to slow down near the last few miles due to the buildup of too much lactic acid.
The first 8 or 9 miles went well and then my stomach started acting up a little bit. At mile 13, I had a thought to myself… This is really happening and I’m actually running the marathon. It felt very unreal and exciting.
I started to slow down at around mile 15. I’m not sure if it was from running the first half of the marathon too quick or not taking in enough calories. By mile 17, the 4:38 pace group caught up to me and then passed me. When I could no longer run continuously, I power walked up the hills and ran the downhills after mile 17.
Around Arden or Howe Ave, I found Brad and Chris (@McRunnerChris) from 9RUN6 and they ended up passing me. By mile 18-19, I met up with another David (@david_thesell) from 9RUN6 volunteering at an aid station. He said Brad and Chris were about 3 minutes ahead of me. I also saw Courtney (@chiggins326) from 9RUN6 and Sloppy Moose Running Club cheering. She went from aid station to aid station on her bike.
About a mile or two later, I caught up with Chris… He seemed to have slowed down a lot. I kept running/walking and caught up with Brad at mile 21-22, right before J Street. There were no hills left for me to coast down anymore and I ended up power walking the next few miles. My legs felt so heavy lines of they were made of stone. Around the same time, I ran out of water in my two handheld bottles and started to get a little dehydrated. I stopped at the next several aid station to take in multiple cups of water.
At around mile 24-25, I met up with Anthony (@ajz4life) and Stan (@sjzeto) from Fleet Feet Sacramento Fun Run group and Sloppy Moose Running Club. Around the same area, I saw many members of the NorCal Runagades and Sloppy Moose Running Club cheering their hearts out at Club Raven. I got my antlers up as I ran past them!
At around 13th-14th Street, I saw Chany H. from Sloppy Moose Running Club and Strava cheering me on as she had already finished running her marathon. One of the spectators on the same block said “just around the corner”, so I sprinted but the route kept going straight for several more blocks and I ran out of energy and started walking again.
When I finally got to the corner, I saw the finish lines for the women and the men runners. I sprinted the last 200 meters to the finish line and finished 4:53.
I got my space blanket and refreshments, then posed for a finisher photo. I got my bag from the gear check and took out my sweatshirt, then headed to the Archives Plaza light rail station for home.
It has been over 3 weeks since the race and I have processed through all the thoughts and experiences that occurred during the marathon…
Last year, I set this goal to run the California International Marathon after only ran two 5Ks (FroYo Run and the Urban Cow 5K). At the time, it seemed crazy, but as I kept training each day, the goal became more and more achievable.
California International Marathon 2016 is just my first of many marathons I’ll be running. This was a learning experience and I’ll know what to expect when I run my next marathon.
As for marathon training, even though it was a HUGE time commitment… I met a lot of people sharing similar goals from Fleet Feet Sacramento, 9RUN6, Sloppy Moose Running Club, online communities, and from my running routes. The friendships created and the experience gained are priceless and I will be doing it again! I already registered for the Pony Express Marathon and California International Marathon next year!