Do you want to know what was running through my head at Mile 19 on the marathon? “Wow! 19 already?”
And here’s what was running through my head at Mile 23. “Thank God I don’t ever have to do this again”.
It’s funny how your thought process can shift in 4 short miles. But that, my friends, is the nature of a marathon.
I came to the marathon feeling pretty good. I was well-trained due to the McMillan Running Training Plan, was well rested, well hydrated and well fueled.
On race day I got up early (3:30 am) so I could stretch and foam roll, have coffee, get dressed, pack what I needed in my bag and make it downstairs to the lobby for a quick breakfast before catching the bus at 5:00am sharp. The ride was 40 minutes to the starting line which gave us time to rest in the bus, use the port a potties and drop off the gear bag before the 7:00 am start.
I had a plan (hit 2:07 to 2:10 at the half marathon mark) then 3:15 by Mile 20 so I could come in at 4:15 to the finish. The pacing groups were in between my goal time so I figured if I stayed in between them I’d be ok. Other than that I was going to run easy and at a comfortable pace and turn it on at the end. And then there’s the gun and off I go.
The CIM starts off near Folsom Lake and ends in downtown Sacramento in front of the Capitol Building. There are rolling hills for the first 15 or so miles but nothing too high or too rolling and the last 6 ish miles are flat. It’s what is known as a “net-downhill” race and this one ends over 300 feet below the start so it’s also prime for qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
My plan was to NOT pass anyone for the first 10 miles. Often times you lose valuable energy weaving in and out of runners. I resisted the urge to move and found a few people that I could sit behind and run with. When they moved ahead I kept my pace and let others move around me.
I will say that the first 8 miles went by easily. I looked for Brad at Mile 6 but didn’t see him, looked for him at Mile 7, didn’t see him so I figured he got stuck in traffic or couldn’t find me. At that point I figured I’d stop looking, stop worrying about where he may be and if I saw him, I saw him. And there he was at Mile 9. I ran over gave him a big hug and a kiss, waved off his offer of a GU and continued along.
As we finished Mile 10 I had to pee. I found a port a potty and burned some Bullshit Minutes (I coined that phrase after the race) waiting for a free bathroom. Tick tick. In, out and there I go. If had a GU before I started off again to one of the hills that I’d been told about at Mile 11. After coming to the top I was really thanking the McMillan plan for the hill repeat workouts I’d done.
Soon I was at the half marathon mark. 2:06:54. Score! But then I had to burn some more Bullshit Minutes untying and retying my shoes.
I came into the race having had shoe problems for a few weeks. My old shoes were too old and I was afraid to buy new ones so I had to rig my right shoe and provide some padding on a hot spot. I started my laces on loop down from the top (leaving those unused) and then using duct tape and Moleskin on the hot spot right below my right big toe joint. It worked but when I laced up my shoes in the morning I’d gone too tight so I’d loosened them right before the start. Running the hills had caused my feet to slip and slide in my shoe so I was banging my toes into the toe box. Tick tock tick tock.
I grabbed a GU, had some water, blew my nose and off I went. I was still feeling good. I listened to my Hamilton soundtrack (I’d finally put it on at Mile 8 or so) and was hitting Mile 14, then 15 then 16, 17 and 18.
The crowds at this race were loud and very supportive. There were bands along the course, people offering orange slices, cookies and high fives. People were also very creative with their signs “I trained for months to make this sign” and “You paid for this” as well as my favorite “I’m sure it seemed like a good idea 4 months ago”.
At a little over Mile 19 it felt like I had something like a piece of paper stuck on my foot, I kept scuffing the ground. So I was pulling over to the side to fix it when I saw my friend Stephanie on the curb. I ran over to her and gave her a big hug. She’s been an incredible support during the training so it was great to see her there.
Soon after I saw Brad. I ran over and without thinking, paused my Garmin as I grabbed some chips he had for me. Salty food. Yum.
I gave him a hug and continued on my way. A few minutes later I looked down at my watch and realized that I’d been at 19.4 for a while. So I ran and looked. Nothing was moving. Then it hit me. I didn’t restart my Garmin. Oh my Fucking God. I didn’t restart my Garmin.
For non-runners, let me explain. This is a big deal. Correction, a BIG DEAL.
I am sure I uttered expletives but restarted my watch and continued on. At Mile 20 I popped into the port a potty (all that GU, ugh) and tried to power to the end.
I came to Mile 21. Then Mile 22. At this point it was getting hard. Add in that my watch was about a half mile behind where I actually was continued to mess with my brain. I took some walking breaks at the Mile markers and water stops. Mile 23. Dear Lord, 3 more miles? Mile 24 – yes, I’ll have a GU, thank you. Mile 25. There’s Brad, High Five, no stopping now. Down the street and the “You Have Half A Mile Left” sign. Half a mile? Really?
Then around the corner, a straightaway and another turn to the finish. I raised my arms high above my head as I crossed. And I was done.
I finished at 4:23. A PR. This beat my previous PR set in 2008 by almost 6 minutes and I just realized I beat my previous time from the 2015 BMO Vancouver marathon by 16 minutes. So I have to give props to the training plan.
To sum all of it up it was a good race, a great race. I had fun. The first 19-20 miles overall were better than I could have imagined. The last 6 were hard. I had to dig deep, really deep at times. But the most important thing is that I didn’t give up.
And I’ve run 10 marathons before I turned 50. There’s something really satisfying about reaching goals.
Now go run!