I started writing this post ages ago, before the marathon, but then life happened, so it's going up quite a while later :). Enjoy!
We decided that, since it was a Saturday race, it made the most sense to drive up in the morning. This meant we woke up at the oh so lovely hour of 3:40, and hustled to get out the door by 4am. The drive was actually pretty quick, just 2 1/2 hours, and we seemed to arrive just as the parking was starting to get busy.
Ed and I have stopped in Auburn a number of times on our way to and from Tahoe, but haven't really ventured beyond the freeway exit (and very nice public restroom). So, who knew that the beautiful American River was so close? (Well, pretty much every ultrarunner does, thanks to Western States, as did all the goldrushers who tried to make there fortune there. I suppose the "who" refers to people like us who have experienced Auburn as more of a rest stop than a city in its own right, Western States movies/race reports not included).
In any event, as soon as we got off the freeway, the beauty of this area was stunningly apparent. I was so excited driving over the river, seeing "No Hands Bridge" and headed into the Sierra foothills. Of course, as I stared into the rolling hills and mountains covered in trees, I couldn't help but think about how it would be to run through those for 100 miles.
While this wasn't a 100 mile race, it was certainly exciting in its own right, and the race headquarters was buzzing. We quickly parked, after driving through the starting line, and then walked back.
We were first greeted with the ultra village, fairly quiet this morning, but we could imagine how full of energy it would be just a few hours later.
Ed went to pick up his packet and that was it! He was ready to start.
We had about an hour to kill, so we headed back to the car to rest. Well, I rested. Ed went out for a "warm up" run - that is how you know you are a fast runner. I am more than happy for the first mile of my run to be the warm up, but, to each his own.
About 30 minutes later, Ed headed out to tackle these new to him trails, sporting some ASU pride in honor of his new job.
Since I was parked a few hundred feet down from the start, it worked perfectly for me to wait at the car and then catch a great view as they all flew past.
It was exciting to see so many hyped, fit runners fly by, and soon, my very own was passing in the pack.
As I watched them all fly off into the distance, I couldn't help but be a little bit envious. For the first time, though, I was not that far off, distance wise, from being able to be out there myself. Soon, I hope.
After they passed, I slowly walked up the road, back towards the entrance, where they were quickly breaking everything down, and deflating the starting arch. As the arch sunk to the ground, a figure flew over the top, saying something as he sprinted ahead. I did a double take before I realized it was Gordy Ainsley! How cool :)
My plan was to go take a nap for an hour, then see the runners come back through, then drive on out to Auburn. I rested for about 30 minutes when I realized that perhaps I had made a serious error. Quickly, I started up the car and started driving down the road, only to see what I feared, cones blocking the exit.
I luckily found a spot in the parking lot and then walked up to a volunteer, inquiring about the possibility of leaving. Apparently, I'd missed my chance by just a few minutes.
So, I was here for the long haul. Luckily (or unluckily as the case may be) I had a mountain of grading and report cards to do, so I was set. I worked pretty happily for about an hour until it got close to 8:45. Ed told me to expect him around 9, so I headed out to watch.
I only had to wait about 10 minutes before he flew by, stopping to give me a quick kiss before he headed off, back into the wilderness.
He looked strong, and was a little ahead of his predicted time (but not by too much) so it seemed like his race was going well. Now, I'd had a similar experience with him in previous races, where he was strong part way and decidedly less so later on, but I had a good feeling about this race.
Now, I had to figure out what I should do with myself. Ed still had 22 miles to go, so I had plenty of time. I'd previously wandered through the town area a little and hadn't seen much, So I'd decided the car was the best bet. I spent the next few hours working on report cards (oh they happy life of a teacher) until I started to get pretty hungry.
I'd seen a pizza place, so I headed there. Of course, once I arrived, I figured out that they had free wi-fi (score!) and wished I'd come sooner. It was the perfect place to hang out for a few more hours. Even better, the race had live footage from the race, so I could keep tabs on the finish line. I'd peer at it every 15 minutes or so and it was still pretty empty. However, at last glance it suddenly started looking fuller, and I took that as my cue to leave.
I headed over to the finish and gave my mom a call, who was apparently watching the live feed (and had seen him come across at mile 9 as well). As we chatted, I saw Scott Dunlap cross the finish, who is usually really speedy, and so told my mom that Ed would definitely be a while (it was around 4:45 past start time at this point). Ends up, Scott had been sick, which was why he was hanging out at this fast (though slower than normal pace.
Wouldn't you know that Ed came around the bend toward the finish not 5 minutes later?
My poor mom completely missed it, based on my bad intelligence. Luckily you could watch the video later :).
I was so proud of him as he flew through toward the finish, looking very strong for the end of a race and finishing in 4:52.
Honestly, this was the best I have ever seen him after a race. No blue lips, which has been his usual staple. He told me he actually remembered to breath during this race :). This was a PR for him by about 12 minutes.
And of course, what Way Too Cool event would be complete without this very special sweet treat.
It was so fun to watch Ed do this race, knowing mine wasn't to far behind.
Now, having finished my marathon, I can't help but wonder (and hope) that a 50k might be in my near future as well.