California International Marathon race recap

This marathon was unlike any other for me. As I’m sitting down and writing out the details, it’s a bit hard this time to recall the race since it all just kind of flew by. I usually have a dramatic story to tell, complete with overcoming “hitting the wall” and learning approximately 15 life lesson along the way, but this race didn’t have any of that.

Nevertheless, this marathon hit home for me. I’m incredibly flooded with gratefulness for an incredible training cycle, a strong race, and the friends who have supported me throughout.

Day-before the race

On Saturday, I drove up to Sacramento with Ben and Anna. They were going to a Foo Fighters concert in town and so they came out to cheer me on as well – it couldn’t have worked out better! I felt like a little kid tagging along with mom and dad 😛

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We got in late afternoon and did some light exploring downtown. Spending time with my favorite couple definitely got my mind off of the race.

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Me + my proud parents

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We ate an early dinner at the best ramen place in Sac-town, after which I bid the two goodbye, uber-ed to my Airbnb in Folsom, and was in bed by 8pm.

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Race Day

I completely did not think through my morning plan. My Airbnb was too far from the downtown shuttles and also too far to walk to the race start…I was definitely anxious about the morning logistics, but it turned out the other sweet Airbnb guest was also racing CIM, and so I conveniently caught a ride with her. Disaster averted!

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The entire start was very well organized given the medium-large size of this race. Checking my bag, using the porta-potty – all went smoothly. I lined up alongside the 4:30-ers, and it STILL hadn’t hit me that this was all going down. I was mostly calm, with a bit of nerves about the pain to come. And then my legs started to run…

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The race

I won’t break this down mile-by-mile like I usually do, because this whole race felt so fluid. It honestly felt less like a race, and more like a long run where my mind wandered and before I knew it, it was over.

CIM was a point to point race and so the beginning took place outside Sacramento which was pretty residential. The first 10 miles I ran without music as we weaved through the peaceful suburbs. It was the PERFECT running weather starting in the high 40’s. The sun was coming up and I felt like I was having a decently strong running day. (So much salt on my face, ha :P)

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I did use the porta-potty at mile 3. I can usually handle quite a bit of uncomfort holding my bladder for races, but this was beyond that point and I was so willing to sacrifice a few minutes towards my time to make the race that much more comfortable.

Around mile 8 I started feeling a little sore in my legs and got nervous. Flashback to my last marathon when things went south very quickly starting at mile 8. I told myself to stay calm and mentally prepared myself for the worst case (aka a repeat of last time).

Hitting mile 13 was a pretty big relief. The pain didn’t really get worse and I actually felt like I had a lot more in me to run this second half strong, a big surprise! By halfway, my mind was calm and ready for act two.

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Miles 13-18 completely flew by. I felt this because I took gels at miles 6 and 12, after which my mind wandered off for a bit and before I knew it, it was time to take the mile 18 gel and I felt like I had JUST taken one. It was such an odd feeling. These miles had super fun crowds, live music, cheerleaders…I really tried to finally be present and feed off of every cheer/funny running signs/energy from the crowd 🙂

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After mile 18 I took a deep breath. In all my past marathons experiences, this would be the point of hitting the wall. I knew it would hit me at any moment and I braced myself…

But mile 19 came.

Then 20. 21.

AND 22!

No wall. Nothing! Not to say it wasn’t painful – my quads and hamstrings were definitely burning up, but that raw feeling of “I have nothing left to give” didn’t happen at all. I kept telling myself “it’s okay, this is what you were expecting”. I’ve never come across this kind of mental strength before in any marathon. Usually by this point I would be climbing self-doubt mountain and flooded negative thoughts. My mind was in very good spot.

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Miles 23-24 went by a more slowly. I had a “let’s just execute” attitude and knew I the end was in sight.

I think it was mile 24 that it FINALLY hit me (I know…so late) that this was it. All the hard work, time, miles, sacrifices, lesson I learned along the way…all for this wonderful race. I was so overwhelmed with emotion these last 2 miles. I felt so blessed that I made it to this point, and I couldn’t believe it was all going to be over so soon. I picked up the pace and rode the most wonderful, painful, emotional high of the race.

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Right at the peak of my emotions I heard my name being shouted by Ben and Anna! I ran over to them and gave them big hugs. Seeing them completely grounded me and gave me the encouraging vibes I needed to bring this one home. I sprinted to end and crossed that finish line with the biggest smile 🙂

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FINAL TIME: 4 hours, 31 minutes, 50 seconds

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Post-race –> new blogging friend! 

After the race, I had lunch with Elle from A Fast Paced Life (check her out – she is awesome!). We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a year and a half now, and when we found out that we were both running CIM, it was the perfect opportunity to finally meet up. She was so cheerful and down to earth in person; we talked about running, living in SF and New York (she currently lives in Brooklyn), and life in general. Meeting Elle made me SO grateful to gain another running friend and also for this awesome blog-o-sphere letting me connect with other runners.

Also, Elle had quite the speedy race and qualified for the Boston Marathon!!! I am so beyond excited for her! 🙂

Reflection

On the physical front: It took me five marathons to finally learn the importance of fueling. I do believe that’s why I didn’t hit the wall this time, which was pretty monumental. This time, I took gels at even 6-mile intervals no matter how I felt. In the past, I would pop in gels when I needed that extra boost, but I learned the hard way that if you’ve already reached that point, it was usually too late.

On the emotional front: Post-race, I was kind of in a weird spot. I was very happy with how it went, but I honestly didn’t have that “post-race high” to the degree of my past marathons. I know I’ve been emphasizing how this whole race was a blur. I blamed myself for not being happier/more excited for completing my fifth marathon, which should feel like a huge accomplishment.  It scared me that marathons were “losing their touch” and becoming just another thing to check off the list for me.

But then I go back to this blog, and read week-by-week how I progressed and all the lessons I learned along the way. I absolutely DID get so much out of this training cycle and need to remind myself how far I’ve come this year. Six months ago, I hit a dead end in New York. I felt like I had nothing going for me, and I uprooted my entire life and moved across the country. Along the way I met so many loved ones, developed my career on the west coast, all while running two half marathons and one marathon. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

And so, I’m very grateful for this race and everything leading up to it. This marathon was the perfect celebration to a year of starting over, working hard, and finding happiness <3.

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7 thoughts on “California International Marathon race recap

  1. Sounds like you had a nice marathon experience. I ran that race too, it was my first. A little different experience, but fun none the less. The crowds were amazing weren’t they

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