Sunday, March 05, 2006

Marathon No. 4
I'd guess about a third of an inch of rain fell on me during the 3 hours, 52 minutes and 30 or so seconds I was running the Napa Valley Marathon this morning. Not that bad, you're thinking. Third of an inch. Hardly Katrina. And yet, heading into a steady wind of 5-15 mph, with gusts over 20, it didn't take long to become wet through the nylon jacket and the cycling jersey that was under it. Wet through the skin, too. Wet to the bone, as they say.

Wet, windy -- with the temperatures in the 40s, well, yeah, it was cold. Pretty miserable, really.

The kind of cool thing was, faced with these elemental impediments, I went out easy and that was good. I ran the first 12 miles with a colleague and friend, Laura from Chicago. She endured well my constant chatter (she didn't punch me, that's how I know), and we cruised along at an 8:45/mile pace. Then Laura had to take a toilet break. She convinced me that it might be awhile, so I soldiered on. Running alone and nearing the halfway mark, I noted that I didn't feel all that spent. Nothing like Sacramento in December, when I was pushing hard to stay on an 8 minute/mile pace. To be sure, there was the usual plate of delicious delights to feast upon: tightening quads, aching knees, throbbing hip, the beginnings of blisters.... But I felt well-fed and -hydrated, munching jelly beans and gels, sipping something at the aid stations every two miles. There was never the hint of a suggestion of a notion that anything was amiss with my tummy or the places farther along the digestive/excretory tract. Unprecedented.

So I kept up the pace. Even as the quads sang out in pain I kept up the pace. Even as the wind battered us on the uphill around Mile 20, I kept up the pace. Once over that hill, I knew I would be all right. My muscles didn't like the cold, but the rest of my body seemed to be accustomed to it by then. It seemed manageable. A couple of times I began to slide over 9 minutes/mile, but then I'd find a faster runner to pull me back under.

Turning off Silverado Trail, finally, near the Mile 23 mark gave me a psychological boost. Then onto Big Ranch for Miles 24 and 25. That seemed to go on too far. Then a turn, and a turn, and around one more turn, the finish chute. Finishers metal, space blanket, warm soup, all good.

[Thanks to Laura's hubby, Steve, for the ride to the start line, so I didn't have to do the gruesome predawn bus thing. And thanks to Max for driving my car from her house to the finish, so I could head directly home from there. Lastly, congrats to Laura, for gutting it out.]

UPDATE: Official time was 3:52:43, placing me 387th out of 1,438 finishers.