Tuesday, December 13, 2022

CIM (California International Marathon) Race Recap

Last weekend I ran my 30th marathon, the California International Marathon (aka CIM), with one of my best friends. 

And, of course, we had to run it all matchy matchy, duh!

This is another race, similar to the TCS NYC Marathon, which I ran in November, that I had originally registered to run in 2020 but then the pandemic happened. CIM allowed runners to defer their registration, so I pushed mine back to 2022. 


Originally I had registered for this race because it was going to be Brian's "swan song", his retirement from marathons. We were going to run it fast, help him to go out on top and then he was going to hang up his marathoning shoes forever. 


I believe it's an old Yiddish proverb that says something to the tune of "We plan, God laughs". Had the pandemic not hit, our plan might have been carried out to perfection, but life doesn't always (if ever) happen the way we'd 'like'. Life's about what you do once life happens, right?! Well, during the pandemic I got slower, Brian got faster and we trained for longer distances {remember that little 100-miler we took nine months of our lives to train for?!}. When the time came to take stock and look at what we could realistically do, I knew I had to tell my best friend I wouldn't be able to shoot for the time he was hoping to hit. He decided he'd attempt to run a fast marathon before CIM so he could either A). run "party pace" with me if he hit the time he was hoping for at his race or B). have a second chance to go after his goal time. At said race he snagged a PR {personal record} so we decided to run CIM for fun (well, let's be real, once I really looked at my fitness level, I knew that "had to be" my game plan, but this meant he could join me on the journey from Folsom to Sacramento). 

Source: @pavementrunner's Instagram

If you know Brian, you probably know his affinity for lululemon (I mean, he's one of their AMAZING ambassadors for goodness sake!). A couple months before the race he sent me a text and asked if I would be willing to rock lulu gear for the race. I have nothing against lulu, my wallet just doesn't appreciate it ;) so I told him I would defer to his expertise. He had me go into my local store, try on some different options and report back with what pieces might work so he could figure out matching gear (not all items come in all colors, so he played outfit wizard to get us all matchy matchy).

Wasn't sure the weather, so tried on different layer options

Once our outfits were set {and pretty bangarang if I do say so myself}, the rest was all fun and games ;) (Don't worry, I made sure to do a test run in the gear during training so it wouldn't be totally new on race day! #NothingNewOnRaceDay)

My #FlatCarlee consists of: lululemon Speed Up Low-Rise Lined Short 2.5" in Electric Turquoise, lululemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve Shirt
in Highlighter Yellow
, handful Adjustable Bra in Battle Cry Pink, Brooks Chaser Hat in Black, Brooks Ghost 14 in Oyster/Yucca/Pink,
PRO Compression Marathon Socks in White, Pink Lemonade PROBAR BOLT Chews, Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask, ROAD iD
Mud LOVE shine Bracelet, Momentum Jewelry Motivate WrapQALO Rings#WeRunSocial Thingamajig, and Body Glide.

Since I technically had this race on the calendar for YEARS, I was able to watch for good deals on flights and snag cheap tickets when they popped up. I flew up to Sacramento on Saturday morning and back to San Diego on Sunday evening. 

I know I'm biased, but San Diego is pretty spectacular and gorgeous, right?!

The flight was a little bumpy due to the major storms rolling through California (more on that later), but nothing too terrible. Brian was kind enough to play chauffeur and picked me up at the airport so we could hit the Expo and grab our bibs. 

Thanks for the welcome, Sacramento Airport!

I had to meet with a COROS rep so I could swap my watch (the one I had received recently for warranty work was faulty so they were swapping it out and since we'd both be at CIM it worked that we could save resources and not have to ship watches back and forth), but other than that we were pretty much in and out. Brian was trying to capture content on his new fancy camera toy, but we got split up when grabbing our bibs (they assign your number when you get there, so just send you to the next available volunteer) and we didn't want to wait in the lines for photo ops so it was a quick stop.

We may have "cheated" by snapping a selif off to the side between groups taking pictures...

From the Expo we went over to hang out with FitFam6 (one of my FAVORITE families). Not only did COVID have an effect on races, but it impacted my ability to see some of the bestest people at said running events! (Please DO NOT hear this as me minimizing the pandemic, I absolutely understand how life-changing and catastrophic it was for a large population, but I meant that there were additional ripples many of us didn't expect or realize how impactful they could be.) 

