I absolutely love the colour choice for this race, the lime green, blue & yellow are spectacular.
Sunday April 7
Once again we are awakened by Kev's appalling cell phone alarm at 4am. The room is nice and toasty as I left the heating on overnight. We have to rely on cereal with almond 'drink' since there is no fridge. There are also no bowls so we eat from coffee mugs with a teaspoon stolen from the restaurant the night before. Classy!
By some minor miracle I can walk normally on my left calf today. I am wearing my new Pro Compression bright orange socks for extra support.
Our taxi arrives right outside the room at 5:30 and we head off into the dark toward the start area. It was originally forecast to be 'dense fog' today but that has changed to sun and wind. It is warm enough for tank tops so we don't have to do gear drop. We take the wrong exit off the 101 and perform a spectacular manoeuvre to get back on the road.
We join a group of meandering runners and follow them in what we hope is the right direction. It is very quiet. Moments like this always remind me of zombie movies as we shamble toward the start area in the dark. A crescent moon is sitting just above the hilltop.
The staging area is in the SLO High School parking lot. The marathon heads out at 6 and Dean Karnazes gets it started before joining it himself. I get a kick out of hearing Dean tell us to run faster! The halfers then assemble in self seeded corrals. As we move forward the wind picks up and it starts to get lighter.
Before you know it we're running through San Luis Obispo. It is a very pretty town with a lot of huge old trees. Some of the residents are out (some still in their nighties) to see what on earth is going on this early on a Sunday.
At 2 miles we start to go uphill and I can feel it in my legs. A lot of people around me walk but I try to keep running until midway then I walk to the water table before running as fast as I can downhill. This part feels good!
We run right out of town through vineyards into a series of rolling hills. This is getting hard and I am walking more than I would like on the uphills. I pass Kev and we say hello briefly as he shoots off downhill. One of the residents has decided she must get out of town in her vehicle and there is chaos as she tries to pass between outgoing and incoming runners in the middle of the road.
At this point the 2:30 pacer passes me (hi Nicole) and I sit in behind her for a bit to make it up another hill. I have got very adept at getting my camera out my Spibelt, taking a pic while moving then smearing part of a Clif Shot on the lens before returning it.
The half turnaround is at 7.5 miles under another Clif inflatable. It is at the top of a hill. The 2:30 pacer is getting away from me, as is my goal of coming in under 2:30. For a brief time I think I can catch up and try to make up time on the downhills.
At 9 miles I become aware of pain in my right knee and slow down even more. I need to take my mind away from this and there by the side of the road are the 'beer stop guys'.
I only have a tiny bit but it makes me smile and absolutely takes my mind off the knee. These guys are so enthusiastic! I stop looking at my watch as it is making everything worse.
I saw the next feature on the course video but I wasn't sure we actually went over it so when the pedestrian bridge over the railway lines comes up I know I'm going to have issues. I have to walk again and I can feel my knee getting worse around every tight turn. The other side puts us out onto a pleasant downhill section through town past more yelling volunteers. At this point I wonder if I am screwed, the pain has got worse and the only thing I can do to keep moving is try to run with it.
Finally I get into a manageable pace, there are medics off to the side helping another runner but I want to finish this thing now. I have to. I come around toward the last half km and wouldn't you know it there is an uphill I can't run up. I bet it's actually tiny but it looks like a mountain to me. I walk up it and ahead of me there is a beautiful downhill stretch past a white picket fence to the finish line.
For the last time I have to force myself to run through the pain. This time it's almost too much. I get moving and about a third of the way down it gets manageable. I run down to the end in less than spectacular fashion but I am running!
We head off through the Jamba Juice recovery tent and find a quiet spot on the grass to collapse.
Second installment of bling.