I left my house a little before 6:00 this morning and drove to the junior high school where the race was to begin. It was pitch black and I followed the bright light to the gymnasium where about 250 people were getting the pre-race briefing from Norm Klein, the race organizer. As excited as I was to be in a crowd of ultra runners, I felt like a poser. I kept looking at what everyone was wearing -- was I wearing the right stuff? I saw runners in everything from singlets and shorts and garbage bags to full waterproof outfits (there weren't many of these). Most people were in shorts. I wore CWX tights, an Adidas long bra top with an Under Armor long sleeve t, and Tim's waterproof golf jacket (wearing it made me feel like he was hugging me the entire way which felt soooo good!) plus a hat (a MUST in the rain). What I wore worked well for a run where it never got warmer than 59 degrees and it rained the entire time.
Talked with a few people, including the daughter of the founder of Running Times. (Her dad was running the 50 mile race!) Took my goody bag to the car, (I didn't check it out till after the race, when I discovered that it had great stuff, such as 12 gels [no exaggeration!] and a huge pack of GU2O [to mix with a gallon of water!] then became best friends with Dan, who had a waist light that made the 1/4 mile trail walk to the start possible for me!
The first mile took around 13 minutes due to construction on the levee and a detour with twisty single-track mud trails. Once we hit the levee I found a comfortable pace (maybe around 9:25 or so) and held there. My feet were soaked through by mile 3 and there was really nothing I could do about it. Decided I was going to run my own personal 40K (24.8 miles), and chose to add the miles on at the middle, as finishing and then going back out sounded super hard emotionally, as well as physically with the difficulty of that first mile (which was also the last mile, of course).
It was SO FUN having other runners to talk to! Met a guy who ran with Catra at the Mt. Diablo 50. Chatted with a group of guys where one was helping the other two to run the 50K. I considered running the 50K, but that would be like eloping (this race) then inviting people to your wedding (CIM in December) so I decided against it. After about an hour of chatting with fellow runners, I turned on my iPod and listened to my SF Half playlist, and then to the latest Phedipedations podcast.
One thing that was way different about being part of an ultra race is that the aid stations are COOL! You know how in regular races you can get water or an electrolyte drink and maybe a gel? Well, at THIS race, the aid station food list looks something like this:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Boiled potatoes with salt for dipping
Rice Krispy treats
Hot soup (at the later aid stations)
As Norm Klein, race organizer said, "If Safeway doesn't sell it, we don't have it, and you don't need it!"
The last 5 miles felt tough but doable, and doing an out and back course was so much better than my long runs where I do the last few miles within a mile of my house (the pull to just stop and go home is strong when you do that!). Even though I added a 10K onto my race, I did not finish last, and ended up passing maybe 10 or 12 of the 30K runners in the last few miles, which was a confidence booster for the marathon. I finished in 4:09 covering 25 and 1/4 miles and I KNOW I could have run another mile to do a full marathon. Today is the first day I actually believe that I can do CIM in December!
Before the race started, I was told that today was Helen Klein's last official race. She is an ultrarunning legend and she and her husband put on this race. Today Helen ran the 30K. She is EIGHTY FIVE YEARS OLD! I was there when she crossed the finish line, and I had tears in my eyes as I clapped and cheered with all the other people who got to witness this amazing finish.
After over 4 hours of rainy cold, the shower at home felt marvelous, but I couldn't truly warm up for quite some time. And feet that have been soaked for hours take a very long time to de-prune, in case you're wondering! I laid down for 30 minutes this afternoon, and then was up and making cookies to take to a big family dinner tonight. Now I'm back in my pink giraffe pj's and about to curl up on the sectional for a little TV before a LONG night's sleep!