Cinderella Marathon, 18th Aug, 2012

Husband Hamish and friend Dave being sensible

Buttons made my day. Prince Charming  disappeared on me.

A tough week for my liver. Gorgeous UK friends Dave, Penny and family blessed us with a visit. And it was the last week of our kids’ summer holiday- time to spoil the darlings to assuage  guilt over my joy I will soon be free to run while they are detained at school.

It had been a long summer for Mummy Macphail

I focused on partying and trying to get them all to emigrate to America – and very  little running  occurred. So I called it a taper and reported for my second Coastal Trails marathon in a week, ready to atone for sloth, gluttony and wine consumption – and a little lighter thanks to the chunk missing from my left knee. Last seen before I knelt on a  Champagne flute in the hot tub. (Yes the left knee AGAIN!).

Hideousnessification of shoe. I hate turquoise.

Bizarrely, I was running this Cinderella marathon once again wearing ‘glass slippers’. The last three times I have bought running shoes the only ones that fit to the satisfaction of my huge, cantankerous bunion are monotone turquoise. This time I drove to a new store and was excited to learn they DID have size elephant in a wide fitting in an attractive shoe with pink and green on it. I tried them on. Sigh. “I think you’ll find you have something in monotone turquoise that is more comfortable”. They rummaged in the back and found some. It was lovely to hear my children laughing together.

To me this is one of Coastal Trail’s toughest courses. http://www.coastaltrailruns.com/cin_smmr_cinderella.html Its medium  elevation (the marathon climbs just 4, 740 ft) is deceptively do-able, and much of it is  shaded in Oakland’s lovely Joaquin Miller Park.  But then there is this one eyeball-popping hill ‘West Ridge’ which starts at mile 8 and outstays its welcome for around three miles. And marathon and 50k runners claw up it twice!  On hot days like this you’d  need to be a snake to enjoy how exposed it is.

Soon after the start I encountered lively spirit Anna Zeilaski. She was doing the 50K but was steaming along with me (doing the marathon  – which is 5 miles shorter) and even flew ahead pursuing some of those cheeky  half marathoners. Was she was an awesome runner or an inexperienced one?  Sporting instincts wanted a lady to kick ass… but motherly instincts worried …I’ve seen many runners start like Tigger and end like Eeyore. I minded my own but mentioned that her pace was awfully fast  for the 50k a few times every now and then.

After a while she did settle to a pace behind mine. I wished her well and missed  her company, she was infectiously smiling and bouncy.

The forest  trail lives up to its fairy tale name.  It isn’t a tame roller coaster type single track here though. The ups and downs can be long and I fear I irritated a few runners by doing my usual of blustering by them on the down and presenting an obstacle to be passed on the ups. Must learn to run uphill faster! Eventually my down work exceeded the ups of the gang I was coinciding with and I was alone for a stretch.

There is an advantage in knowing the course here for two reasons.

First of all,  I  recognized  I was on the final descent out of forest and around 5 mins away from ‘The West Ridge Experience’.  Time to dine. Fuel up.  A lesson from her majesty, running royalty Speedy Crosby-Helms- you want that stuff in you about 5 mins before a nasty hill. And this is quite the nastiest hill I know.

Secondly, I know this is pretty steep single track but you pop out onto fire road at the bottom, so you don’t need to be cautious about gathering too much momentum. I shot out of forest with an involuntary whoop of exhilaration  – you really can go fast there! – and found myself in sudden close proximity to  four startled  eyes and two gaping mouths. Two older gentlemen had been strolling along the fire road. I shouted : “catch me!” as a joke and swerved to avoid them and …. it was very cute….four little arms shot up in the air encase I really needed stopping. I do love that kind of  little exchange during races. Americans are so very uniformly supportive and friendly, they could easily have been annoyed.

