"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." -Frank Shorter
"I don't think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don't think about the mile I'm on right now, I don't think about the miles I've already covered. I think about what I'm doing right now, just being lost in the moment." -Ryan Hall, on running a marathon
"The key to running a good marathon is to not listen to anyone’s advice the last week before the race. That's when people tend to do stupid things that disrupt all the input and training of the previous months." -Don Kardong
Preface: From NYC to CIM
Normal people finish a marathon saying "I am never doing that again." While I finished NYC feeling awful, I never said I never would do it again. But, I never said I was normal. ;-)
Four weeks prior to CIM
Four week prior to CIM...no thoughts about running CIM. I just finished my first marathon, the NYC marathon. That marathon was possibly the best and worst experience ever (read my NYC Marathon recap to understand why). Some people talk about how the NYC Marathon was the most amazing experience ever. While the crowds and build up was great, I did not feel amazing out there. I know somewhere out there I had lost my usual determination, lost my usual drive, lost myself. I did not feel I had given it my all so that may be partly why I did not achieve my time goal. It also might be why I went into some post-marathon depression.
I think the NYC Marathon got to be too big. It's the biggest marathon in the world and it was just so exciting that my very first marathon would be on such a huge stage. There's a lot of hype and excitement to that. Everyone was just so excited for me (which I really appreciated and loved the support I got). But, I had a lot of opinions and advice thrown at me. And, people just making it bigger and bigger. And, the pressure grows. I feel like all that commotion made me lose focus. I kind of feel like at some point, it stopped being a race for me and became a race for everyone else.
Later, Joanne plants the crazy idea of CIM into my head. I tell her the idea is just CRAZY. No way! Now how! It is in four weeks, are you CRAZY?!? She tells me I am trained up. She even lays out the plan: run the lake loop this next weekend, then do a long run, then taper. So simple she makes it seem. I continue to resist. She tells me she believes I can break four hours if I run at home. I get to sleep in my own bed so get the rest I need. I get to run at home on the streets I know. She also tells me how I would be running with Cathy and Diane. You've been training with them so why not run with them. She knows I run better with my my friends around than without. I eventually end the conversation telling her to stop planting crazy ideas into my head!
Meanwhile, back in California (unknown to me at this time), the Java Joggers have already predicted that I will be doing CIM in four weeks.
Three weeks prior to CIM
The crazy CIM idea starts to grow a little...
I return to California ready to just go back to doing what feels good to me. Not dealing with any training plans anymore. Just running what feels good to me (as well as getting back on my bike). However, the crazy seed Joanne planted starts to grow a little. I am still physically and mentally recovering from NYC. Yet, I feel the desire growing. The desire for CIM. The desire to do a marathon at home and break four hours. I keep running the NYC marathon through my head and replaying the things I could have done differently to have broken four hours.
Mica then gives me numerous reasons why I should do CIM even telling me about someone he knows who ran NYC, had a tough time there, came back, did CIM and blew her PR time away. And somewhere around then, CIM tipped from crazy idea to crazy possibility.
I then find that practically all the Java Joggers (and other running friends) already had it in their minds I would be doing CIM. No question about it. When I hesitantly told them I am maybe pondering CIM, my friend Kim responded "Who didn't see this coming? … anyone? … anyone?"; Dave tells me that as soon as finished the NYC marathon, him and the other java joggers were already talking about me doing CIM. Wendy said "We already know you're crazy. You won't shock us!!" And, this is what surprises me. No one is talking me out of this crazy idea. But rather I am strongly encouraged to do this crazy thing of back to back marathons.
So, I run the lake loop like Joanne suggested. I tell myself, if my legs feel okay running the loop, I may be able to recover from NYC to do CIM. I run the loop. The legs feel great. I start looking to see if I can get a bib for CIM. But, no promises that I am doing it. I am still recovering...
Two weeks prior to CIM
A runner (that I don't really know) says to me "NYC was my first marathon too! And, I'd hate to bum you out, but it's all downhill from here. Seven marathons later and ultras I haven't had anything close to NYC's support and fun. Chicago tries to to tell me it comes close, but I don't think so...Les sign...such disappoint. CIM is the furthest thing from NYC. I would never do those back to back. I'd be so bored in comparison & wonder where all the spectators were."
