A few days after I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon, I signed up for another race: CIM 2010. I mostly blame this lapse in judgment on the fact that I had just PR-ed by over a half hour, and was excited to see how I would do on a flatter, easier course. Plus, at the time, it seemed like a good idea to run marathons 7 weeks apart (not to mention the fact that I was already registered for the Redding Marathon scheduled for 6 weeks after CIM!). I’d been reading plenty of blogs where people were doing this sort of thing, and it kind of made sense- why not piggyback more races onto all of my training?
The problem with my idea was that I was getting sort of burned out on training, both physically and mentally. I didn’t rest as much as I should have in the couple of weeks following the NWM because I was worried about sticking to my training schedule rather than listening to my body. A couple of my long runs were cut short because I wasn’t feeling great, and a lot of my interval and tempo runs magically became easy runs. Basically, it was tough for me to motivate myself.
The day before the marathon the Hubble and I headed up to Sacramento, hit up the expo at the last minute, and then ate pizza in our hotel bed. At that point, my legs should have been feeling fresh but they were sore and tight, and my motivation for running a marathon the next day was pretty low. I really hoped that the random hip and hamstring pains I’d been having were just phantom pains, but was worried that they weren’t.
Luckily, once I woke up in the morning, shook off the “I should just stay in bed today” feeling, and pumped myself full of carbs and caffeine, I started to get a little more excited for the race. I took a race bus from my hotel to the start that left at 5:15, but fortunately the bus was well-heated and slow enough that we didn’t get to the start line until just after 6. I was a little worried that I’d be hanging out at the start line for almost 2 hours, but by the time I got all ready to run it was just about start time.
I decided to try and run with the 4:05 pace group from the start, with the hopes that I could hang in with them for most of the race and finish in 4:10 (there was no 4:10 pacer). The pace leader, whose name I forgot, was really friendly and gave us history lessons as we went along the course. He also (gently) yelled at us to take gels every 45 minutes or so. Once we started moving and the crowd thinned out, I actually started feeling pretty good about the race. There were definite twinges in my hip in the first 5 miles, but they didn’t seem to be getting worse so I kept on going. I was running just in front of the pacer, close enough to hear what he was saying but not so close that I felt like I was racing him. The first half of the race went by pretty uneventfully, with some rolling hills but nothing as painful as what I saw at the NWM. The sun came out in full force and I was regretting my choice of race outfit: capris, tank top, and long sleeve tech t. I pulled off my long sleeves and was actually hoping that the forecasted rain would show up!
Things took a turn for the worse around mile 17. I actually think that’s when I hit my “wall” – much, much earlier than expected. Mentally, I just wanted to be done and the though of having 9 miles left was painful. Physically, my legs felt like lead and my minor twinges in my hip and hamstring turned into serious pain, and my stomach was hurting a lot. I let the 4:05 pace group get ahead of me, and within a couple of miles, I couldn’t even see them any more. I began to take walking breaks, stretch breaks, and even stopped to use the bathroom once. Before I knew it, it was mile 23 and the 4:15 pacer had passed me. In my head I fantasized about quitting, especially whenever I passed an aid or medical station, but I figured that even though I was way off of my goal finish time, I had to at least finish.
All I remember about the last 5k is that it was painful. It was a very, very slow 5k and I wanted to be done more than anything. Finally, I hit the 26th mile marker and knew that I had to run it in. I was so upset by how I was feeling emotionally and physically that I did something I’d never done while running before: I cried. Let me tell you, crying while running is a pretty tricky thing- it makes it damn hard to breathe. Luckily, the kind race photographers were able to capture this wonderful achievement as I crossed the finish line.
What isn’t pictured is me sitting on the ground, crying, and having a medic not believe me when I said I didn’t need any help. She just stood there watching me cry and try and catch my breath. It was pretty much amazing.
Once I finally found the Hubble (we seriously need to work on post-race coordination in the future), I whined to him about how shitty everything was and how I was never going to run again. Then, I ate some chicken strips and french fries and ice cream. And snuggled in the hotel bed while watching Prison Break. And told the Hubble I was never going to run again a few more times. He didn’t believe me, though.
Reflections on CIM 2010:
- Bad races happen.
- I need more rest after a marathon. Trying to jump back into training 2 days after NWM set me back a few days in recovery, I think. This time I took three days of complete rest and felt pretty good when I finally headed out.
- I may need a longer taper. I ran 22 miles 2 weeks before the marathon, mostly because I crapped out on my long run the week before and felt the need to make it up. I did not feel completely rested for the race.
- Mental breaks are just as important as physical ones. I wasn’t mentally prepared for CIM and it showed. I know my body wasn’t feeling its best, but it could have pushed harder if I hadn’t given up!
- Running 26.2 miles without music or seeing anyone you know is crappy. Next time I won’t be insisting that the Hubble relax and just catch me at the finish line, trust me.