California International Marathon (CIM) Recap
My fiance and I arrived in Sacramento about 3pm. I had never been to the capitol of the state I was born and raised in (California) so, we walked to see the capitol building. We then relaxed a bit until dinner with some of the Runinrabbit squad at the Iron Horse Tavern. I'll be honest and say that on Friday, I felt like crap. I was not excited to run on Sunday. The thought of having to run 26.2 miles made me want to cry. So, I was in pre race Friday slumps.
Reunited with my sweet friends.
Saturday was a busy day! I finally woke up feeling better and optimistic about the race! I had a 7:00am coffee date with my favorite Mo before the Runinrabbit shake out at 8:00am. After some much needed coffee, it was time for some shake out miles with the crew! Some of us met up at the Citizen hotel. I finally got to meet Alana in person!! So exciting! I was sitting on the hotel lobby bench and noticed it was her from her side profile and yelled, "Alana?!" hahaha. As if she knew who I was! I was just busy fan girling. Seriously, this past weekend was like all of my girl crushes in the same city. Total bad ass women taking over Sac!
After the shake out, we headed to the Expo. The expo was crazy busy so we literally got in and got out real quick. I picked up my bib, got myself some running gloves for the race and made my way out of there.
After the expo, we made our way to PUSHKINS!!! Basically one of the primary reasons I came to Sacramento. I LOVE my pastries and these are ALL gluten free!!! I sha'll have you know that I had a total of SIX pastries this weekend. They appear to have served me well in the race hahaha. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing. We ate an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I played it safe with mashed potatoes, skirt steak and a salad. Then we headed back to the hotel for one last Air Relax recovery boot session and then it was LIGHTS OUT!!!
SUNDAY - RACE DAY!
Rise and Shine!! (the part you've all been waiting for)
It's 4:15 am. The hotel room phone rings and my girl Rebecca picks up. It's our race day wake-up call. I lay in bed next to my fiance and make my typical overly dramatic complaints, "I literally got no sleep," "I don't think I'm ready to race," "I don't want to wake up," and "My stomach hurts." I am a night owl and waking up before the birds do is not on my list of preferred activities. But, 4am morning wake up calls are a sacrifice us crazy runners make, so up and out of the bed of clouds I went as I did my morning race routine.
First things first, I poured 8 ounces of water into a glass cup and dropped a Nuun Energy electrolyte tablet into the water to let it fizzled. Next, I ate half a banana with almond butter and chugged the Nuun. I slipped into my Runinrabbit "legs" spandex shorts, checked out my fluffy carb-loaded legs and buns in the mirror, thought to myself, "well these are rather snug today" (carb-load mission accomplished!!) and then whipped out the Arete team beautiful blue crop hop top with the Runinrabbit blue arm sleeves to match (obviously). I loaded up my Flip Belt with exactly 6 Honey Stinger chocolate gels and assembled it nicely around my waist. My fluffy legs along with the loaded flip belt now had me looking like a bad ass pack mule - cute... I know. I finished the other half of my banana, shoveled some Purely Elizabeth granola down my hatch and prepped my Genucan + Coffee concoction to drink on the bus.
Now for the shoes. I brought 3 pairs with me: New balance 1500v2, New balance Zante, and the new Nike Zoom Fly's. I dismissed the Zante's. So, the real battle was now NB vs Nike. I am loyal to my NB and I knew that the 1500v2's would be a safe choice because I had raced in them before. BUT, those Zoom Fly's (insert heart eyed emoji). I bought them a week and a half prior to CIM. I ran in them 4 times and put roughly 20 miles on them. Considering that they were still pretty new, I threw on my my new balances knowing they wouldn't give me complications. I couldn't stop thinking about the Zoom Fly's, so literally, as we were walking out the door to leave, I did a shoe switch (so suspenseful). As I laced up the Zoom Fly's I told them, "if you disappoint me, you will be returned and no longer have a home." I will get to the shoes later, but basically... they are money.
Can't forget the very graceful start to the day...
