Tuesday, December 8, 2009

California International Marathon (CIM)

While Chicago was a 'whole experience', I decided CIM would be more of a business trip. I flew in Saturday afternoon and had a flight home Sunday after the race. I went straight to the expo from the airport. It felt similar in size to the Denver one I'd attended 7 weeks prior. Then to a super market to find some supplies and finally the hotel. I'd chosen the Vagabond Inn - by far the cheapest of the recommended hotels. It really wasn't bad, and was walkable to both the expo and the finish line. After unpacking I headed out for dinner with 'GoAnnie' from the runners world forums. I hadn't slept well the past few nights so after dinner went back to the room, watched the end of the Texas v Nebraska game then went to bed early. CIM is a point to point course so buses were due to take us from the hotels at 5:00am

I wrote a race report for the runners world forum - I've included it below.

Race Day
Wake up. Don't look at the clock. It's still the middle of the night. Looked at clock. 1:50am. Uggh. Nice one. 2 hours until the alarm. Go back to sleep. Right ?! Good luck with that. Toss and turn. Finally it's 3.45am. Think positive. Don't think of it as being early - that's actually 4:45am mountain time. No. That's early. Breakfast, shower, let's do a daily on runners world - maybe I can be one of the first despite being on the west coast. Can't. I can get to every site except runners world - the hotel is blocking it ?! Or RW is flakey again. Facebook instead. Ok - concentrate. Get your stuff together. Time to get to reception. 5am - here comes the bus. Must be at least 100 of us waiting - we're not all getting on that thing. GoAnnie had talked about race reports where people got to the line late because they missed the first bus. Try to get up close to front. Phew - I'm on. Here we go. Chat with the guy next to me. Trying to BQ. He just found out it's closed. Sorry man. I can only imagine. This drive is taking forever - 26.2 miles seems a hell of a long way. 45 mins driving and I'm going to run back downtown ? Lucky I've got $40 for a cab if the knee plays up. Better to DNF than damage anything. Right ? I probably shouldn't be thinking like that. Ok - we're here. It's 5:50am. 70 mins to gun time - please don't make us get out. Thank you. Lots of people do leave. It's 28F and windy - you think you're going to 'warm up' ?! Sit there in seat and tape knee. Decide it's not a good attempt so rip it off and tape it again. No tape left so hopefully that lasts. Eat a double pack of shot blocks and drink some gatorade. Close to 6:30am now - 30 mins. Time to go. Strip down and put clothes in checked bag. Put on large trash sack and leave bus. OMG. It's cold. Stand in potty line, then drop off checked bag and stretch. Tape on knee starts slipping down towards calf. Great job Richard. Now what ? Guess we see how long it holds up. 10 mins to go. Wander up towards start line. Where should I stand. Let's try 3.15 pace group - stand at edge. A bit of a pretender. Probably should be a bit more realistic. Best case everything holds together and I beat Chicago time, although not very likely. Still - after all the expense to come out here I'd rather make a good effort and crash and burn than take it too easy. 1 minute to go and get pelted with throw away clothes. Shouldn't have stood at edge. Off comes trash sack and we're away.

Start slow Richard. Seriously - s l o w l y. A race is only lost, not won in the first mile. I read that somewhere. Hey - don't cut me up - I can't go any faster, it's pretty packed in here. Thud - sound of runner a few back tumbling and follow up yelps as others go down on top. Stay calm. Ok - a downhill, not too fast. Here's the first mile marker. 7.35. Perfect. Ahead of a 3.20 pace but slower than the 7.26 for a 3.15. No knee pain yet so worst case only a 25 mile taxi ride now. A little faster now. Take the apexes. I read that too. We're doing a lot of rolling hills - seems tougher than the video. Running strong. Keeping constant and picking people off on every hill. 7.16 second mile. Ok - good. A little fast, but now you're on 7.26 pace. Where's that 3.15 pacer going - seems like it's a bit fast. Guess he knows what he's doing, maybe it's a strategy - positive split ? No - that's not good. Let's hang with him a little longer. More hills. Some wind. This is colder than Chicago. I wasn't expecting this in California. Here comes the next split. 7.08. Hmm. That's 20 seconds too fast. What's this guy doing. We're just 30 yards behind the 3.10 pace group after 3 miles - can that be right ? Garmin is accurately calling the miles, let's stick with that and not this guy. Let them pull away, they'll be coming back to you later if they go out this fast.

