Monday, December 5, 2011

Race Report: CIM (or, another one bites the dust)

What can I say about the 2011 California International Marathon, my third attempt at the distance? "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." No, that has been used before. How about: "I left it all on the field"? Nope, not that one either. Let us try this one (from my not-so-favorite, Woody Allen): "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Yep, that is a good start.

As I mentioned in my last post, I woke up Saturday with a cold. Or the beginnings of a cold. My throat was tight, but I didn't yet have a fever, headache, cough, etc. So it would still be fine if I ran the marathon, right? On Sunday morning, I was not so sure. I didn't sleep very well, and was near delirium when I got up at 3:30AM. I couldn't decide what to eat, I felt awful, I was tired. But I went anyway. On the bus to the start in Folsom, I wasn't sure how much longer I could stay awake. When we finally arrived at the start, it was so cold I thought I might freeze.

But at 6:55 or so, I took off my jacket, packed it in my gear check bag, and lined up at the start. I felt better, at least a little bit. And ready to run.

The first half went pretty well. I got through Folsom, the outskirts, and Fair Oaks just fine. I kept a stead 8:35-8:50 or so pace, well within my goal of 8:45 overall (for a 3:50 finish). I felt good. At the hour mark, I forgot to take my Day Quill, but I remembered about twenty minutes later. I kept taking my Gu and drinking water about when I should.

My average time for the first 5.9 miles was a too-fast 8:25 per mile, well under my goal pace. I figured this was okay, due to the downhill of the first few miles. I got to the halfway point at 1:53, for 8:37 average to that point, which was well within my goal of finishing in 3:50.

Things went downhill from there, pun intended. By the 20 mile mark, I was at 2:58:14, or 8:54 average pace. At that point, it was still possible to come in within a good range of my second goal, around 3:55.

Well, the last 10k was not my friend, to say the least. I really started to feel the effects of my cold, and just couldn't get back to my goal speed of 8:45, or even the slow end of my speed range, 9:00 per mile. I was checking my watch, seeing my speed slowing, and trying to pull it back in, but I just couldn't seem to maintain. At the H Street Bridge, the 3:55 group came and went, though I did stay with them for a mile or so. I was fine with that. I don't need to PR every race, especially with a cold.

John made a good assessment of my running issues yesterday after the race. I am a bit of a quitter. I can go out a train and get a good time in a race, but usually just when conditions are right. At CIM last year for example, I felt sick, and I just couldn't mentally come to terms with the ten miles I had left to run, so I walked them. I probably could have physically run, but mentally I gave up. Yesterday, this was not the case. I didn't quit, for once.

I haven't looked at my Garmin results, but I know that I did the last half much slower than the first, and I ran the last 10k well below my goal. But I kept running, and I made sure that I kept enough speed up that the 4:00 pace group wouldn't pass me (or that I could hang on to them if they caught me). Once I saw the park, I picked it up, and that really made the difference. I don't know how much faster I ran in that last half mile or so, but I know that it helped me come in twenty seconds under the four hour mark. And that 20 seconds is everything!

The bottom line is, I could have done better, had I not been sick. I actually was pretty well prepared. But I was sick, so I didn't get a PR. But I also didn't quit, which helped me at least finish under four hours. I call that a victory.

For the books, here are my results:
Chip time: 3:59:40
Average Speed: 9:09/mile

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