Back in June I visited the Bay Area and my friends who had recently got into running marathons told me about their plans to run the California International Marathon in Sacramento because the flatter course helps post faster times. They encouraged me to sign up so I would have a reason to visit again. It probably would have been easier just to visit the Bay without signing up for the marathon, but where’s the fun in that?
I signed up for the California International Marathon in August giving myself 16 weeks to train. I knew I would be traveling but I was optimistic I would be able to make time to train. To start 16 weeks is not enough time if you’re starting from zero so I thought that would be my motivation to not slack. I underestimated just how tired I would be from traveling and my desire to sleep in as much as possible.
My 16 week training plan quickly became a 5 week plan once I returned home without having trained the entire time I was traveling. I wasn’t sure how far I would be able to get in those 5 weeks but I managed to finish a 16 mile training run before I was out of time. I didn’t have enough time to try for a longer run and still recover in time for the marathon. For the LA Marathon earlier in the year my longest run was just around 13 miles so I was feeling confident with only making it to 16 miles.
At my last marathon I hit “the wall” pretty early, probably before mile 20. This time I tried to start carbo loading a few days earlier hoping to store up glycogen and avoid hitting ‘the wall’ or at least hold it off for as long as possible.
You can read more about ‘the wall,’ here.
I didn’t sleep much the night before, I never do. I rolled off the couch just after 4 a.m. and started to get ready. Mostly that just meant eating for me. I was starting to get sleepy and wondered why I do this to myself.
The start was packed with runners and endless port a potties. I always try to go just before the race starts since it usually takes me about 5 hours to reach the finish line. There are port a potties along the route but I try not to stop since it’s hard to stop and start running again.
This being marathon number 5 I felt like I was cruising until Mile 21. I think the carbo loading paid off. My friend had suggested I take salt packets regularly throughout the race to prevent cramping. I’ve never taken salt packets before and they always say not to try new things on race day, but that’s where I break all the rules. I rarely use GU or energy gels on my training runs, mainly because they’re so short, but on race day I will consume about 4-5. I also drink water and electrolytes at every station, I probably don’t drink so much on my training runs. At this race the water stations were not at every mile so I drank everything, usually I’ll only drank half of each.
Somewhere around mile 20 I felt a blister forming on my toe. I had forgotten to apply my glide stick to my foot, a rookie mistake which made me shake my head.
I think I finally hit ‘the wall’ around mile 22.I started to close my eyes for a few seconds at a time to give my eyes rest. I was tired and everything hurt. This is usually about the time I wish marathons were only 22 miles instead of 26.2. Just before mile 25 my friend met me and ran with me to the finish line. I probably would have continued my snail’s pace to the finish line if it weren’t for my friend encouraging me. My goal for this race was to break my PR and come in under 4:45 and I did it. My new marathon PR is 4:39:06.
This marathon reminded me of the Boston Marathon because much of the marathon is run outside the city. We ran through many residential neighborhoods before finally crossing a bridge into the city. Even once we were in the city I didn’t notice much difference. The race ended at the State Capitol, that’s probably the first and the last time I will ever visit. Although this marathon gave me my best PR I probably won’t run this again. It’s not easy to travel for a marathon and with so many marathons in LA I don’t have much reason to travel. And now I am about to contradict myself by saying I want to find marathons in other cities that I want to travel to. There was a raffle for free entry to the Vancouver Marathon so I entered!