Race Recap: California International Marathon (CIM)

On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Target for some throwaway clothes.

Starting line temperatures were to be below freezing, I’ve never run a marathon in these kind of temps, hell, I hadn’t run a full marathon (minus the Ironman marathon) since 2011. With cheap sweats and snacks in hand, Chicken Face and I proceeded to do nothing but rest and eat for the rest of the day.

UntitledThese are my sexy sweats.

Thanks to our free hotel room near the start, I was able to wake up at a decent hour (5 a.m.), eat breakfast in our room, gear up and get comfy in my throwaway clothes. It wasn’t long before I was at the start, in line for the port-a-potty and I spotted my friend Antonia.

We huddled and discussed our clothing layering options. At that time, I second-guessed my tank top and shorts decision, but there was no turning back and put faith in the clothing advice Aron and Jen had given me. With the start approaching, I tossed my sweat pants but decided to keep the sweatshirt on, with all of its fuzz-ball, anti-wicking glory.

BANG! We were off.

I had Gu Chomps shoved in my bra and I was holding extra pack — I had learned my lesson about fueling and I did not want to run out. But there I was with a new situation: I was running with an abnormally big sweatshirt with tight cuffs, so I shoved my Gu Chomps up the sleeve and they found a snug little resting place. But in order for my Chomps to rest safely and comfortably, I had to pull down my sleeve over my watch – and so I did.

At that point, I just ran. I ran to what felt comfortable, to what felt fun, and to what felt a bit challenging, yet sustainable. Because my sweatshirt was covering my watch and holding my Chomps in place, I didn’t look at my time until each mile marker, when my watch would beep and tell me my splits. When I looked down and saw the faster than average splits, I told myself to calm down, don’t blow up too soon.

So the sleeve would go back down, cover up the watch, and I wouldn’t check again until the next mile marker. Mile after mile, my splits were faster than normal, yet consistent. I was feeling great…well, cold, but great, so I just kept running.

I told myself I would ditch the sweater after 2 miles, maybe 3 miles, maybe 4 miles… I didn’t end up getting rid of it until I made my first bathroom stop at mile 8. It was those first eight miles of not looking at my watch and instead running by feel that set my pace, perspective and confidence for the rest of the race. No pace mind games, just running at my capability level, at a pace I enjoyed. People tell you this all the time, but you never really get it until you try it. And in my case, I unexpectedly discovered it thanks to an $8 throwaway sweatshirt.

At this point in the game I was already surprised by my own performance, but was cautious not to let it get to my head as these paces were fast for me, I knew I needed to sustain, and my gut wasn’t feeling too well.

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I turned the corner at mile 10 and saw all of my friends jumping and cheering like crazy. What I didn’t know was that they had made a sign for me and to see all of them cheering their hearts out almost made me cry on the course… this is no exaggeration. A big thank you to Alyssa, Cate, Mike, Will, Aron and Jojo for being out there on a frigid day – you gave me something to look forward to and I will forever be grateful. Chicken Face couldn’t make it out to be on the course as he was finishing a final, which is why I’m even more thankful for this bunch!

CIM markets itself as a “net downhill” course, but if you look at the map, you only lose ~300 ft. of elevation, and instead, it’s 26.2 miles of constant rollers. Thus, the middle miles were just a constant chug. I had my music on and I just made my way through the miles, counting down one at a time, hoping to not hit a wall.

Along the way I made two more bathroom stops (for a total of three – ugh) and my gut was turning over. Not much you can really do except put one foot in front of the other. I saw friends again and saw a blog friend I wasn’t expecting to see when I randomly heard someone shout my name. Hi, Tim!

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The course itself is 95% through suburbia with not too much to look at. But the sun had finally broken out during the middle miles and the clouds were enough scenery to provide something beautiful to look at. As you can see, I wasn’t doing much other than running, listening, and stopping at the bathroom.