My response: "when I did my first triathlon, I did it in Seattle. while nice, I wanted to do one back home on the paths I know with the people I trained with...while CIM is not NYC, I just feel the need to do one on home turf with the people I run best with...I came so close to my goal time that I'm sure I can do it at CIM when it isn't so crowded...but that's just me...some people are different."
Jeffrey, who will be doing his first marathon at CIM, asks me "So what would do the same and what would you do differently next time?" I tell him about some various things but say "ultimately, you have to do what you feel is best for yourself. Everyone's body is different and I think I let other factors and people throw me off from what worked for me. Just do what you have been doing that you know works for you." I am not only tell him that but I am telling myself that. If I do CIM, I want it to be MY race, not everyone else's race. I am going to do it MY way. I am going train for it and prepare it MY way. Do what I know works best for me.
Joanne said "and the following weekend, do a long run...." I decide to run 19 miles. Longer than some would recommend to do two weeks before a marathon (or two weeks after a marathon) but this was what feels right for me. And, to my delight, Diane joins me (Cathy joins for 14 miles). I had not seen Diane since returning from NYC and had not actually told her I was thinking of CIM. She did not even question me or say anything about it. She just went along with me continuing our marathon training together. Cathy too (though Cathy actually said "why not?"). It was as though they both knew all along that I would run CIM with them. It was as though the three of us were meant to run CIM together! ;-)
We run 19 miles. We feel good. We feel ready for CIM!
I also make note that the night before, I had drank some beer. The night before my 23 mile training run over a month ago, I had beer also and the run was great. I did not have beer before the NYC marathon. Theresa has a theory about beer and pizza are the best things to have the night before a long run or race. Hmm. I start to really think there may be something to this beer theory. I decide if I do CIM, I am going to have beer the night before.
It starts looking highly likely that I am going to do CIM. But then, I get into a bike crash!
One week prior to CIM
The bike crash throws a wrench into things. Legs did not suffer any major injuries. But, running does not feel good, does not feel right. It hurts to run. I cannot find my running groove. On one short run, I have to stop Susie because it hurts so much. This is not normal. This worries me.
I fix my bike and eventually get back on the bike. I am hesitant since my running has not been feeling so good. But, I get back on the bike. My cycling is little off too. Not painful but I definitely don't have quite the same strength and speed as I had before. However, what I find interesting is after cycling, I am running a little better, with a little less pain, and a little stronger.
So, I bike a little more and run a little more. Things are a little better. Diane suggests going 10 miles. I agree. If this run goes okay, I will do CIM next week. We run 10 (Cathy runs 8) with a 4 mile pick up in the middle. And, we have a rock it! My running legs get their groove back! Diane and Cathy are both running strong! I also starting to see a nice connection between my running and cycling. Before NYC, I had cut way back on my cycling. Maybe I won't do that this time.
CIM starts to become more real...And, I think I found a bib into the race...
Days to CIM
A stressful trial and a wretched cold keep me pretty occupied during the week to think too much about CIM. Though, I do think if I manage to survive this stressful week, I think I will do okay at the marathon.
By the week's end, I put my trial stress aside for the moment. I feel mostly recovered from the cold. Then, I start feeling excited. I finally announce to everyone that I am actually doing CIM. I feel good about it. I am so SO excited to be running this marathon with Cathy and Diane. We have been training this whole time together. NYC was just a training run. CIM would be the real race. Not just my race but OUR race.
I am also excited that so many friends would be out running or just on the course volunteering and/or cheering. Various friends tell me where they are going to be during the race. So, my race plan becomes who I am going to see at what point. NYC may have way more people but the people that matter to me are here in Sacramento. So, I think I am more excited to run CIM than I was for NYC.
The night before the marathon, I eat pizza and drink beer. No crappy rice this time. Going for what I know works for me. And, I get to sleep in my own bed, not a couch.
