California International Marathon 2017

In Running, Race

Chip Time: 3:12:04 (7:20 min/mile)
Moving Time: 3:07:20
Overall 991/7290. M25-29 154/400.
Men 752/3862. Bib #10080. Weather: 58°F.
Marcothon Day 3

On-Course Timed Splits
10K: 42:16 (6:49 min/mile, 756/7233 overall)
Half Marathon: 1:29:36 (6:51 min/mile, 750/7220 overall)
20 Miles: 2:18:59 (6:57 min/mile, 802/7083 overall)

# Quotes

* “Run everything.” – Debra Cramer on signing up for races.
* “I know Victor. He signs up for everything. That’s his MO.” – Ed Cruz on me running everything.
* “Losing the pace group is like losing a life raft.” – Dan Ditty.
* “Ah… F—!” – me, on getting caught by, then losing, the 3:02 pace group around Mile 19.
* “Mind-boggling.” – Matt Damon narrating “Boston: The Documentary” on Bill Rodgers tying his shoes en route to winning a Boston Marathon.
* “Hey, your shoe’s untied.” – Friendly runners around mile 5 and 16.

# The One-Minute Summary

I got to give my one-minute summary several times immediately after the race. I even got to summarize my race to a stranger (who’s also a runner) who I met an orchestral concert that night.

“How it’d go? Did you BQ?”
“Not great. No BQ. Shot for 3 hours. Kept up with them for 18 miles, then fell apart. Missed my goal and BQing by a lot. PR’ed by 3 minutes though.”
“Oh… what happened?”
“Calves started to cramp between 18 and 20 miles. I could choose to push and risk completely cramping up, or easing back. After the 3:02 pace group passed me, I just wanted to enjoy the rest of the race. Then I had a GI issue around miles 21-23. Ran into someone’s house to use their toilet. With their permission of course.”

I’ve only mentioned that last part to four people so far. But it’s true. After dropping to 7:15-7:30 pace to prevent my calves from completely locking up, I didn’t have the strength for intestinal fortitude anymore. I ran for 2 miles at a miserable 8 min/mile millimeters from staining my pants. I asked multiple roadside spectators and a policeman where the next porta-potty or aid station was. No one knew.

Finally, at 23.5 miles, I spotted a bunch of spectators outside a condo and asked if I could use a restroom. An especially kind woman immediately agreed and led me upstairs, where I had perhaps the most relieving Number Two I’ve EVER had. She had a very nice bathroom. It was UNREAL running downstairs in a house and out the door to see hundreds of runners racing down the street — then (re-)joining them. THANK YOU SO MUCH, kind spectator!!!

# What Made This Race Unique

In no particular order:

1. I got to see Sacramento (and our California Capitol Building) for the first time! Thanks Ed Cruz for driving, organizing the trip and being an amazing running buddy.

2. I got to stay at a hostel for the first time. While at the hostel, I met a middle-aged dude in the kitchen. He was Hispanic, lived in Los Angeles, and had driven up to Sacramento just for this race in a tiny, stick-shift classic car. There was free food (unclaimed leftovers from previous occupants), that he crafted and microwaved together. He was short on cash. It was clear he could run, though, finishing 35th in SF Marathon one year and with a sub-2:45 marathon PR. He reminded me of personalities from “Born To Run,” when running was less about sports drinks, Strava and Instagram and more about just running to run.

3. The “Boston” documentary, on the Boston Marathon. I really wanted to see it, and I’m glad I saw it! I’m not going to spoil it here. Simply, it was more impactful than I expected. It did put more pressure on me to try BQ-ing today, though.

4. The field was incredibly strong today. At no other race has it been so consistently congested almost the entire length of the course. So many elite runners. I felt more heartbroken than usual for fellow runners I saw walking/limping with their heads down, knowing that they had blown their race (like me). I finished early enough to see the top 10 men and women finishers awarded. This race was also this year’s US Marathon Championship. The top three men and women got US flags.

# Race Notes

1. I ate jalapenos the night before. They were on the “The Chicago Fire” pizza I ordered at Chicago Fire. I didn’t read the description on the menu before ordering but quickly realized why the pizza was named the way it was. I don’t think the chili caused my GI issue, though. If they did, I would’ve felt it much earlier in the race. Still not my best decision ever.

2. I ran with my left shoe untied for about 20 miles. I double-tied both shoes in the morning but started feeling the left lace smack my right leg during Mile 1. I thought about stopping to tie my shoe. But I wasn’t really tripping over myself and the shoe was pretty snug, so I just left it untied. A couple friendly fellow racers came up to me in-course to let me know just in case I didn’t. I finally tied in while trying to stretch out my calves during Mile 21. Thanks fellow runners!

3. I probably didn’t need to run with my phone. I thought I’d want to run with music today. But my 2+ year-old phone died after about 8 miles. So much for that.

4. I took Gu’s around 4.5, 10, 16, and 20 miles, starting with a “regular” Gu then switching to a Roctane every other Gu. I had to forcibly swallow the Gu at mile 20; I involuntary hurled it back up on my first attempt. I intended to eat another one during the last legs but couldn’t due to the GI issue, so I had one regular Gu left at the finish line.

5. This is my 5th marathon. During every marathon, the last few miles always feel long. But for some reason, the last mile just felt so, so long.

# Final Thoughts & What’s Next

I didn’t BQ, and I missed my goal by half minute per mile. I could’ve hung it easy for 7:20 the entire race and still get the same time that I ultimately did, with a lot less pain.

So, I’m disappointed (despite the 3-minute PR). Yet, I thought I’d be more disappointed. I was more heartbroken after missing this same goal three months ago at Santa Rosa.

That said, I would’ve been surprised if I hit 3 hours at this race. After following my plan consistently with 40-45 miles per week in September (which also featured 3 races), I lost heart through October, averaging some 30-35mpw. Running started to feel like work. I started missing long runs, then I started missing interval work. The two long runs I actually did that month felt terrible.

November was a bit of a lost month for marathon training. I ran two fast-ish half marathons. They were fun, but those races weren’t long runs. Then it was time to taper. Average mpw: 25.

So what’s next? It might be surprising to some, but I’d like to improve my 5K time. I don’t consider myself a fast runner, but breaking my high school 5K PR of 18:21 has been on my bucket list all year. Despite all the running I’ve done this year, I’ve yet to remotely approach that time. So maybe I’ll give it another shot at my next two 5K’s on Christmas Eve around Lake Merritt and New Years Day with the DC Road Runners.

Next marathons? Kyoto and Kagoshima, Japan, next February 18th and March 4th, 2018. And maybe Los Angeles on March 18th, two weeks after Kagoshima. I’m telling myself that I’ll going to take it easy at 7:15 min/mile those races. I’ll try to BQ another time. Maybe. We’ll see.

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