Friday, December 7, 2007

The race was Sunday, November 11, 2007. I had signed up for this race about a year ago, wanting one of the really cool finisher’s medallions designed by a local artist. I had no idea how big the race was until Friday when my husband and I were at dinner and our waiter remarked that he’d read in the paper there were about 5,000 participating. I think my eyes just about popped outta my head. I’ve never participated in an event that big, so it just made things a bit more exciting for me. (I believe the 5,000 consisted of the Fun Run, 10k, and HM.)

We had left Thursday after work and drove about half way to Monterey and arrived there mid-afternoon on Friday (a straight-thru drive takes about 7-8 hours). After finding our hotel, we took off on foot to find the Expo Center, also the starting line, then headed back to our hotel and drove the 15 minutes to Carmel for a walk around town and dinner that night. Really great, intimate little place called Casanova. The building has a wonderful history - - and the menu and wine list carry a hefty price tag. Let’s just say it’s the first wine list I’ve ever seen make my husband sweat! It’s the kind of meal you do once in a decade to give your pocketbook time to recover. But then again, it was Carmel and nothin’s cheap in Carmel.

We spent a good part of Saturday at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and walking around Monterey, and then spent the rest of the day/evening at the hotel relaxing. I’d started coming down with a cold earlier in the week, and by Saturday it’d become a full blown chest congestion/infection and I was feeling pretty crappy. The weather started turning on Saturday, as well, and a look at the weather report indicated showers for Sunday. Great! Oh well. I’d be sweaty anyway, and like my daddy always said, “Ain’t no soap in the rain.”

Sunday morning I was awake well before my 5:00 alarm and basically laid in bed for an hour listening to my husband snore. When finally I couldn’t take it anymore, I got up and started getting ready with a face wash to wake me up, a couple of Luna bars, and a cup of coffee to get things moving. A long look out the window confirmed that it more than likely wouldn’t rain, but it would probably be breezy and cold, so I decided on a long sleeve tech shirt (which would later be a mistake). I almost always wear long pants (unless it’s summer) ‘cause I don’t want to scare people or lead the pack in the wrong direction with my blindingly white legs.

I had been debating for the better part of a week whether or not to use my Camelback waist pack for hydration as opposed to relying on the Gatorade at the aid stations. Basically, I didn’t want to look like an idiot with it. However, I knew what worked for me, how often I needed to drink, etc., and whether or not it looked stupid, I was going to use it.

Hub and I took off about 6:20 to head the 6 blocks to the starting line. It was easy to find - follow all the people dressed in running clothes. After finding my corral and standing around for a few minutes, Hub took a picture, kissed me goodbye, I took off for a warmup, then . . . . waited. Unfortunately, I chose to wait right over a sewer grate, and every so often a not-so-pleasant odor would waft it’s way through the air. A small group of people commented on the smell when they finally figured out where it was coming from, and I jokingly asked the guy, “You thought it was me, didn’t you?”

In that position, we were at a slightly higher level than the three corrals in front of us, so we could see the expanse of people in front us. It was pretty cool. At some point, it drifted back through the crowd that someone was singing the National Anthem, not that we could hear anything. When the crowd roared, we knew he/she was done. There were a few inaudible instructions (think adults talking in the Peanuts cartoons), the gun went off . . . and we stood there. It took me 3:17 from the time the gun went off until I crossed the mat. I know that in bigger races (i.e. Boston Marathon, etc.) this is nuthin’, but it was new to me.

The bolters were speeding off and the crowd slowly began to spread out. A couple of blocks into it, I heard my name being called, and looked over in time to see Hub on the sidewalk taking pictures. We passed a McDonald’s, which evoked a few comments, and began winding our way through various sections of Monterey before heading off to run along the ocean bluff. Before the bluff was a tunnel we had to pass through and everyone yelling as they went through . . . then you could hear the sounds of a bag piper on the other end. What a neat surprise! He was one of 4 or 5 different “bands” that were set up along the course to provide entertainment. One band was set up on a corner turn . . . next to a small hotel that had put out a sign reading, “Shhhh - people are sleeping.” Guess someone didn’t get the message!

Upon reaching the first aid station, I was happy I’d dealt with my own hydration as it was pretty much a congested affair. There were plenty of tables out with lots of water/ Gatorade, but it seemed like almost everyone stopped at the first couple of tables, creating clog. I smiled to myself, took a swig off my GU2O, and passed on through as quickly as possible. It was shortly after the first aid station and about 4 miles into the run that we started seeing the Corral A runners coming back. If you’re interested in the race results, you can see them here: The winner was a 22-year old young man who finished in 1:04 - a blistering 4:53 pace. Unfathomable to this here 41-year old fairly new runner.

At the turn around point, I started getting hot and was regretting my long sleeves. Nothin’ to do about it now except push the sleeves up and pick up the pace. At the next aid station, I doused my head with water, but forgot to take out my one earphone I was using with my iPOD. I think it’s a gonner. I was having a hard time breathing due to the chest congestion, but kept it at a manageable, albeit uncomfortable level, with my inhaler - and I was getting some pretty good practice in hawking loogies! I also started getting a hot spot on my left big toe, but these days I’m a Blister Queen and, knowing there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it now, just kept going.

There’s a Marine Corps Station in Monterey, and young men and women were positioned all along the route as traffic patrol/control and time callers. At about Mile 10, the young man called out the time, and I pretty much knew there was no way I’d make my self-imposed time limit of 2:20 or under. I felt like I had a 10 pound weight on my chest, and not being able to get a good supply of air in was a hindrance (at least that’s my excuse!).

When I finally was able to see the finish line, I pushed it as hard as I could, finishing in 2:22:34. Hub was at the finish line snapping pictures like crazy, and since this was the first race he’d ever seen me run, was sort of emotional over the whole thing. It was pretty neat. I felt sorry for the young lady who was trying to remove my timing chip ‘cause my leg was shaking so much! We were then herded through the food lines, which went relatively fast considering the number of people and on to find our finishers shirts (Marines were walking around with armfuls handing them out).

I got my finisher’s medallion (which is very cool) and shirt, and I now have my first HM under my belt. I’ve done a few trail runs for longer distances, but they are two different animals, at least to me. I have to say, I prefer trail running, but this race was so much fun, I’d definitely like to participate in it again.

1 comment:

mum2girls said...

Hi! This is mum2girls from RA - AKA Jeanne in Ohio, planning to run the Big Sur marathon in April.

I enjoyed reading your RR, especially the pre-race activity report. It sounds nice, but that's one restaurant we probably *won't* be visiting, as there will be 4 of us out there. :) We're planning on seeing the Aquarium, tho. Our hotel is in Carmel near the finish line, where DH and DD's will be waiting for me.

Thanks for suggesting I check your blog. I have one here too, although I'm still figuring it all out...