California International Marathon Race Recap
Man. Those are some big, clunky shoes. What are they? And how much do they weigh? These were my thoughts as I sat in the elite tent situated a stone’s throw from the start of the 2018 California International Marathon. I was checking out the giant, black shoes that all of the Bowerman Track Club guys appeared to be wearing. Their shoes made my Nike VaporFly 4% appear tiny in comparison. I wanted to ask them about their Herman Munster’s but hated to bother them before the race. So, I sneakily snapped a picture instead (because that’s way less weird) so that I could research later.
I actually jogged behind the Bowerman Track Club guys for most of my short, ten-minute-long warmup that morning. The elite tent was located in the parking lot of an apartment building so runners were doing loops around the community complex. I could feel some tightness on the outside of my left ankle. Earlier in the week, I had rolled the ankle at the end of the fast portion of my last longish run. It hadn’t bothered me the day after. Or the next day. But, ever since around lunchtime on Wednesday before the Sunday race, I could feel something around the outside of the ankle I rolled. It wasn’t a sharp pain, but it was constant. However, as I tried to shake out the stiffness from the morning’s bus ride along with my race day jitters, I told myself that I needed to stop worrying about the ankle because I was going to have a great day. And I believed it.
I think I was the first to check my finish line bag and exit the elite tent. I didn’t want to enter the corral before everyone else, but I was also anxious about how soon the race was starting. I sat down on the curb with the intention of waiting a few minutes for others to begin moving in the direction of the starting line, but then I heard the race announcer order all elites to their corral. Three minutes until all corrals close! Elites need to be in their corral!
It was a chilly morning but luckily we were allowed to bring one item of clothing into the corral with us to wear until the last few moments. I wore my black Oiselle Call Her jacket, which was super puffy and super comfy. While it was a bit cold for all the runners who didn’t have a Call Her jacket, it was perfect racing weather.
It seemed like no time before the national anthem was playing and requests for clothing were being made. I took one Gu Roctane (sea salt chocolate) and washed it down with some water. I touched my chest and the front of my shorts and then the back of my shorts to confirm that I could feel the other four gels that I had packed away to be used later in the race.
And then the countdown started. Long exhale. You are going to run great. And then the gun fired, watches beeped all around, and we were off. The race had begun.
The first mile was fairly steep downhill. I did my best to ease into the pace, but it was still a quick mile. Mile 1: 6:05. We took a right turn and were greeted with what may be the steepest hill on the course. I slowed fairly significantly not wanting to put forth any effort this early in the race. Mile 2: 6:21. After the hill, we were rewarded with another downhill mile. Mile 3: 6:00.
The first elite water bottle station was located at the 5K. The whole weekend/race was extremely well put together, but one of the best parts of the race was the organization of the elite water bottles. Unlike Grandma’s Marathon where all women’s bottles were on one table and you had no idea where your bottle was located, CIM staff told us exactly where to expect our bottle. There were 14 elite water bottle tables in total. Tables 1 – 6 had the top 48 seeded men, table 7 were men seeded 49th – 88th, tables 8 – 13 were the top 48 seeded women, and table 14 were women seeded 49th – 88th. After a few people scratched, I was lucky enough to have my water bottles placed on a table with just seven other bottles. Specifically, I was table 12, bottle 5. The result was that I never missed a bottle and each water station was a smooth process. Stations where I took a gel, I had water in my bottle. At all the other stations, I had Maurten.
I had been told that most of the downhill was in the first 10K and had been warned to not be too aggressive. Still, I felt like I should try to take advantage of some of the downhill because the net downhill is part of the reason why CIM is a fast course. Thus, it was a balancing act. Mile 4: 6:07. Mile 5: 6:02. Mile 6: 6:09.
Because CIM wasn’t a flat course and because I didn’t have just one important goal, I didn’t create much of a pacing strategy. Before the race, I thought I could hold between a 6:05 – 6:10 pace if running flat. But since the course wasn’t flat, I decided just to go out there and run at what felt like a marathon effort. The result was that my mile splits were kinda all over the place depending on the elevation changes, but my effort was extremely even throughout the majority of the race.
Mile 7: 6:11. Mile 8: 6:13. Mile 9: 6:17. Mile 10: 6:02
Mile 10 had the most turns on the course as I weaved through a neighborhood. There was great crowd support at this section, and I saw my boyfriend who filmed me as I passed. In the clip, you can see me talking to the guy running beside me. I think I told him something like Wow. We’ve already run ten miles. And only have about 16 left. That’s basically a really short long run.
Time was ticking by pretty quickly. I thought about how close we were to 13.1 where we would be officially halfway done. I laughed in my head at how I’ve heard others talk about how they were on their marathon pace through the half marathon mark, but then something happened. This race isn’t even close to starting.
Mile 11: 5:59. Mile 12: 6:12. Mile 13: 6:11
Officially, I came through halfway in 1:20:38. I knew I’d have to have a really strong last 10K if I was going to break 2:40, which was my A goal. I did not think this was likely. However, I seemed to be on pace for my B goal, a sub 2:42. (Technically, I had goals through E…C goal: sub 2:43. D goal: sub 2:43:09 (PR). E goal: sub 2:45 (OTQ and $500 bonus))
Mile 14: 6:05. Mile 15: 6:13. Mile 16: 6:07. Mile 17: 6:13.
I was still feeling good. My plan at this time was to keep running up to mile 20 and then rip the last 10K. The race up to this point had just felt like a training run. I compared myself to how I felt around this time at Grandma’s, and I knew I was running stronger.
Mile 18: 6:16. Mile 19: 6:12. Mile 20: 6:08
I ran through “the wall” that marked mile 20 on the course. I was grateful that I didn’t feel like I was in any danger of really hitting the wall soon. However, a 10K seemed like a ways to go. I decided that I was just going to keep trucking along a bit further until I decided to pick it up.
Mile 21: 6:16. Mile 22: 6:17
So, I can keep running just like this to mile 26.2 and Pass Go to collect $500. This race will be a success because I won’t have felt too bad.
As you can probably tell, thoughts of settling were entering my brain. But then, one of the best things happened…I got passed. There was a small pack of a couple of girls and a guy that moved in front of me. I looked at them and thought, I can run that pace. So, I picked it up and tucked in behind them.
Mile 23: 6:12
And then I started to smell the finish line. I knew I wasn’t going to blow up. I had gas left in the tank, and I was ready to be done.
Mile 24: 6:05. Mile 25: 6:00. Mile 26 (the longest mile ever): 6:00. The last .27 (yes, it is supposed to only be .2, but I’d take a 26.27-mile marathon any day): 5:57.
And Paula Pridgen is going to the trials! I raised my hands above my head as the announcer called out my name. My boyfriend always makes fun of how terrible I look when I try to sprint across a finish line so I smiled and did my best to capture a good finish line photo. Still, not the best, but it was an improvement. And so was my time. 2:41:29, over a minute and a half PR.