Alarms blare early on. I get up and get on the usual race gear. I super pack my fuel belt with extra snacks and GU and all. I had eaten and drank everything I had in NYC and yearned for more. So this time, I want to be better prepared. But, I am only carrying things I know works for me - orange vanilla GU, red shot blocks, peanut butter crackers and gold fish crackers.
And, as with all running races, I proudly wear the Java Joggers shirt. This time, to have a little fun, I stick a little sticker on the back. Below "good to the last mile," I have a sticker that says "...kind of..." Cathy and I had joked earlier about adding this to our shirts. We may make it to the end of a marathon but we probably are only feeling "kind of" good in the last miles.
I hit up Starbucks and get my usual pre-race fuel - vanilla latte & an oatmeal. This habit continues to be the same. I also pick Diane up a latte. We are the JAVA joggers after all. We need our java!
I pick up Diane and we head to the Karen's Bakery parking lot. It kind of felt like we were meeting up for our usual weekend run. We walk across the bridge and locate Cathy, who is just getting dropped off by Cheri. I think Joanne was SO right that I was going to have a much better time at CIM because I would be with Cathy and Diane. The race has not even started and I am already enjoying myself just being with Cathy and Diane. We are laughing and smiling. It is just fun!
We board the bus that takes us to the race start. Getting off the bus, Paulo finds us. He had come to give some support to the runners. It's nice to have friends around before the race. Before the NYC marathon, I was feeling lonely and sat on a curb listening to the voices I had recorded of the java joggers, missing them. But, here, I am with friends.
Cathy, Diane and I spend most of our time waiting in the potty line before the race start. While standing around, I pull out this wristband I got from NYC. It has all the splits for each of the miles in order to get a 4:00 hour marathon time. Cathy helps me put it on my wrist. I am going to try to stay ahead of goal time this time.
Immediately before the race, Paulo kindly takes some of our clothing we were planning on discarding. He also gives me a wonderful cup of hot water. It is pretty cold out so holding a cup of hot water is very nice for my hands as well as drinking it warms my insides up.
Diane and I lose Cathy at the start line as Cathy goes to find Allison. We get in front of the 4:00 pacer and are ready to for this thing! There's a guy that Diane keeps looking at. He looks at her. She asks "Do I know you?" He says he is Brian Hicky from KCRA, Channel 3. Diane tells him how she watches his show (or something) and they chat a little bit.
The gun goes off! Diane and I take off together. We move the crowds alright. We sometimes split apart but we seem to manage to get back together. After a little bit, Diane spots Cathy. We join up with Cathy. Yay, the three of us are together! Here we go! Let's do this!
I had lost a mitten somewhere at the beginning. My hands are cold so I wear the one mitten. After a bit, I take it off and put it on the other hand to warm that hand up. Hopefully, my hands warm up soon!
Finish this mile in 9:11
We turn the corner and start running down Oak Avenue. Diane and I seem to have lost Cathy in the crowds. But, we are at least still together. We are starting to warm up now. I throw away my mitten and my sweatshirt. Diane tosses her jacket. There are a few little roller hills on Oak Avenue but I have no issues running any of these hills. Diane and I even pick up our pace a bit. We are both feeling good. You can usually tell in the beginning whether this will be good race or a bad one. We could tell this is going to be a good one. :)
At one point, Diane says to me "You should have the fully good and I should have the kind of good." It takes me a moment to realize she's talking about our Java Joggers shirt. We both start laughing heartily as some other runners around us must wonder what is up with these two ladies. I am smiling to be running with Diane and that we can joke and laugh together.
We see someone wearing an RTO (Reno-Tahoe Odyssey) shirt (Diane and I were in the same van together when we did the RTO relay race). We comment on it and kind of think a little bit about the relay race we did earlier this year. Good times.
We also talk about our friends we hope to see along the way. The first one will be Fred, who told us to run on the right side. So, we make sure we are on the right side of the road. We are excited that we will be seeing so many familiar faces along the way.
We hit another hill and I start charging up it like I normally do. I am happy that I am running the hills like I normally do. I seemed to have struggled a little bit with the hills in NYC. They were not even that big of hills. But here, I go up them strongly. I lose Diane for a little bit. She apparently still can see me. I know she is not too far behind me.
