EVENT: Pasadena Marathon
DATE: Sunday, March 22, 2009
LOCATION: Pasadena, CA
RACE BEGAN: 06:30 am
FINISH TIME: 04:19:14
On Sunday, November 16, 2008 when this race was supposed to take place, the smoke from Southern California wildfires forced the event coordinators to postpone this event. I was up and already dressed for the 26.2 mile struggle when I caught wind of the news. While I was disappointed, I think it was the right thing for them to do. No need to give myself unnecessary respiratory damage, right?
While I did not get my "lucky" 888 bib number again, I was back and raring to finally run this race, which was rescheduled for March 22, 2009. Meanwhile, we were sent the medals we did not earn...
I was a bit hesitant to re-register, as I could not imagine going through all that training again, especially on my schedule. But I had to, in a way, since I already had a "sunk cost," and this could be my only chance at a 2009 marathon.
So I found myself training very sparsely, going to the expo again, and carbo-loading again (at Souplantation). On race morning, "The Ukrainian" and I headed out at 4:30 AM for Pasadena and sat in the parking lot until shortly before 6 AM. I had a bit less than half a banana and 2 cubes of Clif Shot Bloks at around 5:30 to make sure I wouldn't get hungry during the race.
As we were waiting in line for the port-a-potties, what was just cold weather became a mist, drizzle, and then a downpour. I was trying to keep my shoes dry with the mylar wrap I was using to keep warm. My stomach was still unsettled and gave me trouble pretty much the whole race (and for more than 24 hours afterward!).
The race started with cheers as the rain got harder (crazy runners!). It was a little congested the first 2 miles. "The Ukrainian" and I were keeping a conservative pace. I definitely would have taken off faster had he not been there. I don't recall too many details, but around mile 5, we reached Old Town Pasadena, which was nice because that place is usually packed with cars.
I didn't make too many water stops, mostly so I would not slow "The Ukrainian" down, and because the rain usually makes it hard to know when you're thirsty. We reached the Rose Bowl, ran a loop around it, and encountered a short, steep hill at around mile 9. It was sooo hard and painful for some reason, but "The Ukrainian" grabbed my hand so I wouldn't trail too far behind. I heard someone cheer "Yeah!" when they saw that.
The next point I knew, it was mile 15, and by this time, the rain was either pouring or steady, wind blowing, and I was tired. My clothes were sticking to me, and I could see people who were close to finishing whiz the other way. (Note to race people: Out-and-back sections of races are very demoralizing!) The rest of the way, I recall seeing lots of nice houses whose residents did not bother to come out and cheer. I don't blame them, in that kind of weather!
I had two gels -- one at mile 12-14 the other at 17-20. My arm was too tired to feed myself anything else after that point. The course had ample PowerBar Blasts and gels, but I did not fall for them (I would not eat anything I did not train with).
My feet were hurting, as my skin had swelled inside my wet socks. Around mile 21, my hips were getting sore, and by each mile, something else started to twitch/hurt. Read this for more details on the last six (difficult) miles. Basically, this was NOT an easy course, as I've never done a non-flat marathon before. The elevation profile and wind made it considerably more difficult to proceed, but at least heat did not plague me like usual.
You can see my time above. I did not include splits, since they were a bit odd (taken at weird distances). Anyway, this is quite a big PR for me. I obviously have no complaints. I never thought I would ever even beat 4:30. While I was running, I saw what kind of good pace I was keeping but somehow felt that I would still have some issue and crawl to the finish line. Not the case this time. In fact, I felt really bad@$$ as I saw (finally) some crowd support near the finish line (see me running toward the end, which is more than I can usually muster).
I crossed the finish line gleefully, grabbed my medal, and cruised to the picture-taking area. This is a stark contrast to my usual -- cross the finish line and stand there feeling sick. There was not much post-race food... only a slice of orange, 1/2 banana that I was too tired to eat properly, and some Joint Juice refuled me.
This was probably a fluke. I trained little and really think that the only reason I didn't take 5+ hours to finish was because I didn't want to be left alone by "The Ukrainian" on the course. Someone said that I at least had the physical capability to do that, but a huge part of these runs is mental.
Either way, I learned a lot in this race, which I will hopefully remember the next time I hit the pavement. I'm not sure when that will be... it has taken me two days to feel good enough to write a race report.
I would like to thank the marathon people for getting their act together and re-doing this race. The course was beautiful and hit most of the city's landmarks, which helped with some of the uneasy parts. Thanks also to Kathy for her work on the crew and for her texts/Facebook messages. Obvious thanks goes to "The Ukrainian" for running the vast majority of this race with me, as he slowed himself down to do so... in his first marathon. Looks like we got a couple of marathoners on our hands! =P
Also, I am grateful for my sisters coming out to support me at the finish line, even in the miserable weather, with a shirt of mine to keep warm!!!