Thursday, December 6, 2012

California International Marathon

As most of you know, California International Marathon (CIM) was my first marathon. And for a first marathon, it was a bit of a doozy.

Going into the race I was feeling prepared. I had followed a Hal Higdon plan to the T and felt ready to take on 26.2 miles. There was one thing that was making me quite uneasy about the task at hand though; the weather.

Sneak-peek of marathon rain the day prior
Hydrating/TV watching/slothing day before marathon

I stalked all weather sites, news sites, iphone weather, etc. to get all opinions on what the weather would do on marathon day and all of them pointed to rain. Not just a few sprinkles, but heavy, significant rain. Like inches of rain accumulated in a day. Rain that would cause floods in the area. And wind which would blow out of the SSW, so it would be a headwind for the marathon. You can see why I was nervous. Who wants to run in those conditions, let alone my first marathon!

So race morning came and just like the weatherman said, it was raining hard and it was very blustery. I wasn't excited about the marathon at this point, which bummed me out. I had been so excited throughout all of my training for this big day and now that it was here, I was like meh.

Pre-swim, I mean run. 
I took the school bus shuttle to the start line in Folsom. On the way there, the bus was being blown by the wind so badly that you could feel it swaying from side to side. When we arrived at the start, the rain had picked up, so with the wind blowing the way it was, made for awesome sideways rain. The bus parked and no one got up to get off the bus. No one was excited to go outside. But everyone I talked to all agreed - was had to laugh at the situation. It was so horrible, it was funny.

A zillion porta potties at the start. 300+ to be more exact
With about 15 minutes to go before the start of the race, I ran to the porta potty, dropped my bag off at bag check and found the 3:45 pace group, which was where I was meeting Katherine. The race began minutes later and we were soaked within the first mile or two. Think just-jumped-in-pool-in-running-clothes wet.

Yes, it was this wet.
I had people believing in me that I could hang with the 3:45 group, which was why we started with them, but it was hard to keep them nearby at the start, so we decided to keep our own pace and see what we could do. Really, in the conditions we were dealing with, my time goals were out the window. It was a day where a finish was a big accomplishment.

Mile 1: 8:49
Mile 2: 8:31
Mile 3: 8:15
Mile 4: 8:21
Mile 5: 8:28
Mile 6: 8:34

The first few miles flew by and I realized I went out too fast. Although I believed I could run a 3:45, my body didn't. I should have started around 9:00 miles and tried to maintain that pace. Rookie mistake.

Mile 7: 8:36
Mile 8: 8:51
Mile 9: 8:59
Mile 10: 8:49
Mile 11: 8:57
Mile 12: 9:09

By mile 12, my foot started to twinge, which was the first sign of pain in the race. My boyfriend was at mile 12 waiting for us with a fresh bottles of Nuun, so I asked that he have some Ibuprofen at mile 20, the next place we'd see him.

The miles started to get harder about half way through and I knew it was because I went out too fast. I started to slow and let Katherine start to pull away from me. I just couldn't keep up anymore and accepted that I needed to run my race and do what I could that day.

We passed the half marathon in 1:54 ish and I easily could have been done at that point. Although I wasn't bothered by the rain anymore (already soaked to the bone), my spirits were low and I made the mistake of thinking "oh my gosh, I'm only half way!"

Mile 13: 8:59
Mile 14: 9:01
Mile 15: 9:16
Mile 16: 9:34

I can't remember exactly when my quads started to hate me and running, but I think it was around mile 16 or 17. My quads started to hurt so bad! They felt incredibly sore. I've never felt anything like it, but every step I took, it was painful, especially the downhills. CIM is "net downhill" but the first half is very up and down and I just think my body wasn't used to the hills. I never run hills, no wonder they wouldn't be used to them! :) This is when my pace started to suffer significantly and my walk breaks started.

Mile 17: 9:39
Mile 18: 9:44
Mile 19: 9:49

I somehow made it to the next meetup with my boyfriend. It all seems like a blur in retrospect. And to my defense, the course is not scenic, so there was nothing notable to remember along the way. Oh yeah, except huge puddles and street rivers. I got my much needed Ibuprofen, a fresh bottle of Nuun and some words of encouragement. I remember saying, "This is the hardest thing I've ever done" before I continued on.

Mile 20: 10:39
Mile 21: 10:19
Mile 22: 10:11

From this point to the end of the race, I was on a solid walk/run schedule. Like I said, I threw out my time goals early in the race - my goal was to finish. Miles 22-25 was on the counting schedule: Run 100 steps, walk 30, run 100 steps, walk 30, repeat. My quads were screaming each step I took. It was so painful - each mile felt like it lasted a lifetime.

Mile 23: 10:58
Mile 24: 10:38

Finally mile 25 came and I remember a spectator say, "You made it, just a mile to go, you can do it" and for some reason this got me going and I was determined to run the entire 1.2 miles we had left. The crowds were building on the sides of the streets as I approached the finish line, but they were all a blur. I bet the look on my face was awful at that point - I was in so much pain. Casey yelled my name, I tried to eeek out a smile and almost broke down in tears right there. Turned the corner, saw my man friend cheering for me as I went into the finish chute.

