Elizabeth and I took the ferry out to Catalina early Friday afternoon and arrived to mostly clear skies.
We were sharing a house with 14 friends, most of whom were running the marathon on Saturday.
The forecast had been calling for rain overnight and potentially more during the race. At the pre-race briefing, the race director told us that the race was happening rain or shine and as of then, the course would not be changed. If it really poured overnight and the trails or access roads were affected, they might have to make some changes. The sky was beautiful - does it look like rain?
(photo Kristin Cooley)
We had an early dinner and hit the sack. The house was quiet by about 9:30 and I think I was fast asleep before 10. I woke up around 12:30 to the sounds of pounding rain. Despite the forecast, I didn't expect it to be coming down that hard. I fell right back to sleep but was already half-way awake when my alarm went off at 5:30. The race wasn't scheduled to start until 8am and the starting line was a five minute walk from the house, but I like getting up early to take care of business, eat and digest breakfast and have plenty of time to get ready.
It was still pouring rain when the rest of the house starting stirring. I kept hoping that the rain would let up before the race. Rain during the race might not be so so bad, but hard rain while we were standing around waiting for the start would be miserable. And then, sometime around 6:30 or 7, the rain stopped. Carl Bell, our friendly local NBC weathercaster, told us (via twitter) that he didn't see any rain coming back to the island anytime soon! Sweet!
The 11 of us from the house doing the marathon jogged to the start but before we got there, we found out the course (and the starting line) was being changed. A quick pre-race announcement let us know that the rain had washed out some of the single-track trails and it would be an out-and-back course with about half on trails and half on roads. This is map of the "revised" course (about half of the "usual" course is on single track trails on the interior of the island) (map from Jack Rosenfeld's GPS):
It was a little confusing at the start trying to understand where we would be running, but whatever. At least we still get to run!
(photo Brittny Burford)
I lined up at the front with Jack Rosenfeld, Steve Schuman, Wadley and a few other guys. The countdown ended and we were off. For the first couple of miles on Avalon Canyon Road, Jack, Steve, Wadley and I stuck together while Patrick Baldwin, the eventual winner, disappeared ahead of us. After we passed into the Wrigley Botanical Garden and started up the first trail climb, Jack and Steve dropped back a bit and I ran either with, or right behind, Wadley. And that's how it stayed for a while. The trails were muddy and a little slippery - not so bad on the way up, but I figured it would be a slip-and-slide on the way back down.
The initial climbing ended around mile four and the trail section ended around mile six. From from there until the turn-around it was rolling hills with a few serious - but relatively short - hills. Here's the elevation profile of the "revised" course (also from Jack's GPS):
Around mile 10, Wadley was running well and I was worried that I was pushing too hard so I let up a little bit and he ran ahead. I was never much more than a minute behind him.
The weather turned out to be pretty much perfect. It was overcast and a little cool but I was totally comfortable in my Brooks Rev Sleeveless shirt (my usual race shirt). It never rained all day. The views in this section were pretty amazing. When the clouds broke (or we got above them), we could see the ocean far down below. I've heard that the views in the "usual" course are even better.
The mile markers on the course were a little off, but I figured they were close until I got to the last couple near the turn-around where mile 13 came in at 4:31 and mile 14 at 3:21! I was moving, but only in my dreams do I run that quick! In the end, everyone's GPS confirmed that the course was about 1.5 miles short and I'm guessing most of that difference was between miles 13 and 14.
Rich Cruse got a great photo of me just after the turn-around:
Why was I smiling so big?? That photo and a bunch of his other great photos from the race got published on the Competitor website.
Before the turn-around, I got to see how far I was from the leader (FAR! And he was looking great. He finished in 2:48, 27 minutes ahead of me!) and after it, I saw how closely people were behind me (too close for comfort!). Wadley was a minute or 90 seconds ahead of me and my goal at that point was to put myself in contention for second place and, if by some chance Patrick blew up, the win. But then, around mile 15, another Patrick (Wauters) came storming from behind, slowed to say hi for a second and was quickly somewhere far in the distance. It seemed I was now fighting for third place. (He ended up beating me by 8 minutes, all put on in the last 11 miles.)
