Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Race Report: CIM 2014

Alright, well, first things first, the results...

A PR of, 1 hour, 2 minutes and 11 seconds, to be exact.  
My shiny new marathon PR is a 4:39:27

Now for the play-by-play.  The day before I texted a few people that my goals for the race were: #1 have fun and #2 kick the shit out of my marathon PR.  I went in wanting to stay mentally strong and to run a smart race.  My goal was an hour PR (4:41) with a pie in the sky of a 4:3X.  I was feeling mostly relaxed but I knew it was going to at some point not feel great, there is some point in every race no matter how short or long where things don't feel great, BUT I felt like I had all the tools in the tool box I needed to deal with those moments when they would arise.

After I got dropped at the start, I got in line for the porto's. (P.S. This is a runners dream porto situation, there were a TON of them, lines were short which was amazing.) I wandered around for a little while, I chatted with a few people near the start and looked for the 4:40 pace group.  I hopped in and talked to one of the pace leaders about her strategy, she said 10:35 run pace to accommodate for aid stations and consistent pacing so that if I lost them on the uphill that I would probably catch on the downhill. Sounded like a great way to keep my pace in check and even.  

The gun went off and I started running with the 4:40 pace group and was chatting with the pace leader.  She qualified for Boston last year at CIM and had shaved significant time off of her first marathon (more than an hour).  It was a great way to click off the first couple of miles.  I stayed with them for the first two miles and then just let my legs settle in.  As I ran up and down the rolling hills I looked around and was just reminiscing about driving those same roads to rival high schools for waterpolo games and other sports events/dances.  At mile 5ish the first of the relay exchanges came up, fresh legs at this point didn't bother me and it felt a little bit like a flashback to Hood to Coast in the middle of a marathon.

Splits: Mile 1- 10:35, Mile 2- 10:31, Mile 3-10:13, Mile 4-10:24, Mile 5-10:18

As we turned onto Fair Oaks Blvd, the road we would be on for the majority of the race and a road I know like the back of my hand, I was just so happy.  I felt good, I was smiling, I was running—consistently---the ups and downs all felt great.  None of the "hills" were big and as soon as you were up, you were going down.  Around mile 8, I saw my Dad, Mr. Pi and my stepmom.  I waved and smiled and felt good.

As I passed within 1/2 mile of my elementary school and my high school I got to thinking about how much I hated running in high school and now look at me, running strong during my 6th marathon.  Second thought, I had to pee =).  So, every aid station I passed I started looking for the porto...every-single-one had lines.  I wasn't going to wait in line.  

By mile 10, I was still running very consistent and I was still enjoying everything about the race.  I passed through Fair Oaks village which is known for its wild chickens, yes, chickens...yes, we aren't talking about Portland.  I even remember a chicken photo bombing my group at junior prom as we were taking pictures outside a restaurant and later, at that same restaurant, my mom and I eating on the patio and a chicken running around, both of those memories made me laugh which reminded me I had to pee.  Still no porto without a line so I started looking for a good bush/tree to duck behind.  And, I found one, right across the street from the Schwinn store where my Dad bought me a pink bike as a kid, sorry Schwinn.

Splits: Mile 6-10:30, Mile 7-10:30, Mile 8-10:26, Mile 9-10:37 (pee stop), Mile 10-10:16 (relief sets in)

A mile or two later, I passed a street near where my mom, stepdad and I got hit by a drunk driver when I was in high school, we were coming back from a movie, Shakespeare In Love, I think, less than 2 miles from our house.  We were fine (thank goodness for Volvo’s) but it was such a wakeup call.  Not more than a few months later my HS waterpolo coach was also hit by a drunk driver and she didn’t make it. As I ran, I thought about all the memories those streets held...learning to ride my bike, playing in the park, walking to the pool and tennis club, learning to drive, the dance studio, the coffee shop, the nail salon, my hair stylist...I grew up in that neighborhood, it felt like coming home. My mom doesn't live in that house any longer and hasn't for a few years but those streets still hold all the memories.

As I approached the halfway point, I realized I was running strong, STILL consistent and I STILL felt great.  I also knew that I would see my mom and stepdad soon.  Sure enough there they were!  Also, relay exchange #2, the fresh legs started to annoy me more now.

Around this point, I started grabbing a cup of water at the aid stations to throw over my head.  It wasn't too warm but the sun was peaking out and I wanted to stay on top of any overheating issues. As I cruised along, I knew I would see my dad, Mr. Pi and my stepmom again soon.  About mile 14, I saw them, waved and smiled, telling them I still felt good!

