Disclaimer: This is a long post cataloging my CIM experience and emotions. Read at your own risk ;).
I run about two marathons a year, so I’d say that running is a big part of my life. I’ve been trying to qualify for Boston (BQ) since I realized that I was actually pretty good at this running thing. Eleven marathons later, and some pretty close calls, I still wasn’t there. After Houston last January, I was feeling a little defeated. I’d trained harder than ever before and knew that on a fast course like Houston, the BQ could happen, but my body didn’t have the same opinion. So did I wait another year, or did I try for another race in between? I was torn. I knew that with getting married in June and honeymooning right after, training through the summer for a fall marathon didn’t sound like a great alternative. That’s when I started thinking about December. The twelfth month of the year, and just a month away from Houston, running a December race would provide the benefits of later ramp up time, taper through Thanksgiving, and if the race didn’t go as planned I’d have another chance to run a fast race with Houston a few weeks later. So after bringing it up in conversation with my dad and training partner, Frances, a few times in the spring, I finally took the leap. I registered for CIM (California International Marathon) while in a hotel room on Long Island just before heading to the airport to my wedding in Honolulu. Dad and Frances both signed up a few days later.
CIM has a reputation for being a net downhill, super fast course. And, now fresh off the course I have to agree. While the race is definitely hilly (and I’m glad I put the hill training in), it sure was speedy. I’m pleased to report that magic number 12 was worth waiting for. I am now the proud owner of a shiny new BQ and PR. And, it’s been a long time coming. My last PR was in 2012 at the North Shore Marathon on Oahu. For some reason, despite my terrible training and lack of marathon experience at the time, I hit a PR that I just couldn’t beat for more than four years. That makes yesterday’s run even sweeter.
CIM comes at a time of year that simply sneaks up on you. This year, the race was the week after Thanksgiving, which meant that we could still eat well (guilt free of course), and have the benefits of easing into taper with less milage. No sugar coating here, training for CIM was tough! Houston seemed unseasonably warm this fall, with most of our 18-22 milers falling on days when the temps were hot and humid. Looking back on those runs now, I am so grateful for the rough conditions. It just made Sacramento feel even better yesterday! The running conditions couldn’t have been better—40s, sunny and dry. Plus, Sacramento was a wonderful host to us runners. Having grown up in California, I didn’t spend much time in the capitol, but after this weekend I would certainly make the trip back.
Our weekend began with the CIM-organized shakeout run on Saturday. I love when races offer the opportunity to run with others in a social atmosphere before the race starts. It was the perfect way to gauge the temperature, meet other runners, and get some advice about the course. We were also pretty lucky to catch Steph Rothstein Bruce warming up and meet fellow Instagrammer @FueledbyFrosting. Tip: If you haven’t signed up for Houston’s ABB 5K yet (for all the reasons listed above), I highly recommend it!
The shakeout run started and ended at the Convention Center which was conveniently located right around the corner from our hotel. It was also where the expo was going on and where the busses would pick us up the next morning, so heading there early on Saturday was an easy way to gain our bearings. Up next we hit the expo, where I really became aware of how experienced of a race field CIM is. Everyone was extremely laid back, there were no major lines, and the speaking panels were focused on providing advice to help runners reach their goals.
Carb loading is one of my favorite parts of sporting events, and it always has been. Sure, I love pasta, but theres also something so fun about sharing a meal before an exciting day with people you care about. When I swam competitively I always looked forward to dinners at the Olive Garden or at a teammate’s house. Now, it’s all about sharing a simple meal and getting out the nerves with my runner buddies. Our hotel wasn’t just convenient, it was also extremely accommodating to the runners. For just $15 we enjoyed a great pasta dinner!
Race morning always comes up really quickly, but surprisingly I slept much better than I usually do. For some reason the nerves just hadn’t hit yet. By 4:15 am, we were downstairs in the hotel lobby loading up on a quick breakfast (did I mention how awesome our hotel was?!?) before walking a block over to catch the busses to the start line in Folsom. The ride up was easy, and I was extremely appreciative of the opportunity to stay on the warm school busses once we arrived at the start line. Overall, the start line area was pretty drama-free. Porta-let lines weren’t crazy, and neither were the other runners. Frances and I did lose dad before the start, but we’d already decided to start with different pace groups, so it was okay.
Unlike all of my other marathons, I opted to run with my phone this year. I’ve become so much more comfortable with Spotify as my primary music provider so it was easier to just put my music on and stick my phone in my pocket. So after snapping a few photos of the sunrise and the start line, I put it on airplane mode and got ready to run. Getting into stride was easy right out of the gate, the hardest part was holding back! The cool weather combined with the excitement of the race made starting at our goal of 8:10 minute miles near impossible. Instead, we tried to conserve what we could, and enjoy the experience. About six miles in, we heard a friendly voice behind us asking if we were Lindsay and Frances. Low and behold, our friend Heather’s friend Jen had found us! Heather had connected us via Facebook on Saturday, but once the race began we just figured we wouldn’t find her. Running with Jen was great! She was a CIM veteran and had incredible insight on the course, not to mention how consistent she was with her splits!
The race went by quickly, I couldn’t believe that we’d already hit 16 when we did. I was free of stomach issues, was fueling properly (the nuun on course totally helped!), and was a little ahead of goal pace. With just 10 miles to go and still feeling good, that BQ was definitely within sight. Around 18 I decided to pick up the pace a little with plans to catch and stay with the 3:30 pace group. Mission accomplished, I caught them but at 20 overtook them instead of staying steady. At this point my music was rockin’ and I knew I had to really bonk badly to lose the PR. At 23 I started feeling it, and did drop off the pace a bit the last two miles (and the 3:30 group overtook me). In the end, I was able to finish strong with the number 3:31 on the clock. I even got to hear the announcer call out my name and time…and that my time was a BQ! 3:31.07, a PR by six minutes and a BQ by four…it feels great to write it!
Celebrating at the finish line felt spectacular. Seeing Frances and dad both run in with BQ times was incredible, too! After we all crossed the finish line it was time to ring the BQ bell. And man, did that feel good. So did the beer and grilled cheese lunch afterwards!
So that’s my CIM story and how my magic number 12 (combined with amazing running buddies, coaching and lots of nuun) finally got me the BQ.