Grumpy decided last December when our boss finished, that he too could do a marathon and so, I handed him a training plan and he did all the work.
This would be my 9th CIM to date and I was super excited to head to the Expo this year because I never claimed my 5 year anniversary Loyal Runner gift!
It was fun watching Grumpy wander the Expo. You could see his nervous energy as he zipped about. I have to say, he picked THE best CIM year to run as the swag this year was top notch! Well done SRA and CIM!
Seriously, that little waist pouch is the best thing ever. Super comfortable. Any other CIMers who don’t want theirs, let me know because this is one waist pack that doesn’t bounce (they all bounce). I even wore it IN the race without testing it out first. Huge fan.
Okay, back to the race.
Sunday morning came fast. Saturday evening, my family and I went to our town Christmas Tree Lighting. Probably spent a little too much time on my feet but it was worth it.
Sunday bright and early, my dear friend TiggerT picked me up and we were off. Love this tradition of riding with TiggerT. She always makes me laugh.
I met Grumpy at the Chevron station where I told him to go and we take the shuttle buses to the start. He seemed ready. He was dressed pretty warmly but it was chilly at the start.
I went with shorts, a tank top, a long sleeve and then my space-blanket from last year’s CIM to keep me warm at the start. Always keep your space blankets for another use.
Grumpy said his ideal goal would be to finish in 5 hours. He wanted to start with the 4:30 pace group. I thought that was fine but I knew that we’d probably have to stop along the way and would lose the group eventually.
It took us 3 minutes from the gun to cross the timing mat. There were about 8,000 full marathon runners this year they said and another 7,000 participating in the relay. Incredible!
Another super cool bonus this year, was the National Anthem! This year they had Vince DiFiore from CAKE play the trumpet which was pretty kick ass. I love CAKE and they are locals and to have him play the national anthem, then have the gun go off and the start music be The Distance, was pretty freaking cool.
We ran with the 4:30 group until about miles 9 or 10 when we both decided that we had to stop and use the porta potties. That was the only downfall of the race. The porta potty lines were incredibly long throughout the race. There is one spot where I know they typically are not, but we couldn’t quite wait that long so we stopped. Like I suspected, we lost the 4:30 group and never really caught up to them.
Grumpy was doing great but he definitely slowed on the up hills. The down hills hurt his ankles. He’s battled a few aches and pains throughout his training, but he was moving and that was all that matter.
The miles really seemed to fly by in the beginning. I couldn’t believe it when we got to 6 and saw Not Chris, then it was the half way mark before we knew it. I saw lots of friends along the course which is always fun.
By the time we got to Watt Avenue (mile 19), I started texting our work crew that was waiting between miles 20 and 21. I also texted Vans to let him know that we were on our way. Mile 20, at Loehmans’ Plaza is always a huge huge aid-station and place of insanity.
I used the incentive that his friends were waiting for him with signs and good cheer to keep him moving.
They cheered SO loud for him and had the funniest signs. Such a boost to have your own little cheering section just for you.
Surprisingly he didn’t stop, he wanted to keep moving. His IT band and achilles were really starting to flare up every couple of miles bringing us to a walk run type movement.
He kept apologizing but I told him to stop. He was doing awesome, he was moving and he was going to finish!
Mile 22 we came upon some race photographers. Such a fun photo spot too. I told him we HAD to run for the photos … so we ran. When we got near them, I jumped in the air (like in those old Toyota commercials) and the photographer yelled, “Great shot! How do you have all that energy?” About 5 runners turned and gave me the death stare! LOL Grumpy laughed, “They all hate you now.” .
I then texted our boss who lives in East Sac almost right on the course. I told him we were a few miles out. When we passed, he was out there cheering him on! Another boost for Grumpy!
Finally we were on L Street and making our way on the last two miles of the course. Still walking and running, he was gritting it out. Every so often we’d dance and sing to the music. Grumpy even encouraged a few runners along the way himself, “Come on! You got this!” We ran through a group of High School Cheerleaders and I yelled, “Come on! Cheer for Grumpy!” and they sure did! A whole little cheer just for him. 🙂
Vans and my girls were at mile 20 and then again on L street cheering us on! Love my little cheerleaders!
If you can zoom in on the above photo, it is quite hilarious the difference between our facial expressions. I really pushed him that last half mile or so to run and not stop. He was hurting but there is SO much support that last section, so many people cheering that you just can’t stop, you don’t want to.
Finally we made the turn towards the finish. I reminded him that we have to finish separately. One shoot for women and one for men. I told him to run!!
And run he did and then, he became a marathoner! Just like that. 🙂
So proud of him for gritting through all the pain and finishing. We finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes so not his goal time, but I do believe he said that’ll give him something to shoot for NEXT YEAR!
Also a huge thank you and congrats to this guy, for always being out on the course cheering me on and waiting for me with two tired and hungry girls at the finish line from year to year.
I do believe his favorite part of CIM is the beer garden. 🙂 Well earned dear, well earned.
Next year will be CIM number 10 for me!
Thank you SRA and CIM for putting on another stellar marathon event. Everything ran smoothly from my running perspective. 🙂
“They are going to kill me! But this is way too funny not to post!”
