I arrived in Sacramento two days before the race giving me enough time to get acquainted with the city. It was my first time here.
The entire city of Sacramento—an easy 2-hour drive from San Francisco—is quaint, relaxed, and filled with character. The roads are flat and lined with beautiful autumn trees showing off their leaves in brown and orange hues. The architecture of the houses have an old-fashioned charm and some of the landmarks in the city are majestic and breath-taking, particularly the California State Capitol which was where the finish line of our race was strategically located.
Before the race, the weather was much too cold for me. Temperature was in their low 40s with the wind—oh boy, the wind!—giving this poor little Pinay runner goosebumps every single time it swept past us. I was optimistic that the weather would improve during race day.
My hotel was conveniently located just a few blocks away from the Sacramento Convention Center where the race expo was held and, more importantly, near the finish line at Capitol Park. Braving the winds (and thinking this was a good way for me to acclimatize…brrr!), I walked to the convention center to claim my race pack.
The California International Marathon Expo was relatively modest compared to other large-scale international races such as the ING New York City Marathon or even Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. This expo had a small community feel to it, which was something I looked forward to even for the race itself.
The expo was filled with runners that looked fast and nimble. This was no surprise because CIM is known as one of the fastest courses in the US (even Runner’s World says so in its December 2011 Issue). I couldn’t count how many runners proudly wore their Boston Marathon, New York Marathon, or other popular marathon jackets or shirts. There were quite a number of senior runners who were double my age, but could probably run twice as fast. Gulp. A friend and I joked that we could easily be the last to finish at this marathon even if we broke our personal records!
Good thing I met good friends and fellow Pinoy runners at the expo to make me feel more at ease. It was Amale Jopson, wife of Ironman champ Noy Jopson, who convinced me to register for CIM. Way back in February, Amale persuaded me to abandon plans to run Macau Marathon and go for Sacramento instead. She said it was one of the fastest courses and we could come together, no husband, no kids, just a short trip for some serious racing. I signed up that same week! (Thank you Amale for recommending such a great race! Amale finished at an amazing 3:46. Congratulations!)
Claiming of race packs was well-organized and informal. All I had to do was look up and find the balloons spelling out “Race Packs” and I found my way in no time (like I said, it was a community-type of expo.)
I claimed my race bib and timing chip (ipico just like RunRio) then lined up to claim my race shirt and race pack. Then, I was off to shopping at the expo. I purchased an official marathon shirt, sampled a lot of bars, and perused through the booths of several other races in the US. I caught sight of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge: back to back marathons of Boston and Big Sur for an exclusive group of 400 runners only. Of course, you gotta qualify for Boston first! Wow, I wonder if I’ll ever get to do this in my lifetime.
The expo also offered several talks for runners. We took advantage of this and attended the talk on “How to Run CIM” which provided us with practical and useful tips for the next day’s race.
When I got back to the hotel room, I laid out all the loot from my bag and couldn’t believe I was just a few days away from running my next marathon…