Mile 2 - 8:55
Mile 3 - 8:27
Mile 4 - 8:29
Mile 5 - 8:29
Fred tells us he's going to be at the corner of Oak and Fair Oaks. Told us to run wide right so he can take our picture as we came around the corner. As we approach the corner, we make sure we are on the right. We knew Fred would be at the corner.
I come into the corner and hear Fred's voice and turn to see him with his camera. And, Diane is right on my tail.
I turn the corner and see the first relay exchange. Allan mentioned doing the second leg of the relay so I start looking at the relay runners for Allan. Then, I hear a laugh behind me and I know it is Diane. Sure enough, she comes right up on the side of me. I am very happy she is keeping pace with me. Before the race, she expressed uncertainty about keeping pace with me and Cathy. She did not want to push herself to the limit. I told her that I think the limit is a lot farther than you think it is. Sure enough, she's running right along side of me as we are going at a sub 8:30 pace (well below a 4 hour marathon pace).
I continue scanning the relay racers until I finally see Allan. Diane and I both yell and wave at him. He finally sees us and cheers us on! I am hoping whoever his relay person is comes in soon so that he might be able to join us. (Unfortunately, he was not able to. But, I find out later he did end up running with Cathy for a bit.)
Mile 6 - 8:25
Diane and I continuing zipping along Fair Oaks Blvd. I tell her I am happy she caught back up to me. She tells me she's feeling good. She said she was going to try running a 9:00/min pace for 5 miles. She felt good after 5 and going to try to keep it to mile 10. I tell her that we are going well under 9:00/min miles. I feel good too. I am also thinking man, these miles are going by a lot faster than they were in NYC. I do not know if it is because the streets are familiar to me or that the temperature is prefect for running (a little on the cold side).
At some point, we each eat something and keep trucking along. Somewhere along the way, I think when I hit a hill again, I lose Diane. I remember getting caught in crowds while in NYC and really appreciating the wide space I have running now. I am able to get into my running groove.
Around mile 8, I see someone dressed up as The Grinch so I run by him and give him a high five! I try to look for my friend Craig but I do not see him.
Mile 7 - 8:46
Mile 8 - 8:25
Mile 9 - 8:21
I pass through Fair Oaks. I am smiling big as I feel great. In NYC, at mile 10, I knew I was behind where I wanted to be. I was still on track for doing a sub-2 hour half but not as fast as I would normally be running a half. But here, I feel like I am running the first half as I should be. I will finish mile 10 under 1:30, which is typical of my half marathons. I am going at the pace I want to be. I want to be ahead because I expect to slow down in the teens.
As I am running along, to my surprise, I see Cheryl and she's holding up a Java Joggers sign! We wave at each other! This gives me a nice boost!
I then run along and see this guy standing to the side drinking a cup of coffee. He kind of looks like Paul (Grimes) (runners are hard to recognize when they are not in running gear). We kind of stare at each other for a moment. Then, Paul says "Hey Helen!" I give him a smile and a "yeah, I know I am crazy" look as I turn the corner! Paul had run in the NYC Marathon too four weeks ago but he is the sane one standing and watching while I am the crazy one running another marathon.
Mile 10 - 8:19
As I head down the street, I road kill a girl dressed in an angel costume. It is nice to be passing people in costume rather than costumed people passing me. A gorilla and a banana had passed me in NYC as well as various super heroes.
I run along nearing where Lora said she'd be. I am watching carefully the sides to see Lora. And sure enough, as I come up a little hill, there she is with Kevin ringing her bell cheering people on! I wave to both Lora and Kevin! They cheer me on and off I go!
Mile 11 - 8:06
MILE 12 & 13
As I approach the half way point, I am really happy that I am ahead of where I was in NYC. In NYC, my first half was done around 1:57, which is kind of a slow half for me. I wanted to be under 1:55. But here at CIM, I was going to be well under 1:57. I think I am 5 minutes ahead of where I was in NYC. I feel good too so this makes me happy. Again, I am smiling big as I run down the street.