By the time mile 20 came around, there was a sign that said, “You’re at mile 20. Never trust a fart.” I appreciated that so much more than the multiple “That’s what she said…” signs that were everywhere. Mile 20 also had these banners up that looked like brick walls and at that point, I thought, “Oh my God. I haven’t hit the wall yet.” There was minimal watch obsessing and I only focused on the lap splits and then how much time I lost at each bathroom break. Overall, probably a minute and a half to two minutes total.

As I was weaving through some trees, I saw a petite girl in neon up ahead. I knew exactly who it was: my friend Jess. She looked like she was having a bit of trouble so I had to hustle to catch up to her where she told me she was having a bad cramp. I then looked at her and said, “Jess. Come on. Let’s do this together.”

We didn’t say much of anything to each other for the rest of the race, but instead, it was a silent agreement between two friends and runners that we were in this together, until the end, and that we were going to absolutely finish this.

Whenever she would pick up the pace, I’d try hard to push my pace to catch up with her, and the same applied to her when I found some spare juice in my legs. Together, we were pushing each other through those last miles in a way that helped catapult us both to unexpected and overwhelmingly happy finishes.

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We reached the final 1.2 miles and I said, “Look, there’s Jojo and Aron ahead.” Just the energy booster that we needed; our leg turnover rate increase. As we approached the last .2 miles I muttered, “Let’s do this…” and we shifted gears into overdrive.

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We finished, together, in 3:12:57.

106th female / 37 out of 391 in my AG / 7:22 avg. pace

I couldn’t have done it without Jess and I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to cross the line together.

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Celebrations quickly ensued, but I had to get home stat to address a work emergency. Yet the entire ride home, I couldn’t believe what had happened.

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A while ago I proclaimed my A+ goal to be a 3:15. I then struggled through injury and training to find my mojo again and was going to be happy with anything that broke my old PR of 3:31 (from Boston 2011). To think that I not only broke my old PR, but went beyond my A+ goal is unlike anything I could have dreamed of. While there are many people to thank, I learned an important lesson thanks to a throwaway sweatshirt.

Get out of my head, off of my watch and find my happy running place.
When you do, amazing things can happen.

Now to remember that for next time…

Happy Running!

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65 Responses to Race Recap: California International Marathon (CIM)

  1. Asia says:

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!! I’m so happy for you and hope to see you in Boston 2015! :) That is such an amazing lesson to be learned. We’ve all heard it before, but it sounds like we may need our own baggy sweatshirt to force us to stop looking at our watches!

  2. Jen says:

    You obviously need to start a new line of throwaway sweatshirts to sell at Target. Congrats on an awesome race and a huge PR!

  3. are you kidding me 3 bathroom stops and you still ran that killer time?!! Maybe I’ll try throwing a bathroom stop in to my next race :) heheee!! I swear my best races are when I don’t look at my watch, that’s my plan for my next PR race. Congrats again rock star

  4. Congratulations, Page! I was so excited for you when I saw the IG post! You absolutely rocked it, and i think it’s telling that you ran that well without obsessing with time. You ran it by feel, and you were ready for a huge PR and fast race! Also, so great you had a buddy to push through those final miles with to finish together!
    Ha ha- I saw a ‘never trust a fart’ sign at IM Coeur d’Alene and thought it was the best one out there especially when your stomach is wonky!
    Hope you’re revelling in your achievement!

  5. Kelly says:

    Congratulations! Awesome job and what a great lesson to learn at a perfect time (and good reminder for the rest of us). Hope you were or are able to celebrate more at some point soon!

  6. Holly says:

    I’m going to figure out how many different methods I can use to tell you CONGRATULATIONS!!! SO, so, so happy for you (and everyone who crushed that course in those frigid conditions!!) So glad to hear a success through bathroom stop story…also, to this day my marathon PR is when I didn’t wear a watch…yup, I’m a headcase!

  7. Oh my gosh youre so fast. A big huge congrats to you! In n Out looks like an epic post race snack.

  8. Kelly says:

    Nice job! I think right when you ran past me was when we were running by one of your fan groups because I only realized it was probably you because all these people started screaming Page and waving signs.

