There is so much to say about the race but ultimately the best indicator of how my day would go began with the start line as I lined up feeling calm, confident, grateful, focused, and ready to fight if needed.
The plan was to focus on a 3:25 finish time for the first 20 miles, with hope I would have enough energy in the last 5-10K to pickup a couple extra minutes at the end & close with a negative split. This is the same closing strategy as my recent half marathon and current training. If that were to happen, we were aiming for a time of 3:20-3:23 as the A goal.
Day before the race: (I get this part is always boring to read but for my own documentation it’s here… feel free to skip ahead)
I woke up at 7:45AM, was dressed and out the door by 8:00AM to do a short 15 minute shakeout run, followed by 4 light strides. I looped the capitol, ran through the neighborhoods, back down L street, and strided through the park. The weather was a balmy 40, cloudy, with golden wisps of leaves fluttering around me.
Right after I came back from the run, Tim and I took off to grab breakfast at Cafeteria 15. It was mediocre at best but the place is huge so grabbing a table was easy and they served a stack of pancakes – just what I was craving!
From breakfast we headed straight to the expo, picked up my race bib, swung by the Oiselle booth to say hi to Brenda and Dr. Lesko, and then jumped straight into my checklist of errands… 1) Pick up race day breakfast from co-op 2) Stop by Temple Coffee Roasters & 3) figure out lunch…
Lunch was amazing!!! We ended up at this cute and semi-hippie-dippy deli – Thrive (I think?). I ordered a grilled almond butter, strawberry, banana, coconut sandwich (all the carbs!!!), and by 2:00 we were back at the hotel to rest and nail down the race outfit + focus on last minute meditations.
That evening we picked the easiest option possible for dinner —> Staying at the hotel and partaking in their race buffet. It was surprisingly perfect and filled with unlimited sweet potatoes, pasta with vegan marinara, steamed veggies, and lots of garlic bread!
Knowing I would have to get up at 3:45AM and be on a bus at 5:00AM, I went to bed super early and turned the lights out around 8:15PM. I don’t know how, but I miraculously fell asleep around 9:30PM.
My alarm went off and I felt wide awake, excited, & ready!! I ate my overnight oats, drank a coffee, a glass of nuun and read a letter that Jess had written me for race morning. I felt balanced and prepared!!
CIM is a point-to-point race that starts in Folsom and ends at the Capitol. I, along with many others, headed down at 4:50AM to take a shuttle from the hotel to the start line. I didn’t have my phone with me and the bus was dark, so I just played through different scenarios in my head of how the day could go, focused on the positives, and tried to relax for the 45 minute drive.
I hopped off the bus at 6:00, stood in the bathroom line a million times (because I honestly just wanted something to do & didn’t want to think about the miles that were ahead), and then was in my coral by 6:45AM.
I kept waiting for nerves to set in but I just felt excited. I reminded myself to take it all in, savor it, enjoy it, work hard, and have fun!!
The trumpet player from Cake played the national anthem and then we were off and running!
I had a pace plan that was broken up into 5 segments, however, we knew that the course rolled and I would generally have to go off of effort.
Miles 1-10: Goal 7:45 – 7:50
Mile splits: 7:38, 7:44, 7:41, 7:48, 7:46, 7:42, 7:48, 7:48, 7:53, 7:39.
The first mile is downhill and it took everything in me to hold back and focus on patience. I tried to stay present in these 10 miles, appreciate the energy around me, what we were accomplishing together, and let my pace be determined by effort. I knew the hills would keep rolling for the first 16-20 miles and I didn’t want to burn through my energy too quickly.
I started taking fluids in early at mile 3, took a gel at mile 5.5 along with more water, nuun at mile 8, and then water again at mile 10.
Miles 11-15: Goal 7:45’s
Mile Splits: 7:42, 7:41, 7:40, 7:33, 7:49
I took another gel at mile 11 and alternated between water and nuun every two miles after this. I felt relaxed and happy. On the uphill I would take my time, appreciate the change in muscles being used & allow myself to use the downhill as a recovery… a recovery with faster paces but not exerting myself too much. My initial instinct was to go faster but knew that could sacrifice the back half of the race.