(warning – this is a super long post but a fun one)
The Thursday before I left for Oregon, my coworker and I were discussing the fact that I was going on a road-trip with two friends (also moms) and how we were headed to do a trail marathon put on by race director and all around ultra-running legend, Hal Koerner. One thing led to another and within minutes the above photo was created and shared on Facebook.
Hal was tagged and my friends laughed. He seems like he has a good easy going personality, so I hoped he didn’t mind. 🙂
First, let’s step back just a bit shall we? How did this all come about? Well, quite a few months ago I decided that in my final year of being 39, I wanted to do races that I have never done and go places and have fun! So I registered for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon which takes place in Ashland, Oregon and I booked a hotel.
Vans and I have been to Ashland before and we loved it. He told me that he’d go with the kids but that I should really take my friends. So, I did.
Vans tagged us as “the wolfpack” on Facebook and the name has stuck. My girls and I hit the road ready to explore, live and just laugh our bums off!
The drive up was easy. We stopped along the way for photos and rest-stops but we made really good time and were in Ashland with lots of time to explore.
Then we walked a block or two over to Lithia Park to find the race start and finish area. This park is mind blowing and GORGEOUS!
We wandered the park, taking photos and then came across a little park with THE coolest climbing structure ever.
Stonegate and I couldn’t resist. We had to climb to the top. My kids would love this!
Since we were racing, we made it an early night and grabbed whatever food we all needed and headed back to the hotel to settle in and get ready for the race.
We felt kind of lame going back to our hotel when it was so early but we wanted to be rested for the race.
The race started at 8:00 am which for us, is extremely late. We were sort of thrown by the late start time but realized the next morning that it doesn’t get light out until about 7:45 am. Aaah, now I get it. 🙂
The best part is that we could leave our hotel and walk to the starting area. I love being able to do that.
As usual, we arrived a bit too early and watched as the race directors and volunteers helped put up the starting arch.
We knew this was not a huge race but we also knew that it was filled with mostly Oregon locals. Locals who looked like they could crush this course.
Promptly at 8 am, Hal counted us down and the race started. The first 10 miles are on a partly paved and partly dirt fire road. TEN MILES … UP HILL.
We all started out together and then quickly realized, that NO ONE walks. No one. Everyone was running. Mile 1, mile 2, mile 3 … no one stopped despite the fact that we were climbing some serious hill.
Burning Girl said, “I’ll catch ya later! Good luck!” as she stopped to walk. I must add, that Burning Girl’s farthest run to date had been 12 miles, once. This girl’s life has been hectic to say the least and yet she traveled to Ashland and made a game day decision. She started the race and would see how the day would unfold. Stonegate and I had our fingers crossed for her but to be honest, the odds were against her.
Stonegate and I ran a little further and then she stopped. I kept going but eventually stopped too. Stonegate caught me and we did a run walk combo up that hill. Everyone was looking at us as they ran past but we knew we wanted to be a bit conservative as we still had a lot of climbing to do!
The weather was perfect. All week they had predicted that it would be down pouring rain – first it was for the entire day, then it moved to the second half of the race and then, it wasn’t supposed to rain until late that evening! It was beautiful out. Not too cold. Not too hot.
The fire road was getting a little tedious. It wasn’t ugly but it had this gravel that was just very hard for me to get footing on. I would slide back an inch every so often. The tread on my shoes are also pretty worn so that didn’t help.
Finally we made a sharp right turn onto a single track. I don’t think Stonegate and I could be any happier. The funny thing is, all the people who had ran the fire road, walked the single track. That just made me laugh. I was ready to run at this point!
The trail was well marked and it smelled like pine! It was awesome.
I am not quite sure when it was, I think it was mile 8 or 9, Stonegate told me to go ahead that she needed to walk. So I ran thinking she would catch me eventually. I never saw her again.
I just kept running. I was starting to feel good. My legs were no longer tired from the climb and my lungs felt okay. We had reached the top of the hill and I knew that the rest was just a super flat-ish section until about mile 19 or 20.
There were six aid-stations throughout the course and I just took them one by one. I didn’t really need much as my pack was pretty stocked but the volunteers manning the aid-stations were SUPER nice!
The only downfall with this race is that there is no where, and I mean no where, to pull off to the side of the trail when nature calls. You have a cliff on one side and a wall or mountain of dirt more or less on the other.
This kind of stunk as I had to go twice during the race. Both instances I had to literally climb over a cliff and down an embankment one time and then climb over some downed trees another. That took a lot of time.
Finally I came to the last aid-station at about mile 19.5. I just said hello and was ready to keep running. I almost went the wrong way until they pointed me towards some single track trails. Yes!
It was a short single track that then dumped you onto a short fire road that then led you to Caterpillar Trail. As I understand it from the locals, this trail was newly built and this was the first year the course was running on it.
I hit this trail and it was like a fire had been lit inside me!
I just ran and ran and ran! I felt no pain. I was in heaven. I was smiling ear to ear cheering on runners as I passed them. I think I passed about 10 people on this section of the trail. I had passed about 8 on the fire road the last few miles as well. My energy was strong.