The miles in the rolling road section were clicking off relatively quickly. There was a massive headwind that I hadn't noticed on the way out, which wasn't much fun, but I still felt in control of my pace and heartrate. I saw all my friends on my way back in and everyone looked great. I don't love out-and-back courses, but being able to see and say hi to everyone was pretty fun.
Around mile 19, I caught up to Wadley. He was stopped, said he was cramping, and asked me if I had any salt. I hadn't taken any of my Saltstick and didn't expect to need it, so I gave him my little baggy of Saltstick capsules and took off. Third place. Now to keep it. I looked back every so often, but never saw anyone. The twisty trails made it hard to see more than a minute or two behind, so I was definitely running scared . Except for a little section between miles 20-22, I was feeling good. I figured it would take a pretty huge surge for anyone other than Wadley to catch me.
I did let my usual doubt start to creep in - "So what if he catches me? Fourth is just as good as third." But unlike usual, I called "bullshit" on myself. Fourth is not as good as third. I might not hold on to third place, but I wasn't going to make it easy for anyone. That mindset felt unusual, but it's the right way to think!
The last 4 miles were down the same hills we climbed at the start and I did good work going down them. The final section on the road from the Botanical Garden until the finish line seemed really long, but I knew I was almost done. About 50 meters before the finish line, I saw Brittny, Laura, Brian and Rider screaming wildly (I heard them well before that!). Rider ran out to run in with me.
(photos Brittny Burford)
Opix was also on the course taking the "official" photos. You can check mine out here (just in case you need it, my race number was 275).
There's also a great video of the finish that Brian Cooley posted on facebook. He video'ed a bunch of the finishers in our house - those are on his facebook page also
In the end, I'm very proud of how I raced. I probably could have run harder and risked blowing up, but this time I did a good job of walking the line between running hard but not too hard. My training (especially those Tuesdays at Temescal and Thursdays with the Coyotes) really put me in a great place to climb well at the start of the race. I trusted that I could go a little hard from the start and it worked. My nutrition and hydration were pretty much spot-on. At the start, my handheld bottle had water and 1.5 servings of my Infinit "ultra-run" formula. I drank that during the first half and then had two gels during the second half. I didn't take anything from the aid stations other than some water to refill the handheld. I probably would have taken a Saltstick around mile 20 if I hand't given them away, but it didn't really matter.
The course was a little short and didn't have as much climbing as the regular course (3,500' compared to about 4,100'). Now I just need to go back next year and see what the real course is all about!
After crossing the finish line and chatting with a few of the guys, I waded into the ocean for a few minutes. I'm sure that that icy cold water helped my legs to recover, but the immediate effect was that I was freezing and shivering. My lips turned a fantastic color blue.
(photo Colin Cooley)
The warm-ish clothes I had on helped, but it wasn't until I went back to the house for a hot shower that I started to feel my extremities and my lips turned back to flesh color!
Back at the finish line, we all shouted the rest of the house in.
(photo Kristin Cooley)
Between my third place and a bunch of age group awards, we were hoping there'd be a big awards ceremony. So we waited and waited, but in the end, they cancelled it! Supposedly because of the weather. LAME. So we did our own impromptu one at the finish line.
(Colleen, Kristin, Colin, Rod - all age group award winners - and me)
(photos Kristin Cooley)
And later that evening, Elizabeth, Kristin and Colleen organized another "awards ceremony" for our house - everyone in the house got hilarious very-much personalized awards.
(photos Kristin Cooley)
Great idea ladies!
Sunday morning I was up early - way too early - and once it was light out, I went out and met Jack and Steve for a run. I got in about six miles on the roads around Avalon.
Then, nine of us went on the Zipline Eco Tour. THAT was a blast! It was a beautiful sunny day and we got tons of great photos and videos.
(photos Kristin Cooley)
Colin took this totally rad 360 degree video with his iPhone and some special attachment.
Finally, after a massive lunch, we decided we couldn't stay on Catalina forever, so we headed home!
(Me, Rod, Colin.)
(photo Kristin Cooley)