  9. kimi says:

    congrats, page! so so so happy for you!!! you deserve it! :)

  10. Caroline says:

    HUGE congrats to you on a great race!

  11. Megan says:

    You are a ROCKSTAR! It’s amazing how not looking at your pace every 5 seconds can make such a difference :) Congrats on your awesome PR!

  12. Jess says:

    I’m so glad we finished together! It’s my favorite marathon memory to date. Thank you so much for pushing me and congrats on the PR!! <3

  13. Kristin says:

    Incredible, congratulations Page! Love how your describe the silent agreement to keep quiet and push, that’s simply the best to be able to push and be pulled by friends.

  14. Congratulations on an incredible race! Way to stay out of your head, even when you were having some GI issues. A 3:!2 with 3 bathroom stops is amazing! Congrats again!

  15. Congratulations!! That’s an amazing time! I got a 50K PR this fall when my watch completely refused to turn on the morning of the race, and I ran without it. I told my friend at the starting line that it wasn’t a big deal–I’d just run by how I felt, and she said, “If anything you’ll probably run faster without it!” She was right! I hardly thought about my time at all and just gave that race everything I had.

  16. Meghan says:

    Congrats, Page! What an awesome race. Cheers!

  17. Ralph says:

    That’s some ridiculous knee lift in the final stretch…. When I ran my PR at CIM I could have tripped over the paint on the crosswalk…

  18. Meredith says:

    Congratulations! Great race!

  19. Jessica M. says:

    I loved this recap so much. I’ve struggled with injuries and illnesses lately and my marathon PR is a distant memory. This was such an inspiration to see you crush a time and hit a huge goal time. Congrats to you, well deserved!

  20. Keri says:

    Incredible! Congrats!

  21. AHHH!! Holy awesome!! CONGRATS! Such a fun recap and congrats on such an incredible PR. Enjoy this week, hopefully you’re basking in your post=PR glow!

  22. Molly says:

    Congratulations!!! You’re a beast!

  23. Nelly says:

    Wow, You simply destroyed that race. Seemed like your base ironman fitness would carry you to a PR, crazy that you destroyed it by so much. And talk about perfect form in that last pic.

  24. Marlene says:

    You are such a freaking rockstar! Way to seriously kill it out there and run the race were capable of. SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

  25. Courtney says:

    You are amazing Page! I am in awe of you!!!

  26. Cathryn says:

    Such an amazing race for both you and Jess! Congratulations – you’re both rock stars!

  27. Whoo hoo! Congrats on such an amazing race :) You rocked it. So glad you got to run across the finish line with a friend, pushing each other and encouraging one another, What a great way to PR!

  28. Congratulations Page! Amazing job, and it’s so cool how that sweatshirt was so important and was a last minute decision!

  29. Monika says:

    Amazing! Daaaaaamn you two are fast!!

  30. Congratulations on your PR, amazing with the bathroom stops too! Good job pacing and kicking at the finish.

  31. Lindsey Hein says:

    Congratulations! That’s an incredible pace you held- super even! So fun that you and your friend were able to finish together, I’ve had situations like that happen on a few occasions, but usually one or the other is feeling better and we don’t’ finish with each other. Special that you did! :)

  32. Jen says:

    Congratulations on an AMAZING race, Page!! You knocked it out of the park (wrong sport, oh well). I’ve recently learned to concentrate more on feel than pace, and it’s made a huge difference in my training and love of running.

  33. Ali says:

    AMAZING! And with three bathroom stops? Shit, girl. Congratulations on a stellar performance. And a great recap, as always — thanks for taking us along for the [speedy] ride!

  34. I’m not sure how I haven’t commented on this, but amazing race, lady! I suppose there’s something to not knowing how fast you’re running so you don’t freak yourself out. Time to go buy myself a sweatshirt…

  35. Pingback: Fit Fix: Sarah Evans on bouncing back (with a PR/BQ) post-pregnancy | Kinetic Fix

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