7.15 next mile - and that's letting them go ? Stay consistent. How's the knee. Ok. Tape now completely off knee and over top of calf. Should I stop and rip it off ? Nahh. It's not bothering me, although imagine runners behind wondering what a bit of flapping tape is going to help with. Another water stop - run through it. I've still got my small bottle of gatorade. 5 miles in and I haven't drunk 10 oz ? You need to have finished this by the next stop. Promise me. Learn from Chicago. 7.18. All under pace. Keep this up and you're looking at 3.13. Don't think that way. Zone out - listen to your body. Here comes 6 miles and the first relay check point. Lots of people turn off. Wow - a confidence boost. 7.23. Mentally calculating - so here comes the quarter point. Stop it - you're not supposed to think like that. Break it into mini races. Thinking about 26 miles is overwhelming. I read that too.

7.24. Good - more around what I want to be doing. 19 to go. What did I just say ? Take a gel shot. Can feel my stomach sloshing. Another water stop - take some finally. More hills - hey - this may be net downhill, but there's a lot more up than I was expecting. Mentally strong on the hills. I live in Colorado - a 200 foot hill is a pimple. 2 girls next to me looking strong - we seem to be keeping a similar pace. Mile 8, 7.30, Mile 9, 7.29. Hmm - just a few seconds slower than pace, but still feel good. Looks like the knee will at least get me to the half. Promise me you'll run to the half, even if it hurts. You can drop out then. 7.16, 7.12, 7.24, 7.25 - half in exactly 1.37. Take check. Not bad. You ran your first half marathon ever just 7 months ago and struggled in just under 1.36, and here you are just a minute slower in a marathon and feeling pretty good. Now if I have to stop I bet the cab will be under $20. Stop thinking like that. Need to be mentally strong. Stop thinking about stopping - it's making you soft. I tell the guy next to me 'now the race begins'. Picturing Chicago I'm running towards the United Center now. The start of the boring part of that course. Beginning to over take people with few going past me. Nice feeling. Mile 14. Another 7.25. Going well.

UGGH. Where did that wind come from. Brutal in our face, must be 20 mph at least. Guy next to me leaning like he's in a hurricane. Doesn't that hurt your legs ? Need to find a tall person to get behind. Can't see anyone. Still running with the 2 girls. Get behind them. Can't be more than 5 foot 4, but they're close together so maybe it helps a little. Now the wind's from the side. That's not fair. 7.37. Uggh. That's all wind. Probably 15 seconds slower because of it. Need to push through it. 7.29 for the 16th mile. 7.24 overall pace at the moment. Nice. Wind still tough - long straight road into the wind. When do we turn off ? Do we turn off or is this to the end. Wish I knew the course. More wind. This wind is worse than a hill. I'd take a hill anytime over this. What's that up ahead ? Oh great. Here comes a hill and we've still got the wind. Nicely tempting fate there Richard - why did you have to think that ? Wind and hill are worse than just wind. 7.27. 7.29. Finally - we're turning.

