California Marathon Road Trip: Jon’s First Marathon


The day had finally arrived – the reason for our trip – Jon’s marathon.  The 31st Annual California International Marathon.  December 8, 2013.  Jon was ready for this.  He had been training for months.  He had run some 25 mile runs.  He was cross training with swimming, weights and the stationary bike.  All that was left was to get out on the course.

The start time was 7 am, and despite choosing a marathon in California in December so the weather would be warmer, he was greeted with an unseasonably low Sacramento temperature of 27 degrees.  Jon was dressed in shorts, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, running hat and gloves and his socks and shoes.

As we watched all the bundled up runners pile out of the cars, he got worried that he had under-dressed.  “Look, they are all wearing pants and sweatshirts…” he said to me.  I reassured him that these California runners weren’t used to running in below freezing temps, but he ran when it was far colder.  If he put more layers on, he would just be too hot.  I wasn’t completely convinced that he wouldn’t get hypothermia, but I must have sounded confident.  He got out of the car to go up to the start line.  Fortunately, it took so long to get to the front of the line of cars in order to drop him off, that he really didn’t have much time to wait before the start of the race.

Unfortunately, the California International Marathon isn’t all that spectator friendly.  I dropped him at the start, but there is no place to park there to see the runners start.  I didn’t feel like parking more than a mile away and trying to find my way back to the start, in the dark, alone, and in subfreezing temps.  Jon was on his own…

I headed back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast and shower, then made my way to downtown Sacramento to find the finish line.  Jon told me he expected to finish at about 3 hours, 30 minutes, but I wasn’t too sure about his estimate.  He always estimates that he will be much slower than he is.  So I left lots of time.

An early runner - in front of the California State Capitol

An early runner – in front of the California State Capitol

I got downtown at about 9:10 am, and made my way over to the finish line.  There were some bands playing, some people cheering, and a Santa riding a reindeer – sorry, the reindeer was not real, just a costume, and sadly, I didn’t get a photo.  It was still cold – only in the 30s, but I found a spot right by the finish line and settled in for the wait.

Inspiration for the last half-mile!

Inspiration for the last half-mile!

Jon was wearing black shorts and a gray shirt, along with approximately 2,000 other runners.  I might be exaggerating here, but I’m not.  There were several false starts, as I spotted men coming toward the finish and did a double take before realizing it wasn’t Jon.

Jon made good in his estimate, finishing in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 27 seconds.  Amazing!  That is a race pace of 8 minutes per mile!  For 26.2 of them!  I can’t even do that pace for one mile!  I was very proud of him, but he was so cold after he stopped running that we didn’t hang around long at the finish celebration.  It was a long limp back to the car with a stop for a hot tea on the way.

Jon (at left) about to cross the finish line

Jon (at left) about to cross the finish line

Jon's attempt at a smile - he was tired and cold!

Jon’s attempt at a smile – he was tired, cold and in pain!

Back at the hotel, Jon took off his shoe to reveal a bloody right foot.  I accused him of not trimming his nails.  It wasn’t until a couple days later that we discovered the culprit.  A large (about the size of a penny, but thicker, and much sharper) PIECE OF GLASS that was sticking up through the sole of his shoe.  He said that he had felt something about a half mile into the race, but kicked at it and just kept running.  At one point he thought that the pain was just his foot cramping.  Apparently my husband either has an EXTREMELY high tolerance for pain, or he has no nerve endings in his foot.  He says the piece of glass, “just adds to the legend.”

So who knows how well Jon would have run if he had not had a large piece of glass puncturing his foot for 25.5 miles of the race.  But I do know, he ran well, and I couldn’t be more proud!

And Jon, remember we aren’t going to make marathons in California a new tradition.  I love you, but our next vacation won’t be in California!

(And in case you are worried – the foot didn’t get infected…)

4 thoughts on “California Marathon Road Trip: Jon’s First Marathon

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