2018 California International Marathon
California International Marathon…
This race and I have some history. Not only was this was my first marathon.. But every time i’ve run it. I have PRed, 3:53, 3:40ish, 3:23…Now I was gunning for 3:10. No pressure right?
Originally the plan was Chicago 3:10, CIM, 3:05. But I had a major hitch in training this time with an unexpected surgery that really hampered training in the late summer. Not only did this really hurt my Chicago time, but it mentally made me doubt my ability for a fast time at CIM. After running a 3:30 something I was suppose to turn around and shave 15 minutes off that. Obviously, I knew it was possible but it would take a lot of work in a short amount of time.
Training was condensed and working with my coach from runninglane, we came up with a good plan to try and keep me healthy and get my fitness level higher. Leading up to the race I had some good tempos, (9 miles @ 7:05), and some good long runs (20+ on some crazy hills). The idea was to train for the first half of CIM, a rolling course then gradually goes downhill.
I rolled out all the gimmics for this race and cycle and even bought a very expensive pair of shoes.. The Nike Vaporfly 4%. These shoes were designed to go fast and they felt fantastic in my shorter speed sessions (long sessions… more on that later). I only got to try them for a track workout of 7 miles and a 7 mile run with a 5k mixed in. This 5k….. The week before CIM was a PR. Where I finally broke 20 minutes, something i had been going for several years. I was super relaxed at the start of this race, had a nice warmup of 1.5 miles and then started off the first mile at a 6:19 pace and was able to maintain a 6:20 pace to finish in 19:47. The power of the taper i suppose?
Traveling to CIM was not as easy as it was before, this used to be my “local” race as it was just a quick 2 hour drive over the mountain pass. This time, i merged the trip with a work visit. I have the privilege to work remotely for a company in Reno, NV.
Packed up, ready to go with compression socks, got on the plane and was off to Sacramento. Arrived on Friday afternoon to allow myself time to hit up the expo and relax on Saturday. I think this worked out well, though I missed my “shake out” run, which honestly i don’t think I needed with all the walking I did in and around the expo and downtown area. So I ended up not running for 2 days leading up to the race.
I was surrounded by runners on the plane to Sacramento, I could tell because of what they were wearing. Running shoes, race jackets and of course just who they were. I was a flight with a famous podcaster and a fairly famous instagramer. It was odd, but cool too.
Got to grab dinner the night before with the team from runninglane and finally got to my coach in person, which was great. We went to a smallish Italian place that served very small portions of pasta.. Lol. Adam, another runner and I both agreed portions were a little small so we ordered 2. Not a big deal, but when you are marathon training, you get used to the pasta overload…Simple buttered noodles, the usual.
Stayed in Folsom this time, which was a first for me, specifically the Hampton Inn and Suites. It was a solid hotel… except for the paper thin walls and ceiling. Note to self, ask for top level floor next time. Basically my first night there was someone having a party next to me, in the next room. Loud music, yelling, and laughing well past 1:30 AM. I ended up going down to the front desk to ask for some NyQuil to help me sleep as well as to change rooms to get away from the party. Thankfully they agreed, but it cost me a night of sleep. I think i got at most 2 hours. Fast forward to the night before and I absolutely need to sleep. Again, i think I get 1-2 hours. So that was fun… It might be worth experimenting with different sleep remedies to see which is best for a pre-race.
Wake up with my usual 3 alarms on race morning and do some jumping jacks, to get the system going, eat breakfast and take a quick shower to help wake up. Head down to the lobby and walk across the street to catch the bus to the start line. One thing I absolutely love about CIM is the organization. They say CIM is a runners race for runners put on by runners and I could not agree more. The expo is very efficient and their start line, transport and bag check are pretty damn good too. I LOVE the bus transport to the start, you don’t have to worry about finding parking, taking a car key with you. You just get on a bus from your hotel and arrive at the start line. A neat thing they do is along the bus route, for every turn, there is a white van with a volunteer using a airport traffic baton to indicate that’s where the bus should turn. Just a well organized system.
Once i get to the start line I sit on the bus and try to relax, no reason to go outside when I have an hour until the start of the race. The beautiful part of CIM is their bathroom/porta pottie setup. I call it the mile of porta potties. Essentially, you don’t wait in line for the bathroom, and if you do.. its a minute or 2 at most. A great system that every race should follow. Especially bigger ones like Chicago, still flabbergasted at their setup…
I use the restroom, do a quick warmup and meet up with a few members of my team. Do a quick pre-race chat and head off to the start line with Adam. We both want to be near the front but its a big difficult as we decided to try and line up 10 minutes prior to the start. We got to the 3:35-3:40 pace group before we couldn’t move anymore. No worries, i wasn’t planning on running with a pace group anyways. I decided beforehand i would run my own race and go based on I felt and gradually progress if it felt good. The trumpet player from CAKE plays the national anthem, and we are off. He’s going the distance is playing in the background, a famous Cake song.
Mile 1: 7:21 –The first mile… Also the easiest mile. The only thing on my mind at this point was passing all the people who should not have lined up where they did.
Mile 2: 7:24 – Moving on up… a small hill greets you as you make the first turn, I knew this and didn’t let it bother me.
Mile 3: 7:04 – More people to pass, and a slight downhill, made this mile a bit quick. Look at the sea of Crimson Red Vaporflys… so much red.
