I flew up to Sac late on Friday night, and early Saturday morning, 14 of us took off from Davis for Weott, CA. It took us nearly an hour to get from Davis to Woodland (8 miles) because of detours caused by fires. It was windy and the air was smoky, which was not the air we wanted to breathe before racing.
Since there is no easy way from I-80 to the 101, we have to take Hwy. 20, which zigzags around Clearlake. Couple this with runners trying to keep themselves hydrated, and we found ourselves stopping every hour to get our bearings or fight over the single gas station bathroom.
We got to Weott about 4:30, in time for late registration. It was a cool, comfortable 60 degrees. Hopefully, a harbinger of good weather for tomorrow's race. Our motel was in Fortuna, 15 minutes north, but our restaurant of choice was in Garberville, 30 minutes SOUTH. We all had some variety of homemade pasta and WATER.
By the time we drove back to Fortuna, it was pretty dark. Two married couples had their own rooms, and then the remaining 10 (6 women, 4 men) split two rooms. Us guys spent the remainder of our evening watching football, but the ladies convinced us to have dessert with them (2 varieties of pear bread), play Catchphrase, and watch Witness. We had fun and got to bed by 10pm.
Sunday morning, we were up and out the door by 7am. It was COLD (30 degrees cold)! We got to the race site at 7:30, and no one wanted to take off their layers OR get out of the car. Eventually, we made our way to the start and got some water and used the bathrooms. The T-shirts? Finishers' shirts.
I finally braved the cold and stripped down to my tank top and shorts. My teeth were chattering. To make matters worse, the race started 15 minutes late (9:15), enough time to get cold again.
I agreed to run with John Zarella (He ran Napa with me on my birthday; today was his birthday) at 8:30-8:45 pace, and take it EXTRA slow the first mile.
Finally, the race started. Marathoners and half marathoners start together, so we had to really hold back. Even so, we got to the first mile at 8:00-flat! It warmed up a little, but the majority of the first half was sheltered by redwoods, so it was easy to stay comfortable. We continued at an 8:15-pace until mile 10, when we mistakenly picked up the pace, along with the half marathoners (3000 in the half; 300 in the full) to sub-8:00. Both of us felt good at halfway (1:50), and were not tempted to quit.
The second half, however, was a little rougher. Instead of rolling hills, this was 6 miles of gentle incline, not shaded, erroneous turnaround markings, and then 6 miles of downhill (which is supremely difficult after running 2-1/2 hours!). At mile 25, I picked up the worst cramp, and had to walk. At this point, I figured I'd need to run the last mile in 1 minute to PR, so I stopped to walk it off. Then I couldn't start up again; I was so tired.
Finally, when I saw my friends at mile 26, I employed my trademark end-kick, and finished strong.
The drive back was less eventful, but included many stops for touristy pictures, lunch at the same dinner restaurant, a scary stop when we exceeded the speed limit (trying to get me to the airport on time), and a series of delays that kept me from getting home until midnight. What a day! I was tired, but happy.