The last two years have been trying times (and I'm sure Covid is not done with us yet) but this marathon was back after missing 2020!
|Predawn school bus|
from hotel to start area
It's an event.
Yes, a marathon is a long run ..but what a long run: a run mixed with the theater of huge physical+mental effort with goals and hopes... and potential miscalculations, failure and crushing disappointment.
So, yeah, more of a big deal than 'going for a run'.
Why CIM? It was not my first marathon (that was Napa) but it was the first marathon where I went sub-4 (back in 2011 at age 56).
|In the 4:30 corral|
Usually a city course snakes you all over the city and back to where you started. A point-to-point course makes it clear you are going somewhere, i.e. you have a mission.
All participants had to be verified as vaxed or tested negative. Admission to the expo was timed. I, like most folks, just picked up my bib and shirt and left. I know the course from having run it twice so didn't need to see the blow by blow on that.
And after reading every decent book about marathon training and attending dozens of previous expos seminars I've heard all of it before.
Normally I nerd out over my training, but for this race I was more laid back.
I have been running a *lot* during Covid, probably an average of high thirties miles/week
|Can you see the starting line banner? |
View from the 4:30 expected
time lineup area.
But I haven't been doing all the other things you really need to do to get ready for a marathon, e.g. strength training, hill sprints, intervals, etc. I did do a set of Yasso 800's at one point. I did try to mix in more hills (CIM has 850' of up, 350' of down) but I live 2 miles from the nearest hills around here and I was lazy.
So I knew that aerobically I was ready but I needed to be careful with the hills.
Toni and I drove up Saturday morning to stay at one of the partner hotels in Folsom closer to the start. The weather forecast was absolutely as good as it could possibly be, which had me excited:
Cloudy all day, 44F at the start time, rising to 55F at my anticipated finish time. No wind!
These temps are ideal. You generate a lot of heat running and if your body temp starts to rise you will slow down (and feel like crap). Great to know that water loss / overheating would not be worrysome.
The school bus pickup to the start closest to my location was to depart at 5:30am from the Trader Joes nearby (about half a mile from the hotel). The night before I laid out my kit of stuff and used my pre-race checklist to make sure everything was set...in the morning it is not a good time to be rushing to get things together.
At 4:30am (after a night of fitful 'sleep') I got up and dressed. Toni had bought me a super fancy running jacket and shirt that were both uber lightweight and svelt, just for this race 8). I also had three old throw-away t-shirts to wear under the jacket to keep me warm before the start.
It was good I wore these extra shirts. Normally if you are staying at a Folsom hotel they have a special 'keep warm tent' at the start area, but this year, due to Covid I assume, they just had an area at a gas station that had a cover over the pump area and a bunch of folding chairs to sit in. It was still 44F there.
CIM is famous for having the most generous set of porta-potties for the runners of any race on planet earth. Typical ratio might be around 1f or 100 runners. At CIM it's 1 for 30!
With thousands of runners that is a LOT of porta potties! Take a look:
|~800++ foot line of porta-potties|
Eventually it was time to line up. The fenced and roped off chute for runners had signs marking off pace group areas. I headed for the 4:30 pace group sign and slipped in. After last minute chatter from the announcer (who's talking the entire time ......trying to entertain and help pass the time) we are ready to start.
But don't get excited. With thousands of people there could be lots of bad accidents with a gang-start so instead each pace group is walked up to the line and started independently. Of course your bib has a small chip that only starts the clock for you when you cross the timing mat.
Finally, after a couple of minutes, our group gets to start!....well, we can't really run yet but we trot ahead and over the next minute spread out and hit full pace.
Finally we are running a marathon again! I'm hoping to meet up with Toni and 10 miles and again at 20 miles.
Start to 5 miles
First let's take a look at the elevation profile and see what we're in for:You can see the net downhill of 350'.. hey that's nice! But look closely at all the little squiggles going up an down along the way.....it turns out if you count them up you actually have another 850' of up/down added in.
Downhills are good, but not all good. You can easily blow out your quadriceps on the down if you run them too hard. The CIM org has lots of recommendations they throw at you that basically tell you to be very conservative, especially in the beginning.
Paces for miles 1 to 5: 10:07, 10:23, 10:07, 10:22, 10:26 (HR ~ 120-125)
Considering all the downhill, I took these miles super carefully. The ups I took very easily at 15s slower (10:30-ih) than my intended overall marathon pace and on the downs I only let myself speed up to 15s faster (10:00-ish)
During a marathon you get to observe the people that are running near you..i.e. at similar pace. There are all types out there....many people are clearly running there first marathon. How can you tell? They are huffing and puffing in mile 5.
You know these folks are in for a long day of walking (or a DNF).
There is so much writing about how to figure out your personal marathon pacing but it seems most people just figure if they ran a half marathon they can run two of them back to back. I love talking about running but draw the line at trying to suggest a slower pace to these people during the run itself...it would just be super rude. And who knows, maybe they *always* huff and puff at any running pace?
I was slowly remember all these ups and downs from my previous races there and also from the very nice time-laps course movie (taken with a stabilized GoPro camera) that I had watched. But the reality was of course worse ;)
I thought had been very careful not to drink too much before the start, but I was already feeling my bladder starting to let me know it was there.....so I knew there'd be a pit stop sometime in the next hour. Argh.
Paces for miles 6 to 10: 10:27, 11:17, 10:19, 10:14, 10:01 (HR ~125)
|Just before mile 10|
Knowing all the hills were done was a good feeling...and now was the time to see what the last 6 miles would bring me. On my first CIM where I broke 4 hrs for the first time going over the H -street bridge is where I got emotional and realized I was not going to fade and I would make my goal.