Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 California International Marathon (CIM) Race Report

So here it is. My CIM race report: From Folsom to Sacramento.

I was looking forward to getting back to the road, having spent a good deal of my year on the trails. CIM was a way to help bridge the training time between November to Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. I like to race, and had been yearning for the opportunity to get that sub-3 at this marathon as evidence that I’d be ready to take another big step forward in my ultramarathon racing. People seem to have this impression that if you run ultramarathons, you will automatically lose your marathon speed. But, I’ve used a hybrid approach to training, combining the core elements of road marathon training with the longer, course-specific runs of trail running. As I’ve progressed in running ultramarathons over the past 3 years, I’ve found that my speed has been developing in part due to the muscular strength required to run the ultra distances. While admittedly most all of the marathons I’ve run over the past 3 years have been either with others (as a part of their goal races) or not at 100%, each year I’ve been able to run one goal race and continue to drop my personal best in the marathon. CIM has been “that race”, as much for its place on the calendar and proximity to San Francisco than anything about the course profile. I try to choose races for a variety of reasons, but I must admit that sometimes it’s fun to find a course where you can turn and burn.

Going into this race, I had been dealing with soreness and tightness in my right hamstring for over a month. Running the Mother Road 100 had actually helped to loosen it up and stretch it out, but it still persisted at highest intensity effort. The 4 weeks of training were not much to write home about and I wouldn’t have even gone for sub-3 if it wasn’t for a couple of key marathon pace runs in the two weeks prior to the race. I’m not too much of an advocate for the taper, so I did my traditional week long taper. What can I say? I like to run and find that my body is looser and more ready to go with the shorter taper than most marathoners.

In effort to skip the details that often clutter a good story, let’s skip straight to the race. With a cool 36 degrees F start and mid-40s F high temperature, it was a great day to race. While slightly lower than the “ideal” 50 to 58 degrees F, it didn’t matter in light of the awesome cloud cover and spirited crowds that gathered at strategic intersections.

Here it is:
0-13.1 1:28:20 (Chip)
13.1-End 1:32:12 (Chip)
Final 3:00:32

Honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention to splits, especially since course topography can vary between miles. The volunteers kept calling out 6:47 pace, which sounded good to me. In a race that was a wild-card as far as performance, I just paid attention to how I was feeling and making sure that I put out “even effort”. It helped to have the 3 hour pacing group nearby to pal around with for the first 9-10 miles. I spent the next 10 miles going back and forth with a running friend, before he faded back and I spent the rest of the race trading places with individual runners. I maintained that lead on the ever-thinning sub-3 hour group till 23+ miles. Having a time advantage on the group by 25 seconds, I had planned for a slight fade. But with the hamstrings tightening up, it took just enough off my closing speed before a final finish of 3:00:32. While a little disappointed I didn’t drop the opening half by about a minute considering how fresh I felt, I had no reason to be disappointed with being 33 seconds off of a predicted 2:59:59 finish. It just felt nice to run a good PR and set it up well for a killer 09’.

Of my two remaining goals for the year, a sub-3 marathon represented the greater prize. It represented an increase in marathon speed that most don’t associate with runners who dabble in ultramarathons. I still have longer term goals for the marathon and it holds a place in heart as the place where all this running stuff began. I believe that to the contrary, the road and trail ultras have made me stronger due to the emphasis on climbing and downhill running, as well as the persistent mental/physical effort that one is forced to endure.

I’ve targeted getting to 2:50:xx as a sort of standard-bearer to have the right combination of speed and endurance to fully compete at the 100+ mile distance. I have the endurance; now, I just want to add the necessary speed to support that strength. While I believe that may take until sometime in 2009, I believe it can be done with the right combination of weight loss and intense training. I have always run at around 180 and believe this is the year to reshape my body at around 169 to compete effectively. It’s been a long process to lose the weight/muscle that has served me well in many other athletic pursuits, but necessary at this key juncture if I want to compete as a runner more than just an athlete. This has meant trying have appetite control in the face of pretty darn good-looking holiday meals! It is often quoted that each pound lost equates to 2 seconds per mile; hopefully, I will lose the weight in a way that will not compromise the necessary power and speed. At least my knees will thank me for not having to carry as much of “me” as they usually do.

Going forward, I feel great going into next year. 3:00:32 is good, but not good enough. I’ve set the bar for a sub-2:53 “A” goal and 2:54 “B” goal at the Napa Marathon on March 1, 2009. In addition, I have started to formulate goals for the Rocky Raccon 100 in Huntsville, TX in Feb. of 09’ (don’t want to state them quite yet!). Most importantly, I’m already at 175 lbs. and hope to work my way to that ideal 169 lbs. by mid to late February. I can say with certainty that I have my eye on applying for Badwater again in 2009 as my “A” race, which will make it an incredibly busy year in general. I will do whatever it takes to make myself faster, stronger and tougher. Even in this rainy season in the Bay Area, I will find a way to make it to the track or the roads or the trails to do whatever I need. After the Napa marathon, Uncle Andy has already formulated a training plan which will include 10 x 1 mile hill repeats up Twin Peaks in San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpais twice a week in order to prepare for both the climbs at Badwater as well as the climbs at many 100 milers.

As the year winds down, I’ll be setting my other goals for 2009 in the next couple weeks as I set my race schedule for next year. I’ll also be setting goals for fundraising for a new set of projects in Uganda. I am thankful that my running can be a powerful witness to my character and support the work holds the highest place in my heart. Good times are ahead. Merry Christmas and God bless,


1 comment:

Rick Gaston said...

Sorry you missed the 3-hour cut off by 32 seconds, glad you qualified for Boston again. Considering everything you had a great year. People tell me this and I'll forward it to you. You run races people only dream of running, one of your races is someone else's goal of the year. God Bless that you finished another year un-injured so you can head into 09 healthy.

I will be pacing and crewing at Rocky. The guy who I paced and crewed at Javelina asked me if I'd be willing to do it again for RR. I figured what the hey, I've never been to Texas.