California International Marathon (CIM) Recap

Where to start?  How do I navigate authoring a short recap post when I feel I could write a novel?

First, the stats, since I know you will scroll to the bottom looking for it anyway.

Garmin: 3:05:03 (26.3 miles) 7:02 mile pace
Official: 3:05:08, 7:04 mile pace

I think I lost the 5 seconds during a tunnel-thing

I will consider this meeting my goal of 3:05.  Would 3:04:59 have made me happier?  Yeah.  But I kind of got way too stupid to do math and figure out how much faster I would have to go in the final miles to make it under 3:05.

Now, I will start here: if you are a struggling runner, losing your motivation, START A BLOG.  I cannot tell you how amazing it has been to gain the support of runners that I have "met" through this blog.  It has totally changed the running experience.  When I ran my first marathon in 2006 in Los Angeles, the number of people who cared that I was running it  Ok, my mom was interested, and two guy-friends casually asked about it.

Today, I felt so much support, and I thought of your faces when I hit rough spots (and oh boy, I hit rough spots).  I really want to thank: XLMIC, Pam, Liz, Janae, Page, Irwin, Alexis, Merrillee, Alyssa, Dolly, Courtney, Jana, Karin, Beth, Aron, Tim, Britt, Jonathan, and I'm sorry to say I am tired of linking, so thank you to everyone else who made me more excited than ever to be participating in a marathon.


Saturday in brief: drive to Sacramento, in and out of the expo, check into Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom (2 miles from the start!), Sushi dinner (extra extra white rice -- just following the carbo-load rules), bath to relax my tight hip, in bed by 9:30.  I slept so bad during the work week, so I was wiped Saturday night and lo and behold, slept great.  9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., more or less.  I even woke up without an alarm, which had been set for 5:50 a.m.

Expo was a breeze.  CIM rocks.

Pre-race: I ate 1/2 a banana; a big bite of a clif-bar; 3/4 of a bag of caffeinated sports beans; 3/4 a caffeinated GU; a couple dates; a couple GU chomps.  (ewwww, I'm just realizing I kind of ate a lot.  A lot of really untasty sugar crap.)

Yeah, I'm sucking down gooey sugar, what are YOU doing?

Mmmmm, sooo yummy.  (Hotels are made for making messes).

It was 38 degrees, so I blasted the heat in our hotel room and made it to the start line without shivering.   I wore awesome throwaway clothing, including a pair of running pants that I had to throw away because I threw them in the laundry with uneaten gum sticks in the pocket (I've ruined a lot of my running shorts this way).

If you plan to run CIM next year, take this note and stick it in your pocket: Lake Natoma Inn has a VIP warming hut at the starting line.  10 port-o-potties for about 50 is always available.  Amazing.  However, as I tend to run late to races, I basically arrived at the warming hut at 6:45 a.m., checked in to make sure everyone knew I was VIP, and then left for the starting line.

I walked up and stood next to the "3:05" signs.  I darted my eyes around, looking for Katie and Liz who are both speedsters and I knew would be toeing the start line.  I never found Liz (frowny face), but Katie found me and gave me a surge of good vibes.  She is always an inspiration.

I focused, really focused, on letting myself start SLOW.  slow, slow, slow, I thought.  The first mile was largely downhill, and I knew I could fly down with a 6:15 mile, being tricked by how easy it felt with the caffeine in my system and the hills pushing me downward.

Promptly at 7:00 a.m., we took off.  I passed the starting line about 20 seconds after the gun, and let the mass of bodies keep my pace in check.  More or less, I succeeded.  Believe me, it was HARD to let all those people fly past me down the hill and to reign it in for...

Mile 1: 6:43

I thought about the pacing plan XLMIC made for me which scheduled me to take the first few miles from a 7:10 to 7:00 pace; as the rolling hills began immediately at the second mile, I tried to keep it steady and comfortable.

Mile 2: 6:59
Mile 3: 6:48

So, the hip, you ask?  It started hurting near the end of mile 1.  MILE ONE.  Yup.  I was wishing I took 8 Aleve instead of 2.  It was annoying and saddening, but I was running comfortably, and I was expecting to feel that way.  So I ran on, enjoying the spectators, the cool air; not enjoying the 3 chatty dudes behind me who were pondering how the football games would go later in the day.

Mile 4: 6:49
Mile 5: 6:52

There were too many ups and downs to remember, and I loved them all.  They are so much more pleasant than the repetition of a flat course.  I knew the Gentleman had planned to be at Mile 6, Mile 13, and Mile 20, so the rest of my race was based on my excitement to hit those miles and see him.

And thanks to the Gentleman, photos of Mile 6.  Sunglasses and headphones yet to be used.

