Ten Things We Learned at the California International Marathon December 08 2011
Soooo....we were responsible for creating the official California International Marathon merchandise this year (This shirt is my favorite). In light of that, the Greenlight team headed to Sacramento over the weekend to man the CIM merchandise booth at the two-day race expo and at the race finish on Sunday morning.
Here's what we learned from the experience...
Mannequins Are Awkward
There is absolutely no way to appropriately wrestle a mannequin into its position on the stand. No matter what you do, your coworker will turn around and lock eyes with you just as you’re awkwardly wrangling a pair of running tights onto the damn thing or struggling to lift it up onto its stand, your hands inappropriately placed. Those things are heavy and expensive. Collapsing into a fit of laughter while carrying one can turn disastrous very quickly. I wish I could say we refrained from all manner of juvenile jokes, but I can’t because we didn’t.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall or…You Know, Not at All
So it turns out that when people are trying on shirts, they want to see what they look like. Well, at least prior to running 26.2 miles. After running 26.2 miles, they don’t really care about anything other than sitting down. Either way, we totally forgot to bring the mirror. Oops. Sorry, guys, but thanks for taking our word for it when we told you that you looked fabulous. You did, but next time, we’ll have a mirror. Promise.
It’s Possible to Valet a U-Haul Van
When we finally finish breaking down the merchandise booth at the expo and relocating it to our spot near the finish line, it’s close to 9 p.m. on Saturday and everyone is seriously ready for dinner. Circling around downtown Sacramento as we look for parking, Perry and I are in the U-Haul van and Sonny and Monika are driving just ahead of us when they pull to the side of the road.
“Guys, let’s just valet the U-Haul,” suggests Sonny.
I start laughing because I think he’s kidding, but as we pull up to the restaurant and Sonny jumps out to ask the valet guys if they can valet a U-Haul, I realize he’s serious which just makes me laugh harder. I’m now pretty much certain that Sonny can convince anyone to do anything because 30 seconds later, we’re handing over the keys and walking into the restaurant. What can I say? We like to shake things up.
Sacramento is Cold
We’re from the Bay Area. We do fog and drizzle very well, but when it gets below 60, we have problems. Sacramento was “cold.” I know all of you who actually live in places where winter isn’t just some vague concept are scoffing at the poor Californian who thinks Sacramento is cold, so I’m putting the word in air quotes. Just for you. Seriously though. I actually had to put on a fleece jacket. Can you imagine? It was even colder early Sunday morning while trying to coax race t-shirts onto ice cold hangers with stiff, frozen fingers.
The CIM is Badass
Eight men and twenty-five women qualified for the Olympic Trials, numerous qualifiers for Boston, a marriage proposal at the finish line, and a fireman running with all of his equipment (including the oxygen tank)? That would seal the deal for me right there, but aside from fast runners, superhuman feats, cool costumes, and just being incredibly well organized, the race had a great laid-back feel for such a huge event. They even got the weather gods to cooperate with a perfectly clear and crisp day. Not sure how they swung that one. Sacrifices?
Square is Also Pretty Badass
We’ve been using the Square application for iPhone. I’m not plugging anything, but that application is pretty awesome and really easy to use. After using it a few times (Apparently, I'm a slow learner), I start getting excited when customers pay with card rather than cash (I'm also a simple soul, easily delighted by new things, cookies, and sparkly objects). When people say, “Wow, that is so cool,” I can’t help responding, “I know, right?!” Because it totally is.
All Marathon Finish Lines Need Couches
The next booth we have at a marathon, I vote for couches and not just so I can take a nap, although that is a primary factor. After an hour or two of us hopping around trying to keep warm, runners start to trickle in, hobbling unsteadily with tired, but triumphant expressions. It’s painful to watch them teetering on spent legs as they try to reach up and grab a t-shirt in their size. I know that despite their enormous grins, their legs are throbbing and every movement elicits protest from trembling muscles. I know this because the last time I ran a marathon, my body was pissed. A couch directly after would have been a nice peace offering.
