I made it! 71.74 miles for the month of August. I know there are a few more days left in the month but I will not be able to get in many (if any) miles during that time. Today’s run was to get me over the hump of 70 since I had reached 67.29 after yesterday’s run. 2.71 miles, easy. I ended up doing four and a third.
Today was the first day of class for Sac State. One of my usual run routes takes me along the river berm (American River) next to Sac State. I also tend to cross the Guy West Bridge (a walking/bike bridge) that connects the school to Campus Commons (a mixture of condos and businesses such as medical offices and law offices). I weaved my way around the students coming and going and ran back towards my house headed to the H street bridge.
Today I saw 5 deer. First there were 2 young doe grazing together near Guy West. Then about 500 yards further down the berm, I spotted a mother deer and her 2 young fawns also grazing. The fawns still had their white spots on their flanks. As I ran, I was thinking about how female deer are called does and male deer are bucks. Naturally I then started singing “Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray, a drop of golden sun…” And the rest of my run was spent singing this song. Talk about an ear worm! It’s amazing what your memory can dredge up. The last time I saw that movie was many many years ago. No pictures this time as I didn’t have my phone.
I’m fairly proud that I was able to hit 70+ miles with only 12 total runs in August (my fewest per month to date). Here’s hoping I can keep up the 70 without major injuries (*knocks on wood*).
Today’s run featured a lot of really cool wildlife. I did an extended stretch on a more deserted part of the river trail today. I am not always 100% comfortable running there because of the lack of people that traverse the area. It’s more remote (as evidenced below).
Empty river trail
The nice thing though is that it is more peaceful and there’s more things to look at. Today I passed by 2 Cooper’s hawks that were perched on a fence and flew off when I ran by. And then I came face to face with a buck deer. I have seen them here and there along the river trail, but usually from a distance. This one stopped about 20 feet from me. Since it was heading towards me, I was a little scared it might try to run right over me. I could hear someone coming in the opposite direction (behind the deer) and realized that’s why the buck was heading towards me.
All of a sudden the guy took off running right by me. I managed to get some shots though they aren’t very clear. Nevertheless I don’t know when/if I’ll ever be this close again to a deer. The crazy thing is this all happens within the confines of the city limits.
I made it out for 8 miles. I’ve been doing some research into the various training methods for a marathon. The previous 3 I did, I didn’t have set training plans and had issues with bonking. So I’ve been checking out the Galloway Run-Walk method as well as the FIRST method. Given my previous history with injuries and bonking, the Run-Walk method may be right up my alley. I have been so ingrained (for some reason in my mind I told myself that when I run, I want to only run and not walk) with how I’ve been running the last 6 years that I need to re-wire my thoughts on running. I know that the run-walk method can actually result in faster race times than traditional running. I did a few walking sections on today’s run and will have to see about incorporating more in the future to see if it can help me extend my long runs.
Before I get to the changes as in the title, I wanted to briefly discuss today’s run. Because of the extra work days I have this month, my total number of days I can run has been shortened by a bit. My goal today was to hit double digits (at least 10 miles) for the first time in a looooong time. The last time I came close is when I did 9 with KP before she left. I did 5 miles yesterday and wasn’t sure how today’s run would go.
The easiest way to get to double digits without doing multiple laps through my neighborhood was to hop onto the American River Trail and bang out the miles. I figured I’d run along the trail to where my old apartment is located (~4-4.5 miles from my current home). Since I knew I was doing a long run I brought my phone with me and snapped some shots. I brought with me a Honey Stinger Honey Waffle that I had picked up at Sports Authority before they closed. I’ve always used various gels (GUs, etc) on my long runs and thought I’d see how my body did with something you actually chew/eat. I made my way east along the river until I hit the Watt Ave bridge, crossed to the south side and then ran around my apartment. About halfway through the run I stopped to try the Waffle. It had already broken into smaller pieces but was still not too bad. I specifically stopped at Watt Ave bridge because there are 2 actual toilets and a water fountain in this location (this is also where there’s a boat ramp, today there were some geese present)
I elected not to carry water on this run and that was a big mistake. I had a few sips of water at Watt Ave and then again at the small park/boat ramp at Howe Ave as well. But by the time I reached mile 8, I was parched and just tired. I could also see that my heart rate was running higher than normal for my speed (It was hovering around 160 and I was not going fast. Normally 160 would be me pushing it and running fast). I figured I’d post a picture of what the paved bike trail looks like.
