Imagine a day with perfect conditions for racing. Clear skies, no precipitation, absence of wind and great course conditions with solid footing. Take the exact opposite of that and you have the 2010 Diamond Valley Lake Marathon. 3:28:01 after the start of the race, I crossed the finish line after experiencing the worst race-day weather of any of my 35 (to-date) marathons.
The forecast was for rain, and the forecast was accurate. I hid under a tent that was just to the side of the start line until the beginning of the race and I took off from there. Within the first mile, I was getting whipped by the wind and the rain was stinging as it hit me. I knew it would be a long day, but the race report would be fun to write.
About 22 of the 26 miles of this race are run on a dirt fire road. We were on that path within about 1/2 mile and it was very muddy. I was cautious early, trying to get used to footing. It was slippery in parts, my feet sunk into the mud for a fair amount and there were dozens of big puddles I had no choice but to run through.
I fell into a rhythm after a couple of miles and knew it wasn’t going to be a fast day. This was my third time running this race and I never run a quick time. The course isn’t a killer, but it’s just not quick. In perfect weather, I ran a 3:17 two years ago and a 3:24 last year. Both times, I ran the Carlsbad Marathon faster the next day, so that’s probably a good indicator that I can’t really compare a performance on this course to a regular road course. It’s not a trail run, but it’s still not ideal for a blazing time.
At about six miles in, we cross over a long road — I think it’s a dam — and there was a fierce headwind that made me feel like I was on a treadmill. I was running and running and going nowhere. I had been running 7:30 miles in the mud, but with this wind, I turned an 8:37 mile on a flat road.
From there, the elements didn’t get any better. The rain was off-and-on the entire race. Sometimes it was a sprinkle, sometimes it was a heavy downpour. The course was a run around a large lake and after we got past that dam and wrapped around the lake, the wind alternated between crosswind and headwind for about 10 miles.
I hit the 1/2 in 1:41 and just hoped to match my 3:24 from last year. I knew I had no shot at a time I’d like. At about 17, it started to rain pretty hard. It was a little dark out and I started to cross over a dam on the other side of the lake. That’s when the hail started pelting me. I started thinking of Rocky IV when Rocky is training in Siberia. I was thinking that if Rocky would have been training for a marathon, this is the kind of run he would have had. It was straight-up miserable. Nothing fun about it. I went as hard as I could across that second dam, because I was afraid I was a lightning target.
My dirty legs after the race.
I made a wrong turn at about 20 that cost me about 30 seconds, but I figured out quick enough that I was back on the right track and I kept plodding through the quicksand. Well, it was just mud, but it felt like quicksand. I could feel the strain in my hamstrings, because I had to pull with more effort for each step.
I ran out of gas and faded and realized the 3:24 wasn’t going to happen. A friend of mine, Jeff Cate, caught up with me and we ran the final two miles together. He was using it as a training run, and he looked really strong. I think he’s going to run in the mid-2:50s in Los Angeles March 21, although he thinks he’s only at right around 2:59 or 3:00. We finally finished and he forced me to finish in front of him.
Me and Jeff after the race.
I went 3:28:01 and he went 3:28:02. He probably could have gone 3:27 flat if he wouldn’t have stuck with me. My time was good for fifth overall, second in my age group. When I found out the guy who won last year in 2:42 was only able to run 3:03 to repeat as champion, I felt a little better about my time.
All-in-all, an extremely difficult today. But I know it was a great workout, I really beat myself up and in about a year, I’ll look back on it fondly. No sooner than a year though!