Stephanie Queren..speedy on the 30K
On the way towards the Fish Ladder station I saw two very fit, strong looking ladies positively hammering it back towards the hill. They appeared to be locked in mortal combat so I checked the results to see who had won- but one was doing the half marathon and the other the 30K ..I wonder if they knew that :0) They both set female course records.  I raised a hand to high five them and they shot by without interest. A little embarrassing lol (still, contact at that speed might break an arm )

Mr Shoenberg …coming to a marathon near you this fall

And  – THE hill arrived. I did my best, remembering facing it on different race days and casting my mind back to race acquaintances especially David Shoenberg and Andrea Warburton (aka Bluebird) both of whom I knew were temporarily unable to run marathons today – David recovering from injury and building mileage up gradually with a steely patience and calm I will never  possess,  Andrea sentenced with disgust to the swimming pool in the late stages of pregnancy. I wished them both well. I hope they have the decency to pretend to be out of breath when they glide uphill by me here  in the future.

Shortly after getting to the final, actual, no psych, definite top of  the West Ridge climb runners stream downhill to the Moon Gate aid station – which you also pass near mile 3. Here was the  Buttons of my Cinderella marathon.  I don’t know his name but he was wearing a Coastal Trails Grizzly Peak shirt so is clearly a runner himself . He was THE perfect aid station helper. I passed that station four times  – every time he was alert and looking out for runners in every direction ….he saw me approach ( I had unscrewed the top of my water bottle ready for a fast refill). He took the trouble to shout at me to find out it I wanted water or electrolyte mix in the bottle,  selected the one I needed and was tipping it toward my bottle as I reached him. As it filled he gave  clear, brief details on mileage to the next aid station and asked if I needed anything else all with a sense of urgency that reflected how I felt. When I did need a gel he pointed to them clearly so I could find them quickly. It doesn’t help when well  people do more –  if they hand you one it might be  a flavour you can’t stomach, if they start listing flavours like  restaurant specials it burns time.  It was like a formula 1 pitstop – and all topped off with smiles and words of encouragement. He should hold aid station classes.

As I looped the start/finish which marks the halfway point and headed up into the forest again I encountered Andrew O’Connor. He had been ahead of me but had spent 2 minutes refreshing at the aid station there (some people like to change their shoes and stuff when they get the chance to leave a bag and revisit it like this. It amused me that he was so specific with the amount of time it had taken). I felt very sluggish at this point – just as I had the last time I did this race. Then I was  motivated by chatting to  Andrea Warburton then watching her flitting between the trees ahead of me  – her blue top reminding me of a bluebird. Andrew was inconsiderately only  wearing black shorts so he was more tricky to spot but I strived to keep him in view for a few miles. Later, I told a lady it had been exciting chasing a half naked man through the forest. It was his mother.  Oops.

By the time I lost sight of him I was feeling fresher again and was not lonely for long before Danny arrived at my shoulder. I decided he was the Prince Charming of the day as he approached  in a distinctively  gentlemanly manner- he  actually ASKED  if he could run with me for a while. How nicely put and thoughtful.  No-one would answer “no” – but it gave me the opportunity to be clear I welcomed company (as I did) or subtly indicate I would prefer staying in my  zone/not talking.  Had I not been overtly welcoming I am sure he would have put a spurt on and run ahead then settled back to his pace. I liked him. We chatted away, running comfortably at a good pace until we came to that steep downhill leading to the fire road and the  Fish Ladder aid station. I was not able to wow him with my insider knowledge of this being a good time to fuel up before the hill etc as he was a master Garmin user/map genious. Although he wasn’t familiar with the race, he had this point and all sorts of other key points plumbed into his device. How you do that I have NO idea. Either my Garmin is an inferior model or I owe it an apology for underestimating its capabilities.

Danny didn’t share my glee at reaching this point though. To my surprise he said legs had completely gone for downhill. I didn’t realize how serious he was  until I flew off down the hill alone. I did the Fish Ladder  aid station thing, doubled back towards the hill and was surprised how far back he was. But he looked great and I said I’d see him on the hill  – which I did. He caught up with me easily. It was amazing  – his legs really were rock solid on hill but shot for downs. He passed me but stayed in view and I was grateful to have a friendly back to focus on  for miles. There was a nice moment when  I encouraged a  bunch of giggly Chinese lady hikers to heckle him for showing off  at one point.  He waved back down the hill and we could hear him protesting.

Indian lady I helped, listed as ‘unknown runner’. She certainly made a full recovery here she is completing the half marathon..good for her!!

