I'm going to give you fair warning and be up front with the fact that I am incapable of writing a short marathon recap, I'll try to keep it interesting for you. I honestly just want to remember everything I can about this race.
Plan going into the race
I had a long talk with the 3:15 pacer Peter at the expo the day before the race. He is an experienced CIM pacer and had some great tips for running the course. The talk really made me think a lot about how I wanted to approach the race. I ended up settling into a loose plan of starting behind a little and catching the 3:15 pace group by 5-10, staying with them until 20 and pushing if I felt good. Peter questioned the negative split plan, but in the end I had to trust myself.
I was up before 4, and started with my standard race morning routine. The hotel was nice enough to put their breakfast spread out early for all of the runners. Bagel and coffee came back to the room with me which I picked at while I got ready. I was less awake than I normally am on race day, which is most likely due to the travelling but wasn't too bad.
Race gear was on, then layered with my throwaways that I got at a thrift shop the night before. I was really sad knowing that I was going to have to throw away my new amazing where's waldo shirt.
| I ended up wearing Capris instead of shorts for the race due to the temps. Outfit all Saucony: Scoot Capris(not pictured), Type A5 Racing flats, Socks, DryLete Arm warmers, Curve Crusader Sports Bra(not pictured) and Solid Racerback Tank. My throwaway clothes on the right: $5 Thriftshop Walmart sweats, $3 Thrift Shop where's waldo shirt. (Jacket on Right is Saucony Pallidium Jacket, wore it race morning but it went in my gear bag prior to race)|
Around 4:45 we walked the few blocks to the convention center to grab a bus to the start line.The bus ride wasn't bad, I put my headphones in trying to get psyched up and also took calls from my parents as well as John. Not only that, but I also played this video of my nephew, over and over. My sister sent it to me the night before telling me that Alden was cheering for me. Try watching it and not smiling, I dare you. (Ok, somehow it got turned into a GIF, pretend you hear baby squealing because that's the missing cuteness to go with this)
We sat on the bus for a while when we got to Folsom, we were also able to get off and use the portopotties (they had mass amounts so it was quick) and get back on for a while to stay warm. I think the temperature was 27° at the start by the Folsom Dam but it felt like 19-20° ("Am I seriously in California right now?").
We took a quick Selfie together, I put my phone in my bag and passed it along to the volunteers and we made our way to the start. I gave Heather a big hug, and I made my way over to find a place somewhere behind the 3:15 pace group.
I tossed my sweatpants and before I knew it, it was time to go.
The first 6- Let's Call These The 'Goldilocks Miles'
7:39, 7:33, 7:31, 7:30, 7:29, 7:27
[1 shot block at mile 3, 5]
I settled into the not too fast, but not too slow starter miles. I looked at my watch a LOT, I wanted to make sure I was being conservative but not TOO conservative. I ditched my throwaway where's waldo shirt shortly after mile 3. I was happy with the pace that I held, and knew I made the right decision by holding back a little. I have to say, even though it was cold it made for a really pretty morning. Watching the sun come up over the hills, reflecting on the layers of frost covering everything, something very peaceful about it. I felt like I was on just another Sunday run back home.
Miles 7-13- & The Chase Begins
7:29, 7:26, 7:23, 7:14, 7:25, 7:26, 7:18
[1/2 shot block at 8, 1/4 Clif shot gel at 10]
Mentally this is where I flipped the switch from "a Sunday run at home" to "You're in California running a marathon, let's do this". I didn't pick up the pace dramatically, just enough that I knew I was making up ground on the pace group without pushing too soon.
I crossed the half in 1:37:53. I kind of wish there was a picture of my face at this point- because I know I was smiling like a fool here. I was half way done and feeling good! This is where I realized I wasn't far behind the pace group, I set my sights forward and went on with the chase.
Miles 14-16 Catch & Release
7:11, 7:07, 7:11
[1/4 gel at 14]
As I went forward I could see the 'cluster' in the distance and assumed it to be the 3:15 pace group. I kept my eye on that and just said, okay get there. I didn't look at my watch because I didn't want to get caught up in running a set pace to catch them. I wanted to do it safely and comfortably, there was still plenty of race to go. I increased my stride length a little, tucked my arms a little more and slowly but surely closed the gap with each step.
Miles 17-19 Holding the Pace
7:25, 7:19, 7:25
[1/4 gel at 18]
Once I got within striking distance of the group and confirmed it was the 3:15 pace group, I hit the brakes and settled in to their pace. This was technically my first time running with a pace group in a marathon, I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. For some reason, being in the group stressed me out a little- people were bobbing and weaving around, and when we neared water stops people pulled Chinese fire drills. Mad dash to go forward get a cup without regards to anyone around them, and then settled back in with Peter the pacer. With each mile I made my way closer to the front of the group and at 19, I was in front. I mulled it over for a second, looked at the group and just knew it was time to see what I had left in me.