Rebecca, Megan and I walk out the hotel lobby to start heading toward L and 3rd street, where we were told the buses were picking up runners. It's about 5:15am at this point and we were trying to get to the bus pick up location by 5:30am. As we walked out of the hotel, thinking we had plenty of time to get to the buses, a gentleman said to us, "are you trying to get to the buses? Because they already left." Wait... I'm sorry, what do you mean they already left sir?! Then he added, "You'll have to go to the convention center." Naturally, the three of us panicked and my heart literally almost fell out of my butt as I definitely almost experienced a minor heart attack. We were like the three blind mice at this point trying to figure out left from right and how to get to the buses. This was my first thought,
We could hear the buses through the lobby door, but we were already outside at this point and get this... WE WERE LOCKED OUT!! So, all three of us were banging on the big glass doors of the hotel lobby trying to get anyone's attention to let us through. The gentleman who informed us of the bus situation kindly let us into the hotel. We race across the lobby, out the front doors of the hotel and approached the very first bus we saw. Rebecca banged on the bus doors. The bus driver opened. He wouldn't let us on and said, "You have to go to the first bus at the convention center." So, there we went. Three girls, off the the races... a whole hour and a half before the real race. Coach told me not to do a warm up for this marathon, but I got one in anyways. We ran the mile from our hotel to the convention center and found the first bus. My heart had now made its way back up to my chest as we took our seats on the big yellow school bus. When I sat down on the bus, I realized that we were supposed to be meeting three other speedy ladies, Kim (aka @trackclubbabe), Christine, and Shambra at L and 3rd. Ruh roh... I prayed that they somehow received the same message we got and were making their way over to the convention center. Literally, 5 minutes later, the girls walk onto the bus. Thank God!
The buses eventually started making their way over to the startling line in Folsom. I was a nervous wreck. Anxious thoughts crowded my mind: "am I ready?" "sub 3 is so fast!" "Maybe I'll just make this a fun run." etc. Kim was sitting next to me and turns to me and asks if I want to listen to the song "Oceans" by Hillsong. Ummmmm... yes!!! Don't have to ask me twice. I needed an extra boost of faith at this point in time and this was just the trick! We listened to this song on repeat the entire drive to Folsom. I could feel my parasympathetic nervous system kicking in as my heart rate slowed and I become more relaxed. I thought to myself,
I repeated this to myself up until the very moment the horn went off and decided this would be my mantra for the race. We arrived at the start line about 6:25am. All of us had to pee, so we went straight for the porta's, which, conveniently was backed up and had about a 10-15 minute wait. We waited, we peed, and we headed to the start line. I knew Kim and I had similar finishing time goals so I wanted to stay near her, but somehow we lost each other on the way to the start line. Rebecca and I were left together as we made our way up to the 3:12 pace group.
> The race plan: Go out at 7:45 for mile 1. Build to 7:25-7:35 for next few miles and keep building to 7:10. By the half way point, I was to be cruising at 6:55-7:05. Then try and close out the last 10k fast.
How it really went....
The horn went off. My goal was to try and stay back behind the 3:12 pace group for the first few miles and then eventually catch the 3:07 pace group and by the end I wanted to try and catch the 3:02 pace group. I know that through this whole training cycle, my "A" goal has been to hit that sub 3-hour mark. The week leading up to the race, I thought about this goal A LOT!!! Two days before the race, I was at a Runinrabbit dinner and talking to the speedy Susan Loken and Jill Deering (two of my lady crushes). Susan brought up my sub 3 hour goal and I shared with her that there was nothing in my training cycle that indicated I was at that level of fitness just yet (yet is the key word here). I was going to still go out there and try, but I would not be disappointed if it didn't happen.
