The Inaugural Bakersfield Marathon was on Sunday, November 13, 2016. This was my 11th full marathon and my 3rd full marathon to pace. I’d love to say that the race was wonderful and I came in right on time, but sadly, that is not the case. Was it the delayed start? The weather? My fuel / hydration intake? Or did I simply not train enough?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Saturday morning I left my house to make the 4.5 hour drive south to Bakersfield. It was a fairly uneventful drive and I made it to Bakersfield by about 2:30pm. I signed up to run Bakersfield without really know much about Bakersfield. I knew it was in southern California, north of LA, but that was about it. When I arrived in Bakersfield, I looked around and thought it was a little smoggy and desert-like. I still, however, was excited to have the opportunity to be in a new location and explore it by foot!
As soon as I got into town, I headed straight for the Expo located at Buck Owens Crystal Palace. For the Bakersfield Marathon being an inaugural event, I was pretty impressed by the number of vendors represented at the Expo and how organized it was. I was pumped and ready for a great weekend in Bakersfield!
*Side note: I’ve been on the lookout for neon socks to match my neon Beast Pacing shirt for a while now. I was so excited to have found these Pro Compression socks that matched perfectly with my shirt!
After the expo, I made my way to the hotel. I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening completing report cards. (Yes, blogging / running are my hobbies. Teaching 5th grade is my profession.) Before heading out to find dinner, I complete a little two mile shakeout run on the hotel’s treadmill since it was already dark outside, I was unfamiliar with the area, and I was under strict instructions from the hubby / parents to stay safe while out of town.
I was craving a thin crust veggie pizza for dinner, but settled for a veggie sandwich from a local health store’s deli instead. I washed the sandwich down with a liter of water.
My alarm went off at 4:45 the next morning which gave me time to shower, pack up my things, toast my bagel, and then drive to the starting line. Getting to the starting line proved a little difficult with the amount of road closures in effect. Fortunately, I finally made it to CSU Bakersfield at about 6am, found the Beast Pacing group, and headed to the starting line.
One of the reasons why I love pacing so much is due to the people I meet. Two of these beautiful ladies were running their first full marathon and 5 hours was their goal! I always love hearing people’s reasons for wanting to run a full marathon! As for the third woman, the woman on the far right of this picture, she was running her fifth marathon and her and I stuck together for a large portion of the course.
All of the participants were lined up at the starting line by 6:45am, the National Anthem was played, and we were ready to begin. Strangely, however, the announcer came over the loudspeaker and said that there was a five minute delay. After five minutes passed, he said that it’d be another five minutes. This continued several times until at about 7:35am when the announcer told us it’d be an extended delay and we should go use the restroom. At this point everyone was getting a little agitated. Why the long delay? How much longer would we have to wait? The longer we waited, the hotter the course was going to be.
At 8:00am we were given a five minute warning and were told that the race start delay was caused due to an overturned car on the course that police were working hard to clear before they could let us start. An article on Bakersfield.com states, “There was certainly room for improvement, most notably at the start, which was delayed 67 minutes. The reason, race organizers said, was twofold: One is that contractor KRC Safety Co. initially put down roadblocks at the wrong intersections and had to move them, and because the race is a qualifier for the famed Boston Marathon, the course needed to be re-certified… The other reason for the delay, organizers said, is that an early-morning auto accident near the intersection of California Avenue and Marella Way was still being cleaned up when the race was scheduled to start at 7 a.m.”
Finally at 8:07am we were off! The first nine mile were fantastic! Despite the course being a little long (between .10 – .20 of a mile), I was on pace, we had spectators, there were a variety of runners on the course (since the half marathon started 10 minutes after us), and the weather was still somewhat cool. At 9 miles, however, the half marathoners split from the full marathoners and we were left with a sporadic spread of participants. We, however, were still running through neighborhoods so at least we had some shade from trees and the local people out cheering us on. The local people, in fact, were SO awesome! They had make shift water stations, signs, poms, cow bells, and smiles from ear to ear. The people of Bakersfield were awesome!
