Story #20 in a series of 25. Written to celebrate the CIM’s 25th Anniversary on December 2, 2007. By Cynci Calvin.
When asked about the times they almost missed being able to run the CIM, many of the 25-time CIM finishers responded that the most likely time for this to happen would have been in the first four years, before they even realized they were “on a streak.” There were simply times that staying in bed and enjoying a leisurely Sunday was very tempting. That aside, below are stories about what nearly caused some of their streaks to end.
1987, the storm year, on my drive from Yuba City to the starting area, I could hardly keep my car on the road! I had a very bad cold, and now ‘the streak’ which I never really thought about, was beginning to take on a life of its own. I finished eventually, not really caring about the time. Another time, my sciatica made each and every step painful. Nothing seemed to work. Stretching, stopping to walk…nothing. I managed to get to the 20 mile mark, where Ken Ellis gives out dixie cups full of beer. That seemed to do the trick! I saw him again last year. I asked him what kind he had this year, and he replied, ‘What? are you picky?’ ‘Yeh,’ I answered. ‘I ran 20 miles to get here and this stop has been my inspiration.’ ”
Steve’s near miss occurred in 2006 due to a painful calf strain. Determined to keep his streak alive but unable to run a step, he contacted Race Director John Mansoor and asked if he could compete in the crank chair division. John responded that it was not legal. Steve’s gracious reply:
“I feel strongly that the rule that bans able-bodied people from competing in chairs is fair. When I started this, I believed that cranking a chair is something you do with your arms. Therefore, I had no advantage over a paraplegic, and should be permitted to compete with a chair. Not so. Your whole body gets into it, if you are blessed with one that has not been paralyzed. I am sure that with a mere three weeks of training I could have finished the marathon in a little over two hours. If a 63-year-old starting from ground zero can do that, think what an able bodied young person could do with some serious training. The paraplegics deserve to have their own league to themselves. Wish me luck! I’ll be out there, on the hoof!”
Steve finished, running very carefully, in 5:34:50.
“One race that stands out is the time I stayed out until 1 a.m. drinking and play cards on race eve. At the race I was just totally wiped out by the time I got to Mercy Hospital. I sat down on the curb not knowing if I could finish. I wasn’t there but a few minutes when a woman came to me and offered me a coke & cookies. That was just enough nourishment to get me to the finish line. Nowadays I get to bed by 9 p.m. on race eve without drinking!”
“The 2001 CIM was the year I fell in love with porta-potties and almost did not finish. Stomach cramps sent me into a porta potty somewhere around mile 13, a first for me in all the marathons I’ve run. A few miles farther I entered the second one. I was cold, wet, and cramping, and I realized how pleasant resting in such an environment could be. I was warm and safe from the elements; it was so much better than the Fair Oaks Blvd. blacktop, that I did not want to leave. When I finally entered the real world I was in such bad shape that a few miles down the road I thought my CIM streak may be broken. One volunteer asked if I needed transportation to the finish. The only thing that kept me going was keeping my streak alive. While it was one of my worse times ever, I took pride in finishing and my time did not matter. It is one of my most memorable CIMs, along with the ‘95 CIM when I shared the excitement of my wife, Sharon, qualifying for the 100th Boston under the old qualifying times and the ‘07 event when my two daughters, Morgan and Holly, ran their first marathon along with my wife Sharon.
The CIM is truly an area event that brings camaraderie among local runners. My daughter Morgan grew up watching me make the first turn at the corner at Oak Ave. and now she’ll be running CIM for the second year in a row. She hopes to run in Boston! I have a teacher friend, Jay Klagge, flying in from Loveland, Col. who will also run it and try to qualify for Boston. Finally, I am running this 25th running of the CIM for my doctor and friend, Martin Welsh, who in 2004, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) . He has always talked with me about running and my marathons, especially the CIM. He’s a good guy!”
“There has been no one year where my streak was in huge jeopardy, although I’ve fought through bouts of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and a hamstring pull. BUT, every year starting several weeks before the race, the phantom pains start, and every little kink or stitch is interpreted as the one that will become serious enough to keep me in bed on race morning!
I also have this great fear of sleeping through my alarm clock, particularly since I hardly sleep the night before until 30 minutes before I actually have to get up. Now I set three alarms, one of which is on emergency battery backup.
I have great memories of CIM, once I’m there. I always have fun and love the charged atmosphere, particularly 10 minutes to the start until the gun goes off. You can cut the adrenaline in the air with a knife. The volunteers. So many volunteers! My favorite spot is the turn off of J street onto 8th, knowing you are almost done and knowing in a few feet, you will turn into the final stretch and the crowds on both sides cheering. ”
“I have had some great runs in the past CIM’s but I have suffered from plantar fasciitis the last few. However, I’ve been able to run through the discomfort. I’ve also been mentally frustrated a few of those years because of my finish times. Now that I have accepted the reality that I can no longer run the same pace I have in the past, I enjoy this magnificent race more than ever.”
“I’ve had no problem finishing the first 24 years at CIM except for one. That was a calf injury back in 1997. I was on pace for a petty good time — maybe a sub-3-hour — when the injury occurred and I had to walk/jog the final miles in to finish in 3:26. The good news was that I got to enjoy a gin fizz at one of the spectators tail gate parties. It never occurred to me to drop out. I wanted to get to the finish rather than wait for the sag wagon anyway.”