That West Ridge was getting very hot by now. I reached an Indian lady doing the half marathon who seemed to be really suffering from dehydration and exposure. I gave her the little water I had left, grateful for the chance  to do for someone else what a stranger did for me during the Pacifica Foothills marathon.  Now I started dreaming of Buttons shouting  of  ‘water or electrolyte’ at the Moon Gate.

I caught up with Danny. I had forgotten his issue with downs but clearly his legs hadn’t. He said ” Kill it sister” and I ran off laughing, thinking he would be right behind me, again not fully appreciating the extent of his discomfort. Buttons was his wonderful self and oh my goodness did that ice cold water taste like heaven. Such a happy moment, thirst gone, water in hand and off you go for just  1.7 miles of shady, predominantly downhill forest trail.

The last time I did this race, I paused to see if Bluebird might be there so we could finish together. Today I turned to check if Danny was there  – but he wasn’t. Both of these people helped me get through tough times on the course and both had been well ahead of me  for long stretches. I wasn’t going to  dash to the finish just ahead of them.

With Andrew O’Connor, second and semi naked man

I finished and finally caught up with Andrew (the  half naked man I had been chasing) He was stretched out on the grass surrounded by fans- one of whom took this photo of us. He had been second overall in the marathon, a full 5 minutes ahead of me ….that would be why I couldn’t see him. I was third with a time of 4 hours 6 mins and an average pace of 9.30/m. (This was  also a female course record…perhaps those speedy ladies  would have high fived me now had they not gone home over an hour ago).

Danny- Prince Charming- kill it brother!
I began to worry when Danny didn’t appear. I pestered the race organizers to find out what had happened to him but  had to leave without knowing. When the results came through I saw it had taken him c. an hour to cover those last 3 miles..before which point he was ahead of me. I  guessed he walked, probably in considerable discomfort  – he could easily have dropped out at Moon Gate. Brave with a dash of insanity. Well done Prince Charming. The people that inspire me most and I remember most take part with that kind of spirit.

When Wendell handed out awards we  met  Dominick Layfield who won the marathon in 3hrs 54.37. Not only did he put us in the shade with his speed, he proceeded to  outclass us by waving away  his second medal (one for being a marathon finisher and one for being first man), saying one was quite enough for any marathon.  I tightened my grip on both of mine, ran to my car and drove all the way home wearing them with with pride.

Thank you Coastal Trails, thank you Buttons!

With Christina Dietz. 2nd marathon lady, 1st in age group. ( It is a looooooooong time since I was in that age group!). Her family and I were so proud of her, great time on a toughie for her first trail marathon. The next day she was off to college to study psychology. Maybe she will figure out what is wrong with us…why do we keep running marathon

AND FINALLY

And here is my Cinderella of the day. Anna – the lady who I worried had started the 50K too fast. Boy did she go to the ball. She was overall winner of the 50k and now holds the female course record of 5.29.55! Strange thing – doesn’t she look like the 30k winner Stephanie Queren?

Marathon

Place

Name City

Bib No

Age

Age Group

Time

Pace

1

Dominick Layfield Park City UT

423

40

1 M 40-49

3:54:37

9:01/M

2

Andrew OConnor Eureka CA

430

28

1 M 20-29

4:01:03

9:16/M

3

Penny Macphail San Anselmo CA

425

44

1 F 40-49

4:06:53

9:30/M

4

Christopher Bair Oakland CA

402

29

2 M 20-29

4:25:02

10:12/M

5

Maxime Petazzoni Sunnyvale CA

431

25

3 M 20-29

4:25:35

10:13/M

6

Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins Davis CA

440

28

4 M 20-29

4:29:29

10:22/M

7

Steven Hofmeyr Oakland CA

419

44

2 M 40-49

4:29:44

10:22/M

8

Christina Dietz Tustin CA

409

21

1 F 20-29

4:36:36

10:38/M

9

Joshua Bergstrom Oakland CA

403

37

1 M 30-39

4:51:28

11:13/M

10

Natalie Martineau Vacaville CA

426

19

1 F 13-19

5:02:53

11:39/M

11

Daniel Zielaski Missoula MT

441

28

5 M 20-29

5:11:09

11:58/M

12

Michaela Burgess Citrus Heights CA

404

32

1 F 30-39

5:17:25

12:13/M

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2 responses to “Cinderella Marathon, 18th Aug, 2012

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