splits: 6:38, 6:47 (i can explain!), 6:40, 6:37, 6:38, 6:34, 6:33, 6:37, 6:41, 6:33, 6:30, 6:44, 6:26, 6:28, 6:33, 6:29, 6:30, 6:33, 6:30, 6:43, 6:39, 6:44, 6:44, 6:44, 6:45, 6:49, 1:25 (.2)
i am currently stranded in sacramento due to the fog/inversion in SLC. my flight doesn't leave until 6 am tomorrow morning...an opportune time to write a race report!
so, to begin: my original plan this summer was to conclude my racing season with the top of utah marathon in september. i ended up recovering from that race rather quickly, and i felt great all through the month of october (i'll attribute this to the extremely beautiful fall weather we had this year). i was feeling good about my fitness and was really itching to run another marathon. after a PR at top of utah, i wanted to see if i could do better -- i realize now that i was asking too much...
i researched several different options for late november/early december marathons, and after a series of fortunate and "wow, it's a small world" events, i concluded that CIM was the right race for me. one of the main reasons i was attracted to this race was the fact that they had set up a 2:45 pace group, specifically for women who were looking to qualify for the trials. while i didn't necessarily think i could qualify, i thought it might be a fun race to "go for broke," as there was really nothing on the line. my original plan was to start out with the pace group and see how long i could hang on. keep in mind that this plan was formulated in october when the roads were dry, the air was warm, the leaves were vibrant, and i was motivated.
enter november. enter daylight savings time. enter oppressive work schedule. enter dark, cold, snow and ice. needless to say, my training has been less than ideal over the past month. i tried my best to stay in decent shape by running 5k's on the weekends. the rest of my training consisted of early morning slogs through the snow and ice; quite pathetic, really.
so how long would i be able to stick with the OTQ pace group? not long. i figured if i had a perfect day, there was a 0.1% chance that i could actually run a 2:45. on a great day i might be able run a sub-2:50 (my actual goal for the race). 2:55 - 3:00 would have just caused me to be frustrated at myself for trying to force another marathon this year.so i guess today i fell somewhere between great day and frustrated...
i was one of the first runners to make it to the starting line (seriously, i was the only one on the shuttle bus and it was awkward). i kept warm in the tent and just tried to stay loose and relaxed. i was wearing my obnoxious pink nike frees, and one girl commented that she liked my shoes. i thanked her and said, "yes, i like them, but they are kind of obnoxious." she laughed and said: "you wanna see obnoxious?" she then pulled off her warm-up pants and exposed her hot pink and lime green leopard print spandex racing shorts. i laughed for quite some time...
i jogged around the starting area for a bit, then did a few strides. i was feeling good. the weather was great -- it had rained overnight, but the skies had cleared and the air was cool (but very warm compared to utah). the first two miles of the race were interesting. i decided to wear my compression sleeves since i have been wearing them a lot lately in training and have really liked how they feel (and the fact that they keep my legs warm). but for whatever reason, my legs weren't happy today. i felt super, super tight in my calves, shins and ankles -- they were aching; throbbing. my second mile was 6:47 because of this (even though it was a very fast, downhill start). i am not sure this had anything to do with the sleeves -- my legs were just in freak-out mode. even so, i decided to remove them (my sleeves, not my legs). but removing compression sleeves during a race is impossible. it's hard enough even when you are sitting in a chair. everyone knows that you just end up rolling around on the floor having a fit like a toddler. removing the sleeves would also require me to remove my triple-knotted shoes and expose my bright white socks to the wet, muddy asphalt. not happening.
my next thought was that i could stop at an aid station and have a medic cut them off. surely they would have scissors in their first aid kits. then i thought about the time that would take. too long. and too dangerous. "now just hold still while i cut these...oops, sorry ma'am. looks like you need stitches." i ended up just stepping off the course, and quickly pulled the sleeves down to my ankles while loosening them up as much as possible. 24.2 miles to go wearing tasteless leg warmers...
after a few more miles, my legs finally started to calm down, and things started looking up. i was slowly bringing my pace down and feeling better and better with each mile. The sun came out and warmed things up nicely, creating an enchanting steam that rose off the wet roads. i was suddenly feeling very happy and very motivated.
just after mile 8, i made a friend -- mike. he was a 30-something guy from virginia, running his 40th marathon. he was going for a sub-2:55, so i knew i wanted to stick with him. we also had another runner join us off and on (he was a surger). his name was jeff. we had a funny moment at one point when jeff was trying to get our names. first he said, "it's nice to meet you, sally." then mike said, "nice to meet you, chuck." then i said (wheezed), "it's allie. with an a." then "chuck" said, "it's jeff, with a j-e-f-f." you follow? we didn't talk much after that.
i felt great at the halfway point, and just as with TOU, miles 13 - 17 were the best of the race. i found a nice rhythm, i had energy, and mentally i was in a good place. i felt this way up through mile 22 or so, and then i really started to struggle. my pace slowed and my effort increased.
mile 23 -- 5k to go! i thought about the turkey trot i ran last week in 5 degree temperatures on icy hills. today i was warm and was in no danger of frostbite or hypothermia. so as bad as i was feeling, i knew i could survive the last 3 miles.
mile 24: hands down, THE hardest mile of the day. "i bet it has been at least three minutes." [check watch]...30 seconds have elapsed...
final mile: i realized i was going to be cutting it close to go under 2:54, so i put everything i had into keeping my pace somewhat reasonable. i saw the clock at 2:53:30 and mustered a lame "kick" to come in under 2:54. happy to be done.content (but not thrilled) with the time.
post race: i am very glad that i ended up doing this race -- definitely no regrets. it was a beautiful course and was extremely well-organized. the volunteers and spectators were great, and the finish line at the state capitol was lovely. overall i had a lot of fun (other than the fact that i may lose my job for not showing up to work tomorrow). i am just trying to figure out why i don't run as well at sea level. this is my fourth sea level race where i have failed to meet or exceed my times that i have run at elevation. this is not to say that i am disappointed with the race, just a little perplexed is all. good think i have 7 more hours in the airport to mull it over..