The California International Marathon from the Sacramento Running Association is known as a fast course with a net downhill elevation profile as well as the typically great weather conditions since Decembers in Sacramento are usually very cool which makes for great running weather. The downhill isn’t anything crazy where it would destroy your quads/glutes since the max elevation is 350ft and finishes at around sea level. I registered for this race planning to race it with my brother Cong but he had told me that he wanted me to run it for a goal because of the favorable course and weather.
The drive up was nice. We accidentally missed the exit for the 5 North and ended up on the 99 which was a pleasant surprise because it actually took us through the city of McFarland which is home of the high school cross country team that the movie McFarland, USA was about.
We arrived in Sacramento around 4:30pm, checked into the hotel and headed straight for the Expo for bib pickup at the Sleep Train Arena. This was a fairly small expo which is fine because I don’t really spend much time at them anyway. I prefer to just get in, get my bib and head back to minimize time on my feet.
The weather for most of the weekend had rain on and off for most of Saturday. That a few of us went on a shakeout run and towards the end of the run it started raining. Michelle had a 5K later in the morning but the weather turned out pretty nice for that. Also for the first time ever she negative split a 5K race so big congrats to her, she’s got some big things coming up in the next year!
Later that night some of us from LBRC met for an early dinner with Brenda
since she now lives in Norcal and it’s always great to see her when the opportunity arrives. We also used this chance to plan out cheer and aid stations for those of us running the marathon the next day.
Race Day. Goal is sub 3:25. My marathon PR at the time was 3:33:59. I have tried for 3:25 twice prior with unsuccessful results. With this cycle I wanted to try something a little different than in previous training cycles. All my cycles before were 18 week cycles and this time around I trained for 10 weeks. My long runs were a little slower, my easy runs were a lot slower. I wanted to go into CIM with fresher legs and for the first time I went through a training cycle with no aches, pain or soreness. I felt great going into race day but was it because I didn’t have the fatigue of a long training cycle or because I didn’t train hard enough? my marathon training paces were closer to a 3:20 goal but I did that in anticipation that I would slow down in the later miles.
3:25:05. I missed my goal by 6 seconds. my race plan was executed for the most part but I missed my goal by 6 seconds. I didn’t go out too fast, I stayed consistent, nutrition and hydration went exactly as I wanted. Legs felt tired after 20 miles and I could not hold a sub 8 minute pace after that. With everybody saying it’s a downhill course with some “gentle” rolling hills I didn’t expect the hills to just come one after another. At no point in the race did I ever feel like I was going downhill but more so like the course was just flattening out. The finish was bittersweet because although I missed my goal by seconds, I got a an 8:54 PR and most importantly, I ran the whole marathon, no walking, to bathroom stops and this is what I’m most proud of myself for. Would I have done something different? I honestly don’t know and I don’t want to think about it too much. The result is the result and I should be happy with it.
This was the most well organized event I’ve raced and I’m sure I’ll be back in the future. 4 marathons in 14 months is enough for me.