CIM Marathon Recap

With over a week to process my last marathon of 2009, I am still up in the air on how I feel about it. Going into the race I knew that my recent training was not at the level it should have been. After taking three weeks off from running a month and a half before the race, I wasn't comfortable with the mileage I had built up leading into the race. It was a quick 4-week build up to 22 miles and it was leaving me nervous about the race.

My PR in San Francisco (a much tougher course) was 4:45. Thinking if I ran a similar race on an (advertised) faster course, my goal was to come in between 4:30-4:39. Still, in the back of my mind I knew I was ill-prepared for such a run... but as I have said often, we runners are stubborn and sometimes (read most times) logic takes a back seat to determination.

The day started off with a late connection with fellow runners at their hotel adding a sense of urgency before the race. The morning was extremely cold and I was glad to have my gloves and head/ear warmer with me. (they wouldn't be removed until mile 24 when I needed a change of mind set).

The plan was to run 10 min. miles until mile 18 — evaluate how I felt over the next 4 miles, then make a decision at mile 22 to pick up the pace if I had it in me. The course had rolling hills the majority of the first 10 miles and less frequent the rest of the way. Translation: rolling hills for the first half, less frequent, but smaller rolling hills the rest of the course. Luckily I was prepared for the course layout via a link a fellow runner sent me that described every mile of the course by a long-distance champion, Tim Twietmeyer. That put me in the right frame of mind and the course layout was not a surprise race day.

At the halfway mark, I was at 2:18 which was on pace for my goal. Especially considering I had a bathroom break mixed in there (which was the first time I have had to stop in a race, what a complete waste of time). Seeing family and friends along the course at miles 10, 17 and 20 was a big pick up as usual. Familiar faces can really get those legs moving.

Around 17-20, I could feel the legs getting tight, but my focus was to get to mile 22 knowing that was a distance I had recently run and could get there safely. Sadly, mile 21 ate me up and chewed me up quite a bit. About halfway thru the mile, I had a severe cramp in my left calf and to top things off the minute I stopped to stretch it, the Black Eyed Peas song "Meet me Halfway" came on. Which is fine, I put it on my iPod, but the second you are cramping and are forced to stop, the first words of the song you don't want to hear are: "I can't go any further than this. I want you so badly, it's my biggest wish." LOL. How horrible is that? I've been shooting for 4:30 for half the year and I'm 5 miles away on pace from getting it. It killed me.

After stretching it out and having to plod along to work it out over the next half-mile it felt good. I decided to run it out and kept running at a decent pace all things considered and was maintaining a sub 11 min mile. I kept looking at my watch thinking that if I can keep this pace and sneak in some low 10 min miles I could come in around the high 4:30s. Hope creeps in.

Before I get to this, allow me to lay some context: All of my marathons start off with a steady pace until around mile 18, then get progressively worse until the end. I have never been able to maintain my pace the entire way. So to still be running 10-11 min miles over miles 20-26 was huge for me. Knowing how badly I wanted to break into 4:30, even if it was 4:39:55 I decided that now was my time. I gave myself some extra motivation by talking to myself and asking if I really wanted this. I'm sure you can relate. A lot of telling the legs to “pick it up” and “keep moving.” For those readers under age, close your eyes — there was some swearing, but it was used as a motivational technique, so I feel it was justified. At mile 24, I clocked a sub 10 min. mile, my fourth fastest mile for the entire race. But the success was short lived; at mile 25, both legs seized up and I knew it was over. I needed another sub 10 min and a strong finish for the .2 to make the goal and I could feel my time slip away with each agonizing step. But those steps kept coming and I ran the last mile with both legs cramped and it felt as if the finish line would never come. I saw my family at the final stretch, looked at my watch and saw it turn from 4:39 to 4:40. I crossed the line at 4:40:41. A PR by 5 minutes.

It was very emotional to be that close, but finishing with family and friends (we had 16 total runners participate from our training team, 2 relay teams of 4 and 8 people doing the full). The encouragement and mutual “congrats” made the day a success. All in all, I am walking away knowing that it is the best marathon (in terms of pace) that I have ran to date and the sub 10 min mile that late in the game is glimmer of hope. However, I am still left with mixed emotions because I demand so much of myself and am my very own harshest critique, but it keeps me motivated as I continue to strive for glory (read sub 4 hr. marathon).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good run! As you stated in your blog you are your worst "critique" but that what keeps us going and trying to break those PR's May 2010 be a better year for you in reaching your goals! You're doing GRRRRRRReat! Runners are proud of your dedication and support of the sport.