It’s been three days since I finished 4th at the USATF Marathon Championships which was hosted by the California International Marathon and I still have to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I truly believe that CIM is a magical place and it has become my “home course” the past few years for the marathon–since December 2015, I’ve taken about 4.5 minutes off of my PR each year.
December 6, 2015 –> 2:41.10 for a 9th place finish at CIM
December 4, 2016 –> 2:36.26 for a 4th place finish at CIM
December 3, 2017 –> 2:31.55 for a 4th place finish at CIM/USATF Marathon Champs
What makes CIM so special in my opinion??
Yes, CIM is a net downhill course–I think you drop around 340 ft throughout the 26.2 miles but it’s not an “easy” course in my opinion…runners go into the race thinking it’s going to be all downhill–yes, there’s a net loss but it is quite rolling.
The past three years, the weather has been predictable…it’s been overcast and about 40 at the start and sunny and about 50ish at the finish. Marathon weather can’t get much more perfect in my opinion.
To be honest, CIM is the biggest marathon I’ve competed in (besides my DNF at the Olympic Trials) but I think the people and community around CIM make is truly special. From the elite coordinator to the fans along the course, I never once felt like I was out there alone conquering 26.2 miles…the love and support surrounding the event is amazing.
Quick Race Recap
Like I said, I keep reminding myself that Sunday’s performance wasn’t a dream. My main goals were to run the “A” standard of 2:37.00, finish in the top 10 and PR (2:36.26 from 2016 CIM). Training for this marathon segment was so different than my previous training buildups. I was inconsistent in areas that I had been consistent in the past and consistent in area that I was inconsistent before but I felt pretty relaxed and confident as soon as I arrived in Sacramento. I had a pretty loose race plan because in the past I had “time trialed” marathons and this time I wanted to “race” it. The goal was to stay consistently between 5:50-6:00 but when I got into the race, that shifted slightly and I found the perfect group to roll with. I am used to working out alone so being able to feed off of others was a huge benefit. I was feeling great through the halfway point (1:16.07 through 13.1 miles) but I also knew that I was out 30-60 seconds faster than the plan so I was slightly nervous. At 18 miles, I started working a little harder and quickly realized it was because we dropped the pace to 5:38 but I had committed to the pace change and knew that I had to start racing earlier than I expected. The wheels started coming off just before 22 miles but by that point I knew I could stay consistent to the finish line but I wasn’t going to be able to pick up the pace. The last 4 miles felt like a lifetime but seeing 2:31 on the clock when I rounded the final turn into the finish made all of the pain disappear. I made some game-time decisions during the race that could have turned into a disaster but I rolled with it…I picked up my bottle at 15K and decided that I wasn’t going to take in any gels during the race (I stashed the gel in my sports bra in case I needed it later). My stomach has never handled fueling very well (it has been torn to shreds by 21 miles in every other marathon) so I decided that I would just take my fluids and ditch all gels.
About 8 months ago, I told someone that if I ran 2:32 by the time I was 30-32 years old, I would be happy and content to retire at that point. Little did I know, 8 months later I would reach that goal at 26 years old…time to re-evaluate the next 4-6 years and set some big goals for the future ?