I finished at 10.6 miles today at a very slow pace (finished in just over 2 hours). Normally at leisurely pace I should still be able to get to 10 miles by 1:45 or so. My body was not ready to do this distance and I even walked about 3-5 times, which is very abnormal for me. I have been contemplating implementing a run-walk method for my next marathon training plan.
Speaking of marathons, I have made some changes to my upcoming full marathon for 2017. Originally I had signed up for the Surf City Marathon (in Huntington Beach on February 5, 2017). I had applied to be an ambassador but didn’t get it – c’est la vie. Now early this year when I started thinking about a marathon for 2017, I had a few in mind. I thought about the Carlsbad Marathon (you get a run jacket as part of the swag) as well as Surf City since it is near my hometown. But the one I really wanted to tackle was Big Sur. Because of the popularity of this race, they went to a lottery system to gain entry. Even though I was signed up for a full marathon already for 2017, I decided to toss my name into the lottery system for 2017 since it didn’t cost anything. At first I thought maybe if I was accepted I would tackle 2 full marathons a few months apart (Big Sur is April 30, 2017).
Last week I received an email that I had been chosen in the lottery for First Timers & Bucket Listers. This would be my first Big Sur Marathon and also on my bucket list of races. I thought about it for like 2 seconds and registered for the April 30th race. With my history of injuries (and prolonged recoveries from full marathons), I decided that I should transfer my registration for Surf City from the full marathon distance to the half marathon distance. This was easily done through the registration web site (https://www.imathlete.com/).
I am excited about Big Sur. A little apprehensive given the amount of elevation change. Even though Sacramento is very flat, on today’s run I realized there are some rolling hills and various areas that have a bit of steeper hills that I can train on for next year’s marathon. There are also places I can drive to (within an hour) that would allow me to do both trail running and hill training. My other apprehension is the time limit (strict 6 hours) but I should hopefully be okay as long as I train properly and don’t get injured (*knocks on wood*).
Made it out for 7 miles today. I decided to go a different way on the bike trail. Ran near Cal Expo (the big expo in Sacramento that holds the annual state fair). There is a lot of dry grass and such behind cal expo between the fairgrounds and the river. A lot of fires break out in this area, some suspect due to transients. On today’s run I went towards this area and saw the aftermath of one of the recent fires. On my way back I headed towards Sac State. Near the big pedestrian/bike bridge (Guy West Bridge) next to the school I saw a cool sight. There were two young adult deer just grazing in the grass between the river and the berm. I ran about 20 feet from them on the bike trail and they didn’t even spook. One of them looked up at me warily as I ran past but the other one just kept right on munching on the dry grass. Given that there is a lot of foot/bike traffic in this area, these guys must be so used to people that they know nothing bad is going to happen.
Sometimes I wish that I still ran with my phone since I could catch pictures of these interesting things I see. I definitely enjoy not running with a running belt, but I know that I should carry my phone on my runs more often.
For lunch I didn’t have much around the kitchen so decided to make a quick bread. I combined some AP flour with greek yogurt, garlic powder, salt, baking powder, chopped jalapenos from our raised vegetable bed, and water. I let it sit for 20 minutes then baked it at 425 F after rolling it out flat. I bake it for around 30 minutes.
I also sliced up some zucchini and coated it with olive oil and mixed in some chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and bread crumbs. This I also baked at 425 F. I then heated up some pastrami with mozzarella and topped the bread with it.
The California International Marathon is my hometown marathon race. At the time I ran this race, the CIM was the only full road marathon in the Sacramento region. Since I did this race in 2013 another full marathon started last year (Pony Express Marathon). Perennially the CIM is ranked as one of the fastest marathons in the west and a great Boston Qualifier race. I decided to run this race with KP as my 2nd full marathon. After my 2011 race where I finished 3 minutes over 5 hours, I wanted to give it another shot and see if I could break the 5 hour mark. Given my half marathon times fell between 1:55 and 2:15 regularly, I figured that breaking the 5 hour mark should definitely be doable for me. The other big selling point that most magazines and web sites tout for this race is that it is a net downhill race. When you look at the elevation profile for the course it is true, though not many mention the rolling hills that you experience through various parts of the course. The other neat thing I like about the race is that you actually run through 6 different cities from start to finish (Folsom -> Orangevale -> Citrus Heights -> Fair Oaks -> Carmichael -> Sacramento).
