CIM Race Report- The cherry on the top of my sundae

I have been MIA from blogging for the past two weeks due to spotty Internet service, forgetting my card reader in Seattle and all that happens, when I have a ton to talk about, recipes to post, pictures to share. Alas, it is just going to have to float off into the ether and be lost forever since trying to go back just sets you up for getting more behind. So instead, while I am here, I will just charge ahead boldly and get my CIM Race Report. I signed up for CIM many months ago knowing the course, liking its PR potential but at the same time knowing it was narrowly a month after the World Championship 100k and thus kind of negates those things in a lot of ways. While I definitely felt like I could go out and run forever in the subsequent weeks after the 100k, I definitely didn't wasn't feeling like dropping my mile pace down to the mid 6's was going to be all that possibly. I love CIM though and I decided to run it because I love the race, its a good course, it gave me the opportunity to see lots of friends, and finish off the year with (hopefully) a good marathon.

This week has not been one for instilling confidence in my marathon hopes. Last Sunday, I paced the bestest everest Jonathan to a PR at Seattle Marathon in 2:59. I felt comfortable and even though my legs had been touchy when I started pacing him at mile 8, they loosened up and we were flying. Even the final 5 miles when we dropped the pace to sub 6:20s felt good. The rest of this week sucked and even when I arose this morning, things were not feeling good. Not injury bad, but just I've put in some good work and its time for a mini-off season sore. I ate my pre-race food, banana and a vega shake and headed outside to get the shuttle. There was a long wait for the bus and I barely got onto a bus by 6am, when I had lined up at 5:30. The bus ride is 40 minutes and the race starts at 7am, so my 20 minute planned warmup was out the door. I literally had time to use the bathroom, run to the elite tent and take off my sweats and sprint out to do a stride or two before the gun was going off. I was surprised that the race started on time since there were people wrapped around the block waiting for the buses when I got on and I barely made it!

The thing about this race is that it was my first time having elite status. I didn't internalize that as pressure but I did want to make a good showing. And we're off. The thing about CIM is that it really lends itself to pushing out every drop you have and still allowing you to get to the promise land. It has great coastable downs and not severe ups. The only thing that was not looking promising was the weather. It was cold in the low 40s and very overcast. While I have been training in colder, my legs are in need of a bit more warmth than my shorts provided.

The first mile went by in 6:07. Wow, I thought I feel way comfortable at that pace, cool! But I knew I should back off to my planned 6:18 pace (2:45 marathon). My plan was the thing I would absolutely NOT recommend: run as hard as I can until I can't, then try to hang on. This strategy only applies to my situation since I knew that no matter what pace I set out at, my legs only had so many miles left in them for the year. I settled in though and my pace vacillated between 6:15 and 6:18. Whether or not my pace actually varied that much is a mystery as I simply went off what the course monitors yelled at each mile marker. I felt good and I felt hungry. Not stomach hungry, but let's see what this old dog can do against a very elite field of woman who are rested, tapered and ready for the race. I was very aware early on of the sensation that I wasn't warming up, especially in my hamstrings. I focused on staying very relaxed and was really comfortable at the sub 6:18 pace. I have to say it really excites me to know that I can feel so comfortable at that pace for so long. About 6 miles in, Sean Messiner, an amazing talented ultrarunner and acquintance from Bend, OR who works at the awesome Fleet Feet Bend came charging up from behind me, making up for lost time since he got caught in the hoarding masses at the start. He ended up PR'ing and running a 2:39, wow! I am so impressed.

