My day started off on a great note. I woke up easily at the pre-dawn hour of 4:00am. The only other time I am ever up at 4:00am is when I am preparing for my own marathon, and I have to tell you, I was SO EXCITED that I wasn't the one running today :-) I went to pick up Beth (she has a great race recap here) and we headed out on what would be an adventurous day.
We made great time to Sacramento, where the California International Marathon takes place. As we arrived, my first goal was to find gas.
Hello 1 mile left on the tank
How does stopping for gas, then fixating on getting to Starbucks at 6:00am lead to meeting Sacramento's finest? A one-way street. After getting gas, I turned down a street that couldn't have been more than 50 yards. I quickly realized it was a one-way street, but Beth and I both agreed NO ONE WAS AWAKE AT THIS HOUR! Except that one police car heading towards me. Bat a few eye lashes, convince the officer "no, I was not drinking at 6am, but that is a good idea" and he let us go. Not sure he was thrilled when I asked if I could get a picture with him for the blog. Note: My interactions with Sacramento's finest would not end here. More on that later.
Beth and I made our way to Starbucks, grabbed some much needed caffeine, then set off to meet up with the wonderful Karin. I was looking forward to hanging out with Beth & Karin, who I have met several times, but typically we are running and have less opportunities to chat. Can you say bonding time today?
Beth, Karin and I made a great cheer crew.
Our first stop was around the 7 mile marker. We disembarked from the Jana Mobile and chatted with the police monitoring this intersection (more on that in a minute) and set-up camp. Our goal was to try and see each of the East Bay Runners at this point, then catch them all again at the finish. The tricky part? We haven't met a few of them outside of Twitter. Spotting someone you know on a marathon course is tricky, but try finding someone you don't know! We came prepared for that situation with some awesome stand-out signs. No, I am not vain enough to put my own name on my sign, my goal here was that it would be easier for the runners to identify us, if they saw my Twitter handle on the sign. And it worked :-)
I figured CIM was a great time to put my rape whistle my Uncle sent me for those "solo running days" to good use. And all I can say is, it's really loud. Took a full day to get my hearing back. Sorry Beth & Karin!Jessica back home who was texting us marathon split times, we were able to predict when each friend would run by. And it started...FAST Katie came whizzing by, quickly followed by Caitlin. Then the rest followed suite: Alyssa, Courtney, Angela and Naomi (we missed spotting Sesa, Michelle and Kristine).
We departed mile 7, only to learn our first mistake, take more care when parking for a marathon. We were trapped! We couldn't go right or left, as that would put us on the marathon course and we couldn't go back out the way we came, as that would entail crossing over a cement median. Here is where our reputation with Sacramento's finest would come into play. I approached the office and asked when they would allow u-turns at the intersection, to get around the median. He indicated for safety reasons, they need to wait until there is a 100-yard break between two runners; his estimate was 45 minutes from that moment. We were thoroughly depressed as that meant we might miss FAST Katie and Caitlin's finish. We pulled out to wait in the u-turn lane and within 2 minutes, the officer started to let the cars u-turn. He flashed us a big smile as we passed. The powers that three ladies can have on an officer ;-)
We decided to hit mile 20 and cheer on Caitlin and Katie before making it to the finish. These two ladies are simply amazing. The grace and speed with which they run, leaves me in awe. I will never see a 3-hour finish time, but they allowed me to experience it through them on Sunday. For that, I am thankful. For one day, I was an elite runner :-)
We had so much fun at the finish. We cheered on every runner, friend or not. This is the spot where dreams come true:
All-in-all, it was a tremendous day. I felt grateful to be part of each runners journey. They are each inspirational, amazing and beautiful. As Beth pointed out on her blog, there are some tips for those spectating a marathon:
- Know what your runners are wearing to make it easier to spot them. Also, have each bib # jotted down.
- Cheer for everyone! Each person out there needs encouragement. As much as possible, make eye contact with a runner and cheer as if you were speaking to them personally. You will be amazing at how many thumbs ups, smiles and thank you's you will get in return.
- Ensure your signs are colorful and witty. Beth made a great sign about toenails and many runners got a kick out of it.
- Ensure when parking along the course, you can easily get back out and move to your next mile post.
- We learned that yelling "You did it! Smile." at the finish line was the perfect thing. So many runners cracked a smile as we screamed at them. Several looked at us and you could see the excitement creep on their face as they realized they were about to finish their marathon.
- Identify a good meet-up place after. A finish line is a chaotic mess. Your runners shouldn't need to worry about tracking you down. Organize this in advance.