The Expo for this race is held at the Sacramento Convention Center, located in downtown Sacramento. Unlike the majority of other races (the various half marathons and 5Ks) where packet pickup is at Fleet Feet and is a relatively small affair, the CIM Expo is a true race expo with a lot of various vendors and other races set up in a large open space. One of the strangest and coolest things about the Expo was the booth from one of the sponsors, Erdinger Weissbrau. You might think it strange that a German beer company is a big sponsor of a marathon and I thought the same. Erdinger actually has branched into the endurance drink market with their Erdinger Alkoholfrei (alcohol-free). While they always say don’t try anything new the day before a big race, I had to try this. It tasted somewhat like beer but without the alcohol. I don’t know that it is something I’d drink regularly but it is nice that its something that is like beer but doesn’t have the alcohol to dehydrate you.
The night before the race, my alma mater Michigan State played in the Big Ten Championship game in football. I had every intention of heading to bed early to try and get some hours of sleep before the race. I knew that I’d be getting up super early to prep for the early start (7 am start time, though it’d take us at least an hour to get to the start). It was a very close game that wasn’t decided until the late fourth quarter, which also meant that I ended up staying up later than I anticipated. My pre-race meal, as per usual, was pizza. As per usual before a big race, I didn’t sleep restfully and was up by something like 2:20 am. I had some GI disturbances that made me question whether or not I’d even be able to do the race. I worked out some issues in the restroom and before I knew it, KP was at the door. My lovely wife graciously offered to drive us to the starting area (as opposed to going downtown and hopping on a bus to the start line).
The course is a point to point starting in Folsom (right near the Folsom Lake). Folsom is known for its prison and Johnny Cash. I guess Johnny Cash did some concerts there for the inmates. There is actually a half marathon called the Folsom Blues Half in honor of the Man In Black. The drop off point for the race still required that we hop on a bus for a short (5 minutes) ride to the starting area. At the drop off point – in front of a strip mall – I had to relieve myself so ran into the McDonald’s. I wasn’t the only one to think of this as there were already 3-4 guys ahead of me in line. After finishing and meeting back up with KP, we boarded the bus. From there we had to walk another 1/4 mile or so to the start. Along this walk, there was a table set up in front of an apartment complex that had various gels and other items with a sign that they were free. I thought it was nice that this individual had set up a table to provide some goodies for runners. I grabbed a Gu to go with the ones I already carried (for this race I was using Tri-Berry Gu).
Race day proved to be a cold one. Most people don’t think of the cold weather we experience here in Sacramento. Yes, we are known for heat and hot summers but our winters can get cold as well. Race morning started at 25 F, which is probably the coldest I’ve felt since living here (having lived in the midwest for 8 years, this wasn’t too terribly cold though it had been years since I lived in such cold). I thought that it would warm up over the course of the race, but the temperature when I finished at noon was hovering around 32 F. I had an old long sleeve t-shirt that I planned on wearing over my technical t-shirt. I figured that once I was warm, I’d ditch it on the road. The race said all collected clothes from the course would be donated to a shelter so at least that was something. I also had some wind-breaker pants that I had over my shorts and planned on taking off before the race started so I could put the pants in my gear check.
Since we arrived at the start about an hour before the race start and it was below freezing, KP and I were looking for ways to stay warm. I actually had joined the SRA (Sacramento Running Association) that year and had access to their warmed tent and bathrooms but I felt bad because KP wasn’t and I’d have to leave her in the cold (literally). Some people had elected to camp out in a nearby gas station convenience store. We walked in and stayed for awhile but it was getting pretty crowded and I’m sure the store manager wasn’t too happy about it. We then moved over to a strip mall and there was another convenience store that we stayed in for a short while. Finally it was getting close to start so we used the porta-potties. I liked the porta-potty setup because there were banks of them but spread in various side streets so not everyone was crowded in one area trying to use the restroom. This also allowed for more numerous shorter lines rather than a few very long lines (I think this is much more efficient). We dropped our stuff (gear check) off with the big trucks and lined up with the group ~4:45 marathon pace. 7 am (start time) came and went and nothing happened, but then all of a sudden we were off! Since this was a larger race (though still not super large at like 4-6,000 marathoners plus relay racers, there is no half-marathon component to this race), the beginning was a bit congested. This actually worked for me since I didn’t want to start too fast as I tend to do with shorter races.
The beginning miles start in a somewhat rural residential area. What I mean by that is that most properties have a fair amount of land. The house is usually set back from the street and many people had some livestock in the yard (horses, chickens, goats). As we came up to the first few water stations, we noted that there may be a bit of an issue with the temperatures and the water stations.