After hanging out with the whole fam for a bit, the the grown-ups went and grabbed lunch at a nearby sandwich shop. I am always forever grateful for every moment we get to spend together - even if it's never enough time. Maybe one day we will live closer than 450 plus miles {and a seven and a half hour drive} (although, if we did, they'd probably get sick of me ;)). 

Don't mind all the meat-tastic photos in the background ;)

Once we said our goodbyes it was time to Brian and I to head to our hotel. We were staying at one of the host hotels (which meant the shuttle buses the following morning would be right outside the door - YAY!) so made our way over to check in. Oh yeah, at this point it's probably a great time to share THE WEATHER. You see, apparently it can be bone dry all year long in the Sacramento area, but, for some reason, the weekend of CIM Mother Nature decides to open the flood gates - literally. Although I was expecting it to be colder than what I am used to in San Diego County (the ocean helps keep our weather fairly temperate), I wasn't quite ready for the deluge of rain. Like I alluded to with my flight, the whole state was getting pounded by weather - in fact, while I was in Sacramento for the race, the hubby was in Mammoth snowboarding where they got FEET of snow and fresh powder DAILY while he was there! The weather definitely put a kink in our plans, but we weren't going to let it dampen our spirits (even if it was leaving everything else more than damp). 

I love window seats so I can see the views outside... too bad this flight was so stormy...

Since we didn't really want to go explore around town in the rain (when all was said and done, my weather app showed that where we were staying got over 1.5" of precipitation in the 24 hours before the race), we did the next best thing - WATCH SPORTS ;) Michigan was playing in the Big Ten Championship, so Brian was a great friend and let me watch the Wolverines win. We had grabbed pizza from Mod and brought it to the hotel so we wouldn't miss any of the game. 

My pizza had garlic, extra mushrooms, corn and pesto.... with a side of BIG TEN CHAMPS!

After the Wolverines walloped on Purdue, it was time to his the hay. Although we were running for fun, you should still try and get some rest before the race, right?! Well, my body let me get sleep from about 10pm till midnight... From midnight till about 3:30am I was tossing and turning, but that's pretty par for the course (race night or not... thanks fibromyalgia...). 

Please tell me I'm not the only one who sets MULTIPLE alarms...

All day Saturday I was checking my weather app in hopes that the rain would somehow disappear, but it seemed like the lowest percentage was about 40% likelihood of rain throughout the entire race. Thankfully we had added some rain gear to our race kits (we were bummed our bright gear would be hidden under black jackets, but at least we would be dry-ish). Luckily, when we woke up, the weather gods did seem to be smiling on us and the rain was predicted to stop - AW YEAH!

The race started in Folsom and runs to Sacramento, hence why I have both cities...

The race info said the buses would pick up runners at 5am - but nowhere was it listed when the last bus would be. With that said, we decided we would shoot to be walking out of the hotel lobby right around 5. (We didn't want to chance missing the buses, and since they are able to stay parked at the starting area, we figured we'd just sit on the bus {staying dry and warm} until closer to the start time.) On the walk to the buses we came across some that had their doors open with only a few runners on them, so we got on - only to find out later that the line was around the corner, the bus wasn't supposed to be letting runners on yet and we technically cut in front of everyone else - OOPSIE! Our accidental cheating did help us stay drier because we were able to just walk on and we didn't have to wait to get on a bus in the rain. 


The ride to the start was about 45 minutes long (I didn't expect it to be as long as it was, but the weather may have impacted it). It is always funny to eavesdrop on other participants' conversations. Most folks were talking about running, the races they've done, etc, while Brian was teaching me about fantasy football. We decided to stay on the bus (when we pulled up to the start it was still raining) until about 6:30am [FYI - the race started at 7am, which seems late, but apparently the sun rise isn't until around then so I guess it makes sense]. When we got off the bus the rain had stopped. 

The break in the rain felt like a Christmas miracle!

We made our way to the port-o-potties (there were a billion and a half, or at least that's how many it seemed, but there were still fairly long lines at all of them) before meandering through the corrals. On the way up to where we were going to start we stopped to say HI to Steph. She is an amazing person and I was stoked to give her a hug. She was one of the pacers for the six hour group. She has been a huge advocate for the "back of the packers" and her energy is infectious! 

