Sunday, December 5, 2010

California International Marathon

The California International Marathon (CIM) is known around the country as being one of the fastest courses that you can find. When I signed up for this race, I was considering attempting to run a 3:10 or better to qualify for the Boston Marathon. After assessing my chances and considering the potential risk of getting injured and messing up my training for Ironman Saint George, I decided to run it without any time pressure.

CIM is a point to point race finishing at the California State Capitol Building. Most runners board an early morning shuttle from Downtown Sacramento to the start at Folsom. It was a fun atmosphere and I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people at the hotel breakfast and in line for the bus. I lined up with the 3:45 pace group and figured I would jog along for most of the distance and either attempt a negative split by running the last 6 miles at a faster pace or stick with the group and establish a new PR just under my previous best of 3:48.

Sure enough, I held just above an 8:30 per mile pace through the first 16 miles. However, three important factors were starting to take a toll. First, I was overdressed for the weather wearing long sleeves. It was not as cold as I expected and it felt very damp and humid since the sunshine was evaporating the puddles on the streets from the rain that fell all weekend until just hours before the race start. I probably did not drink enough water for how much I was sweating. Secondly, I might have been a little too nonchalant with another part of my gear selection, my shoes. On race morning, I had two choices, wear worn out lightweight trainers or more cushioned but completely brand new shoes. I went with the lightweight trainers and by mile 16, started to feel the impact on my knees. I should have bought new shoes a month ago to have enough time to break them in. This brings me to the third factor which limited my performance today, being 15 pounds heavier than at my previous road marathon last March. The weight gain was not necessarily all “bad weight”, but I was certainly not at an optimal marathon racing weight nor body composition.

My pace dropped to about 8:45 during miles 16-20, then slowed again to about 9:15 for miles 21-23. Miles 24-26.2 were a lot slower still. I made a conscious decision to accept what was happening and not try to make up lost time. This was, after all, a fun run. I finished in 3:53:46 with an average pace of 8:59. After the race, I had lunch and watched a movie with a friend I hadn't seen in years. Earlier this year in March, I PR'd at the LA Marathon with a 3:48 and felt like I had run the race of a lifetime. Today, I ran another marathon just five minutes slower overall, yet am calling it a “bad” race. Put in proper perspective, I am very happy with my progress as a runner. I feel like I can run a marathon on any given day at a moment's notice. My priority this year is training for my first ironman in May 2011 and I feel very confident about my running.