I noticed that people were slowing down considerably leading up to the water station. Normally I expect people to move to the side of the street as they slow down but everyone seemed to be doing it. As we came closer, we could see why. The runners that already went through often drank the water/sport drink and then tossed the rest (many times in the street). The cold weather actually froze this water on the ground creating large patches of slick ice. I actually watched two people who had slowed to a walk actually fall on their butts! From here on out I told KP that we should probably walk through the water stations. She agreed. I definitely had a few episodes where I almost ate it.
We then traversed through Citrus Heights and more standard homes and then into the city of Fair Oaks. Two of my (at the time) co-workers lived in the area along the route and I did actually get to see them and say Hi! One of them snapped a picture as we ran by.
I was still feeling pretty good at that time but it was only around mile 9-10. I still hadn’t warmed up and wasn’t sure if I actually would. As we wound through Fair Oaks, there were a few sections of up and down hills that definitely slowed me down. I did stop here to use a porta-potty really quick (maybe 30-45 seconds). I was overall still feeling good as we came to the halfway point. By then we were mostly running through a more urban area (strip malls and bigger grocery stores and other businesses lining the street). There were definitely some good crowds. It was also here that I decided that even though the temperatures were still cold, I was going to ditch my long sleeve t-shirt. I tossed it somewhere in Carmichael and continued along. KP and I luckily have similar paces so ran together, sometimes in silence, sometimes chatting about things. I definitely appreciate having someone who runs a similar pace and it’s nice to just have someone to share the experience with.
As we made it more towards where I live and the 18-20 mile area, I definitely started to feel the fatigue. I had not actually done a 20-miler in anticipation of this race and only made it to 18 miles on my longest run. My training had also been in much warmer weather (unusually hot weather in Sept-Nov leading up to the race). I told KP that I didn’t know if I could keep running and may need to take a walk break. She urged me to dig down and just keep at it. I managed to continue at least at a jog and we passed through “The Wall” at mile 20. There’s a real estate office at this spot and kudos to them for being festive. They had an inflatable “wall” that you could run through along with a lot of people out just partying in the area. That gave me a little bit of a push as we continued to wind closer to downtown and the finish.
Around mile 21 and crossing the H street bridge (metal bridge with some incline), I couldn’t maintain my jog/run. I slowed down. KP initially saw this and turned around to get me. We continued on at a very slow pace for awhile but I urged her to keep going since she was still feeling good.
The last time I saw her before re-uniting was around mile 22-23 in East Sacramento. East Sacramento is nice because it is tree-lined with beautiful houses. I drive through a lot to get to downtown so was familiar with the area, but it definitely has a different vibe when you’re running through its streets. As I entered the eastern side of downtown (midtown), I started to cramp. I had been walking since around mile 22. My quads started to seize up and became rock hard. I tried to massage them a bit and after a few minutes they’d start to ease a little. Then I’d try running but could only go for about 20-40 seconds before they’d seize up again. With the taller buildings, there was also no sun and it was getting really chilly (especially since I was walking).
As I made my way through midtown and the businesses, I could see people at restaurants having brunch and enjoying themselves. Of course I asked myself why I put myself through this. I also figured I was depleted on nutrition so took whatever people were handing out at this point (I had gone through maybe 5 GUs up to this point). One person handed me an orange quarter which I ate. Another person had some twizzlers and I took this as well. I continued mostly walking with a few short spurts of jogging. Eventually I made my way down near the Capitol building. You run down L street along the side of the Capitol and past it, then hook around the come back towards its front. This race was also interesting because there are actually 2 different finisher’s chutes. I hadn’t experienced this before. After making a left on 8th street, the women’s finish turned left again much sooner than the men’s. By this time I managed to get some energy together and was actually running. I crossed the finish line and felt a huge relief. Luckily they had some space blankets and I picked up some water and chocolate milk and sports drink. I found KP, who had finished about 15 minutes before I did and we got our gear check bags so we could put on some warm clothes.
The finish area is at the steps of the Capitol and there were a ton of people (family, friends, finishers) strewn about either stretching or eating. KP and I took a pic and then went to find some food. The food area was actually a ways from the finish line but they had some warm soup and bread (provided by Whole Foods), along with bagels and such. I wasn’t particularly hungry but ate some food and kept the soup.
Christmas tree in front of the Capitol
My wife was again kind enough to come get us but with the road closures we actually ended up walking something like 10-15 blocks before she picked us up. It was probably good though to do that walking after the race.
It was only after I was done for awhile that I checked my official chip time and then realized that I missed the sub-5 hour marathon by 4 seconds. 4 seconds!! That finish has definitely been a strong influence on my continuing to pursue the marathon distance. I know I won’t ever be fast, but I at least would like to do a sub-5 hour marathon at some point.