Grilled Cheese for Breakfast
…is a genius idea. We were conveniently placed next to Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen food truck (I had nothing to do with that. Honest). Think 9 a.m. is too early for grilled cheese? Think again. That’s my new go-to breakfast food.
We’re Kind of Hilarious
I laughed a lot this weekend. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but in addition to creating awesome racewear, we’re also pretty much hilarious. Between the mannequins, the U-Haul valet incident, and trying to figure out how to set up (and break down) Container Store organizers, there was ample opportunity to illustrate how ridiculous and insanely funny we are.
Next year. Hats.
I have no idea how many times runners asked us if we had hats, but it was a lot. Point taken. Next year, we need hats. I'm going to push for the ones with beer can holsters. I'll let you know how that goes.
Morocco Marathon: The fine line between adventure and insanity November 11 2011
I catch my first glimpse of North Africa’s highest peak as I stumble to the top of a nearby ridge, lose my balance and pitch headfirst down the trail. Plumes of dust rise into the air. My boyfriend helps me to my feet. “Didn’t you used to be a competitive mountain runner?”
“Yes. That’s a special technique mountain runners use to get down the mountain faster. It’s called falling.”
“Seems…efficient,” he replies.
I glare at him. I am supposed to be sitting on the terrace of a hotel leisurely sipping Arabic coffee and reading romance novels during a two-week trip to Morocco. Instead I am brushing dust off my backside and trying to coax my muscles through one of the world’s most difficult mountain marathons. What happened? That’s a reasonable question. I’ll tell you.
Insanity. Apparently it’s hereditary and it’s the only plausible explanation as to why someone would spontaneously agree to sign up for--to pay for— a 42 kilometer race with 3,313-meter total elevation gain up Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. What else would inspire two people to hand over all of their remaining cash to pay the race fees and then spend the night in a tent directly across from the local mosque?
At 4:45 a.m. the call to prayer shatters the silence, sending me into cardiac arrest and flooding my consciousness with yesterday’s events.
Imlil. Morocco. Toubkal. Highest peak in North Africa. Mountain marathon. Spontaneous registration. $#!@.
“You are an idiot,” my consciousness reminds me.
Normally I try to counter any negative thoughts, but this time all I can think is, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
I pull on a pair of borrowed tights and my battered running shoes and stagger to the starting line. Villagers line the street to see us off, cheering and waving Moroccan flags.
As the sun casts a pale glow behind the jagged peaks, groups of runners slowly stretch out along the single-track trail snaking its way up the ridge. Before long we find ourselves running alone, occasionally holding up a string of heavily-laden donkeys who seem grateful to be stuck behind two creatures moving at such a leisurely pace.
Three hours and too many kilometers later, we reach the second food and water station at the beginning of the six-kilometer climb up Toubkal. Dehydrated and crumpling with exhaustion, I begin devouring everything in sight. Occasionally I step out of the way of other runners who stop briefly to grab a cookie and an orange slice before continuing on their way. Apparently you aren’t supposed to treat the food stations like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Whatever. They had cookies. I can’t be expected to restrain myself.
As I sink down onto some nearby steps, my boyfriend sits down next to me. The wind sweeps through the valley in a torrent, making it difficult to hear anything other than the blood pounding in my ears. He suggests we turn back.
My muscles are twitching from over-exertion and my hands are swollen from the altitude, but I am still reluctant to forfeit the race. I had hoped that somehow the gods of spontaneous adventure would bestow their favor, enabling us to scrape enough energy together to muddle through an impossible feat. But common sense prevails, and with one last glimpse up to the summit, we turn back.
Twelve kilometers and one summit short of finishing the marathon, we are denied the t-shirts awarded to finishers. Despite the fact that they’re too big and I don’t even like the color red, I sneak envious glances at the stack of neatly folded cotton shirts. Tucking into a bowl of couscous, I promise myself that the next time I run a marathon, I’ll train for it.