Mile 25: 10:58
Mile 26: 10:03

Finished! 4:07:07 (9:28 pace) Crossing the finish line was the most amazing feeling EVER. My body was totally beat, but I did it. I finished the marathon! I grabbed and chugged a chocolate milk immediately and hobbled over to meet up with my boyfriend. Walking was painful and it would be painful for 3 days after the marathon. I changed into dry clothes and we slowly made our way to meet up with other Nuunies for much needed beer and food.

big ass heavy medal
And the icing on the cake? The sun came out that afternoon and it was beautiful.

Blue trees are in Sacramento, too!
I'm very proud of myself although I didn't get the sub 4 hour finish that I had originally wanted. I think my time is pretty dang respectable for a first marathon. When I finished I said I'm not looking to do another one marathon anytime soon, but I think I've been bitten by the marathon bug, or I just want to see how much better I could do, so I have been looking at Spring races.

Last, but not least, I owe each and everyone of you a big, huge THANK YOU! The support I get from my blog and Twitter friends is unreal. All the tweets, messages, emails, snail mail (!) - it all was so wonderful. I'm so lucky to have such awesome people in my life! xoxo

Special thanks to this guy for being awesome.


  1. Love the recap - glad you feel good about marathons a few days after! It was great to meet you at the expo too. Congrats!!!

  2. I can't believe the weather - of all the days. And then for the sun to come out later, just not fair! Despite that insane weather you still totally rocked that race. Your time was fantastic but more impressive is your mental grit! Is there a Eugene in your future? When do we start training? :)

  3. Congratulations!! Feels so good to cross that finish line. :) gla you are up for the challenge if another marathon. I felt the same way this weekend when I also finished my first. You definitely rocked it!

  4. Good job! The weather alone would have set me back emotionally, so that time is very impressive! The key is that you made it without any injuries, and now you can focus on coming back and getting a PR in your next one.

    If you want to improve your performance on hills, make some time for the stair climber or cross ramp at the gym. Those machine will build up those muscles big time, and you will find yourself loving the climb. It is a huge emotional boost when you pass a bunch of people on a hill! Focus on your core too; it is amazing how much you use your abs and obliques when you plow up a hill.

  5. Congrats! There is nothing like that first marathon finish :) Once you do one, you at least have to do a couple more - just to see. Extra, extra kudos for pulling out a finish time like that in those conditions!

  6. Congratulations and major props for running a marathon in crazy weather like that! 4:07 is a totally respectable first marathon for ANY weather, but when you're running through street-rivers and battling crazy winds, it's even more respectable.

    I bet you'll surprise yourself with a big improvement in marathon #2 -- you definitely have the fitness, and now you'll have the experience of what to do/what not to do (and hopefully you'll have better weather too!)

  7. Congrats on your first 26.2 finish! you did awesome and pushed through the crazy wind & rain like a stud!...I still cannot believe the weather we ran through!
    Have you already decided when marathon #2 is going to be? I know you're going to get a huge PR!!
    I hope you're healed and feeling great!!!

  8. Way to go! Those conditions look like a doozy!! That is an awesome finish poor conditions or not!

  9. You are a mental toughness RockStar!!! Great job-super good finish!
    I have to say I think of you often right now. Last year around this time, we took a run and soon after that you started PT and didn't run much of the winter-but you came back stronger and look at you now!!
    When I am in PT I keep telling myself to be patient and do the work and not worry about the running because look how awesome Megan is doing now!
    Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  10. Congratulations!! So so proud of you! That is incredible for a first (or any marathon)! And I can't believe you did it under those weather conditions.

    Enjoy being a MARATHONER!!! (before you start thinking of your next one :) )

  11. Wow. Just wow. I can only hope I just FINISH my first marathon in even the best of conditions. What an awesome time for a first and what a great STORY to tell for years to come. Congrats!

  12. Super, big, huge congratulations to you Megan! You ran a tough distance in less than desirable conditions and came out with an incredible time for a first marathon. The weather at CIM was so perfect last year, I can't believe how bad it really was. :/

  13. Congratulations on such a great finish in very difficult conditions!

  14. Congrats on your first marathon. It's already tough, so why not make it tough with sideways rain and major flooding, right? Man...

  15. GO GIRL!! This was my second full marathon and I honestly went through the same thing as you and my pace started to suffer tremendously @ mile 17-- horrible quad fatigue. My goal was to BQ (3:35) and I ended up with a 4:04... there's always the next race. Great job on your efforts. I stumbled across your blog while messing around on Twitter :)

  16. Wow! Excellent job! I think I would have cried in those conditions. Very inspiring.

  17. Hey lady! I just found your bloggy, small world. :) Congrats on your first marathon! I just ran my first in October (Poulsbo Marathon) and it totally ignited the fire. I can't believe the rain you got, but kudos to you for powering through!

  18. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know it isn't exactly what you wanted, but that is a fantastic first (or any!) marathon time!! Finishing is never a guarantee, especially not in those conditions! You did it!! And looking forward to seeing how the next marathon journey goes for you!!

  19. i’m so behind on my blog reading!! DUDE. For your first marathon-that is flipping awesome!! IN THAT WEATHER!! serious rockstar. my first was a 4:18 in your hilly ass town. Explain to me how you don’t have hills?? I know you do :) Either way-so pumped for you and can’t wait to see what is next! big hugs and a big congrats!!!!