Cruising Around Northern California
My 10 day trip had started the day before that game on Friday, April 25. At 6:45am, Delaware Express picked
me up for a private ride to PHL in a classy Town Car. My flights through Denver to San Jose were not as private -
totally full. Big lady, bags of peanuts, airport walks,... the usual. Arrived SJO at 130pm PDT.
Take a side-trip to read about my week leading up to the race:
Road Trip to Fortuna
Bart and I did a quick weekend road trip to Fortuna, CA - 300 miles north of his home in Santa Clara. We stayed
just Saturday night at a Super 8 motel, approximately 30 miles from the race, which is pretty much in the middle
of nowhere. On the road at 9:30am, we made a side trip across San Francisco Bay to visit his mom before driving up
on a beautiful, clear day. The scenic drive on Highway 101 brought us past San Quentin prison, San Rafael and
the coastal wine country.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
The road got hillier and the trees grew taller, the farther north we drove. Packed pickup is in a gravel parking lot,
just off an exit ramp. Grabbed my bib & shirt, snapped a pic and continued north to our motel, with just enough time
to attend 5pm Mass, stretch our legs on the main street of the very sleepy town of Fortuna, and grab a good pasta
meal. On TV, we watched the Golden State Warriors lose a playoff game.
Ray's race bib
7:45 am Start
Up at 5:30 to stretch, pack, install contact lenses and hit the motel office for coffee. By 6:45, we hit the
runner traffic approaching the gravel lot. Driving the narrow road with redwood trees so close that you could
touch them was an inspirational way to prepare to run past them. The start line is under the overpass of Hwy 101
and we immediately start a very gradual ascent into the deep forest. An awesome place to run as we weaved our way past
the huge trees on the winding road.
My pace was about 7:40 for the first 3 miles, which I realized was too fast. Constant Redwoods. Funniest sign I saw
read "Tall Tree", with a directional arrow. Hitting the turnaround at mile 6.5 of this first out-and-back section
was great, since I realized we'd now benefit with the slight downhill back to the start/finish area where we'd turn
to the 2nd loop of the course. Bart was there to snap a pic of me at 12.5, just as my legs were starting to tire a bit.
Of course I wondered how my heavy (due to the insert I'd bought) old shoes would affect my performance.
1500 Half & 600 10K runners join us
Since the marathoners had spread out, it was great to run amidst the runners of the other events on the entire 2nd loop.
They had started later, so before long I was catching the slower runners, which helped give my mind something to focus
on besides the fact that I was growing tired - and I had just about seen enough Redwood trees ;-) We also now had a
slight mist and sometimes drizzle falling, which actually felt good since it was humid, calm and not chilly.
Turn for Home
I was happy to reach the mile 19.8 turnaround and was starting to slow and struggle. This stretch found me being passed
by marathoners at the same time as I was continuing to pass halfers. Walking crossed my mind a couple times, but was out
of the question. At my chip time of 3:37:48, my name was announced as I crossed the line.
Oranges, bananas & a delicious chocolate wrap.
Drizzle & mist. Stretching & hobbling.
Basking in the Glory?
It was festive at the finish, but not festive enough to stick around for long. Naturally, Bart drove the next leg as
we headed south to a Burger King in Willits, where I used the spacious restroom to change out of my running gear.
Including that stop and a couple stretch stops, our time on the road was 1215 to 530pm when we crossed the Golden
Gate into San Francisco (I'd later get a ticket in the mail even though the toll booth said "go"...
Arrived at Bart's house in time to enjoy pizza while watching a Rangers/Penguins NHL playoff game!
Not too sore...
Up at 7am. Coffee + bonus pizza for breakfast!
Check email on my laptop. Walk a block to loosen up. Pack the car as the painters arrive again. At 1145, depart
for SJO, gassing up the car and enjoying a speedy car rental return. Walk across the street to a long security line
at SW Airlines. Plenty of time, so I call Mom (gotta use my cell minutes) and sip a Jamha Juice smoothie. Still time
to walk and relax more. Score a window seat in the back on another full flight and snap photos of the Bay Area
as the plane turns to the east for a stop in Denver and arrival in Philly at 1215am. Yawn.
Ray's Chip Time: 3:37:48
Top 12% overall - 78 of 636 finishers
Top 15% Male (50-54) - 5 of 34 finishers
Avenue of the Giants Marathon patch
Ray's old & worn running shoes
Race morning, just after parking
Marathon Man heads in the Redwood forest
Marathon Man after finish