I probably should have removed my "burrito wrapper" for the photo... oops ;)

After we wished each other good races, it was time for Brian and I to shimmy up to the area we thought we should be in. (Prior to the race, Brian asked what I thought "party pace" would/ could be. I told him I ran NYC in 4:27 which was two weeks post a 50K and in warm temps plus some oppressive humidity, so was hoping that because I actually tapered for this race {meaning hopefully I had fresher legs because I dialed back my runs and mileage leading up to race day} I was thinking I could probably pull off between a 4:00 and 4:15 while still having fun. He thought that was a good plan so we figured we'd start near the 4:00 pacers and probably drift back throughout the race {our normal MO is to slow down ;)}.)

Ready to rock and roll!

Before we knew it they were counting us down and we were taking off (well, the start seemed very delayed because they emptied one side completely before the other side started, so it was a bit strange, but eventually we were running ;)). 


Now, part of "party pace" (in my opinion) is making sure you enjoy the sights and sounds that the area has to offer {and hopefully tons of character stops}. I had only been to Sacramento once before, when the hubby, pup and I were on our West Coast roadtrip a few years back (when we drove our VW van from San Diego County to the northernmost point in Washington and back home again). When we stopped in SacTown (wait, do the cool kids still call it that?!) we walked around near the Capitol a bit, grabbed some pizza (unfortunately the place we went has been permanently closed - bummer!) and skedaddled. Brian warned me that the course isn't a ton to write home about. He said that it was mostly through neighborhoods and strip malls so I might be hard pressed to find fun photo ops... CHALLENGE ACCEPTED ;)

I think I found Santa within the first two miles! And was even given some candies to take with me!

This course is touted as "fast". It has a large number of Boston qualifiers every year. It is a net downhill of about 400 feet (if I remember correctly off the top of my head). In my mind (because I totally don't look into the nitty gritty details and do a lot of assuming), I incorrectly thought that meant we wouldn't have much uphill... WRONG! There are definitely a lot of rolling hills on this course. And rollers you can see! I felt like every time I was looking up the street I could see more uphill. (For those of you who haven't run mostly downhill courses before, I will let you in on a little secret - downhill isn't super easy because of all the pounding you are doing, not to mention, once the downhill ends or becomes less extreme, you feel like you are scaling Everest because that assistance you were getting from gravity is no longer there.) Some people find the change in elevation helpful because you work different muscles. I wouldn't say there are any mountains you are having to climb, but I do just want to mention the UPHILL because sometimes it can be forgotten or skipped in recaps and I want y'all to be prepared. (Because we were running "for fun" it wasn't a big deal, but I think had I been shooting for a fast time and I wasn't mentally prepared for seeing the ups in the distance it may have gotten in my head a bit.)


Thankfully I had plenty to keep my mind off the hills... like keeping my eyes peeled for MORE CHARACTER STOPS! 

Left: I don't know what this child was dressed up as (it was scary), but I stopped anyway ;) || Middle: I saw this
giant bear in someone's front yard and a spectator snagged a shot for me || Left: I found Captain America!

But, in all honesty, I was having a blast running with Brian (and Mother Nature was actually treating us kindly and the sun was shining!). Pre-pandemic we were running together what felt like every month or two, so to not be able to run with him for a couple YEARS was a HUGE hit to my happiness level (thankfully we usually text on an almost daily basis so I get my buddy time in that way). We chat about family, work, life in general. We can talk about surfacey stuff or deep truths and everything in between. I am grateful I have him (and his amazing family) in my life - THEY ALL ROCK MY SOCKS!


Around mile 8 we were starting to warm up. You see, originally Brian's wifey was going to be spectating the race, but their daughter was feeling less than 100% so she stayed back to be with the kiddos, which meant our jacket sherpa (we were never planning on wearing them the entire race, but because they were lululemon we also were NOT about to toss them on the side of the road for donation) was MIA. We kept our eyes peeled and around the halfway point we saw a familiar face. Sharon had just finished her part of the relay and was cheering on runners when we saw her. We asked her if she would be willing to take the jackets and we could either grab them at the finish or Brian would have her mail them to him. She was a ROCKSTAR and offered to hold our sweaty jackets for us. I know it seems like a small thing, but not having to deal with wearing or carrying the raincoats for another 13 miles was a day saver! The running community ROCKS!

Never underestimate how big of an impact a seemingly small act of kindness can have!

