So this past Sunday I took on my third marathon of 2014, which was also my 5th marathon in 5 months. I enjoy supporting small races and this was one of those small races. A simple packet pick-up hosted at Gold Country Run + Sport in El Dorado Hills (about 20 miles east of Sacramento), a small field, and nothing overly fancy. In fact, there might have been more runners in the race than supporters on the course.
Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy the big race atmosphere, but it is just as nice to get out and run a race that provides only what you really need, an aid station every 3-5 miles, an official clock and we route to run.
The race weekend started off pretty simple with a Saturday drive up to El Dorado Hills to grab race swag with my buddy Kevin. This would be Kevin's first go at the 26.2-mile distance, previously his longest race had been a half marathon and longest run was about 4 weeks ago with a 20-mile training run.
Once we got to Gold Country Run + Sport, we walked right in where there was no wait to grab our stuff. It took longer to walk from the car to the front door of the store than it did to grab our bib, technical shirt and other giveaways courtesy of the race.
|bib and swag|
When Kevin and I got to Old Town Folsom it was still dark. I mean very dark. With daylight savings in effect, the sun wouldn't be completely visible until after 7:00AM. This meant out 7:00AM start time for the 50k and marathon would be a bit dark.
|It was dark out at the start|
The course kept the marathoners on paved bike path roads taking us down stream starting in Folsom. At about the 5 mile mark we would cross the American River running up Hazel at the Fish Hatchery leading us to the north side of the river and running up stream. This same paved road would last us from mile 6 to the 13.1 marker and back down to the 20-mile marker before coming down Hazel and returning to the south side of the river and heading to the Start/Finish line.
With the pathway not being closed off to others, I was a bit concerned with the number of cyclist that might be found on the route. If you are from Sacramento, you know there is an odd relationship with runners and cyclist when it comes to using the parkway. Some cyclist will ride as close to the edge of the paved road to force runners onto the dirt. Surprisingly, the course was pretty empty of other runners and cyclist for the most part, especially since I have seen the parkway completely congested at times especially around this area.
After the first few miles after the start I was essentially running solo, except for a few moments where I passed a couple runners and one runner passed me. The only time I saw multiple people was just before and after the turnaround at the Folsom Auburn Crossing section, which also indicated that I would have the privilege of a downhill after having climbed for about 2 miles or so.
Through this portion of the race where I was able to see other faces, I was able to see some familiar faces and give some words of encouragement to other fellow runners. At mile 14, I was feeling good and holding consistent to my plan which was to run the first 20-miles around 7:20/mile pace and run easy (7:50ish) to the finish.
At mile 20, I was quite pleased with myself as I accepted the fact that it was time to pull back, because in the end this was just a long run for me that happened to include a bib, aid stations and bling at the end. While starting to make my way to the final miles, I started to figure out where I was with total distance in relation to what the mile signs had remaining for us on the course. When I started to try to do the math based on my knowledge of the course (having ran it time after time for training) and where I was, I knew the distance was going to be well passed 26.2 miles. For me this just happens, but for those training specifically for this race, it could cause an issue since the course measured to 27 miles based on my Garmin. I confirmed this with other runners at the finish and it seemed pretty consistent with others that the course was close to 27 miles based on their devices as well.
|the Finish / Start area|
Kevin finished his first marathon with an official time of just over 3:40:00, which is an awesome finishing time.
Did you race this past weekend? How did you do? Anything else coming up this month?