Splits: Mile 11-10:39, Mile 12-10:19, Mile 13-10:24, Mile 14-10:34, Mile 15-10:30

Close to the mile 16ish aid station I also saw my best friend, her husband and her baby girl.  I gave them a wave, she told me to keep going and that I would see them at the finish line.  About this time, the rollers were starting to not feel as good.  I decided to put in my headphones and find a good song.  First one that came on, T. Swift, perfect.  I settled in and kept on truckin’.  My water belt was now empty so I took the gel from the pocket and shoved it into my shorts pocket knowing I could ditch my belt with the fam at mile 19.  At mile 19, I wasn’t feeling great but was still trying to stay positive.  I am pretty sure I grunted more than I smiled when I saw the family this time (sorry family).  I also flung my empty belt at Mr. Pi and his response was something like hello to you too =).  

I believe, by scrolling in on this photo I am asking for water either that or just looked pained. Maybe both.

Getting ready to FLING

I told him I wasn’t feeling great but that I was going to fight for this. At the mile 20 aid station, I slowed to walk through as I grabbed both a nuun and water cup.  I told myself I could take short breaks through the final aid stations but that it wasn’t an excuse to stop.  This is a HUGE win for me.  Normally by this point there would have been lots of walking, the fact that I didn’t walk a single step until mile 20 is HUGE.

Splits: Mile 16-10:16, Mile 17-10:27, Mile 18-10:54, Mile 19-10:43, Mile 20-10:54

At mile 21, I entered the pain cave.  My quads were burning but I focused on my lungs, which were happily breathing in and out with ease--my cardio system wasn't being taxed and if I could just push the pain of my legs away I could get through this low point.  I also briefly turned around at this aid station and I saw the 4:40 pace sign. I knew I wanted to stay ahead of them and that my slowing down was not helping.  At mile 22 came the final “hill” aka overpass and as everyone had warned it did indeed feel like a hill, I slowed to a walk, the only unplanned walk of the day, just to crest the bridge and then I got moving.  The pacer for the 4:40 group caught me and tapped my shoulder.  We chatted for a couple of seconds and that was the motivation I needed to pick it back up!  Hence the mile 23 speed up.  I ran lock step with the pacer for miles 23 and 24 briefly pausing for water/nuun.  When I hit mile 25 she said, GO!  So, with everything I had left I went.

I saw my family around mile 25.5 and was close to tears knowing that I had that massive PR in the bag and that I had fought AND WON in those last few miles.

I made the final turn and with everything I had left, turned it on.  I waved to my friends in the chute and crossed the line.  I had a friend on medal duty and she placed my medal around my neck and gave her a sweaty hug.  She wrote a great recap on what it was like to be at the finish line that day.  I waited for the 4:40 pacer to cross and gave her a big sweaty hug and said thank you for her encouragement.

Splits: Mile 21-11:19, Mile 22-11:50 (deep in the pain cave), Mile 23- 10:35, Mile 24, 10:48, Mile 25-10:42, Mile 26-10:49, Mile 26.2-9:49

Official: 26.2/4:39:27/10:38 AP
Garmin: 26.3/4:39:29/10:37 AP
Elevation gain: 1476/Elevation loss: 1808 (net loss but definitely not flat)

The After:

Honestly, it took a little bit to set in that I PR’d by over an hour.  I think partly b/c I knew I was going to, yes, I had to fight for it at the end but I KNEW I could do it.  Jen Harrison has taught me many lessons this year but two of the bigger lessons were: 'don’t give up' and 'learn how to suffer successfully.'  After last year and the epic comeback and the ironman I didn’t think I could have another year even close BUT I sure did.  

I PR’d every-single distance I attempted this year and I am so f’ing proud of that! I was reading back through old goal posts from years past, I've had a 4:3X marathon on my list since January 2009.  The funny thing is, back then I had no idea what it would take to get there, how to train and be consistent, how to push a pace, suffer in training, etc.  I was recently talking to a friend about the race on Sunday and I was reflecting on how far I really have come since June 2008, marathon #1, with a finish time of 6:01.  Through the many finish lines since that first marathon, I have learned something about myself.  This race really is a culmination of so many lessons learned and rocky roads taken.  That same friend asked me the question we all get asked at the end of a successful race, "what's next?" Gosh, I really don't know.  I'm not ready to give up on ambitious goals.  I also know a lot more about what it takes to actually achieve ambitious goals.  I could go on and on about various races or time goals that have gone through my head but right now they are really just white noise. As I said to another friend this week, I am going to take some time to really appreciate what I just did, this year and THIS race.  So, here I sit, sore, happy and most of all thankful for the experience of this year, this training cycle, this coach, and am so incredibly grateful for what my body (and mind) has achieved.