Up, down, up, down the trail was full of little rollers that weaved in and out of trees. There were downward switch backs and tight corners. To your left was a cliff. The trail itself was only a foot or two wide and to your right was a dirt wall. I prayed no mountain bikers were out there (as it turns out, mountain bikers have their own section of caterpillar to ride on that is just for them, how cool!?).
Runners cheered me on as I passed them. Finally at mile 24 I came to this …
I had to laugh and take a photo. Always throwing in stairs for good fun.
Finally the trail dumps you out onto a paved road. After a turn, you realize that you’re on the same road you started the race on and that we only had a mile to go.
I ran hard. I knew the race had a 6 hour cutoff and I had no concept of time. I never once looked at my watch for time. I’d occasionally look at it for mileage when it beeped to see if the mile markers were accurate (they were) but never once did I glance at the time or the pace I was running.
I passed about 4 more runners on this road (they looked like they were hurting). Locals were sitting on their curbs cheering us on! It was so cute.
Then I see the finish arch ahead. I was so happy but then something to my left caught my eye. There was a HUGE buck just standing at the curb, not five feet from me. Four feet from it, was a woman just sitting and cheering.
I looked from the buck to the woman and from the woman to the buck thinking, “Does she not SEE that? Am I imagining this? He is RIGHT there!” I wanted to stop and pull out my camera but I was literally just 30 yards from the finish.
As it turns out, when I did finish, there had been a family of deer to my right as well! Crazy!
I finished in 5 hours even. I apparently snuck past everyone as they had to chase me down to give me my medal and race swag.
I then waited for Stonegate and Burning Girl to finish. I hadn’t heard from either of them throughout the race. The cell coverage was spotty most of the day so that was understandable.
Stonegate finished and was smiling ear to ear. Her time was about 5 hours and 30 minutes and she was feeling good.
We quickly walked down the street to Pioneer Hall where the post-race food was located. Here they gave us growlers!
My very own growler! I was so excited. Stonegate grabbed a burrito. I took a photo of all the local beer being served to send to Vans back home.
Then we went back to the finish area to wait for Burning Girl. Neither one of us had heard from her. I talked to the guy manning the finish area and he said no one had dropped at any of the aid-stations that he was aware of.
Then, we saw Hal, the race director. I wanted a photo so I grabbed Stonegate and we wandered over. We asked if we could have a photo with him.
At first he laughed, then said, “Yea, I think I saw a photo or something Facebook already … that took a lot of work.” 🙂
I assured him that it really didn’t take much! hahaha It was so funny. He truly was a super nice guy and a good sport about it. He shared with us some places where we could go and hang out tonight post race.
All of a sudden, Stonegate gets a text from Burning Girl that she had HIT THE PAVEMENT! She was on her way into the finish! There were 5 runners out there and she was one of them.
Down the hill she came! She looked amazing! She did it! She freaking ran that hard-a$$ marathon with little to no training. Mind over matter she did it! I am so damn proud of that woman. She is one helluva strong runner! Sadly, we did NOT get a post race photo of all of us! Grrr!
But we did stop on our walk back to the hotel at Standing Stone Brewing Company again to fill up our new growlers!
Then it was back to the hotel for a mini celebration and showers. Despite being a little sore and tired, we were anxious to get out and really experience downtown Ashland.
We had drinks, followed by a nice dinner in a great place with locals cheering on the Oregon football team. We told stories of what we all experienced during the run and how we felt at certain points. It was pure bliss.
Alas, we are moms and we were tired so we called it quits pretty early and headed back to the hotel (in the pouring rain). We had our growlers and were eager to get foam rolling! haha
The next morning was day light savings. The time change didn’t really help us, our internal mom clocks had us up the normal time. We grabbed coffee and breakfast from the hotel and went back to pack up and hit the road.
The drive back was good. Again we made it a point to stop at scenic over looks for photos.
We stopped in Redding to visit Burning Girl’s mother-inlaw. She is the sweetest woman. We also stopped in Weed, California to have a little fun – gotta have fun in Weed!
All in all, it was one of the best weekends that I have had in a really long time. I feel truly blessed to have a supportive spouse who encouraged me to go have a weekend with friends and I feel truly lucky to know these two ladies who love to travel, love to run and love to adventure just as much as I do! So thank you Vans and thank you Stonegate and Burning Girl for being the two best adventure pals ever. I love that you are always willing to go on my crazy adventures and destination races.
So the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon was my last trail race in my current age bracket. I have one more race of the season left in December and then I cross the proverbial line into a new age bracket, a new era. So far I have to say that I am not afraid. I am not sad about it. My thirties have been fabulous. I have been so very blessed and so very lucky thus far to have the family, friends and adventures that I have had. This year in particular has been one helluva year for me running wise.
I have met and talked with some outstanding runners and athletes this year and it is all because I love to explore. If my mom’s death taught me one thing (it actually taught me a lot) but most importantly I have learned to live life! There is no telling what tomorrow may bring. So grab life by the horns, and cherish it. Then, let it go and find the next big thing. Make memories (heck make waves if you can). Just do it. And don’t forget to smile.