Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CIM 2016 - Race Report

Sunday’s California International Marathon marked the unfortunate end to my 2016 racing season. Going into the race I had every hope of finally getting a Boston Qualifying time. I had done everything right leading up to the race. I followed my training plan as closely as possible. Tried eating right and getting as much sleep as I could. I trained with the nutrition I planned on using during the race. Before my long runs I would try out different pre-race breakfasts to see what worked the best. I had even made it through an IRONMAN training season and a marathon training season injury free. I was on top of the world. All I needed to do was run the race.

Easier said than done...

I even limited my time at the expo to packet pick-up and a quick picture

Race Start

Once we were a few minutes away from the start of the race, I gave HS a kiss and made my way towards the start line. I wanted to be a little closer to the pace group for my goal. I also wanted to hang my Mylar blanket on the fence so no one would trip over it.

I should have stuck with these two
The gun went off and the slow march to the timing mat started. I was in no real hurry. Eventually I crossed the line and pressed “Start” on my Garmin. I saw the 3:58 pace group. That would be my time to beat if I wanted a Boston Qualifying time that would actually send me to Boston (4:00 is the listed qualifying time for my age group but you need to be about 2 minutes faster to go).

All three of my prior CIM times have been sub 3:58. However, I still wanted to beat 3:55:04…my time from my first CIM four years earlier. That time still stings because it was four seconds off of a BQ for that age group.

Karyn, one of the pace leaders for the 3:58 group, had asked if I was running with them. I said “No. I was shooting for 3:55.” Her response was “Tracy Pengilly don’t let me chase you down ;-)” That warning stuck in my head. I had every intention of sticking to the pace I had programmed into my Garmin. I was using the same pacing plan I had used for my first CIM. If that plan got me to 3:55:04 a few years ago, it could get me there again.

First 10K

The first mile is the best at CIM. It’s basically all down hill. I did my best to stick close to a 9 minute per mile pace but the quick descent and my adrenaline had me running a bit faster than I desired. The next few miles on Oak Ave were across rolling hills. I was feeling pretty awesome at this point and knew I was running way faster than I should be. It then crossed my mind that maybe this year would be my year and not only would I run a 3:55, but I would run faster than I ever dared believe. Although I didn’t realize at that moment, this is the point my race took a turn for the worst.

At the end of the first 10k I decided that I needed to reign in my speed a bit. If things worked out as I had planned, I was going to pick up the pace at the wall and run with everything I had left until the finish.


I had successfully slowed my pace but was starting to wonder if I had slowed because I was trying to slow down or because I couldn’t go any faster.  Each time I came to a hill, I could feel my quads burning just a bit more than the last hill. Eventually my Garmin started beeping at me to “Speed Up”. This was not a good sign. I tried to chalk it up to the 20-30 seconds I lost refilling my water bottle, but I knew it was more than that.

20 Miles (The Wall)

As I neared “the wall” I started to wonder if this was the year I was actually going to hit it. I wasn't feeling tired, I was just starting to hurt. My quads were burning and there was a pain in my right leg that seemed to radiate around my leg and into my hamstring. I wanted to stop, but I wanted to stay in front of Karyn even more. Unfortunately, I soon recognized the voice behind me and I knew she had finally ran me down. I kept up with the 3:58 group for a bit but it hurt too much to try and stay with them so I let them go. I wanted to start walking but convinced myself that a slow run was still better than walking.

At this point, I was pretty down. Not only was I not going to beat the elusive 3:55, but I wasn’t even going to finish below 3:58. I slowed down a bit more. I was losing my will to fight on. I reminded myself that technically a sub 4:00 finish would still be a BQ. All I needed to do was stay in front of the 4:00 pace group. Within a mile or so, I heard a group of runners coming up behind me. I then heard the cheers of “Go Sub 4 Group”. Crap! They were here and I was suffering. As the group ran past me, I slowed to a walk.

I thought of another Karen at this point. She had just gone through a similar situation at the Las Vegas Marathon. If I’m not qualifying and if I’m hurting on top of it, why keep pushing and run the risk of actually doing long term damage? While this was a very logical decision, it was still a very bitter pill to swallow. I had worked my butt off for the last four months and I can’t even run the last few miles. Ugh.

Every once in a while I would start running again but the running spurts starting getting shorter in distance and further apart.  I thought of the Pearl Izumi pact and the words printed on the back of my Ambador shirt (We take the “ass” out of ambassador) "I will endure. I will enjoy". Well, I was definitely enduring, I just needed to focus on the enjoying part.

I will endure. I will enjoy.

The Finish

The final stretch to the finish was familiar territory. Not only was this my fourth time doing CIM, but I had been running the virtual course on my ProForm “Boston Marathon” 4.0 treadmill.  I knew exactly where mile 25 was. I had imagined the portion of the race over and over in my head. When I hit that point, that last one mile, with less than 10 minutes of running left to do, I was going to sprint. I was going to finish in a blaze of glory. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case today.

A Word About Hot Stuff

Last year, while I was signing up for the $89 CIM Re-Run special, I mentioned something about the cheap price to HS. He was on his second glass of wine and cavalierly responded "Sign me up!" I continued typing away on my computer. A few minutes later he asks "Did you just sign me up for a marathon?" Yes I did!

He wasn't sure at that time what he had gotten himself into, but around September, he decided to commit to a training plan and he stuck with it. He was not fond of the 18 and 20 mile training runs as the race date neared, but he got through them and he knew he could finish the race. Ironically, I tried instilling in him the importance of pacing himself and not going out too fast.

He watched his heart rate during the race and ended up running a negative split. In fact, he was closer to qualifying for Boston than I was! I missed the mark by 7 minutes and 3 seconds.  HS was only 4 minutes and 49 seconds away! I am truly impressed by his effort!

That's the face of a happy first time finisher!

Post Race

I am thankful that I decided to ease up and not hurt myself during the race.  I am in much better shape a couple of days out of the race than I have been in the past. The only pain that I have now is in my right shoulder/back area. HS thought that I may have slept funny or something, but it is more than that. There is a definite pinched nerve feeling and overall soreness. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I could have possibly done during the race to cause this much discomfort. At first I thought that I may have just been too tense in my shoulders and then it dawned on me. ..this was the first year I ran with a water bottle.

I've done other races with a hand-held bottle and I do my longer training runs (when I'm not on the treadmill) with a hand-held. However, when I carry a water bottle, I always make a conscious effort to change hands every other mile. I only switched hands once or twice during CIM. For the majority of the race, that 20oz water bottle was planted firmly in my right hand. If I carry the bottle again, I am going to make sure I change hands.

Did I just use the word "again"?

Yes, yes, I did. And before you ask, yes, I am registered for the 2017 California International Marathon. I missed the $89 Re-Run special, but I was quick enough to get the $99 Re-Run 2 special. I've already let Ms. Karyn know that if she's leading the 3:58 group again that I will be running with the group. I think I will go back and look at my training data from my first CIM and maybe stick with something similar to that. 5th time has to be a charm :-)

See ya next year CIM

#endureandenjoy #pearlizumirun #run365 #CIM #marathon