After the horn went off, I started my watch, but turned the watch face to display the clock. I did this solely because I wanted to run this marathon based on feel and not be constantly looking down at my pace. We could not have asked for better weather! It was perfect race day conditions. I could see my breath in the air and felt the crispness on my face. For the first mile, my split was a 7:13 (oops, sorry Jill!!). During this mile, I was almost tripped. The guy that kicked my foot is VEEEEEERRRYYY lucky that I didn't go down, because well... he would have never seen the end of me. But, other than that... I was cruising. My legs felt good, my body was strong and my heart was 100% committed. Mile 2, I dropped down to a 7:01 pace and mile 3 was a 6:46 pace. When I saw that 6:46 pace ding on my watch, I told myself, "Pump the breaks girl!!! You've got 23 more miles!" Although I was feeling good, I slowed pace just a bit and mile 4 was a 7:02 pace. Going into CIM, I knew that that 7:00-7:05 pace was my feel good hot spot and was confident I could hold that. Miles 5 and 6 were 6:58 and 6:51. Much quicker than my coach had prescribed, but I cannot explain to you guys how good my body felt!!
My first 10k, I averaged a 6:58 pace. By this time, I was cruising right behind the 3:02 group. For most of the first 10k, I ran with the 3:07 group, which was amazing. It's like a big pack of runners working together! If you don't join pace groups during races, I highly recommend it. The leaders would cue, "Okay, relax into the downhill." It was so nice to have the company of others. But, my legs wanted to move fast so I found a comfy spot right between the 3:02 group and the 3:07 group. I told myself not to lose sight of the 3:02 group. As I neared mile 6, I could hear,
My heart smiled. I lifted both arms up and waved with a HUGE smile on my face. The energy and atmosphere of this race was nothing like I had ever experienced before. The next 7 miles up to the half marathon point, I averaged between 6:53 and 7:06 pace. Every corner turned, the local community and race supporters were out cheering with cowbells and signs in big crowds. The rolling hills in those first 13 miles was definitely unexpected for me, but my legs were surprisingly hanging in there. For anyone who tells you that CIM is a downhill course... NO. It is absolutely NOT a straight downhill course. There is a NET downhill grade, but lets remember folks... you must go up, to go down. And that my friends, is exactly what we did... over and over and over again. Up, down, up, down, up, down. So, I crossed the half at 1:31:32 (that's is also a 4 minute half PR!!!). This is when that thought of, "oh no, you're in trouble" came up in the back of my mind. But, as I did a feel check... my body still felt great!
Miles 14-16: I was told that the rolling hills would stop around mile 15. I would argue that this is absolutely false. Those hills kept coming in hot. Whenever I got to the bottom of one, I would look ahead and see another incline in the near distance. I was still very calm and collected here. My legs started to feel the hills a little bit - especially in my quads, but my heart was driving me all the way home on this race! At any point in which my legs started to feel fatigued, I would recite my race mantra, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and then ask God to help me keep my mind strong. Each time I did this (there were several times), I could feel my body relax and my mind refocus.
Literally, I think I was smiling the entire race. I still kept pace here with mile 14 at 6:46, Mile 15 at 7:04 and mile 16 at 7:05. So, I've reflected a lot on this race and I think that anytime I saw a pace under 6:50, I pulled back on the reigns... even though that pace felt comfortable to me, I slowed down. In hindsight, I wish I would have locked in at a 6:50-6:55 pace and held it, but I kept playing it safe instead of just going for it!!
Half way there!!
The fiance working hard on his paparazzi skills
Miles 17-21: Still feeling strong through mile 20. In my previous marathons, mile 20 is when I have hit a wall and those last 6 miles feel impossible. Not this time!!!! I saw my fiance again at mile 20 and I remember thinking to myself, "You're still in one piece!!!" I felt strong, my posture and form felt the same at mile 20 as they did at mile 1. This was and still is a MAJOR sign of progress for me. At mile 20, you pass by a huge crowd of spectators. The spectators are yelling, "you're almost there... it's all flat from here!" Again... this was FALSE information hahaha. For one - no, I am not almost there... 6.2 miles to go is not almost there. And secondly, it most definitely was not all flat from mile 20. I actually sped up on mile 20 to try and execute my race plan with finishing the last 10k fast, and that didn't happen because I gunned it up a hill. So, miles 17-20 were about 7:05 average pace and then mile 21 was a 6:57 pace. My plan was the chip away at 6:57 until I crossed that finish line.. but, that sadly did not happen.