I am also trying to not getting too excited as I am thinking the real race is the second half. The first half is just the warm up.
At the half way point, I start thinking of the friends that will be there: Theresa, Mica, and Michelle. Mica offered to bring me a coke in case I needed it then. I told him I do not think I want one at the half way point but you never know. As I am nearing the halfway point, I start thinking whether whether I want a coke or not. My water bottle is getting rather low. I really just want more water.
I do notice that I am drinking less water than I was in NYC. It is also not nearly as warm as NYC. I like that it is cooler here. I have not taken off my arm warmers, which is a good thing because I have tucked a packet of shot blocks up the sleeve of my arm warmer. It apparently fits perfectly right there.
Mile 12 - 8:15
Mile 13 - 8:17
As we approach the corner of Fair Oaks and Manzanita, it gets a bit crowded. There is another relay exchange so the road splits with the full marathoners running on the left half and the relay racers exchanging on the right half. There are a lot of fans at this area too. I try to scan through all the crowds hoping to see anyone I know. But, it is too crowded so I stop trying to spot my friends and focus on just getting through the crowds. I feel like I will not be seeing any of my friends at this section.
Then, as I am about to turn the corner, I hear Mica's voice yell my name. I turn my to briefly see him cheering me and barely catch a glimpse of the top Michelle's head. It's a good thing I did not need a coke then because I was in the middle of a pack and no way of stopping if I had wanted to. I smile and off I go (slightly bummed I did not see Theresa).
Mile 14 - 8:12
MILE 15-18: the not so terrible teens!
As I head down Manzanita, it gets a bit quieter. We pass all the crowds and it is quiet. I like the quietness. I could focus on my running. Not have crowds distract me. Also, because it is quiet now, when I do see the crowds again, I am more excited to see cheering people. To me, this is better than endless crowds and constant noise. I can get into the zone and just run. Run, run, run.
I had wanted more water. I see an aid station coming up. Think I will make a quick stop to refill my water bottles. Then, I see a gal giving out these mini water bottles (the airplane sized water bottles). Perfect! I grab one and it fits just so nicely in my hand as I run along. Just what I needed right then and there.
My stomach had a moment of uneasy-ness but I pop a peanut butter cracker and some gold fish crackers to settle it. It seems to work. I am happy I do not seem to be eating and/or drinking as much as I had in NYC. It also helps that I am not running at the lunch hour.
The terrible teens always worry me but I feel good right now. In fact, I am very happy I feel good right now. I have a huge grin at this point. In NYC, at this point, I had started to walk/run and was very frustrated. But here, I am still running and have no urge to walk. And, I am running ahead of schedule.
Along the way, I see a runner with a tutu on. OH MY GOD. I am laughing now. In NYC, somewhere around mile 15, I saw a runner with a tutu. In NYC, I was feeling oh so frustrated and when I saw the tutu girl, I pepped up a little thinking of my friend Javier. It had got me going again when things were rough. But here at CIM, it is just like the icing on top. I am already happy and this just is too funny. What are the odds of seeing a girl with a tutu at the same mile in two different marathons! Of course, I have to road kill the tutu girl (Java Joggers understand why). Then, I see two more tutu girls, which I easily road kill, making me chuckle a little each time. :)
I look down at my wristband to see how far ahead of schedule I am. It says I should be hit mile 15 at 2:17:18. I hit mile 15 at 2:07:06. I have a 10 minute lead on my 4 hour goal! That's a nice cushion to have. I can feel my legs are getting a little tired going at such a fast pace so I ease up a tad not worried about my pace now.
I start thinking about Dave (the Java Joggers organizer!). He is at mile 19! I just want to get to mile 19 so I can see Dave! I am also thinking Kim will be at mile 20, with a coke for me. I am starting to want a coke now. I did not want one earlier but I think I will want it at mile 20. I smile thinking of the friends I will be seeing ahead.