I saw Tim at 13.5 and Sally Oiselle and Sarah Lesko at 13.6 (Hello, fastest mile of the race)! I was having so much fun and hitting my goal splits with relative ease – ease only because those paces have been drilled into me these last two months & there was still a lot of race left.
Miles 16-20: Goal 7:40-7:45’s
Mile Splits: 7:44, 7:42, 7:42, 7:46, 7:45
It was sunny from the start of the race, and the temperatures started to pickup around mile 16 (42 at the start of the race, 50’s in the middle, and 58 at the end). I threw my gloves away around mile 16. At mile 17 I pulled off my arm warmers and planned on tossing them to Tim at mile 20. Mile 18 I took another gel and a tums (side cramp).
As with the earlier miles, I continued to feel great, energetic, positive, and focused. I saw Tim 20.5 and just like before, Lesko and Sally were a few feet after that!!
I ran through the fake brick wall at mile 21, smiled, and thought “Pain isn’t a wall its a door” (Thanks Meg Murray!!)… I knew I had the BQ in the bag but wanted to have a solid strong finish and grind it out.
That’s also when my legs started to feel the 20 miles of rolling hills… I had loved the feeling of UP and the DOWN – switch between effort and ease!! Obviously, it should come as no surprise to anyone but myself that my legs did not love the flat that followed…
Miles 21-23: Goal 7:40
Mile Splits: 7:44, 7:45, 8:01
I had expected the last 10K to be my fastest. I would be close to the finish, and using different muscle groups, however, my quads were lacking their drive and I felt pretty toasty. Although I was in a really good place mentally and nutritionally, I had a hard time turning my legs any faster. I decided to just push as hard as I could, run as fast as possible, and not give up.
…pain is a door, not a wall. You have felt this tired on training runs, don’t stop… Grind it out.
Miles 24-26.2: Goal – MOVE, no regrets, leave it all out there
Mile Splits: 8:03, 8;12, 8:03, 2:31 (7:50 pace)
On the flight to Sacramento I listened to a podcast with Deena Kastor. Deena said something along the lines of…”We do not train for the perfect day or the perfect race, we train so that we know what to do when it gets hard… When it is no longer easy, is when a race defines you. You either give up or dig and give it your all… ”
Throughout the race I kept thinking, “What will define me?” knowing it would get hard and things may not go exactly to the plan. Over the last seven years, my race mantra use to be “This is what you came for…” On Sunday, that changed to, “This is what you TRAINED for.”
The last three point two miles, I didn’t look at my watch, I just pushed as hard as I possibly could, literally gritting my teeth as I moved. I took in every single moment, every step, and savored it… The leaves, the sunshine, the crowd with their overwhelming voices, the love and energy from Oiselle’s cowbell corner, running down a brand new street, and just appreciating the months that led to this moment. I felt unstoppable and while these were my slowest miles, my effort continued to increase.
I ran across the finish line with my arms lifted, a HUGE smile on my face, and a finish of 3:24:52… I PRed by 23 minutes and 8 seconds and BQed with a buffer of 10 minutes and 8 seconds!
The day went as perfect as it possibly could have, and I while I can think of things I could have done better, I have zero regrets and know I laid it all out there.
Finish Time: 3:24:52 / 7:50 per mile
Mantras: Be Brave, Dig Deep, Get Ugly. This is what you trained for. I can, I am, I will.
Unspoken mantras (is that a thing): Meditating on the love and support I felt and thought about as I ran those 26.2 miles – I am so grateful to have such an incredible husband, coach, team, friends, & especially for Jess and her genuine support, advice, shared miles, & kindness. I could not have done this on my own.
A year ago I was injured, in May I missed my goal by quite a hefty margin, and on Sunday I not only had a redemptive race but one filled with so much gratitude.