Miles 20-23 My Favorite Miles
7:10, 7:13, 7:07, 7:07
After passing the group I knew that I had made the right call. These were honestly the best feeling miles of the entire race. The steps felt easy, I felt 100% in control and ready to tackle what was ahead. I cruised through the 'wall' (they had a legit wall set up, haha!) at 20 and cranked up the tunes. I don't think I looked at my watch at all during these miles. I kept focusing on the positive things in my life, the hard work I have put into this, and the many things I have overcome. I really was 'in the moment' with these miles, truly feeling like myself, and just trusting my abilities.
Miles 24-25 Fighting the Self-Doubt
I knew that I was fading slightly at this point but continued to push. Physically I could feel my stride wasn't as strong, and my feet were starting to get sore. I kept telling myself "it doesn't hurt, you are almost there". I was also the paranoid person, afraid to look over my shoulder. I was afraid that Pete and the 3:15 Co. were gonna sneak up behind me. This is when I started doing math in my head, which doesn't work well when I'm running. I knew that I was on track, but self doubt kicked in a little and I did everything I could to kick it right to the curb.
Mile 26 "March to the Capitol"
Even though every step of this mile was an ungodly amount of work, I was incredibly pleased with myself. My fatigue, and weariness was a sign that I ran my heart out, I ran strong and I wasn't leaving much gas left in the tank. I didn't want to finish this race feeling like I could have given a ton more, and I didn't. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and refused to look at my watch. It felt like I had slowed to a 9 or 10 minute pace, when in reality that wasn't the case. I kept my head up and straight forward, focusing on finding the finish line.
Finally I got to turn down the women's finish chute, headed between the colored flags towards the California Capitol Building. Truth be told, at NO point earlier in this race did I feel like I had 3:15 in the bag. I didn't allow myself to think that, because a little amount of fear is a good motivator to keep pushing. When I finally saw the clock and smiled, I gave one last little push. It was hazy afterwards, I remember wanting to sit down IMMEDIATELY. I was confused, part of me didn't feel like I was done. I didn't feel like I had gone 26 miles (physically I felt like it, mentally I didn't).
|Don't mind the awkward look on my face, that's normal.|
I moseyed around the finish area like a lost child for a few minutes. I wasn't sure what to think or feel. After Wineglass
I was incredibly happy with my PR but had that feeling in the bottom of my stomach that I could have done more. I didn't have that, or many other feelings this time. It was a surreal almost numb kind of emotion. I did it-I accomplished what I wanted to(3:15), and even beat my goal by 92 seconds.
|Technically I didn't negative split every mile- |
but I DID negative split from one section to the next.
This race meant a lot to me, much more than I thought it would. It was about taking the things I had working against me, and turning them into things that worked for me. I went in with a big goal, a goal I decided I wanted badly enough and that made me work even harder.
As much as that cold weather scared me- I'm an Upstate NY girl, and in the weeks leading up to CIM I had multiple runs outside that were colder and worse conditions. In the end I think the cold worked for me, although I wouldn't have complained if the outdoor thermostat got turned up a few degrees.
Flying across the country to run a race has it's downfalls- unless your support crew is able to make the trip with you. I went into this race knowing that I didn't have spectators I knew along the way. I didn't have Joe waiting at mile 18 to run with me like Wineglass
, Ben and Katie to run me in the last 2, John on a bike coaching me along. I also didn't have John at the start or finish for lots of love & hugs, I really missed that. I didn't have the added comforts of my family/friends physically being there. But I tell you what, I thought about all of the amazing people who support me- every damn step of the way.
I didn't quite stick to my plan- caught the pace group later than planned but I feel like this was actually a good thing. It allowed me to run at paces that were comfortable for me and ease into things. I have found that negative splitting is most comfortable for me, and I will continue to make this a priority in my training. I pulled another 4 minute PR (after 4 Minutes at Wineglass), I'm really starting to find what works for me and what doesn't.
If you were following along there with the fueling- you'll notice it wasn't much at all. The shot blocks got so cold that it was nearly impossible to chew them. So I started the gel earlier than planned, but could only stomach a little at a time. It was not ideal fueling, but it was enough to maintain my effort and not hit the wall. Hopefully I can work on some cold weather fueling techniques this winter.
Partner in Crime for The Weekend
I can't say enough good things about Heather
and how awesome this trip was with her. In all honesty, this trip wouldn't have happened without her. We both had some unfinished business and decided CIM was the place to take care of it, together. I'm incredibly lucky to have a great friend like her, and I owe her more than she even knows. We took East Coast and West Coast by storm together in a matter of a weeks- something to be said about that. P.S. Hollie
we missed you, don't fret- Lake effect is going to have plenty of shenanigans to make up for it!
THANK YOU :)
As many of you know I wanted that 3:15 REALLY bad and worked incredibly hard for it- but I also know that support (even virtual) from others was a huge factor. My motivation was on a roller coaster leading up to this race, and encouragement from everyone made it much easier.
If you read this whole thing, you deserve a medal.
Two Final Things
1. a REVIEW of CIM is coming in another post for you
2. Yes, there will be a "What's Next" post as well
Have you run CIM before?
What are your favorite miles of a race?
Pace groups...yay or nay?