Mile 4: 7:13 – Debating taking my first Maurten Gel now.. or waiting. I think I took midway through this mile just to be safe.
Mile 5: 7:17 – Cruising right along, I keep reminding myself things should feel nice and relaxed for the first 10 miles, something my coach told me the night before.
Mile 6: 7:18 – Take 2 Salt tablets here. I smell horse poop.. lots of farm smells.. lol
Mile 7: 7:20 – Checking all the shoes…. a sea of crimson reds…
Mile 8: 7:20 – pace by the 3:20 pace group… I remember thinking to myself.. i could just stay with them and get a 3:17 easy… but I wanted more…. pushed by. My left foot really started to hurt here, the Vaporfly was too tight, even with the loosened laces. I pushed through the pain.
Mile 9: 7:26 – Took second gel here. rip it open with my teeth and I think I cut myself…
Mile 10: 7:13 – Past mile 10, now it should feel a little harder, see how you feel and push!
Mile 11: 7:19 – All systems still a go, keep on going. The curviest point of the course, maintain those tangents…
Mile 12: 7:22 – Take another 2 salt tabs, staying relaxed knowing the halfway marker is up ahead, i believe one of them fell so it ended up just being 1.
Mile 13: 7:21 – Took 3rd gel here
Mile 14: 7:18 – Crowds from the half-way marker subside… left hand turn coming up.
Mile 15: 7:21 – Still cruising… But damn my foot hurts!
Mile 16: 7:25 – Remember thinking to myself, take in the extra nutrition don’t forget!
Mile 17: 7:18 – Took my 4th gel here
Mile 18: 7:28 – took 1 caffeine blok, and then a bit later… took another. I think it did the trick I was feeling okay going forward. I think I opted for another 2 salt tabs here, but honestly don’t remember. I might have skipped as it was not really needed (cool temps).
Mile 19: 7:30 – Pace is slowing…
Mile 20: 7:31 – The downhill is over, now its little to none. I ditched my gloves here and threw them to some spectators, telling them to enjoy the new gloves! They were 4.99 Black Friday gloves… warm and nice, but I didn’t feel like carrying them anymore.
Mile 21: 7:27 – I knew these last few miles were going to be tough.. the Capitol is close!
Mile 22: 7:38 – Can’t remember if i took another blok here.. Note: I should of taken a gel and a blok in this mile. Don’t underestimate the last 4.
Mile 23: 7:37 – Legs are dead.. I felt good, but my legs would not turn over.
Mile 24: 7:44 – Never stopped, just couldn’t maintain a fast pace.
Mile 25: 7:47 – Damn it, doing mental math and I know a 3:12 is out, I have to really push hard to break 3:15. Skipped this water station and the one during mile 26. I just wanted to finish and not slow down.
Mile 26: 8:01 – Literally gassed at this point, legs won’t move faster, it feels like I am running a 7:20 pace, but actually going 8:00. I know i just have to hang on a bit more. I see Jesus and the end is near sign.. almost home.
Last .2ish: 7:03 – I see the 400 meters to go sign and kick it it into another gear. I know all I have to do is 1 lap around the track and I am done. Make the final turn into the chute and give it all I have knowing that I still have a chance at breaking 3:15.
So close, yet so far. 3:15:05. A new PR, barely…. a PR is a good thing, but damn if I just held on for those last 4…
The goal was to break 3:10 this year, instead I got two 3:15s…. I still need to shave a lot of time off for a BQ and hopefully next year some extra work will allow that to happen.
The marathon is one of my favorite challenges. Not only does it never get easier, but every time you can learn from your mistakes and improve. As for what’s next? I have a winter half marathon in the city at the end of January, probably add another race tune-up in February, followed by Carmel, IN full in late March.
For the fall… I was denied entry into Berlin and Chicago, so probably will do a smaller race like Twin Cities or Milwaukee in October… then maybe another go at CIM… After all, I love this race.
Thanks as always to my amazing wife and family. My training partners, my coach at Runninglane.com (Will), my friends, my work (love flex time) and my health. I am very thankful to be able to run like I do and try to enjoy every mile I can.
What went right…
- Nutrition, I actually felt like I stepped up my nutrition for this race, definitely learned from Carmel and even Chicago (bag incident)
- Training, for the most part this went okay. Condensed schedule sort of limited things, but I was happy to get back to the fitness level I started the year off at.
- Weight and Diet, looked good, felt good. Gave up a lot of extra calories.. but it paid off.
- Coaching, again nice to have someone helping along the way with plans and ideas.
What went wrong/what I can change…
- The last 4 miles… or even the last 10k. I need to work on the closeout, it’s been an issue for a long time and it needs to change.
- Nutrition, to a very limited extent. The extra bloks helped, but i need to remember to still take Nutrition past mile 20. Maurten gels = nom!
- Tempos, I want to increase the amount and distance I am running these at. I should be able to hold a sub 7 minute 10-13 mile tempo without much issue.
- Miles, I want to up the miles I am running, capping out at 75-80 miles a week for this next cycle. Big miles to help with the endurance in the last miles.
- Long runs, more Long Runs with last 6-10 miles close to RP, this should simulate the last 10k.
Have any races I should do? Let me know in the comments below, always up for a new challenge!