Last Sunday I ran the California International Marathon, starting in Folsom and ending in Sacramento.
LIke most out-of-town participants, I stayed at a downtown hotel, 3 blocks from the finish line. Up at 4:15am, I headed over the host hotel to catch a bus to the starting line. Arriving at the start at 6:15am, I stretched, ate more food and tried to stay warm. At the 7am start, the weather was in the high 40's with a slight headwind of about 7 mph.
The first half went pretty well. I stuck to my pace, finishing in 1:58. One thing to note about this race - it is a net downhill, but there are plenty of hills in the first half. My GPS said it was over 1000 ft of vertical. The second half was a bit tougher though. The wind picked up quite a bit (~20mph) and the temperature dropped. I bonked really hard at Mile 17 - I've never hit the wall that hard, that early. Over the next 5 miles, I drank a ton of fluids and by Mile 22 had climbed the wall. The finish was great; there was a vocal group of people supporting the race. Their cheering helped push me across the finish line.
Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:
Organization - Accurate mile markers, 18 aid stations. My only complaint is that the aid stations weren't laid out in any organized/published fashion (i.e. every 2 miles, etc). Grade: B+
Course - First third of the course somewhat scenic. Grade: B-
Aid-stations - Well staffed and stocked. Grade: A
Swag - Short sleeve, dri-fit shirt. Grade: A