CIM: Race Recap
I knew that I was capable of this result but I believed that it was only possible on the perfect day in perfect conditions – which I don’t feel I had. Now, as always this race recap got really lengthy to find a comfortable seat and settle in. 😉
On Saturday night Lavinia had a tough night and didn’t want to sleep in her pack-n-play so she ended up in my bed with me (our hotel room had two doubles so Henri and I were sleeping in separate beds haha) for most of the night. Around 2:30am Henri and I swapped beds and he continued cuddling her while I got as much sleep as I could before my alarm went off at 4. I was a little nervous about how the lack of sleep would affect me when it came race time but I tried not to worry too much about it and just focused on getting the sleep I could.
When my alarm did go off I got dressed and ate a bagel and drank a cup of coffee in the bathroom of our hotel room while Henri and Lavinia were still sleeping. I also had a container of oatmeal that I was planning to eat but when I went to make it I realized that it had flax seeds and chia seeds in it – both which do not generally agree with my stomach so I decided to skip the oatmeal and eat a banana instead. I was a little concerned that that At 4:30 I woke up Henri so he could get ready and at 4:45 we woke Liv up, changed her diaper, got her dressed and loaded up the car. At 5am, just as planned we were on our way to the start line.
I loaded a shuttle and soon we were off on the quick drive to the starting line (we had chosen one of the shuttle drops near the start line not the finish line). I met one of the 2:45 pacers and he asked me if I was going to be in his group. I told him I hoped so but I was going to make sure that the starting effort felt easy so if running with the group felt hard I’d back off a little bit. When we unloaded the shuttle I headed straight to the porta-potty lines which was a good move because they were quite long. I was out of the line by 6:00 and so I found a little piece of the curb to hang out and take the weight off of my feet until it was time to warm-up.
I was unsure about whether or not I was going to do a warm-up jog right up until I starting jogging. I was so cold that I knew a little jog would be good to warm-up my legs. I went really slow, like half a mile in 8 minutes slow but during the jog my legs felt amazing! Fresh, poppy, and ready to run fast. I felt really optimistic about the race ahead.
15 minutes before race time I headed to the elite corral and did a few warm-up strides with all of the other ladies in the USA Championships/sub-elite section. They gathered us back into the corral a few minutes before go time and I positioned myself near the 2:45 pacer I had met on the bus. Before I knew the gun went off and we were on our way.
I felt AMAZING! I was in a large pack of women all chasing that qualifying time and our pacers (turns out there were two of them) were doing a great job of encouraging us and reigning us in when we were getting excited and inadvertently picked up the pace. I kept my cool and listened to the chattering around me for the first 5 miles. Around this time one of the pacers and a small group broke away and were pulling away from the pack I was with. I was feeling great and with each uphill I felt myself easily pulling a little ahead of the group I was with. Where I train is extremely hilly so I consider hills to be one of my strengths on race day. Before I knew it I had caught up with the front 2:45 pack and I stuck with them until right after 13.1 miles.
We hit the half mark in 1:21:26, way under goal pace and with a nice cushion to run the second half, not that I wanted that cushion… in the moment I was feeling amazing and it didn’t even cross my mind that I had just split only 4 seconds slower than my pre-baby half PR for the first half of a marathon. We hit a few uphills after the 13 mile mark and again I felt myself losing the group behind me on the ups. I told myself to run my race and from that point on I was running mostly by myself. When I hit mile 16 I was still feeling amazing and it wasn’t quite as hilly, I pushed the pace here and those few miles were a bit ahead of pace – 6:05, 6:01, 6:01, 5:58 (<– yikes!).
In mile 20 I definitely started to feel the pace and miles start to catch up with me – I kept repeating my mantra to myself – COMPETE! And somehow I managed to hold on to goal pace for 3 more miles even though I was struggling. Miles 20-22 were 6:15, 6:09 and 6:17.
At this point I knew I was SOOOO close to the finish line and I also knew that I was SOOOOO close to achieving my big, A/DREAM goal. BUT things were starting to hurt and hurt BAD! My calves were cramping up and my right calf was especially problematic because my compression sock had slipped down to my ankle around mile 3 – yes, mile 3!! When I checked my watch at mile 22 it said 2:16 I did a little quick math and figured out that even if I slowed down to a little under 7 minute pace I would come through the finish under my goal. I took comfort in this but didn’t let it give me permission to slow down on purpose. Mile 23 was in 6:22.
During mile 24 my right calf started to hurt even more and I debated whether it was worth it to stop for a split second and pull up my sock. I weighed the possibilities and decided that it was worth the risk, I pulled a little over to the right hand side grabbed my sock, yanked it up to my knee and immediately started running again. It definitely helped the pain but it didn’t go away 100%. Those last 3 miles were a bit of a death march, I was fighting for every step and fighting to stay in the moment and not ask the what if’s. I thought back on all the *not perfect conditions* of the day – Lavinia keeping us up a lot of the night, not being able to eat my oatmeal, my sock slipping down, missing 2 different water stops when I really wanted something to drink and said to myself “HOW amazing will it feel to achieve your goal despite things not going perfectly?!” so I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
The last 3.2 miles were my slowest of the day but definitely the ones I worked the most for. I was holding onto my goal with a tight grip and every guy that passed me in the last mile or so encouraged me to keep going with a “COME ON GET YOUR OTQ!!!”. When I was 400m from the finish I saw my coach and he encouraged me to keep fighting and told me that I was going to reach my goal! With about 200m to go you turn left and then left again about 50m from the finish into the final stretch. I looked up and saw that the clock had just ticked to 2:44, I *sprinted* (as much as you can call it a sprint) into the finish. Crossing in 2:44:16!
I was crying tears of joy and wanted to sit down in the worst way! I also immediately had to toss every sip of Nuun and Honey Stinger Gel I had eaten along the course –> those poor, sweet finish line medical workers! I saw Henri and Lavinia and started crying even harder, they are my biggest cheerleaders and to have them at the finish line was such a dream come true!
I’m still in shock and think it’ll take a long time for this accomplishment to feel real. I’m over the moon that I accomplished this goal I’ve been dreaming about for years and have loved getting to celebrate it with my little crew.
I’ll definitely be back at CIM next year but for now it’s time to relax and recover before chasing some PRs on the track this spring!