As I am running along eating a GU, I see a person who kind of looks like my friend Paul (different Paul than the one earlier). But, he's walking and walking kind of funny. That can't be my friend. So, I just run along. After I pass him, he shouts at me "Looking good Helen!" or something like that. I turn and see it is Paul. These Pauls are hard to recognize today for some reason. I am also thinking how is it possible that I passed Paul?!? I wave and keep on going and hoping he is okay. I actual hope that Paul starts running again and joins me for a bit as that would be fun (unfortunately, that did not happen).
Mile 15 - 8:32
Mile 16 - 8:36
Mile 17 - 8:29
Mile 18 - 8:52
Mile 19 is where the FTR aid station should be. I run along waiting for it to come up excited that I will be seeing Dave soon. And, he will know that I am doing much better than in NYC. Sure enough, I am still 10 minutes ahead of goal time.
I come up to the water station and scan all the volunteers for Dave. I want my water cup from Dave! I also want to hug him. I want him to know that I am having a great race. I spot him and run up to him. I think he is a little surprised to see me running up when I did. He scrambles a little away from me. I stop next to him. He says he has a coke for me! I take his water cup and drink it quickly and grab the coke bottle. I give him a hug and off I go again. As I am running off, I see and hear Scott cheering me on! I take off with a big smile! Great aid station! :D
The coke fizzes all over me. It shakes quite a bit as I am running. But I manage to drink some of it. Every time I open the bottle, it is fizzing all over my hands and such. This does not bother me. I find it kind of amusing. I drink about half of this coke and toss it as it's getting to be a bit too sticky. But, I did enjoy having the coke.
Mile 19 - 9:00
When I pass under the mile 20 sign and it is under 3 hours, I am overjoyed. I know I am breaking four hours now. Even if I slow down, I will still break four hours.
At the next water station, I grab a couple cups of water to wash my sticky hands with.
I pass Loehman's Plaza and see some guy standing with a bucket of red vines. For some reason, that looks SO good to me. I want one. I am discovering that on long runs, you will want the most random things. In NYC, I saw pretzel sticks and devoured them. Here, I see red vines and I want them. So, I run up to the guy and grab a couple.
As I still have a red vine hanging out of my mouth, I see Dana & Kim standing there holding an Energizer Bunny sign! Oh, I am so delighted! Since I am way ahead of schedule, I just have to stop and hug both of them. They give me a coke which I open and down quite a bit before taking off. :D
Off I go feeling pretty good. Really enjoying the coca-cola! It does give me a good pep! Kim had opened it before to let some of the carbonation out so this bottle is not nearly as fizzy as the other one.
And at some point, Cheri pops out from the side cheering me on! This is a very pleasant surprise and just energizes me!
Mile 20 - 8:45
MILE 21, 22, 23
I pass Sac State and approach H Street. I can feel the finish nearing. Things have been going good so far. I hope everything holds up. I am in the territory where "the wall" likes to hit people. I do not see quite as many people struggling as I did in NYC. That definitely helps me mentally.
I eat another GU just to be safe as I don't start feeling faint as I did in NYC. I also do NOT take any motrin as I had in NYC. I can feel my legs are getting a bit tight. They're a little tighter than they were in NYC. I can feel tightness in my hamstrings and calves. I slow the pace a little. Then, I feel slight twinges in my leg muscles. The foot twinges a little bit. The slight twinges you get when a muscle is about to cramp up. I sense they almost want to cramp up. I slow down the pace a little and tell my legs to keep going.
Mile 21 - 8:56
Mile 22 - 9:15
Mile 23 - 8:59
As I am running down the streets nearing midtown, I think about how I will see Desiree soon. Also, I am looking at the streets. Rather than thinking of how many miles I have left, I just look at the streets I am passing. I am at 50-something street. I get down to 12th or 13th, I'll be at the Capitol. I just have see these numbers go down and the closer I am.
I feel a few a slight twinge in my left foot. Oh, that foot almost wanted to cramp up there. Also, I have been feeling something on the side of my right foot, possibly a blister, but I am running okay. I tell myself (or my legs) not too much farther. Keep going.
