At 4am on Sunday, my alarm went off and I was instantly up. I covered myself with BodyGlide to ward off any chafing (more on that later). Then, I got dressed (I wore a lulu bra, tee, socks and shorts. My watch is the new Garmin ForeRunner 902XT, and my shoes are Saucony Zealot ISO. I carried my handheld bottle and added a trusty pair of BMO Vancouver Marathon gloves). I tucked my phone and headphones into the back pocket of my shorts, just in case I needed some mid-race motivation (spoiler alert: didn’t need it!)
CIM is a point-to-point race, and we stayed in a hotel near the finish line in Sacramento. The buses to the start line in Folsom left at 5am, so I added more clothes (lulu warm up pants(old), throwaway sweater, and puffy jacket), and we headed out to the bus. I was trying really hard to eat, which just meant that I was carrying my breakfast with me. It’s a cup of black hotel coffee, and two blueberry toaster waffles with peanut butter and banana slices.
We got to the buses and after a good luck kiss goodbye from Jan, the Belgian went back to bed and I sat down. I chatted with other runners while we rode to the start line, and was SO grateful for the distraction of meeting new people. The ride felt LONG and we finally got to the start line by about 5:45. I waited on the bus until about 6.30, when I decided it was now or never.
I got off the bus and got in a longggggg line for port-a-potties. LESSON ONE of the day: line up earlier. By the time I was done it was 6:58. I threw my jacket and pants into my gear bag, threw the bag onto the gear truck, and hustled to the start line. I slotted myself next to the 3:28 pace group just as the national anthem started. In the end, I think this actually helped, because I didn’t have any time to get more nervous! At 7 the gun went off and boom! I was running a marathon.
FYI: Instead of doing the traditional pace groups every 5 min (3:30, 3:35, 3:40, etc), CIM does 2 min before that to help people who want to BQ. This is because in the past couple of years, you have needed to run under the actual qualifying time to actually run Boston.
I went out and tried not to run too fast, because everyone (Greg, Dave, Jan, Alyson, Danielle, etc. etc.) had told me I would easily be swept up in the excitement of the start and I should just chill out and run. Around km 3, I came up to Laura and Jess. Jess was running her first marathon as well, but pacing Laura. They were planning to aim for under 3:30, and I figured it would be nice to have some buddies, so I joined in.
Thank goodness for those 2! The three of us ran together, sharing water and chatting. The first several miles absolutely FLEW by, and I found myself feeling good at the half (1:43). It was rolling but way more downhill than anything else for the first half of the race.
In the second half, we all started to feel it at different points. Poor Laura was looking for a big PB but had sore legs and an upset stomach, so we both talked to her a lot. I think all the positive talk really helped me feel like I was in better condition than I was! At 36k I decided I didn’t want to risk losing time, and started to pull ahead. I could hear the girls behind me for most of the way, so I knew they weren’t far off the pace.
By km 40 I had had about enough. I told myself I would run one more km (to 41), enjoy the last one (42), and push for the final 200m to the finish. When I saw Jan cheering like crazy at km 41.5, it suddenly hit me that I was ALMOST DONE my first marathon. As I turned towards the finish, I saw the capitol and the gun time, which was ticking towards 3:29. WOOHOOOO! I ran in with the biggest smile on my face.
Chip time: 3:28:13.
During the race, I had planned to eat 5 HoneyStinger waffles. Overall, I managed to eat 1.5 toaster waffles + PB + about 2/3 of a banana and 400mL of black coffee for breakfast, and 3.5 HoneyStingers during the race. I didn’t want the last 1.5 waffles, but since my pace was holding I didn’t force my stomach. I drank water from my bottle until after the half, when I started refilling it with Nuun from aid stations. I’m not sure how much more I drank because I also shared with Laura and Jess, but I felt fine hydration-wise.
The course was totally beautiful – no wind, 7 degrees at the start line, rolling hills with plenty of down and awesome crowd support all along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
After the race, I grabbed some super hot oatmeal from the Whole Foods truck (yes there is a Whole Foods truck and yes it might be enough to get me to move to Sacramento). The post-race food that CIM offered was chips (no, thanks, I didn’t need salt that badly) and a banana (also no thanks). I saw some people also handing out KIND bars, but after our YYZ adventure, I’ve had enough kind bars for a long time.
Once I crossed the finish line, I stopped running. Someone put a medal on me, and a space blanket. The problem started when I tried to walk again. I took my first step and immediately realized how sore my legs and joints were going to be. Ouch!
We hung out at the finish line (and I rang the BQ bell!!), we grabbed my gear (and I realized how hard it was going to be to put on my pants) and finally started to head (hobble) towards the hotel.
On the way there, I noticed SCOTT JUREK leaving with his family. I stage-whispered to Jan “OMG THAT’S SCOTT JUREK”. Jan laughed and told me to ask him for a photo, so I did. He was so nice! His wife just ran her first marathon since having a baby (badass) and he ran as well. Total fangirl moment.
Once we were back I FaceTimed my parents, who had been following the race online. My Dad was excited for me to have run so fast, and my Mom was in true mom mode and wanted me to sit down. I told them I was sore but feeling good.
I then began the project of taking a shower. First of all, I could barely take my own clothes off. Then, I sat down to pee (tmi? Sorry. I was actually hydrated!) and decided I might never be able to get up. Then, I actually got into the shower and realized that since I’d carried my phone in the back pocket of my shorts, I’d given myself some really beautiful chafing along the back of my hips, just above my butt. Cool.
Once I’d finally showered, I threw my hair into a bun, put on real clothes and began the next project: walking down the stairs. This was not pretty :).
Eventually, we made it to brunch to meet up with friends Ben and Brian and fellow marathoners Nick, Kristina, Lissa (7th woman overall!!), Corri and Geoff. I wasn’t super hungry and ate some eggs and waffles (serious theme of the day) for brunch, and really enjoyed a Moscow Mule.
After that, we walked around to flush my legs, went back to take a look at the end of the Finish Line, and relaxed at the hotel. We had a semi-early dinner around 6:30, but my appetite wasn’t 100% back yet. I ate salad with chicken and also had an awesome glass of white wine from California.
By 10:30, I was totally wiped and went to bed with a big smile on my face. It was a great day and I couldn’t be happier with my first marathon. I felt great during the race, nailed my nutrition/hydration, and BQ’ed by just under 7 minutes. I’m so grateful for all the Cambie RR people, RunVan, Danielle, Alyson, and of course Jan for helping me get there! When is the next one??