My First 10 Marathons

SF Marathon 2008

For the last 5 years, I have been running 2 marathons a year. I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and look at my first 10 marathons:

1. 8/3/08 San Francisco Marathon - 4:44:17
2. 10/19/08 Nike Women's Marathon - 4:40:06
3. 11/8/09 Stinson Beach Marathon - 5:00:25. 3rd in AG 
4. 12/6/09 Northface Endurance Challenge 50k - 7:42:18 (I know it's an ultra but I'm including it here)
5. 4/25/10 Big Sur International Marathon - 4:38:42
6. 7/25/10 San Francisco Marathon - 4:20:23
7. 11/5/11 Stinson Beach Marathon - 5:54:29
8. 12/4/11 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 4:09:43
9. 7/29/12 San Francisco Marathon - 3:58:40
10. 12/2/12 California International Marathon - 5:09:46

Things I learned:
  • Respect Mother Nature
  • Respect HILLS
  • Hmm, I haven't done a full marathon on Mt. Diablo yet
  • Don't wear brand new shoes on race day
  • Trail races are different than road races
  • F.I.R.S.T. Training plan seemed to work for me (Run less, run faster)
  • High mileage may not be my thing
  • I'm starting to notice a pattern with cramping legs, especially in cold or wet weather. 
  • My marathon pace I'm trying to run now might be too fast, but I have to imagine that pace in order to get to my "real pace" LOL!
  • When a course is changed on a race you've done before, you have nothing to compare it to
  • I seem to drop 20 minutes off my SFM PR every time I run it on even-numbered years. 
  • Since 2008, I improved about 22 seconds per mile faster each year
  • Cross training such as cycling, swimming and strength training are great. No injuries here.
  • You can listen to all the advice from other runners you want, but it doesn't compare to your own experience
  • If raining, put everything in your gear check-in bag inside a waterproof plastic bag, unless the gear check bag is plastic
  • Plan A, then Plan B, then Plan C, then... 
  • Some of the friendliest down to earth people I've met are runners
  • I learn something new every time

I don't know what the next 5 years are going to bring, but I know it involves running!
SF Marathon 2008


California International Marathon

CIM 2012
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California International Marathon

This was the wettest marathon I've ever done! The roads were flooded, gusty winds, rain coming down in sheets! It was right in the middle of the storm, and the marathon started during the worst part of it. The best part is the warm sunshine broke through at the end, and everyone had a chance to dry off and enjoy the post-race bliss.

This was an easy race to get to by train. I took the Amtrak Capitol Corridor. It's $28 each way. They have a cafe with food on the train, and it's just a 2 hour trip. I stayed in Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, near the train station. The finish line and the expo at the Convention Center are walking distance and a bus picks you up at the hotel and takes you to the starting line. You do have to plan your breakfast ahead of time, as there is not much open at 4am (Great opportunity for food trucks)!

The fleet of school buses came to pick us up at our hotel at 5am. It seemed as if the entire hotel was booked up by marathoners! After an hour trip, we were dropped off at Folsom Lake in the pitch black darkness and pouring rain. There was the option to stay on the bus and stay dry, but unfortunately I didn't choose that option and I decided to venture out to the port-a-potty paradise and bag check. I forgot to note my bus number and so I scrambled over with the other runners to the 76 station awning. Endorphin Dude has some video on his FB page of that adventure. It was kind of cold there so I then headed into the Baja Fresh, where all the other runners were huddled until the starting time. We pretty much took over the place. After half an hour, it was time to run, so had to get out and get moving. Once moving, things were better. I had worn my Big Sur Marathon shirt which got lots of comments from other runners: "At least this is easier than Big Sur!" I'm glad I brought a cap but was almost wishing I brought silicone earplugs also because the rain was going in sideways.

I was doing fine the first half. Was able to keep a pace going similar to my last marathon, Then, after running into the headwind for awhile my legs cramped up and had to slow down for the rest of the race just to finish. The pacers at the runner's workshop were saying a 10mph headwind can take 38 seconds off your pace, and they were right. Try 40mph. What I think happened was I was trying to keep my pace in the wind, and all the extra effort drained me, the equivalent of going out too fast. It was very deceptive. Any advantage of the fast course or hopes of PR or BQ was pretty much dashed after that, but I learned something new. I should adjust my pace (and expectations) for weather conditions next time. As I was passing through the 5 stages of griefMy pace got slower and slower, and by the end took lots of walk breaks to get through the last painfully long miles. Going past the relay stations was tough, as was getting passed up by all the pace groups! I was thinking this was going to be a fast marathon and it turned out to be one of the slowest ever! I went in with the mindset of going for it, but also having a Plan B and C in case things don't go as planned. Plan A was BQ (a girl can dream, right?) Plan B was PR Sub-4 (Sure!) Plan C was just to finish and live to run another day, put another notch on the marathon belt. Turn it into a fat-burning fun run. Mission accomplished! I got emotional at mile 25 because I realized I was going to finish my10th marathon, something I used to think I could not do. There was a band playing music that reminded me of my dad. Running has got me through the tough times and made things better. It has also created some tough times!

If I were to try it again, would go with fresher legs. I guess I didn't fully recover after SFM, even though it was 4 months ago. Some people do well with high mileage, but not me, I get burnt out.  I'm glad I did it, though, because DNS and DNF is not an ideal option after training for 13 weeks.

There were plenty of aid stations and restrooms. I was laughing at one point when I realized we were drinking rainwater, because the rain was pouring into the cups. Someone had a great sign that said "Zombies don't like fast food". The sport photos are going to be hilarious with all the trash bag attire. The volunteers were awesome and I enjoyed the cheer stations. The marching band playing Crazy Train was my favorite. It's really moving to see them out there despite the conditions!


chip time: 5:09:46

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