From miles 13 – 16, this is where things began to get difficult. We had a steady slow climb up to Bakersfield College before making the turnaround to head back down to CSU Bakersfield. I knew of this slow climb ahead of time so my strategy was to give us a little cushion so we wouldn’t become too far off of pace. I successfully provided us a two minute cushion which kept us still on pace up until about mile 15. The problem at this point, however, became the weather. We were three hours into the course, 11am, and the sun was blaring! The final seven miles were on the Kern River Parkway Trail. It was dry, desolate, and hot! Before I knew it, I was two minutes behind schedule. At this point I had to try to run faster to make up time. At mile 19, I was able to run a 10:33 mile, but it was too little too late. The weather kept getting hotter and my body was shutting down. No matter the mantra I tried repeating in my head, I could not will my body to move faster.
Was it my hydration? Should I have drank more water? Did I need some more electrolytes? Had I not properly fueled? Was it the heat?
Back at mile 15 there was a female runner who was sprawled out on the side of the course and paramedics were running towards her. At other points along the course we saw and heard ambulances driving towards the course area.
In the end, I completed 26.36 miles in 5:16:14. I came in a little 16 minutes over my scheduled pace of 5 hours. Yes, I successfully completed my 11th full marathon, my 5th full marathon this calendar year, yet I was not in the mood to celebrate. I let myself down and my pacing team down.
Beast Pacing is run by a woman named Vanessa Kline. She is a beast herself! She’s a ultra-marathoner, a mom, and runs a successful business! Vanessa was there at Sunday’s Bakersfield marathon so I felt even more pressure to do a job well done. I was worried about what her response would be when I crossed the finish line. Want to know what her response was? She came rushing over to me and asked with a concerned look on her face, “Are you ok? Do you need anything?” Wow! She is truly a one-of-a-kind individual!
After crossing the finish line, all I wanted to do was to lay down in the grass! I couldn’t, however, because I had to make the nearly one mile walk back to my car. I first stopped in the food truck area to pick up a free slice of freshly made wood-fired pizza. I couldn’t even fathom taking one bite out of it, however, so I carried it as I slowly made my way to the car. I made it a little ways further then stopped, laid in the grass, checked Google Maps to figure out where my car was, and willed myself to get back up. I made it a little further to a bench before taking another break. A part of me wondered if I was ever going to make it back to my car. I finally got to the parking lot, but I couldn’t find my car! It took all that was within me to not plop down in the middle of the parking lot and begin crying! I was spent! Emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent! After pressing my lock button repeatedly trying to see blinking lights somewhere in the parking lot, I finally found my car! Yay!
I got in the car, plugged in directions back to my house, and began the 4.5 hour journey home. I stopped at a fast food restaurant, changed into dry clothes, ordered a large ice cold coca-cola with ice, a small smoothie, and a small fry. I slowly consumed this (along with the pizza slice from earlier) as I drove North on I-5. I was finally starting to feel a little better.
This picture below was taken at mile 23. My smile is fake. My form is awful. I am hurting. My shirt, shorts, and visor are soaked by the amount of water I poured over my head. All I’m thinking at this point is I have to finish, I can not DNF (did not finish).
Despite what some may say, there is nothing easy about 26.2 miles. When a half marathoner passed me at mile 6, saw my 5 hour sign, and said, “Five hours? That’s easy!” that was a lie. Whether you complete 26.2 miles in 3 hours or 5 hours, you are still both traversing a course that is 26.2 miles long!
I am most certainly not a professional, nor a robot. I do not claim to be fast, nor perfect. I am human. I hope to be given another chance. When the husband asked me if I’d do Bakersfield again, I replied, “Yes. I want to leave Bakersfield with a good taste in my mouth, not with a taste of wanting more.”
Although I may be feeling really down right now about my poor performance and not meeting my pacing goal of five hours, I must remember how far I’ve come. I was once a couch potato. I’ve lost 60 pounds and have completed 11 full marathons! Just this year I solidified my spot as a marathon maniac by running a full marathon on April 30th and then another full marathon the next day on May 1st! I’m not a quitter and I’m going to keep on moving forward despite the “off” days. I’m going to learn from this and make tomorrow better. Besides, I have another marathon coming up in a mere 19 days!