Sunday, December 2, 2007

California International Marathon

The Best Part

I have to start this with the most amazing part of the race. Diane, Brandon, Mason, Damon, Mom, Kristi, Vincent, Dave, Amanda, Josh, Harry, and Sarah. You were all so amazing. I can't believe how inspiring, supportive, caring, and wonderful you all were. Diane, you and your family, seeing me so many times on the race, and planning out such an amazing amount of support, I have never felt so honored in my life.
Josh and Harry, for making such a creative way of coming out and finding me, and for your impeccable timing. Amanda, for helping me see the finish line, and helping me forget my pain for that last half mile. Kristi, for coming out even when you hadn't planned to, and to Mom, for giving up one of your favorite church days of the year to come support me. Vincent, for supporting all of the runners with water and GU2O, and for supporting me through my gear delivery. Dave, you've done this every year, and your unending support is awesome, thank you for the smile and the cheer. And Sarah, for fighting the traffic to celebrate with us afterwards. Thank you all. This has been a truly awesome experience, and so much of it is thanks to you.


My half marathon paces have been ~1:45, and I knew I needed to be a bit more conservative, so at the packet pickup, I picked up the 3:45 pacer bracelet, and expected to run with that group. I figured, if I slowed down, from 3:45, I could still beat my goal of sub 4:00, but I wasn't going to be so arrogant to think that my half pace would be my full pace.

Then comes Sunday morning, and I don't see the 3:45 pace team sign. The only one I spot are the 3:20 and the 3:30. Well, with my half pace being the 3:30, I figure I'll run with that team and as I drop back, I'll get passed by the 3:45 and hold on to that pace through the race.

Well, that didn't work so well. Race day excitement kicked in, and I paced the 3:30 folk for the entire front half, and then slowed down to my own pace for the second half. So, long story short (since I'll get into the details next), my goal was sub 4, my stretch goal 3:45, my half pace as a full was 3:30, and I finished with 3:43 and change! Below my stretch goal, and well below my goal. I'm thrilled, excited, and utterly flabbergasted by the time. I'm on such a high right now, I can't even explain it.
Div PlacePlace13.1TimePace
112/2201494/474301:45:1403:43:398:33 min/mi

The race

It's not surprising that the wisdom of those who've gone before you can be so spot on. I have had so many people tell me about marathons, and describing the wall that most runners hit somewhere between mile 18 and 22, that when I found my pace dropping from the low 8s to all over the 9s, I wasn't shocked. However, I never realized what a struggle, both physically and mentally, those last eight miles would be.

Somewhere around mile 13, my pace dropped from 8:00 to 8:30s. Not surprising to me at all, since the majority of my training peaks out at 13 miles. In fact, I've only done two runs exceeding that distance, a 15 mile run in August, and the Clarksburg 20 three weeks ago. So when my joints and muscles, at 13 miles, let themselves be known, it came as no surprise. I expected some of that, and I started out with a slightly aggressive pace, knowing that it was risky, but taking the chance at making my marathon pace the same as my half marathon pace.

At mile 18, as I said, that slight penalty became tremendous. It was like trying to run through water, my breathing hadn't changed, my heartrate stayed steady, but my muscles were no longer cooperating. Every step was an effort. By mile 23, both of my calves and both hamstrings were cramped up. I spent every amount of effort I had trying to keep my muscles relaxed, or at least to prevent them from locking up completely. I was sure I was going to have to walk, but I knew that from the second I did, I would be struggling to make it forward, so I persisted, and never once walked the entire marathon. So I made my first half in ~1:45, and the second half in ~2:00, and I'm very pleased with the results.

The course

I have to say, I loved it. The net downhill, well, who can feel 300 feet in 26 miles? However, the relative flatness, the wide streets, running through areas I grew up in, areas I socialize in, and areas I've lived in, made the course amazing. I hate driving that far, and to think, I ran it. The day was beautiful, slightly windy, and slightly chilled, but I'll take that any day over hot or rainy. The fact that two lanes of every road were given solely to the runners, and that a main artery of Sacramento is shut down to support the race is fantastic. Going through so many cities, supported by people yelling "Welcome to Carmichael!," the local high school bands playing, local cheerleaders serving you water... it was great. I've never felt happier being here, nor more at home in my home town.

Post race

One of the biggest learnings from this, so far, is how impactful a full marathon is to my body. I'm sore. I don't mean my muscles hurt a bit, but sore like I can barely walk up stairs, and hobble for the first fifty steps every time I stand up. Sore like my muscles still have tenseness in them any time I touch them. Sore like I haven't been sore before. The only consolation is that every person at work who ran it is walking the same way I am, so I know I'm not alone.

I also have had a hard time eating. I'd think, after running 26.2 miles, I'd be famished. Instead, I could barely finish half a gardenburger, a few onion rings, and a few chips. I ate six or eight 200 Calorie meals Sunday, trying starches, fruits, veggies, juices... anything after the race. I had the same issue Monday. It wasn't until Monday lunch that I really ate anything substantial, and that was only because I forced myself to eat a calorie dense meal at Panda Express. Nothing I really wanted to do, but I could tell I was at a calorie deficit, and needed something in my body. Even now, I still don't seem to want to take in calories, even though I know I'm still short. I haven't lost any weight, and I've been a drinking a lot of water, but I'm just struggling to get in enough calories.

... Anyway, is more than long enough. But I have to say once again, I loved the race, and look forward to doing it with my friends next year.

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