Tuesday, January 4, 2011

California International Marathon (CIM)

Well, I suppose I could not put it off any longer. On December 5, 2010, I ran another marathon - the CIM in the scary city of Sacramento. (Scary because all of the US is a crime-ridden hellhole full of gang members and Paris Hilton types.)

My posse consisted of Jonathan Withey (aka Basil), A.J. Rankel, Ian Blockland, and Brendan Lunty. If we were engaged in a rumble with a rival gang, we would surely survive unless they had firearms. I wonder what we might call our wondrous gang? Any suggestions?

I have to say, I was VERY nervous about this race. Truth be told, I am nervous about all my races, but the marathon always makes me crap my pants. It`s SO long. And, it hurts. A lot. All my running is like that I suppose.

My last marathon was May 2009. I had a year and a half "rest"; I just needed to shut up and do it.

We arrived the day before and drove the course. I have never done this before and I will never do this again. I want to be unequivocally clear, this is not a morale booster. (Please, no crap from the ultra people about the marathon being like a 5K. I am fragile and, to me, 42.2K will always be really freakin' far!) The long drive aside, I got the hint this course was not as easy as we originally believed. More to come on that later....

CIM starts at the Folsom Prison. The likely second home to many of Jon's hotel "mates" in Sacramento, this infamous pen opened in 1880 and witnessed the execution of some 93 condemned prisoners. (I am against capital punishment but at least they were put out of their misery; even if we ran the 32K back to Sacramento, we would still have to go another 10K to finish what we came there to do. Jesus that's far. Black clouds started to form overhead...)

We grabbed a bite at a Quizno`s near the prison before we started our drive. It was there that we heard our marathon song, the one that would get us through: Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. It became the theme of the weekend.

Race morning started at 4:45. AJ was first up, full of vim and vigor, while I eyed my unappealing, two day old bagel. After eating one piece of bread with peanut butter and honey (thanks AJ!), we caught the bus to the prison (if I had a buck everytime I said that...).

We arrived at the start at 6 and conditions were beautiful: 10 C, no wind, and wet pavement from an overnight rain. My posse was entertaining to hang with so the mood was light. Despite this, I am still shaking with apprehension. I worry Brendan can see my hand violently shaking as I try to hold my water bottle. I pee four times in 40 minutes.

I am lucky; a group of women are trying to meet Olympic qualifying times so there is a 2:45 pace leader. I was still not quite sure what I was going to try for that day, but that sounded like a good option.

The start was highly chaotic. There were no corrals so everyone just crams up to the front. I lose the pacer, but manage to hang on to AJ and Ian. Not surprisingly, Brendan and Jonathan are long gone. The first half of the race is basically grades. Thanks to Basil, I have been doing almost all my training this summer by feel. Despite the hills, I decide early I feel okay and settle in to what feels good. I do have some misgivings when I pass the 2:45 pacer, but I throw caution to the wind to see what I might be capable of.

The first half of the race passes uneventfully, except for one thing. In retrospect, a very important thing. The course drink is Ultima. Awful, awful stuff. I figure I can make it work. (I do not take gels as they upset my sensitive, marathoner tummy.) A split second after taking a swig at the second water station, I realize it`s not gonna work. I spit it out and am left with a dilemma: take the Ultima and risk being sick, or try and make it on water alone. I cannot bear the idea of an upset stomach and decide to just drink water. Ah, yes, hindsight....

I pass halfway in 1:19:50. Still feeling fine. Kenny Loggins rocks! I reach 20 miles in 2:02. I AM TOP GUN! But wait. Seconds later I start to feel a combination of the hilly first half and no sports drink/gels. It`s getting really hard now! I know, I know, this is always the way. I struggle the rest of the way. I mean I REALLY struggle. The 2:45 pacer passes me. Bastard.

My CIM ends with a 2:46. Go ahead, figure out how long it took me to run the last 10K after 20 miles in 2:02. Not pretty.

Overall, I am very happy with my result; I tried and still had a race I am proud of.

Despite my early statements to the contrary, I will try again next year...with a little more planning.

"redline, overload......"