This past Sunday I ran my 7th California International Marathon and my 11th marathon to date.
Last year when I ran this race (you can read that race report here), I decided that upon crossing the finish line that I wanted another shot at actually “running” this race and not just finishing (even though I ran the past few CIMs with TiggerT and had SO much fun while doing it). I had decided, that even though I am on the fence about ever running in Boston, I’d like to at least have the ability to say, “Why yes, I qualified!”
So when my trail season ended, I began running roads and started “lightly” following an old training plan that I had from years ago. I ran long on weekends all solo. I did speed work on Tuesday nights a few times a month with my old crew, the Buffalo Chips (man I missed that group and their workouts). I still ran with my morning crew but mostly on Thursdays.
In the beginning, I was hitting my pace marks and felt strong and then, things started to fizzle. Either I lost motivation to run or was dealing with a few issues that my aging body did not thoroughly embrace.
Either way, for the last two months, my running has slacked. I ran Clarksburg but even then I knew, that the outlook wasn’t as positive as it had been earlier in my training. For various reasons that I won’t list here, I found myself waking up between 3 and 4 times a night.
Bottom line, I wasn’t recovering and I wasn’t hitting my marks. Still, I had faith and was determined to give it my best shot.
Come race morning, Stonegate and Burning Girl arrived at my house at 5:30 ready to whisk me away to the start. Their jokes and laughter made me smile, I was ready.
I had some pre-race laughs at the starting line with the McBride crew who always make me laugh, no matter what. They are, to put it simply, real good people.
Soon it was time to find my pace group. I needed to run the marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes to qualify for Boston. My CIM personal best was 3 hours and 56 minutes ran in 2008 when the Peanut was 8 months old and I was about 15 pounds lighter and still full of prego hormones. That would have been a major hail mary of a PR to pull off. Yet, I am a way different runner now than I was in 2008.
I decided to run with the 3:40 pace group. When the race started it was a crowded madhouse. I haven’t run in such a tight knit elbow to elbow race in a very long time. It was a little unnerving and I got slightly pushed away from the pace group.
I didn’t panic as I knew it would eventually clear out. My pace group started off pretty darn quick though. Our first few miles were jockeying between our needed pace and a little bit faster – 8:16, 8;24, 8:10, 8:23, 8:11 went the first few miles. Our pace should have been 8:23 but I understand how it works and was hanging in there just fine.
Every so often it would dump massive buckets of rain on us and then stop. I completely over dressed for this race. I should have gone with my instinct but I didn’t.
Mile 7.5 we were passing an aid-station area with lots of spectators and they started blaring Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and I just started smiling and rocking out. It was a sign for this Jersey girl and I let the music carry me.
Fast forward to mile 13, when my quads started cramping and I decided to let the pace group go. I always, ALWAYS carry a salt tab with me and I didn’t have a single one.
I hung in there running just behind the 3:40 group, closer to the 3:45 group until about mile 17 when I decided my quads were going to either seize or fall off. From that moment on, I let myself walk through the aid-stations. Just that small adjustment alone brought some life back into my legs.
I was still smiling mind you. I had decided not to beat myself up about it and to just keep running. What will be will be. I knew if I could get to mile 20, that I’d see Vans and my girls which would help a lot and if I could get to about mile 22 (I think) I would see my Oiselle Volee team and get another boost.
I pretty much walked here and gave them high-fives. It was Vans who said, “Ok, keep moving, get moving.” Thanks honey. 🙂
I saw and heard my Oiselle team cheering for me as I ran by in my singlet. That helped, a lot.
Running through downtown I tried my hardest not to look at the numbered street signs. I know how defeating that can be to not see them get smaller faster.
There were a few really SLOW moments in there between 23 and 26 where I just wanted to lay down and sleep. My quads were SCREAMING at me to stop. I just kept telling myself, “You can’t walk here. You can’t stop here! You have less than 2 miles to go!”
At one point, I said, forget this and starting pushing myself, hard … or at least it felt hard .. and then a wave of nausea hit me. I looked around and both sides of the street were lined 4 deep with people cheering us on. I thought, “Oh god, if I hurl here that would be really really bad!” 🙂
So, I slowed ever so slightly, enough to push the nausea away.
I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 54 minutes. 2 minutes faster than my last “real” marathon and a sub 9 minute marathon. I know I have it in me to run faster, I know it … I just need the motivation or the determination or perhaps maybe a coach to actually keep me more honest and more on track.
Overall, I am pleased with those stats. My quads had nothing left. I was a sweaty mess at the end because I dressed too warm and I haven’t quite figured out how to fuel in a road race yet compared to ultras where you have the time and the convenience of fully stocked aid-stations.
Depending on our plans in 2016, the chances of me running CIM 2016 are pretty darn high. I love this race. It is right in my back yard and I know it inside and out and yet the outcome is never quite the same. Road racing keeps you honest. It pushes you beyond limits you didn’t think were possible.
As much as I love and adore trails, the competitive part of me loves to challenge myself and try and exceed past attempts at things.
My whole family was there at the finish. My heart was full. My girls and Vans were in good spirits and the weather was great.
I was happy. No matter what my time was, I was happy. And that is all that matters.