CIM Race Recap

Three months ago, before I started graduate school, I made the decision to register for the California International Marathon. It was a bit naive of me to register without considering my school schedule, but we all do silly things sometimes (some more than others…). CIM touted itself as being the “fastest marathon in the west” and foolishly I believed them. So I trained, as well as I could with my ridiculous schedule, and I prepared for marathon #2.

Then last Saturday rolled around and it finally hit me that I’d actually have to run a marathon. There was no turning back, I had no excuse not to put myself out there and run the damn thing. So I packed up my running gear and headed toward Sacramento with the lovely Layla. After hitting up the expo, where I spent far too much on marathon gear and a new winter jacket, we made our way over to Courtney’s for a pre-race dinner and slumber party. We had five lovely runners there, two preparing for there first marathons and three hoping to set new PRs.

Some fantastic runners - Layla, Alyssa, Courtney, me, Don, Angela, and Sesa

It was great to meet so many wonderful runners! We ate a fantastic dinner before gabbing about running and our race strategy. I’m so grateful that Courtney arranged this, I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been stuck preparing in a hotel room by myself. Then it was off to bed so we could be up early to get to the start line.

At 5am Alyssa’s alarm went off and I begrudgingly got out of bed to get dressed. We all shuffled around the house in a half-awake state and tried to eat breakfast even though no one was interested in food. When the clock hit 6am, we piled into Layla’s car to make our way to the start line. My least favorite part of a race? Pre-race porta-potty time. Fortunately there were several hundred lined up and we didn’t have to wait very long.

Wearing Courtney's sweat pants on my arms. Next time I'll be smart enough to wear an extra layer.

I parted ways from the faster runner gals and lined myself up in the back of the corrals. And then I got emotional. I hope the people around didn’t think it was too odd that I was tearing up… After waiting for a while, I finally crossed the start line and realized that there was absolutely no turning back now. With my iPod on loudly, I started to find my own pace. I ran the first two miles by myself before latching on to a pace group. The next eight miles went by quickly, I barely noticed as we passed each mile marker. Well, barely, except for when we made our way up some hills…

Now CIM claims that it is mostly downhill and I believed them, for a little while. Then I realized how horribly they had lied to me. The course does have many downhills, but it has an equal number of inclines. I was doing decently well on the inclines, but I felt that the pacer was pushing me too quickly on the inclines and not picking up speed on the downhill portions.

By the half way point I had started to reclaim my run. I changed my strategy and walked a bit on the uphill portions. When I crossed the half marker I was still on target for the pace group, but I wasn’t running with them anymore. And then everything changed. Everything from the waist down began to ache more than normal. I slowed down further.

Fortunately I found a woman who had been going at a similar speed, I caught up to her, and I posed the question – would she run the rest of the race with me. I think that took her by surprise. She claimed that she was considering bagging the entire thing, but I told her that wasn’t an option. She agreed and we began the rest of our journey together.

Running along with Kimberly

Over the next few miles we enjoyed the crowds together and taking it at our new pace. Eventually the next pace group found us (15 minutes slower than the one I started out with). This pace leader was much more animated and motivating. He made sure that everyone had a smile on their face, even if that required telling many bad jokes. I started to enjoy the race again, thank goodness.

But then around mile 23 my calves were throbbing and my hips were faltering. Kimberly (the woman I was running with) was kind enough to stay with me. I tried to shoo her off, but she wouldn’t leave me alone (thank goodness!). We began to use intervals, walking for a short distance and then running as far as we could. And then the end was in sight and we found the pace group we had been running with. With two-tenths of a mile to go I bid Kimberly adieu and I picked up the pace. As I turned the final corner to the finish line, I went into an all out sprint. And I finished.

I’m not overjoyed with my time. I know that I could have done better if I had gone at a more appropriate pace earlier on, but there is always room to improve next time. Although I can’t truly compare the two races (since I was injured for marathon #1), I completed CIM 23 minutes and 56 seconds faster than Boston in April. I set a new PR and I will do my best not to won’t complain about that.

Layla was at the finish line to give me a hug and walk my sore butt over to get food and my bags. Then we ran off to get a proper brunch with all the other amazing finishers. Both Courtney and Alyssa set substantial new PRs! And Angela kicked ass at her first marathon! Overall it was a fantastic weekend and hopefully I’ll get to spend more time with these lovely runners in the future.

I still can’t believe I did it, but I’m so happy I did. Here is to the next one!


About Michelle

I'm an engineer living (and running) in Palo Alto, CA.

Posted on December 13, 2011, in Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Congrats on marathon #2 and the PR. I’m so impressed with the amount of time you were able to drop!

  2. Congrats, Michelle! That’s a pretty impressive PR!

  3. So proud of you girl! I just saw a pic of someone running the race I met you at, and I’ve been thinking about you since. So glad to hear things are going so well for you out there. Keep running!

    Love ya!

  4. Congratulations on #2! Wish I saw you over the weekend. I need to get down to The Dish sometime, maybe we can meet up?!

    • I would love to meet up when you are down around campus. I’ve been meaning to get out to conquer the Dish, but these days are just too short (and chilly). Let me know if you are ever in my part of town. :)

  5. What a fun weekend! I’m so glad I got to hang out with you in real life. Congrats your new PR & just think what you’ll do when you actually have time to train! :)

  6. Congrats on a great race!! ;) you go girl!

  7. Congrats!! I think it is awesome that you find a race buddy on the course! It can make a world of difference to have someone next to you for support.

  8. you kicked ASS michelle!!! and just think how amazing #3 would be! so glad i got to share this weekend with you!!!

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