California International Marathon


16 weeks of hard training led to this day.  I have run in the snow, the rain, and the heat.  I have run about every inch of my town, and the three surrounding towns.  I have done countless laps around the middle school track on speedwork days, I have done tempo runs, I have done long runs, I have swam and biked on cross training days, and I was READY.  Waking up at 5 in the morning to run in the 15-25 degree Colorado weather was getting really old.  So, I was very happy when race day finally arrived. 

I’m still running with Redline Running Club, and 3 of my dear friends came on this journey with me (Or rather, they dragged me with them kicking and screaming—j/k).  Jen, Amber, Alison and I, along with our coach Doug (who is much too fast for us) decided to try the “Run Less, Run Faster” marathon plan.  Basically, you only run 3 days/week, but each run has a very specific purpose, and a very specific pace.  We had speedwork days, tempo days, and long run days.  I really liked this plan for two reasons—One, I get bored just running everyday, and I love to cross train so 3 running days was perfect.  Two, I loved the challenge of always having a goal pace each and every run.  This plan was tough, but I’d totally do it again. 

We decided to run CIM because it’s a flat/downhill course, and it was in California, so we could get a break from the Colorado cold.  We flew to San Francisco on Saturday morning (It was snowing hard in Denver when we left),  and went to pick up our rental car.  We walked past this old grandma car, and Jen said, “This is our car.”  Amber and I just laughed because we knew she was kidding.  She was not kidding.  Meet Lucille: 

She actually was a pretty good car—lots of room to stretch out 🙂 We drove to Sacramento, checked into our hotel and then met up with Alison and Doug at the Expo.  Expos  are so fun!  So many things to look at, and so many ways to spend Rusty’s hard earned money.  We all got fun, sparkly headbands, and from then on we referred to ourselves as the “Sparkle Band Girls.” 

Then it was off to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  In keeping with our grandma theme, we went to dinner at 4:30.  The food was great, as usual, and we even got interviewed by the local news station.  My moment of TV glory shows me enthusiastically slurping spaghetti. (I’m at 43 seconds).  And my coach Doug even got a sound bite!

Again, keeping with our Grandma theme, we were in bed by 8pm.  We were staying in the official race hotel, and, then next morning a chorus of alarms went off at exactly 4am.  It was pretty funny to hear the alarms echoing through the whole hotel.  We were on the busses by about 5:30am headed to the start line.  I think the bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip.  We were so giggly and excited and everyone around us was laughing at all our wacky stories. 

It was FREEZING at the start line.  Just in case you wondered, 40 degrees is still cold.  Even if you are used to running in 20 degrees.  Amber, Jen and I had raided Goodwill earlier in the week for some sweet pre-race warm up clothes, but we were still pretty cold. We all had on shorts and short sleeves to race.  And we all wished we had worn warmer clothes.  Or at least had gloves.  By about mile 3 my hands were numb. 

We found our pace group, and waited for the horn to signal the start of the race—when it did, the crowd surged forward.  The first two miles were a lot of dodging in and out of crowds, trying to find a steady pace.  Due to my over-excitement, and over-hydration, I had to pee by mile 3.  I made a quick stop to the port-a potties, and then caught  back up to Jen and Alison in a 1/2 mile or so.  The next few miles flew by right on pace.  About mile 8 I had to pee again!  Are you kidding me?  I was determined to make it to at least 13 miles before stopping again.  This course had lots of rolling hills, which were kinda fun.  No hill was so huge that it drained your energy, and the downhills made it easy to stay on pace.  We made it to 13.1 miles feeling strong.  At about 14 miles, Jen said she wasn’t feeling great, and that her hip was hurting pretty bad.  She pressed on for about another mile, and then had to slow down a bit.  I made my second and last port-a-potty stop at mile 15.  It was harder to get back on pace after that stop.  I turned on my tunes and set my sights for the 20 mile mark.  My goal for the race was to stay “on pace” for 20 miles (8:23/mile—which would be a 3:40 finish time), and then just FINISH the darn thing with whatever I had left. I hoped to come in no slower than a 3:45.   I was able to keep pace until 20, and then every mile got a little slower, and a little slower.  20-23 were the hardest miles for me.  My body was TIRED, and I knew I still had a long way to go.  At mile 23 I sucked down a gu and turned on my 5k mentality.  I was able to pick up the pace a bit and the crowds started getting thicker and thicker and I could feed off their energy a little bit.  I swear the last .2 miles were the LONGEST of the race, but finally the finish line came into view.  I have never been so happy to see those blue timing mats in my life.  I hadn’t looked at my garmin for awhile, and I was thrilled when I reached down to stop my watch to see 3:45:03.  PERFECT!!! 
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As soon as I stopped it felt like my body went into shock.  I just wandered around with a glazed look in my eyes until I found my friends.  We were all anxious to leave, so we grabbed our stuff and headed to the shuttle.  We needed to cross the street, and we got to the curb of the sidewalk, and I just stood there staring at the 5 inch drop.  My legs would not go.  Everyone turned around to wait for me and I said, “That curb is insurmountable.  I cannot do it.”  That totally cracked everyone up, and Jen lifted me down to the street. 

Jen had hurt her hip during the race, and I was already sore, so the two of us were pretty slow.  Alison and Amber caught the free shuttle back to the hotel, but we were left behind, so we just snagged a taxi.  The hotel was so awesome—runners didn’t have to check out until 2, so we had time to get in the hot tub and shower before heading to San Francisco. 

When we got to our hotel there was a basket of treats waiting for us with a sweet little note from our families.  We were so happy!  

Our hotel in SF was right by Union Square, so we headed out to do some window shopping and we grabbed dinner at the fanciest mall food court I have ever seen. 

We crashed that night, and I woke up in the morning more sore that I thought possible. I could barely walk.  And SF is a very hilly city.  It was painful.  We ate breakfast at the Cable Car Café, and I couldn’t decide between the breakfast sandwich and these amazing crepes, so I got both!  That’s the benefit of running a marathon…..EATING!

Jen’s aunt Kim was kind enough to be our chauffer for the day, and she took us down to Fisherman’s warf where we browsed the interesting shops, saw the sea lions, and ate clam chowder and lobster bisque in sourdough bread bowls.  YUM.  We also saw some scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and visited Ghirardelli Square where we all had yummy ice cream. 

That evening, even though I was totally stuffed with food, Jen and I ventured to Chinatown and ate some really yummy spring rolls, pot stickers, and kung pao chicken.  It was so fun to spend the day with Amber and Jen, and I don’t think we ever stopped talking, even for 5 seconds. 

Tuesday it was time for our little adventure to end, and we packed up and headed to the airport.  It was an amazing journey from beginning to end.  One I know I won’t ever forget!

2 thoughts on “California International Marathon

  1. Wow, Tara! You beat my pr by 2 minutes! Although it was set before I had children, and when I was 23,so you know, it's not really comparable! There is absolutely no better feeling than crossing the finish line. Way to go! I know the feeling of not being able to walk down stairs too. Paul's favorite joke after race day is to say “jump!” to me because he knows I can't even get 1 inch off the ground!

    And it's good to hear an endorsement for Run Less, Run Faster because I've been wanting to try it for years. You've possibly inspired me to marathon again…or maybe just a half!!


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