The Santa Rosa Marathon started at 7am this morning. Since Bill and I had run the Park City race only last week, we both approached the starting line with some trepidation. I was glad to be back at sea level, but my muscles were still tired: sleepy and heavy.

The course looked on the map like it was a double out-and-back, but once I was on it, I could see the course director had runners straddling two sides of a creek in a tight double loop. (The race director, Arthur Webb, is a bit of a legend, it turns out. We discovered this later while wine tasting with some local runners at the Windsor Tasting room in Healdsburg. In 2009 he was recognized as a ten-time finisher of Badwater!) Bill and I were going to get to pass one another at the turn around as he started the second loop.

All summer I’ve complained about the weather in Bellingham – how it’s been cool and cloudy and moist – but this morning just a touch of Bellingham in California felt perfect. We had low clouds at the start of the race that lasted until just before noon. The course was very well marked and supported. It ran past cornfields and vineyards following the water most of the way.

My goal was to run every mile in under 12 minutes. A meager goal to those who race their marathons hard, I realize, but a good goal for me. I managed this up until mile 18 and then my legs started to talk to me. Particularly my left leg was saying things like, “What’s up lady? Why are you doing this to me again?” I’ve been nursing a tight hamstring/quad combo for weeks. Today I had to speak back, coaxing: “Relax darling. You’re almost done and I appreciate all the work you’ve put in this past week. I promise to let you rest as soon as we finish.”

Following everything I’ve learned in Carol Frazey’s running group about form, I kept my cadence regular, my steps small, and my arms swinging parallel to the ground. I leaned forward just a bit and kept my head up. All this helped me keep going when everything in me wanted to curl up on the side of the road for a nap.

As I tweeted (and yes, I did this from my regular old cell  phone), I finished the race in 5:18 and Bill finished in 3:56. I’m off to bed now as I’m so tired I hardly have words for it.


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