What a fun race!  She-Ra has talked about it for the last few years and the timing just never really worked for me.  Signing up for CIM after Javelina seemed like a bad idea so I went looking for a marathon.  She mentioned she was doing Redding again, I signed up, and we recruited others.  As things go, a few people fell off for various reasons along the way – and then there were four. 

My training since Javelina was stellar.  I’ve been in the best shape, runs seemed effortless, and nothing ruins a great streak like getting the flu.  But this wasn’t your garden variety flu, this was full-blown, high fever, double whammy flu.  I started getting sick on 12/29.  With Redding still far enough out, I thought – no big deal.  Wrong.  It took at least four days for the fever to subside and then the stuffy nose, congestion, coughing part kicked in. 

After a week of not running, I felt like I could finally go out for a jog.  Man, what a disappointment.  It seemed like all of that fitness I had was lost.  And not only that, my muscles were aching from this little three mile run.  WTF.  I run a hundred mile race just two months back and now a three mile run is kicking my ass.  Baby steps.

Each day I’d go out for my short run, which got a little longer with each passing day, and each day the effort seemed labored and my pace would fall off at the end.  This went on all the way up to race week and I wasn’t even sure if I’d run the marathon.  But I knew I’d go Redding because travel was all paid and athletes I coach would be there.  I figured there was no need to make the decision of whether to run or not until race morning.  I actually made the decision after a run on the Friday prior.  Not a great run, not a bad run, it just seemed like I turned a corner.  I wasn’t 100% convinced but my plan was to start off cautious and I could adjust if things went sideways. 

Back in December, I went for a run with Brendan and we hit almost 18 miles at an average of 7:30 with the remaining few miles closer to 7:15.  On race morning, Speedy McSpeederson wants me to start off with him running “7:05 miles”.  I gave him my duh face and wished him well. 

The gun went off and I started with an easy jog.  Since I no longer use lap split times on my Garmin, I ran the race on average pace.  After the first mile, the race descends about 1.5 miles which really helped drive down the average.  After that, I was sort of going by feel until I got to mile 8 where it seemed like in the past few weeks, I’d start to fall off.  I felt good though.  Not super-fast but not as slow as I anticipated.  That really helped motivate me. 

Once I got past 8 miles, I set a goal of keeping the average as what showed on my Garmin – 7:45.  It went lower, it went higher, and when it did go higher, I pushed a little harder to get back to down 7:45.

The course rolls, the scenery is awesome, the majority of the race is on a hike and bike trail, and it was really a Zen moment until the final three miles.  That took a ton of focus between 23-26 but I was determined to keep my 7:45 average.  Some days you just have the desire to dig a little deeper and this was one of those days.  I crossed the finish line with my 7:45 average for a grand total of 3:24, 1st in the age group, and another BQ.

I said this in the beginning and I will say it again – what a fun race!