Now it's a side wind and even a little behind us. I laugh in the face of a tail wind. The 2 girls talk briefly and one drops back - I can imagine a 'no - you go on' type thing. The other keeps pace. Another guy in a white shirt is there too. The 3 of us are overtaking everyone, although we're just keeping consistent. Mile 19. 7.33. Hmm - a little slower. I feel decent, just a few minor twinges from the knee. In Chicago this was where I started bonking - hope it's not starting again. 7.35 for the 20th mile. Don't worry - that's just 8 seconds over pace - you're still a little ahead of 3.15 and still feel good. Just a 10K to go. Yes - that's what you're supposed to think. I read that. I've only run one 10K - the Bolder Boulder. That was tough. Ok - don't think that. Just picture the distance. 7.30 next split. Way hay. That's going the right direction. Should I be drinking more ? My stomach still feels like it's sloshing but I haven't had much. Take a quick sip. No bonk yet and just 5 to go. The girl drops back. Maybe I've got this right. I can't believe after such a crappy last 6 weeks of training that I'm running this much better than Chicago. Thinking about my acceptance post on BATTASS. What's the level called again ? Can't remember. It's the lowest one. Something fluffy I think. I'll take it.

22 miles. 7.43. No. That's not in the script. Where did that come from ? Still feeling okay. Guy in white DROPS ME. Come back. Uhoh. HTFU. Calf starting to cramp. No you don't - I won't permit that. Try to relax. Relax ? Idiot. Stop talking to yourself. Last little hill over a bridge - I read about this on the CA forums. Flat to the end. 7.46. Ok - still okay. 3.15 still possible if I can speed up. Just a 5K to go. Come on 7.30 pace to the end. That's just 8 mph. Easy peasy. HTFU. Seriously. Count down the city streets. 50 something down to 9. Seriously ? These blocks seem big - I've got to run 40 of them ? 7.57 next split. Nooo. What's going on ? 2 miles to go. Suck it up. 15 minutes of pain. 8.01. Baah. There goes 3.15. Running in treacle. People passing me now. Can feel and taste the shots in my stomach. Should I stop to be sick ? No. Gut it out. What's this - giving out twizzler sticks ? That's all I need - my teeth stuck together. No thanks. A mile to go now. Water station ? No thanks again - I can drink when I'm done. Other people suffering too. Over taking some, others flying by. That's going to be me one day. Nice crowds. Downtown Sacramento. Mile 26. 8.12 split - slowest of the race. There goes 3.16 too. Not much you can do now. Just a few hundred yards left. Wow - is that guy alright. He's staggering diagonally like that famous video of the Olympic marathon finish. Hope he makes it. Last turn. Oh yes - they're going to split men and women for separate finishes. A tradition here. Stick to the right. Final sprint. I can't. Legs don't want to. Here comes the line. Don't be the person in the photo stopping your watch. Hands in the air, try to fake a smile, across the mat. Click stop. What does it say ? 3.17.43 Wow - you dropped fast. Hey - wait. I've just run another marathon ! And despite the last 4 miles it seemed a little easier than before. Realization. 3 mins better than just 8 weeks ago on a tougher course and with a very limited training program. On cue knee starts to lock up. That's ok - sorry. I'll look after you now. Promise. Medal, photo, find checked bag. Warm clothes. Not bad. I'm in the Goldilocks club.

So that was my race. Better than I was expecting. I still know I can do better. I need to get a handle on those last 4 or 5 miles. I don't think the bonk is carbs related. I do a good job loading, and if anything think I take too much before and during the race. At the end I was very dehydrated - the same as I'd been at Chicago. I think that's probably more the culprit. That, and the limited training I'd been able to do this cycle. Still - lots of positives, and lots of lessons I can apply for my next race.

CIM was a decent race. The course wasn't the most exciting, but the finish is nice downtown. If the weather had been a little warmer and the wind hadn't been so strong it would have been a lot more 'enjoyable'. I doubt I'll go back, but if you're thinking about it and it fits your timing - I would definitely recommend it.

After the race I hobbled back to the hotel, checked out, then went to the post race FE at the Pyramid. Met some of the California folks. Then headed to the airport. Our flight was delayed several hours due to snow in Denver. I finally got home a little after 9pm and didn't get to bed until midnight. A long day, but a fairly successful day. I felt a lot better about it than I had after Chicago.

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