The Sacramento Running Association, who host the big California International Marathon (CIM), decided to put on a new event this year. They timed this race so that it was about 4 weeks from the CIM. They called it a “training race” because they had a 20-miler, in addition to a half marathon distance and a 5K. For many marathon plans, a 20 mile training run is recommended anywhere from 3-4 weeks from race day and some plans call for more than one 20-miler. The race also benefits the American River Parkway Foundation. Since I live near the parkway I utilize it on a weekly basis for one or even a few of my runs. I figured that it would be good to give back to this great resource. As I am not training for CIM, I signed up for the half marathon (they had an option to change between the half marathon and 20-mile distance for free at the packet pickup). When I signed up for the race I flirted with the idea of bumping up to the 20-miler but with my lack of proper long distance training I stuck with the half marathon.
Packet pickup was at the usual Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento. I had some errands to do beforehand so couldn’t make it to packet pickup until the mid afternoon. The store was quiet and pickup was quick. I realized this was a very no frills race as I literally was given a bib and a shirt and that’s it. I’m used to at least a few other things to pickup like some other race flyers and such but this was barebones. Being the inaugural race, I wonder also if they just weren’t putting a ton into the race like some other races (the CIM has a huge race expo at the Sacramento convention center). The other slightly odd thing about this race is that it was being held on a Saturday. I’ve done a few Saturday races but not usually half marathon distances. I actually liked this because it would give me Sunday to recuperate before having to go back to work on Monday.
I had my usual pre-race pizza the night before. We got a large combo pizza from a local place called Roma II (we haven’t actually been to the original Roma but have had Roma II a few times). We also got a side order of some meatballs (not pictured).
Then it was an early night for bed (which the wife enjoyed especially because she was feeling a bit under the weather). I slept well and woke up early at 3:40 am. I need some time in the mornings to get my stuff together (breakfast, bano, bano, bano). Surprisingly this was the second straight race that I’ve slept fairly well. Prior to these last 2, I almost always have a restless night of sleep and then get up. I do wonder also if it has to do with the fact these last 2 were “home” races and I slept in my own bed. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that this was half marathon #18 and I’m just getting used to it finally. Either way I’m happy with being able to sleep before a race.
Since the start/finish of the race was at the familiar to me William Pond park and this is also where the start/finish was for the 2 half marathons I’ve done previously (American River Parkway Half Marathon), I was quite familiar with the parking situation. After parking in the neighborhood by the park, I trekked into the park in search of the porta-potties. They weren’t set up as well as I thought but since I arrived about 40 minutes before the start time, the lines were still short for the porta-potties. It is quite hard to use when it is super dark outside and inside the porta-potties. People were using their cell phone flashlights as well as the better equipped who had headlamps. The race officials understandably pushed the race start time from 7 am to 7:10 am so there was some more light on the trail. Just prior to the start, the race people played a recording of the National Anthem – with recorded cheering and everything. People were chuckling with the cheering that was from the recording. And then we were off.
Immediately after the start, we crossed a long foot bridge that took us over the American River. We’d also cross this bridge at the 13th mile just before finishing back at the starting line.
The first few miles were run in the pre-sunrise haze and fog. It was quite beautiful and peaceful. This section of the river trail is quite remote with the river on one side and fields on the other side. I’m used to running in the area of the river trail that is relatively close to civilization (roads, buildings, other people). I don’t know how comfortable I’d be running in that part of the river by myself. But it was pretty and peaceful.
Eventually we made our way off the river trail and did a very short stint in a small neighborhood. Essentially we went through one exit on the trail and made our way about 2 streets over and onto the entrance of another part of the trail. At this point, the trail was not paved and was more packed dirt and gravel, with a few areas of unevenness. Eventually we made our way east and back onto paved roads. And then at some point we hit a turnaround and came back the way we started. I continued with my 4 minute running, 1 minute walking at an average total pace of about 10 min/mile. Throughout miles 4-10 I continued to feel good. I took a GU gel around mile 6. I picked up another gel around mile 7 and then took my 2nd gel around the 10 mile mark.
Overall I continued to feel good for the race and coasted into the finish line. I didn’t do a crazy sprint like I often do with the last 0.1 miles. I actually stopped a few times in the 12-13 mile range to get some good pics.
At the finish line, I picked up a banana, half a donut and had a beer. I went with the Erdinger because the Shipyard beer was an IPA and I thought that was a bit alcohol heavy for post-race.
Final Time: 2:13:25