I zoomed through the 10 mile mark in 1:03 and kept clipping along through the halfway mark in 1:22:30 exactly. I was on target for my not so secret heart's desire of a 2:45. I knew it was an outside chance of PR'ing by 7 minutes after the 100k, but I figured I wouldn't know unless I tried. I stayed comfortable, took a Hyper-Vespa at mile 12 and clipped along, frankly a bit bored as the course is not that stimulating. It is definitely a step down from the likes of Italy, Rhode Island and Vermont which all have been amazingly beautiful places to race. Around mile 18, I took another Hyper Vespa and a gel. The temperature actually dropped and I felt my body getting colder and colder. I managed to stay on a solid 6:18-6:20 pace and was not feeling fatigued or out of breathe at all. By mile 18, I was getting consistent calls for 6:20/mile pace which didn't surprise me as the course had leveled out a bit. My energy was great, but my legs were beginning to object. I went through mile 21 and all hell broke loose in my hamstring/glute connection. I tightened and cramped on both sides due to the cold. I considered for a minute that if I had an S!cap I would have taken it, in the hopes that it was electrolyte related, but as I was not sweating very much, it was unlikely. And since it happened in both legs, again unlikely. I was frustrated, as I slowed up in order to ensure #1 finishing and #2 not hurting myself. I reminded myself that this race was a celebration of an awesome year, the cherry on the top of my sundae and I could only do what I could do. I was in 7th place (women) at 21 but relinquished that to three strong ladies, pushing me out of the top 10, to 11th place. Bruised ego aside, there was nothing I could do to rewarm my legs. I stayed relaxed and brought it in with all I could. I knew I could PR even slowing dramatically.Mile 21 probably was nearly a 7 min/mile I am sure, and thankfully I managed to get back on track at a 6:27/mile pace which, if I could hold, would squeak me in under 2:50 and hand me an awesome PR and give me an official sub 2:50 which I had been robbed of at Breakers Marathon. I tried to push as others kicked (men) did and I pushed as hard as I could as we hit the mile 25 sign. I was at a 2:42 and change with 1.2 to go. Despite my hamstrings still not obliging, I just let it all hang out. I hit the mile 26 sign with less than 1min 50 between me and 2:50, having just hammered out a 6:10. I rounded the familiar corner to the capital and again into the women's side of the finish line, the clock shining in front of me. I sprinted, I didn't care I was driven, I would make it or die trying. I had lost my initial pie in the sky goal, moved out of the top 10, I was not giving up on what I really wanted. With every last drop of what my hamstrings had I crossed the finish line 2:49:51! A PR by 3 minutes and my first of many (I hope) sub 2:50s. I was gathered up at the finish line and taken to the elite post-race room, feeling no worse for the wear except my hamstrings. In fact, I felt like I could have gone for a jog and it probably would have felt awesome. I met up with Peter Defty, my Vespa sponsor and chatted. Peter was a great support and has helped me tremendously this year through Vespa sponsorship, friendship and just plain good conversation. I also reconnected with Kate Lindell of the San Francisco based Impalas, who coming back from injury ran her first post-injury race (and was one of the ladies that passed me in the last 5 miles) in an amazing 2:45. It was great to chat with her.

While I have a tinge of disappointment because I didn't get my 2:45, how can I be upset when I ran strong, felt great and simply got knocked by environmental factors outside of my control. I still PR'd only a month after my "A-race" 100k and finished off my year with a great showing in a very, very competitive race. All of my marathon PR's have come while peaking for a(nother) race, so I am stoked that I can run a huge PR while trying to recover from a big race. It makes me excited to rest up and get training for Boston where I will be targeting a 2:40! What a year its been, it has been a good one and I continue to grow and develop as a runner, as well as enjoy the heck out of myself!

I paused for a moment when I was still feeling less than happy with my race today and thought about my year in its entirity. I have raced well, won races on every type of terrain and distance and as I said really enjoyed myself. I won 2-50ks, 1 50 miler, 1 100miler, 2 marathons (including 2 sub 2:50's for the marathon distance, though CIM was the only official), placed in the top 10 in the world and after all that, did what I did yesterday, that is pretty cool and it makes me hungry and excited for next year. I am blessed to have had such a good year and I can only hope that I will be able to continue running long, hard, happy, fast and healthy for a long time.