Miles 22-23: Woooo baby!!! Definitely feeling it in my legs at this point. My quads were completely trashed! My pace dropped to 7:15 for miles 22 and 23. I kept telling myself to at least try to hang on to that 7:15 pace until mile 25 and give everything I had left the last mile. Well, it was a nice thought... but I was not able to execute. At this point, it was pretty flat ground and that seemed harder than the hills! I think I repeated my mantra in my head every 1/4 mile here.
Miles 24-26: I was slipping right into positive split city. Mile 24 was a 7:28, mile 25, 7:31 and mile 26, 7:27. My quads, my booty, my calves and even my right bicep were all starting to quiver and cramp. The bonk for me happened at mile 24. I am actually VERY happy about this as it is 4 miles past when I typically bonk. That tells me that I am gaining fitness and my body is learning how to deal with the demands of this distance. Or, it just means that I fueled really well and it lasted me up until mile 24. Either way... I'll take it!! I saw my fiance again at mile 26. I could hear him yelling from down the street and hearing his voice allowed me to push my body into one last final gear to finish the marathon.
The last .2: I turned that final corner and could hear the announcers at the finish line. I imagined that I was running 400m repeats on the track and picked my pace up to finish at a 6:18 pace for that last .2. I passed a girl on the way in and saw 3:04 on the clock in the distance. "Pick it up Saige!!!!!!," I told myself. I gave that last 150ish meters everything I had left to cross with a finishing time of 3:05:23. My Arete team mates, Connie and Mary were standing at the finish line when I crossed. They both gave me a huge congratulations hug and I had happy tears. There is an indescribable connection that I have been able to make with all of the ladies in this amazing running community and I would not trade it for anything in the world. It has given me a place to feel at home and has provided me with the most valuable of friendships.
A nice big 15 minute PR!!! I'll take it! It wasn't my A goal. It was actually much better than that. I enjoyed every second of the CIM marathon. I smiled the entire way. I felt strong and I finished that race with the fullest heart I have ever had. There is a fire and a desire within me right now as I write this that I have never felt before. I proved to myself, once again, that the body is physically able to do anything you train it to do. We do not have physical limits. Your mind is the only barrier between what you can and cannot do.
Now that I have had time to reflect on the race, I know that if I had gone out a little more conservative at the beginning, I could have without a doubt run a sub 3 hour marathon. My biggest mistake was going out too fast. This would explain why my last couple miles slowed by about 30 seconds. But, you live and you learn. I am still learning this whole negative split concept and it is TOUGH to execute. I will do it in time. I still have SO much to learn and am excited to jump back on the band wagon after the new year to build up to BOSTON BABY!!!!
And you BETTER BELIEVE I am running a sub 3 hour marathon at Boston. Let's make that a 2:57 :).
Below you can see my positive split city stats along with a look at the elevation. Yes, the elevation heads in a downward pattern, but take a look at all those rolling hills along the way. If you are training for your first CIM... do NOT avoid hills like I did. Rookie mistake.
Here the last bit of details on my fueling for the race, because I know people will ask.
Prerace: Banana w/ almond butter 2 hours before race. Cold brew coffee + 2 scoops Genucan 45 minutes before race.
Honey stinger gels: I consumed a total of 6 (mile 4, 8, 12, 16, 18, 22)
Water + NUUN: I grabbed NUUN and water at EVERY station. NUUN was always first so I would grab and chug in time to grab water.
Post race: EAT ALL THE FOOD!! But seriously... I had a burger, fries and three Pushkins pastries (banana loaf, blueberry cinnamon coffee cake, and a banana muffin)
I'll be posting on what's next for me in the upcoming months and for 2018 on the next blog! Feel free to email me with blog requests!
Run happy gals and lads!!