Then, shortly before an aid station, the back of my right leg completely seizes up. The hamstring, calf and foot. OMFG, what pain! This fully stops me from moving and I nearly fell to the ground. Fortunately, I am not too far from the water station so I put my hand on the side of one table to hold myself up for a moment as the cramp passes. A lady near me says take it easy and start walking. I eventually am able to move the leg and hobble a little bit to shake out the cramp. Wow, that was intense. I happy it did not last very long.
I decide to walk through this aid station and take it easy. I walk through and drink some water and a couple cups of Gatorade.
Then, I slowly start to run again willing my legs to not cramp up again. I take deep breaths and start counting "1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4" over and over again. I also close my eyes for moments to just find my running groove. It is my way of finding my pace. Close my eyes, shut out the world, and run. I don't know what it is about the counting that keeps me calm but it seems to work. So, I run and count and breath for a bit. I am not worried about time anymore since I know I have plenty of time to finish within my goal. I do not need to push myself. I just need to run. So, I run, count and breath. "1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4"
Mile 24 - 10:11
As I go into mile 25, I am thinking Desiree should be at the next aid station. I feel the finish is near. I can almost walk to the finish now and still meet my goal time. This is a nice feeling. I feel my legs are weary and will be aching but for right now, they are still going.
I know where I am in downtown Sacramento. Oh, I can feel it. I can feel the finish. I feel my emotions start to well up a little. Then, I see the aid station. I see Desiree. My eyes water up a little bit. I am so happy to see her. I am so happy that I am nearing the finish and that I feel so much differently than I did in NYC.
But, as I run up to her, she starts running away from me. Why is she running away from me? I realize she's trying to take a picture of me. I chase her along the side and surprise her by stopping. I take a water cup from her and give her a big hug! She tells me I am doing great and cheers me on as I head in for the final stretch!
Mile 25 - 9:49
Coming into downtown Sacramento, I feel wonderful. I never hit that moment where I am like this is awful, awful, awful. I was waiting for it but it did not come and I do not think it will come. I am smiling at how wonderful this race has been. I know I am beating my NYC time. I know I am going to break the four hours. Not just by a little bit either. I know I am blowing four hours away!
I run by a guy dressed in a jesus outfit holding up a sign "THE END IS NEAR...the race that is" I just laugh at it as does the guy running next to me. I can hear various people running near me all saying whatever mantra they have to get themselves to the finish. This is kind of neat to be amongst strangers pushing each other along to the end of this journey we have opted to take together.
Mile 26 - 9:19
I make the last couple turns by the Capitol and go dashing to the finish line! My legs kick up into high gear and I am smiling so big. I normally do not smile at the finish of a race because I am focused on the finish line. But this time, I am grinning ear to ear to see the clock say 3:52 (not 4:00). As I run into the finish, I raised my arms in utter joy at finishing this marathon. Finishing the race I wanted to run having run the way I wanted to run it! :D
Mile 26.2 - last .2ish miles was at a 8:39/min pace.
I get my medal and foil wrap. I drink a chocolate milk and wait for Cathy and Diane, really hoping they had a good race too. I see Allison finish. She's happy to have qualified for Boston! Woot!! Then, we wait for the other girls, watching the clock carefully. I want them to break four hours too!
I see the race clock pass 4:00 but I know that we started a couple minutes after gun time. Then, I see Diane come into the finish! I am so happy and SO proud of her because she said she wasn't going to try to break four hours and I believe she just did it! And just seconds later, Cathy comes running into the finish! We had trained together and here we are at the finish together! It was a wonderful feeling. We all did great and all got PR's! There we hugs and smiles all around! :D
Then, we walk out and Lhia and Cheri greet us! More hugs and smiles and laughter! this is WAY better than my finish in NYC. :)
OUR FINISH TIMES
HELEN: 3:49:57!! PR! woot woot! almost 20 minutes faster than NYC 4 weeks ago!! :D
DIANE: 3:59:57! PR!!!!!
CATHY: 4:00:45! PR!!!!
When I finished NYC, I said "finished...possibly the best and worst experience ever..."
When I finished CIM, I said "finished with a rockin PR! broke 4 hours with room to spare! best and NOT worst experience ever! thanks those who were out there!!!"