I hope somebody thought I had tattoo sleeves

I heard "Go Pink!" quite a few times

Mile 6: 6:55
Mile 7: 6:50

I can't remember much about these next miles.  It was feeling easy.  I was still trying to maintain an even and comfortable pace.  I was thinking how freaking NICE it felt to not be sitting on a couch tapering.  I threw a couple pieces of fuel down (I ran with 4 dates, 4 Gu chomps, and 3 other chew things.  Throughout the race I ate everything but one date, plus electrolyte drink at about 4 stations).

Mile 8: 6:57
Mile 9: 6:57
Mile 10: 6:53
Mile 11: 6:50

Around Mile 12, concerning issues began to arise.  My hip was becoming gradually more painful and making my gait more stiff.  Being it was mile 12, I thought...this isn't a good sign.  Then I got pumped to find the Gentleman at Mile 13, where we participated in the worlds smoothest professional handoff: he gave me a bottle of water with a sip-top, since I tend to miss my mouth with the water cups at aid stations.  Turns out, CIM is so freakin rad that they had miniature bottles of water at multiple aid stations.  I was well hydrated today -- no yellow pee! (TMI).

Mile 12: 7:03
Mile 13: 6:59

HALF: 1:30:44

From mile 13 through somewhere near Mile 16 or 17, I was done for.  Truly, done for.  I was sick with fear.  First, my left calf (the hip leg) started burning up like it was going to cramp, charlie-horse style.  This was either because of all the hills (which I am not used to running fast -- I love hills, but I like 'em slow), or because of my compromised gait due to the hip.

Second, my left leg locked up.  My hip kind of stiffened all the way up, to the point that I was more or less dragging my left leg with every stride.  Being it was mile 16, I thought....there is no chance, none at all, that I can carry this stiff piece of worthlessness of a leg for 10 more miles.  I did random moves - butt kicks, high knees, other weird leprechaun stunts as I was running, all in the hopes of loosening the leg up so I could continue on.

This picture really illustrates how I was dragging that left leg.  Ugh.

One thing that really helped me not lose hope was hearing the beep on my Garmin at each mile...and learning that my pace was still hopeful for a 3:05 or less.  Don't know how I dragged the gimp leg through those miles so quickly, but hurrah for my right leg!!!

Mile 14: 6:51
Mile 15: 7:03
Mile 16: 7:06
Mile 17: 7:01

By mile 18, my hip was magically loosening up.  The damage from 18 miles of hills was beginning to sink into my quads, and the strange blessing of my trashed quads was that my gait regained itself.  My brain focused instead on the muscle pains in my quads and calves.

I got excited again to see the Gentleman, and to finally put on my headphones to rock out.

Mile 18: 6:58
Mile 19: 7:07
Mile 20: 7:06
Mile 21: 7:12
Mile 22: 7:15

Another thing getting me through these miles -- the awesome support team of Jana, Beth, and Karin.  They chased up and down the streets of Sacramento to make sure they were on course, cheering for all us bay area runner-bloggers who were running today.  In the words of Sesa, seeing them was like a second wind!

Well, almost like a second wind ;)  I didn't "hit the wall" as they say -- no fuzzy headedness, no hallucinating, no dreams of a cold beer.  I felt really strong in the way of my head, fuel, lungs, heart.  But my quads were not agreeing.  They were truly trashed, on FIRE.  I pumped my arms as hard as I could to make them carry the rest of me.  I watched my times slow down, but was in great spirits -- I was going to finish this thing with my bum hip!! I was going to reach my goal of 3:05!!

Mile 23: 7:13
Mile 24: 7:20
Mile 25: 7:16
Mile 26: 7:32 <-- ew
0.3 mile: 2:16 (7:29 pace -- also ew)

ew, because of the lack of a kick.  That's kinda sad to me.

Mile 26, impressing a dude in a straight-jacket

Less than 0.2 less, so ready to be done

The 3:05 pacer passed me at mile 24.8.  How heartbreaking is that?  I kept him in my line of sight, and pumped, pumped my arms.  My legs were done, I had no kick.  I thought, "it's mental, it's mental, ignore your legs, you can do it!"  But, my mind didn't win.  My legs did.  I let the pacer go....he must have finished in mid 3:04.

I finished and rocked my space-blanket for about 45 seconds before being like, "get this offa me!"  I don't know why, but I found it ridiculous.

Walking was such a relief

Trying out the blanket for a second

get off of me

Food sounded like hell, but I grabbed some pancakes and tomato soup, and while the pancakes were rubbery failures, the tomato soup hit the spot so hard.  Anything but dates and gu at that point would have been a 4-star cuisine.

Wow.  What a day.  I'll probably ramble with more of my thoughts on the next post, but this is long enough for now.  If you raced today, please share below!