It was a cool December day in Sacramento. 50 degrees. Perfect marathon weather…if not for the howling wind and pounding rain.

Blowing through the morning of the California International Marathon was a storm that ultimately dumped 4 inches of rain on Sacramento, flooding roads and stranding motorists.

Except for the occasional injury or serious illness, virtually nobody in Club Ed history has shelved months of marathon preparation for a bad weather day! So in keeping with the unwritten Club Ed rule that its members must be dedicated to suffering, Will Longyear, Paul Cooney, and Tami & Mark Shalvarjian kept their commitment to run CIM on a very dark, wet and windy Sunday morning.

Stepping off the buses and into puddles before the start of the race, most competitors – and your teammates – were already soaked before the starting gunn went off. With heavy rain and strong winds, most participants knew this was not going to be a day for a marathon PR. But Will, Paul and Tami apparently didn’t get the message.

Following an uneventful start and relatively fast first 10k, the marathon course turned south and straight into 25 mph headwinds, with much stronger gusts. Trying to hold his rhythm, Mark knew he couldn’t catch a large pack of runners 50 yards ahead of him and had no one to hide behind, so put his head down and pushed into the driving rain. Soon after passing mile 8, Paul Cooney worked his way up alongside Mark, said hi and told him he shouldn’t be doing all the work for the long line of runners directly behind him. There were apparently a dozen or more runners in a single file line drafting off one another, with Mark unwittingly leading the pack.

Club Ed runners helped one another through much of the race, with Will, Mark & Paul working together from miles 12 through 22 and Renee Williams-Smith joining Tami at mile 15 to help her through the final 11 miles. Not having quite reached exhaustion, Paul and Mark almost got into a fight with a runner who cut them off several times during the 21st mile, while at mile 25.5, Tami considered stopping for one last drink, having decided the pain was just a little more than she had opted in for. However, Coach Renee would not allow Tami to let up and forced her to continue pushing to the finish line.

At the finish, new marathon PRs were set by Will Longyear, with a 2:57 finishing time (a 48 second PR with almost perfect splits), Paul Cooney, who finished in 2:58 (a 10 minute PR) and Tami Shalvarjian, who finished in 3:25 (a 20 minute PR set in the only other marathon of her life…25 years ago)! Mark Shalvarjian finished in 2:59, rounding out this group of four Boston qualifiers. To top off a great day of racing, the first break in the rain came about 5 minutes after Tami crossed the finish line. An hour later, the runners were sitting in the sunshine on the patio of a nearby gastropub, eating, drinking and watching the 5-hour finishers complete their races.

Recounting their races, Paul Cooney’s reflection was that it was definitely memorable running in a hurricane. Neither the 50 mph headwinds nor the heavy, waterlogged shoes could stop the badass Club Ed team from pushing through to strong performances, while Will Longyear couldn’t even recall that the wind was blowing. Tami could do nothing but stare at her hands, which were numb and purple by the time she crossed the finish line and Mark was just happy to get a hot shower and a cold beer.

Mark Shalvarjian