This past weekend was my final race for 2013… the California International Marathon, otherwise known as CIM. It is known as a “fast” course with a downhill profile, but is filled with little rolling hills on a downward profile. See photo below. It is run by many as Boston qualifier and by others looking to set a new PR… I was looking to do the latter.
Let’s start with the CIM expo and the tweet up hosted by @chrismalenab. I met up with a lot of familiar faces and some new ones and took a lot of photos. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen them as well.
The temperature at the start was around mid 20s. Some had it at low 20s, others had it at high 20s, but either way it was cold. The start line was pretty much empty until about 15 minutes before the race because most of the runners were still on the bus trying to stay warm. I got off the bus early to use the bathroom, but there were so many porta pottys that the lines were almost non-existent. Let’s put it this way, I walked past a line that had 4 runners waiting because it had “too many people.” One weird thing that this race is known for is the potty-to-runner ratio being high. Yay.
Race attire: Weather was predicted to be 27 degrees at the start and end mid 30s. I ran in a long sleeve shirt, arm sleeves as well as a second layer, gloves, shorts, calf sleeves (almost the same coverage as pants, but more room to move) and a beanie. I also had my hydration pack on.
Remember the race plan? Start and stay with the 3:40 pace group until mile 22 then pick up the pace for the last 4 miles for sub-3:40 finish.
Mile 1: 8:17
Mile 2: 8:26
Mile 3: 7:56
Mile 4: 8:10
Mile 5: 8:13
It was COLD standing around at the start, but after the first couple miles, I felt comfortable. You could see the cold breath coming from all the runners… almost like we were all smoking. The first few miles felt really congested and miles 3-5 I had to pick up the pace in certain spots to keep the 3:40 pace group in site. Not that they were going fast, just that there were so many people around.
Mile 6: 8:21
Mile 7: 8:20
Mile 8: 8:20
Mile 9: 8:16
Mile 10: 8:11
I am feeling really good right now. I have found a nice groove and a good spot to keep the 3:40 pace group in sight. The crowd has opened up a little bit and I’m starting to feel comfortable. I actually want to pick up the pace and pass the 3:40 group, but I know it is WAY to early for that nonsense. I think I have to go to the bathroom, but not willing to sacrifice the seconds… yet.
Mile 11: 8:16
Mile 12: 8:21
Mile 13: 8:12
Half Marathon split: 1:48:35
Doing the math in my head and I am right on pace… for a sub 3:40 finish. Legs feel ok at this point… I don’t feel strained to keep up with the 3:40 group, but it is not feeling “easy” either. In my head, I’m thinking, just do that split one more time and you’ll have your goal.
Mile 14: 8:20
Mile 15: 8:15
Mile 16: 8:15
Here is where I start to feel REALLY good. I’m actually thinking at this point of passing the 3:40 pace group and bringing this baby home for a sub 3:35 finish. No joke. 10 miles? Ya, I’ve got this. I’m doing a little celebration dance in my head and thinking about how awesome it is going to be to share that I nailed a 3:32 marathon. WHOA. That would be awesome.
Reality check. I need to stay smart. This is the point where my race could have turned disastrous. If I make that move above, maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t. I’ve run too many races that have fallen apart the last 6 miles so I stick to the plan to make my move at mile 22.
Mile 17: 8:28
Mile 18: 8:27
Mile 19: 8:29
Mile 20: 8:29
Mile 21: 8:33
Over the last 5 miles I have caught up to dead-even with the 3:40 pace group… never passing them, but making up the 25 or so feet behind them that I was maintaining. My legs are beginning to feel heavy and I can feel that we have slowed down. I’ve been keeping an eye on my mile splits when possible and the 3:40 pace is around 8:23… with a few 8:10-8:15 splits, the pace leaders could be slowing us down so that we don’t come in too fast.
Around mile 20 I think about passing the 3:40 pace group, but decide to hold off until about half-way through mile 21. My legs were beginning to feel heavy, but I knew if I could get within the last 4 or so miles, I could fight my way home.
Mile 22: 8:17
Mile 23: 8:10
Mile 24: 8:24
I have moved in front of the 3:40 pace group and am moving pretty good. I didn’t look at my watch for the last 3 miles and ran completely by feel. I can tell that I am in a more “open” space which means that I am far in front of the 3:40 pace, but not caught up with the 3:35 pace group. I wonder how close I am with two miles to go. I glance down at my total time and see that I am around 3:20… with two miles to go, sub 3:40 is in the bag. Mile 24 felt loooooong. I’m not surprised to see that mile was a bit slower than the previous 2, but I’m in the home stretch.
Mile 25: 8:27
Mile 26: 7:55
Marathon: 3:37:45 (11-minute PR)
I threw it down on that last mile. One mile… how fast can you go? All that was going through my head was “last mile for the year, last mile for the year.” Okay, not literally the LAST mile, but you know what I mean.
Shout out to Alyssa for jumping up and down and screaming like a mad woman before the finish line. It brought the biggest smile to my face.
I crossed the finish line and knowing that I had reached a goal that I set out to accomplish for 2013 and one that I failed to do back in June in San Diego. I gave myself a 50/50 shot at doing this earlier in the week in a preview post and based on my training up to that point, it seemed like fair odds. I ran the perfect race… it happens. I can’t explain why it happens on some races and why others can just fall apart, but for me, on this one day, I had the pace and held onto it.
I didn’t walk at all during the race… as much as I wanted to, I know that if I would have walked, even for 10 seconds, my race would have been over. It would have felt so good to take that 10 second walk and let my legs rest, but I know that it would have been quickly followed by another walk break, then another walk break, then it would have been a mental battle to find my pace again.
Staying with the 3:40 pace group as long as I did is what made this race successful. I was able to find a “zen” moment in my head at multiple points during the race and just let my body run… almost like I threw it in cruise control and let the group control the pace. I’m amazed to look back at the splits and see exactly where I felt good enough to pull even and when the pace group began to slow… I’m never really that “glued” into my pace, but like I said, there was something different about this race. The first 16 miles were consistent 8:10-8:20 split (with the 7:56 anomaly). From 17-21 was right around 8:30, which saved my legs for the last push. Mile 22-23 were quick “out of the gates” miles to create separation from the pace group, 24-25 were “how long is this race?” miles… and 26 was the celebration mile.
Thank you to everyone that wished me luck and good running vibes before the race. Over the course of a race, I think about all the advice that I receive and how great it is going to be to be able to celebrate with all of you on social media. It’s weird, but I feel like if I put my times and my goals out there, that we are doing this together and I have to keep up my end of the bargain. Back in March, I broke 4 hours for the very first time and to be able to get my time down to 3:37 by the end of the year, caps an amazing year.
On Thursday I will be posting my 2014 calendar…
I mean, with my final race of 2013 being finished a few days ago, I better start planning the next one, right?
HINT: Desert Double Down.
Double HINT: $20 off all RnR races on 12/12 – details here.
Thank you everyone for being part of a wonderful 2013 racing year.