This might be TMI for some of y'all, but I had started my period the day before the race. I mention this for a couple reasons. First, to try and destigmatize menstruation. Many people do it, it's a fact of life. It isn't gross or disgusting (even though I would prefer I never had to deal with it, but that's neither here nor there). Next, because my periods are extremely painful. My menstrual cramps are craptastic and add those on top of running 26.2 miles and it's never a real recipe for success. Thankfully I wasn't out there trying to win the whole thing, but the "time of the month" can definitely play a factor in your runs, your performance, your fitness for those of us who menstruate. Lastly, because I have heavy periods, especially at the beginning of my cycle. And, dun dun dunnnn, I could tell I was bleeding through my tampon after about Mile 16 or so... fun, right?! I stopped at a few medical tents to ask if they had tampons (surprisingly none of them did) and then just had to "make due" with toilet paper. We saw Jen and her crew around Mile 19 and I asked them if anyone had anything but unfortunately they did not. Thankfully no one around me could tell, which was nice, but how about you just take my word for it and believe me when I say that it still made for a fairly uncomfortable last 8ish miles.

I love that her group is out there year after year with mimosas and all the cheers!

Around this time Brian mentioned he had some stomach cramps that were making him feel a little less than his best. We started adding in walk breaks when needed and did everything we could to take our mind off the niggles popping up.

Like more character stops, DUH! ;)

And, when character stops aren't cutting it, it's time to turn to the heavy duty artillery... FIREBALL ;) I actually turned down the first two offerings, but by the time the third came around I decided I would partake ;)

I passed on the handle, turned down the shot but grabbed the last dixie cup filled with the cinnamony goodness...

Although I would've loved to keep running with my bestie, our bodies weren't having it, so it was a good thing we were coming to the finish... (Seems like we can never get on the same page and both have a great race on the same day...)

You can't tell, but Elise is actually the unicorn! She and the kids were out cheering Skyler on around town!

Before we knew it we were making the final turn towards the finish line (#RealTalk - they randomly separate runners into an A and B finish {based on the letter of your bib}. From what I can tell, B finishers definitely have to run further... I mean, it's probably a negligible distance, but if you're trying to qualify for something {there are a quite a few runners trying to run BQs [Boston Qualifiers] or OQT [Olympic Qualifying Times] at this race}, those few extra steps and seconds could definitely make or break your race...). Oh yeah, but before we could cross Brian had to get his camera going so he could video it... The announcer saw us stopping to make sure we got it all captured and may have made a joke or two about it ;)

I've gotta say, I'm pretty proud of what we did. Neither of our bodies were cooperating like we would have liked (and, in case you don't follow Brian on social, I should probably mention that he ran 50 miles the week before the race as a way to help raise money for his kiddos' school trips, so his body may have still been a little fatigued on top of the cramps he was dealing with) and we still had fun (well, maybe I shouldn't speak for him ;)). Obviously fun is most important, but for those of you wondering, we were able to finish pretty darn close to my original prediction of 4-4:15 with a 4:18! BOOYA!

For me, it's more about my time on the course than my time on a watch... 

I'll be honest, I don't know that I would put this race on my list my future years. If it was local, I might think about it, but since it's a plane ride and hotel stay away, I'm not sure having to brave the elements (it seems like it's either really cold or potentially rainy, which isn't what I train in down in SoCal) is worth it for me personally. Now, I know I should never say never because I can easily be persuaded to run with friends, but I think I'm okay with this one being a one-and-done. 

There may not have been many dogs to selfie with on the course, but 
these two dachshunds at the finish line were calling my name!

Oh yeah and Mother Nature held the rain off for us to finish, snap some pics and find Sharon for our coats! #PerfectTiming

Thankfully we were able to find an awning to stand under while we waited for our Uber to the hotel

PS Just because I'm not rushing to register to run this race again doesn't mean there was anything bad or wrong about the event. The volunteers were all amazing, the race ran smoothly, the spectators are great. The only suggestions I have would be a possible gear check at the starting line and more directions around the finishing area (especially for people who were looking for shuttles back to hotels... no one we asked knew where they were and since we weren't feeling 100% we decided to just call an Uber and wait for them to navigate around the road closures). And obviously those are little tweaks they could make that I would've preferred but I'm not sure what others thought or if they care what I have to say ;) 


All-in-all marathon number THIRTY (for a runner who said she would never run a single one - HA!) is done and dusted! Miles were run, smiles were had, selfies were taken, high-fives were given, memories were made. #SuccessInMyBooks

Do you enjoy running in the rain?

No comments: