Sacramento Marathon (CIM): Sunday, Race Day

Today was race day. The course started outside Sacramento at Fulsome dam, then drifted South Wast along pleasant woodsy roads, until the last couple miles when you enter Sacramento and run to the Capitol building. I thought the course was beautiful, I enjoyed the rolling hills that lasted for most of the route (into the early 20s as I figure it). The weather was fine, a bit sunnier and warmer than we might have liked, but not the windy rain storm the weather had been moaning about. I even improved my personal best by a couple minutes.  And....that's all of the positive things I can think of to say.

Wait! One more thing: There were lots of awesome cute dogs along the course. We are definitely in lab country.

I had a miserable, unpleasant showing and I think I ran at least 20 minutes slower than my current state of training would have allowed.  Before we get into the splits, a couple notes:
  • The whole getting ready, riding the bus to the start area, waiting around, starting process couldn't have gone any better. That part was great.
  • When I left the hotel this morning, I unplugged my Garmin from the computer and it read "fully charged". Before the race began, it started flashing "low battery". It died after mile 10.
  • I packed five gels into my shorts and they were heavy enough, my shorts kept trying to fall every quarter mile until I stopped and retied them about eight miles in. That was annoying.
Now then, here are my splits for the first 10 miles.

After that, it's anybody's guess what my splits were.

I started right behind the 4:05 pace group. I figured if I could catch the 4:00 pace group the gun/chip time differential would be enough to correct for any mistakes the pacers made. That plan still seems good, but it didn't last.

The first two miles were congested. I was maneuvering around, trying to squeak past the 4:05 group. I think I managed that around mile three. Then I started trying to work out how I'd catch the 4:00 pacer and a cute relay runner went by. I decided that was a sign, so I followed her for four miles. 

Or at least I tried to. This was the section where you could say I started too fast, and wiped myself out early on. Really though, 8:40 to 9:00 isn't so ridiculous for me and I don't think it explains the problems I had later. 

Around mile 6, I started my game of cat and mouse with the 4:00 pace group. I played around with them for a mile or so, then...passed them. Why did I pass them? Beats me, but it sure wasn't the plan. After I passed them, I oscillated a for a while, trying to get my pace closer to 9 min/mile. Unfortunately, I've grown pretty dependent on the Garmin for this and it shut down at  mile 10.

By mile 12 I'd been running "by feel" for a couple miles. For me, today, that meant trying to hold position with other people that looked like they were running the right pace. That didn't work very well, I figured out my sub-4:00 plan was off the table, and I decided that the best plan was to just give up ground slowly. I tried to slow down to my normal "long run" trot.

After the half marathon point, things started getting weird. I think I was dehydrated. My neck and shoulders started to stiffen (this got really painful later in the race) and my left kidney starting to give me little stabbing pains. I tried to ramp up my intake of ...everything, but for some reason the aid stations were sparse until a little later. By mile 15 I downgraded my status from "not sub-4:00" to "smoked". For the record, I think that's about where the 4:00 pace group caught up to me.

We'll be charitable and say I was running a 9:30 - 9:45 min/mile pace up until mile 18. At that point it turned into a run/walk. Or should I say, survival trot / walk.

Somewhere around mile 22 I had a novel first-time experience, both of my quads cramped just above the knee. This was a completely new thing for me. I'd never even had a hint of it in training. I trotted along for 100 feet or so, trying to figure out what was happening, then I worked out that I needed to pull over or I was going to fall over. After some awkward/painful/failed attempts to stretch my quads with the assistance of a nearby tree, I walked for a while. (is stretching good for cramps? I have no idea, but it seemed like the only thing I could do) The walking seemed to do the trick and I muddled on.

Also about 2/3 the way through I developed a sharp pain inside my left knee. I'm a bit worried about that one, but I'm planning to take some time off, so it'll probably heal up.

It was pretty much trot/walk for the rest of the race. I tried to be running in the photos they were taking and I even tried to hold up my arms at the finish, but I have my doubts about how all that will turn out.

My unofficial chip time is 4:20:46 which is an improvement over Twin Cities a couple years ago, but I wanted a bit more. Really I'm just happy I was able to make it in without collapsing somewhere. It was an uncomfortable morning.

Am I disappointed? Maybe, a little. I wanted to do better. But I figure this means I can still break four hours, and that's a fun sort of a thing to shoot for. Most importantly, we were able to hang out with all of our friends after the race and tell stories. Some had great days, some had bad days, there was a pretty wide range. Either way, I think it's still fun to compare notes.

After a great post-race dinner of exciting fried foods at a brewery (most of us had been eating pretty careful diets for a while), we went off in search of ice cream. Eventually we landed in the lounge area of one of the race hotels and commandeered a table.

We only had to scare off one guest to get this sweet table.

We created a dessert buffet. Yes we did. And it was tasty.

At that point it was getting dark, it had started raining, and the group had begun to dissolve. We wandered around in the rain a bit to track down some other racers for a talk and headed back to the hotel and then out for dinner proper. Dinner was awesome and I loved it, but there are no pictures. I had fancy tater tots, French onion soup, and a fruity mixed drink (pomegranate pineapple or something, the waitress told me it wasn't pink but rather fuchsia - a manly color!). The place specialized in comfort food and that really hit the spot. I liked it a lot. Turns out it was called the Cafeteria 15L, eat there after your next CIM, you'll like it.

We head back to Manhattan tomorrow. Despite my iffy race, it's been a great trip. Good times :)


Will said…
Man... sounds like loads of fun ;) My hats off to you for your effort! Take some down time and get your knee healed up.

I'd suggest you give up the marathoning and take up the 400-800. That way you can experience the quad cramping, gut twisting feel of bodliy shutdown but don't have to wait 3+ hours for it.

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