CIM is quite possibly one of my best experiences ever. Not just the race itself but the whole journey to the race. I feel that my marathon journey did not end at NYC but was meant to end at CIM. I did not know it until after NYC. NYC was apparently just gearing me up for CIM, for the race I would do with the ones I had been training with. This was the real race for me. I also feel what was lost on the streets of NYC was found again on the streets of Sacramento. I was running on my home turf, running with great friends cheering me on, and running with the people I run best with! :D
Now, the question is will I do another one? Probably. ;-)
SOME THANK YOU'S!!
All the gratitude I expressed to those that helped me get to the NYC Marathon, I repeat those sentiments! I thank everyone for your support during my whole marathon journey especially this last stretch from NYC to CIM.
To Joanne Liu: I thank you for planting the crazy seed of me doing CIM. I did exactly as you told me to do. I ran the lake loop, did a long run, and then I tapered. You were right about me running at home would be better. You were SOOOO right that I would do way better running with Cathy and Diane. Again, I thank you for going to NYC with me and being my one person out there for me. But, I also thank you for planting the crazy idea me of doing CIM. You seemed to have known better than I did then that NYC did not turn out to be the race I wanted and you knew CIM would be the race I wanted.
Special thanks to Mica Dugan & David Friendman for strongly encouraging me to do CIM and being a big part of tipping me into it. Also, special thanks to the others that really encouraged me to do CIM and not telling me I was too crazy in thinking about doing CIM: Wendy Niger, Desiree Haight, Jennifer Sims, Theresa Lewis, Dan Velasco, Lhia Casazza, Scott Engquist, Cindy Spradlin, Kim Woodward, Lora Pittman, Jeffrey Thorne, Susie Maue and Todd Pearce.
Special thanks to those that were out volunteering and/or cheering me and the other Java joggers on at CIM: Paulo Medina Carcovich, Ralph Keith, Craig Dvta, Fred Magana, Allan D'Anneo, Cheryl Luhrs, Paul Grimes, Lora Pittman, Kevin Kruithof, Theresa Lewis, Mica Dugan, Michelle Kimura, Paul Lewis, David Friedman, Rachel Friedman, Cheri Elliot, Dana Woodward, Kim Woodward, Scott Engquist, Gary Duran, Desiree Haight, and Lhia Casazza.
Special thanks to all the Java Joggers for all the wonderful runs and fun times we have shared together. For all the support you have given me from the very beginning. I have shared with many of you how I read this book once where the author said she didn't realize that running would be so much about love. I continue to feel the same way. I knew it would be good for my health and body. I realized running was good for me mentally as well. But, running has become wonderful for my heart. I have come to love you all so very much in my time as a Java Jogger. I love that you all sometimes know me better than I know me. You knew I would do CIM before I knew it. You believed in me when I sometimes did not believe in myself. I love that you all encourage my craziness!
Lastly and most importantly, I give my utmost thanks to Cathy Tedesco and Diane Wurm!!! You gals are THE BEST marathon training buddies ever! As seasoned marathoners, I appreciated all the advice you gave me before my first marathon. I have always loved running with you two (as well as the other Java Joggers) but I feel we shared many special moments just in our marathon training. I have truly loved all the time we spent training together and all the "fun" moments that entailed: Cathy silently cursing at my back as we did pick up runs; me joking with Diane that I think Cathy just isn't that into you; going into the lake after long run; Diane and Cathy running up on me shortly after I fell off my bike; Diane and I talking about how we would chase Ryan Reynolds if we saw him in a marathon, etc....I love that we not only did much of our training together but we trained for the same time goal together. I am grateful for all you two did for me in getting me to NYC and to finish in NYC. You two were such significant parts of that journey. But, I am very thankful that you just let me continue on training with you when I returned. That you did not even question me joining you two doing CIM. It was as if you know that was the real plan all along. I feel like you two knew it all along, before I did. ;-)
I love that we were together at the beginning and together at the end. This race just SO much fun to have you two there. You two hold a very special place in my heart! I thank you for being part of such a wonderful experience for me and I am just so happy that all of us were able to run a good race!!! :D