California International Marathon (CIM) Race Recap

If you want time to move a little faster, train for a marathon.  It feels like Wineglass was yesterday, yet here I am, a week late on writing a recap of CIM.  Strange.

I won’t talk too much about the actual race itself – basically, everything I’ve ever read about it was true.  Tons of porta-potties, busses to the start were PERFECT, the course has the potential to be very fast if you don’t go out too hard, logistics of expo + race were great.  I would definitely go back and run it again; I had a great time.

As for my actual race execution?  Well.  To be fair, I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve been a little shady over the past several weeks on the various injury issues that have been plaguing me.  Mostly because I’m embarrassed.  Currently, I have bursitis in my left hip, a VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle strain, excess fluid and bruising (but not a stress fracture!) in one foot, and extreme tightness in both calves.  Ridiculous, right?  I feel like either an idiot or a huge wuss.  I can’t help but think that maybe the aches and pains I feel on the reg are the same aches and pains that every runner feels and is able to fight through to do great things.  On the other hand, I took a look back through my training logs and realized I haven’t taken more than 6 days off from running in over 2 years.  So, the best way to fight a nagging soft tissue injury is probably not to continue to train through it.  For years.  Got it.

All that was a long-winded way of saying that I knew I wasn’t in perfect shape going in to this race, and I was truly ready to expect anything from a 3:40-4:40 finish.  I really just needed to finish one.  Stubborn.

Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.
Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.

It was very cold at the beginning, and really, throughout the entire race.  I ran in shorts and I’m wondering if that was possibly a mistake.  I never felt warm and had goosebumps for a good portion of the morning.

The water stops in the beginning were a mess.  Water was spilled everywhere, with no sunlight and 25 degrees?  It was an ice skating rink.  People were slipping, falling, coming to dead stops.  The volunteers couldn’t keep up (I don’t blame them, they were basically standing in the cold on the ice.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it).  I didn’t actually get any water until the stop at mile 10 due to the chaos.

Between the lack of water and the cold, I was cramping very early on.  My left calf felt tight from the very start, but by mile 8 or so, I was cramping in both hamstrings and my right hip flexor.  I knew it was trouble.  I ignored it and pressed on.

I had tried to stay with the 3:45 pacer, but realized (too late) that he was a bit fast.  Nothing awful – he was running 8:25s instead of 8:35s – but I think it took its toll on me.

I hit the half at 1:51:49 – right where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately, I knew I was only going to slow down from there, rather than pick it up.  I told myself it was time to put on my music, plug away at it, and just try to keep the pace around 8:35 as long as I could.

Severe cramping started at mile 15.  I was literally laughing out loud at how ridiculous I felt.  My lungs and my brain were ready to party.  My legs were having nothing of the sort.  I started walking through aid station.

THIS SMILE IS A LIE.  I WAS NOT HAPPY.  NOT AT ALL.
THIS SMILE IS A LIE. I WAS NOT HAPPY. NOT AT ALL.

I hit mile 20 and knew that I would finish this thing, even if it meant walking 6.2 miles.  I took walk breaks when I needed, for however long I needed.  I had some really strange shooting pains up my hamstrings that would cause my legs to buckle if I kept up a run for too long.  It was kind of hilarious.  Around mile 23, I struck up a conversation with a really nice girl who was also taking a lot of walking breaks.  It was her first marathon and her luggage had gotten lost on her flight in.  She had to buy a new pair of running shoes at a local running store the night before, and they didn’t carry the kind she had been training in.  Her feet were killing her, but she had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing.  We both laughed and stumbled our way through the next mile.  Eventually we lost each other; I hope she finished strong and will be back again to tackle another marathon.

I remember seeing the guy dressed up like Jesus with a “the end is near” sign, and I realized I was almost there.  I managed to run my way into the finish and was so unbelievably happy to be done.  4:02ish.  Slowest marathon ever.

Happy, but also in pain.  A lot of pain.
Happy, but also in pain. A lot of pain.

This has been the year to run personal worsts, I guess.  I am not disappointed with the time, or the race – I really meant it when I said my only goal was to finish.  Is it a bit disheartening to look back on this year and feel like I’ve gotten slower?  Sure.  But I know that what I need is to rest.  Work on cross-training, stretching, strengthening.  And then come back and kick ass in 2014.

All in all?  I got to go to California with a really good friend, have an amazing time, and run a marathon.  How can you be mad about that?