CIM 2017: The Race Recap

It's taken me all week to process and absorb last weekend. Every time I started to write down my thoughts this week, there was a little person around to distract the flow, I fell asleep in front of my computer at night or I was focused on my city/state literally burning down around us.

I'm going to try and keep this recap as simple as possible, so here's what it boils down to: 

1. I'm so proud of the direction I'm going as a runner.
2. I've made some really good gains in this training cycle and I was happy to stay healthy the whole time.
3. I made some key mistakes in the race last Sunday, which ultimately led to leaving a good amount of precious time on the road. Although that is the glaring reality, I'm really proud of myself for fighting the whole way (despite pain, and the lingering disappointment that I desperately tried to shove out of my psyche), never giving up and finishing with somewhat of a kick the last 800 meters. You gotta make lemonade and add a good amount of sugar to those lemons. 
4. I earned a pretty signifcant PR (in April of this year I ran Boston in 3:23 and a little less than 8 months later ran CIM - which I have been wanting to run for so many years - in 3:13.)
5. I have a great coach who truly believes in me, and believes in my potential as an aspiring fast marathoner.
6. I've learned so much about myself as a person and a runner, and I'm super excited for the future.
7. This is just the beginning of my path as a marathoner. I'm stubborn, bull headed and a work horse - so putting in the work doesn't deter me, it fuels the passion.
8. Through ups and downs, good and bad, I love running so much.
9. My family loves and supports me above all and that is all that matters.
10. I want to take a moment before I get going on the race to thank all the people who have helped me get to this point: First ----> Jerold (the best husband and friend ever. I'm so lucky.), My amazing kiddos, My Mom, my whole family, friends, Brooks Running and Brooks Women for all the shoes, outfits and gear which is what every runner needs, Lululemon for the awesome race outfit, Bambino Sitters for taking care of my kids, Garmin for the sleek watch (the new Forerunner 925), Roka Sports for the ridiculously cool sunglasses that protected my eyes during training, Jay Bird Sports for the bomb wireless ear buds, CIM for having me, Women's Running Magazine for letting me take over their Instagram account for the day, and last but in no way least - my coach, Mark Hadley for his guidance, support, positivity and safely pushing me into new territory.

If you follow me on Instagram, you pretty much know the progression of my weekend, but I'll refresh it here.

Friday December 1st:
Up at crack of dawn (literally), kids up and we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise birthday walk together. Then we got them off to school and we were on our way to Sacramento. It was a big deal for us to leave the kids at home for the weekend, but I knew there wouldn't be a lot for them to do. They would be cold standing around waiting for me during the race and I thought they would have more fun at home. Turns out they had a blast - between their fun array of babysitters during the day and my Mom in the evening (thanks Mom!), they never had a dull moment.
We arrived, checked into our hotel - The Sheraton Grand Sacramento - if you ever run CIM, definitely stay at this hotel. It's the official hotel for the race, I booked it in June and it is literally right next to everything. Two steps away from the convention center to pick up your bib, walking distance to tons of restaurants and right near the state capitol building which is where the race finishes.
Jerold and I had a nice pasta dinner that evening and I went to bed shortly afterwards - a very relaxing night, which is what you want two nights before a marathon.

Saturday December 2nd:
Slept in till about 7:30 am, which was a dream. No little people coming to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning, it was quiet and so wonderful.
Jerold and I hit the road (along with what seemed like thousands of ultra fit, super fast looking runners) for a three mile shake out jog. Again, very relaxing, a slow pace and we got to laugh, chat and sight see along the way. I also was taking over the Brooks Womens Running Instgram and story, so it was fun to record my day for that too.

Breakfast, leisure lunch, stopped by the expo very quickly and then I went back to the hotel to rest for the remainder of the day (epsom salt bath and legs up the wall + just rest) and Jerold was out and about enjoying the city and free time.
Dinner in my hotel, and an early night as the alarm was set to go off at 3:15 am!

Sunday December 3rd:
It's race day. Up at 3:15 am, and I love to take a hot shower before a marathon - it's kind of a ritual I've gotten into over time and I wasn't going to stop now.
Quickly dressed, breakfast at 4 am (bagel with almond butter, banana and a Picky Bar + water and Gatorade).
We walked just a few steps out of the hotel to the buses that would deliver all the runners to the starting line. I said goodbye to Jerold, he had a quick pep talk and a huge hug and I was off.
Talked to a nice guy that I sat next to on the bus, and then took a nap until we arrived. I knew the weather was going to be perfect. It was crisp and cold, but not freezing, zero wind and the sky looked clear.
Quick porta potty line, dynamic warm up stretches, a short jog warm up, a quick meet up with the We Run Social crew for a pic, dropped my gear bag at the drop off point (By the way, CIM is very organized with the gear check - I was impressed) another quick pee and then headed to the starting line. I positioned myself as close to the front as I could, and there were already tons of runners. Everyone was friendly and chill - really great atmosphere. The National Anthem was sung and just like that, we were off.

Coach had laid out a simple plan and I had read it over a hundred few times. It was a solid plan well within my wheelhouse ( = 3:03 - 3:07 finish time at least) and I felt excited about the possibilities. I knew in my heart I was going to PR, at that point it was just a matter of by how many minutes.

I'm not going to go mile by mile on this recap, I'll just give you the splits up close and personal in one lump:

7:05, 7:02, 6:49, 6:50, 6:51, 6:55, 6:47, 6:59, 7:01, 6:53, 6:51, 7:02, 7:04, 7:06, 7:17, 7:12, 7:15, 7:28, 7:39, 7:46, 7:59, 8:00, 8:07, 8:25, 8:12, 8:13 

= 3:13:21 (and somehow I ran an extra .1 so total distance was 26.3)

At about mile 18, my legs were starting to feel the effects of the rolling hills - another note, this is an awesome course, but PLEASE NOTE there are rolling hills (it is not flat as some people think and I knew that) from miles one through twenty. It is flat after mile twenty, but you actually have to feel good to be able to fly that last 10k. If you decide to run CIM, practice on rolling hills (I did), and make sure you don't go too fast for you in the first half (guilty).

The last five miles felt horrible. My calves and quads were on fire with cramping and I wanted to stop and cry on the side of the road. By that point, the GU didn't help, the electrolye didn't help - the only thing to do was to put everything I had into getting to that finish line. My heart sank as hundreds of runners sailed past me. Hundreds. Of. Runners. I hadn't looked at my watch much and I glanced down just to peek. I knew I had to do something to pull it together. I gave myself a tough love pep talk (get it freakin together Nat) and I used my arms so much to get me through (Thank you every night push ups!!!).

I finished in a stream of hiccupping tears. I couldn't help it - that's what it was. Jerold was right there waiting for me and I hugged him so hard. 

Bummed that I didn't get a Shalane manicure! ;0

Look, this isn't a pity party - as so many people remind us, it's amazing to finish a marathon. I totally agree with that, I really do. I think it's definitely hard to have a tough finish and to hurt, but you learn from it. You pick yourself up, lick your wounds, dry your tears and keep marching forward.

After all, it's just running.

Do awesome things.


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