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California International Marathon

Posted by George Parker on

Race recap on Breaking 3 hours

I did it! On Sunday, I ran under 3 hours at the California International Marathon (“CIM”) in Sacramento, California. My time was 2:58:54. I am beyond thrilled to exceed my “A” goal for the season – a goal I have been working to achieve for over 5 years.

Now, there is something satisfying about having a “2” at the beginning of my race time. Although I was over 40 minutes behind the race leaders, I somehow feel faster have that “2” at the start of my time.

Over the past few days, I have read Instagram and Facebook posts about other great accomplishments at CIM. Many of these stories are inspirational accounts of struggle and overcoming dark places to finish. Amazing stories and great reads! Now, I have definitely had similar days (ugh – Boston 2017). But, this was not my experience on Sunday. My race was controlled and relaxed throughout. Maybe I was running slower than my training potential…No matter though – I still achieved may “A” goal. Instead of stories of grit, I left CIM with a series of entertaining, perhaps humorous, memories that I will share. (Odds are, I will not have a serene race experience like this again – so, time to make the most of it).

To begin, CIM is an amazing marathon for many reasons. First, the race-day weather is consistently near perfect. Yesterday, the weather was a crisp, low-50’s temperature with an early morning fog that dissipated with the rising sun. Second, CIM caters to runners trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon with large pace groups for each age-group qualifying. Moreover, these pace groups are adjusted down by 3 minutes to ensure Boston Marathon race acceptance (e.g. 3:02 and 3:07 pace groups for the 3:05 and 3:10 age-standards, respectively). Brilliant customer service! Next, the course is a great design. It is point-to-point and net downhill. However, there are rolling hills throughout, which interject difficulty and help stimulate different muscle groups to keep your legs fresh.

Now, for a few personal stories.

California International Marathon Runner Vitamin
  • The day began with a freezing bus-ride to the race start. No reason to complain – I figured this was part of the experience. That was until I hoped on another bus while waiting for the race start. The bus was toasty warm! Turns out, all the buses were heated – except for mine where the heater was broken.
  • Road Reflectors. For most of the race, the whole road is blocked off. This is great unless you are running in the center of the road. The little plastic reflectors along the center line are annoying obstacles to dodge. It sounds easy enough to not run in the center, but, for whatever reason, my running pack kept pushing in the line of the reflectors. In the end, it was a small annoyance that kept me mildly amused throughout the race.
  • Around mile 13 (I think), there was a young boy towards the end of the aid station. He was holding a  water cup and, apparently, had been doing so for a while. As I ran past (having already grabbed my cup), I heard him say “Will someone PLEASE take [my cup], PLEASE!” I immediately felt for the kid – he was working so hard! I’m hoping he figured it out shortly thereafter and moved closer to the front of the cup line. Life is hard kid!
  • Speaking of water stations, CIM had nuun hydration at their aid stations.  I am used to Gatorade on race courses, but nuun was a pleasant (and effective) change.  What made this interesting was that the flavors seemed so variable within aid stations. Some runners were handed red, others blue, and still others yellow. I love the taste of the red and blue more than the yellow. And, of course, what color did I consistently get handed? Yellow! I bet that kid had blue in his cup.
  • I am a salty sweater (see previous blog post). So, my new tactic was to take a salt capsule during the race for extra electrolytes. I carried three capsules to be safe – two in my gloves and one in my shorts. Big problem. My sweaty body struck again by effectively dissolving the protective outer shell of the capsule. When I retrieved the capsules, the pill immediately busted and covered my glove in white residue. For lack of a better description, it totally looked like a certain amphetamine covering my gloves – an interesting supplement to take during a race.
  • Finally, around Mile 22, I looked around my pace group. One runner next to me was a gentlemen from Portland. I said hello hoping for a runner buddy to carry me through the end. He mentioned that this was only his second marathon and was pumped to be running under 3 hours – lucky bastard.

Lastly, none of this would be possible without my unbelievable support team. Thanks to my wife for supporting (and encouraging) me to get out the door every day. My boys for behaving while daddy is away. My extended family for the extra set of hands. And my Hanson Running Coach who pushes me to run faster than I ever thought possible. Oh, and to that guy from Portland who gave me that extra kick in the ass the last few miles.

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