On Friday, I flew to Sacramento by myself to chase down a dream.
It was 2 years ago that I registered for CIM (the California International Marathon), in the middle of a sleepless night with baby Leo. I ended up deferring my 2018 entry to 2019, which means I’ve been dreaming about this race for 2 solid years. And for the past 6 months, I’ve been training for, and envisioning, a fast finish, and the sub-3:30 that I’ve been pursuing for almost 3 years…
Six months of training, over 1000 miles logged, and all signs pointed toward a breakthrough race. Three weeks ago, I ran my strongest 21-miler ever, averaging 7:53/mile, and I felt like 3:30 was in the bag. In fact, 3:25 was in my head on the flight to Sacramento… But on Thanksgiving, I ate at a restaurant where I got “glutened.” As a highly sensitive celiac, this usually takes me a couple weeks to fully recover from, but I was feeling better the day before the race, and I was optimistic — after all, Sacramento was bright, and beautiful, and teeming with promise…
Race morning, I was making repeat trips to the portalets with less that 10 minutes until the 7:00 AM start time. I had wanted to start in the wave with the 3:25 and 3:30 pacers, but missed it. I ended up in a later wave with the 4:00-hour pace group. Despite this, those first miles weren’t too slow. I had studied the course, and prepared well for the rolling hills. My goal was to run negative splits — to start slow and pick up the pace, but I was looking for portas by Mile 2.
I tried to stick to my fuel plan: Nuun electrolytes in my water bottle, and alternating Gu gels, and Honey Stinger chews every couple miles, but my stomach was a wreck. I set my sights on picking off pacers, passing the 3:55 pace group, then 3:50, then 3:45. I tried to keep my pace as close to 8:00/mile as possible, but more and more of the miles fell above target. I passed the 3:40 pacer, but never caught sight of 3:35.
There were hills and winds and bouts of rain, but all of my mental energy was expended on my churning belly. I kept reminding myself: It’s not over, but at Mile 23.5, I was running into another portalet, devastated by the minutes lost.
I flew out of this last pitstop with fire in my blood: No more fuel. No more fluid. Just finish, I decided. Those final miles were my fastest of the day @ 7:40 and 7:34/mile, as I pushed for the Finish Line, pleading for the end. I knew I was cutting it close to my PR of 3:33:22. Go, go, go, I begged my body. With nothing in my stomach for my body to reject, my muscles and fitness showed up for me. I sprinted the final tenths at 7:11/mile pace — no smile, no outstretched arms of victory. It was an ugly, gritty finish.
I called Jared in tears, who told me my finish time: “3:33 on the dot.” I was elated and devastated and flabbergasted. And so ready to go home.
This was my 4th 3:33 finish — a 22 second PR, a 2 minute BQ, and my 27th marathon. I am fiercely proud and grateful for this marathon finish, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also bummed… The time on the clock doesn’t reflect what I’ve trained for, but one of my favorite Alexi Pappas quotes is: “Good thing I didn’t accomplish all my goals yet, because then what would I do tomorrow.”
If I know anything about myself, it’s that even if it takes me 10 years to break 3:30, I will. I’ll never give up. And in the words of Janae: “I’m more than okay with failing my way to success.”
I came across this Peter Bromka quote that sums it up perfectly:
“The marathon is too far and too fickle to be tamed by your intentions. The truth is: the marathon will take from you everything you brought, and more. That’s its guarantee. And that’s why we love it.”
CIM 2019 – Rundown:
- Official Finish Time: 3:33:00 @ 8:07/mile
- Time since my last Marathon: 8 months since my 1st Boston Marathon
- Lifetime Marathon: #27
- BQ: #5
- Spectators: None!
- Pre-Race Fuel: coffee, Larabars x2
- During Race Fuel: Nuun, Gu Roctane energy gels x3, Honey Stinger chews
- Favorite Post-Race Treat: a hot shower (*I wasn’t able to stomach much)
- Favorite Song: Outcast by NF — “You ain’t ever seen no drive like mine”
- Favorite Mantra: I repeated lots of “F” words, like Fast, Fresh, Fearless 🙂
“Go Mom Go // Never ever Give up“