So I knew I needed a California marathon, and there are bunches, and I found one who timing and location was perfect. It was the Sunday at the start of my spring break and was only a 1 hour drive from my brother’s house. I could come and visit him and his family and knock of a state (even stay a few days and enjoy it). I have never spend so much time at a marathon location, actually. The weather in Michigan was just about to to become spring like with highs in the mid 40’s, but out in CA, the lows were in the mid 40’s and highs in the mid 60’s. Perfect weather for us runners.
It has been a very long time since I ran race that was solely a marathon (no half-marathon associated with it) so all 2300 of us were marathoners. I was talking with some fellow runners and they called this a ’small race’. I told them that of the 41 marathons I have run, this was one of the 5 LARGEST I have run. People in California seem to have a skewed sense of the term ‘large’ :)
The flight out (2 hour layover in Phoenix) was uneventful but LONG. I tried to get some work done and did, although not my grading. I arrived Friday afternoon (for a Sunday marathon), stayed up until 4:30am ‘body time’ talking with my bro about life, work, kids, spouses-to-be, family, etc. It was awesome to just sit and talk with him over a few glasses of wine.
Saturday afternoon we met up with his fiancee to do some winery touring in the Livermore Valley. We hit 4 wineries, which was kindof fun, then headed to a local Applebees for dinner (two guesses and the first one doesn’t count for what I had) and then I took off for my 65 min drive to Napa.
The race which has been going on for 32 years did have a cool goodie bag. It was an actual (what seems like high quality) dufflebag loaded with free samples of mostly food, some of which was really tasty. Having gotten only 5 hours of sleep the night before, I went to bed at about 8pm the night before the race. Wake up at 4:30, shower, tea, sandwich, then to the finish line to ride the bus up to the start. The course was a point-to-point race completely along THE Napa valley. Very scenic, especially if you like grape vines, because they lined about 95% of the course.
I had actually sort of tapered for this race, only running 35 miles last week (I had run 110 the week before, however) so I was shooting for a good solid time. I will admit I was gunning for sub 3, and was on pace for that until about mile 11, then I my lack of sleep started to creep up on me. Being a marathoner of quantity now instead of quality, I was ok with slowing down just a little and enjoying the beautiful scenery and chatting with runners briefly as they passed my by, sometime quite zippy.
The crowd support was actually really good, with lots of people out coming to cheer (really loud in some cases) for us runners. I ran by what seemed like zillions of wineries, and not one was giving out samples. I was a little bummed by that as I thought for sure someone would offer us thirsty runners something to satisfy our parched bodies. Oh well. No wine at the finish either, except for the winners who won their ‘weight in wine’. The rest of us would have to buy our own. When I ran the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY all the racer received a commemorative small bottle of champagne, which tasted awful (but free!) I guess Napa valley wine is just too expensive to waste it on us marathoners, ya know the ones pouring big bucks into the local economy by coming to this race? Ok, I’m done bitching now :)
This was the RRCA Western Regional Marathon championships, so I was actually running with some wicked fast people, as such I was really happy with my overall placing. Handstand across the finish line and I got a pretty cool finishers medal, and the tastiest cup of soup I had ever had. I am usually not a huge fan of vegetable soup, but this stuff was so salty, it was delish. After a little recovery time, I headed back to my hotel for a quick shower before I headed back down to spend the rest of the day with my brother. As I was driving, I realized something bad. Less than 2 hours after the race, the ‘excitement’ of finishing a marathon was gone. When I ran my first marathon back in June of 2006, I was flying high for an entire week. Now I don’t even get 2 hours before that euphoria is gone. Once I realized it, I was actually a little depressed.
I still had a few days in town, which was great getting to spend more time with my bro and his fam. I have been running consistently for 4.5 years now and I have never been bitten by a dog while on a run. Well, the day after this marathon I was helping my brother pull a tree stump in the backyard of his fiancee’s house and her dog (who doesn’t like chainsaws or strangers) came and after a few previous small friendly interactions, actually attacked me, taking a small bite out of my leg, ripping skin and bruising me something fierce. Luckily it was on my quad and I am used to that muscle being sore, so the 9 mile run I did afterward it wasn’t horrible. The wound looks worse than it feels.
This trip was awesome because I got to see my brother and his family, but I missed Misty and my three kids way more than I expected I would. It would be so nice if I could bring them along on my racing trips, I don’t even have the money to fund the trips I take by myself.