ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Here it is, the much-belated (due to roadtrip vacation home) CIM race report. To compensate for its lateness, it is ludicrously long. Grab something to drink, put your feet up, clear your calendar and dive in. Or alternatively, scroll through to the summary and look at the pictures. :-)


My last marathon (and PR of 3:29:13) was Houston, in January 2012; I'd been planning to run NYCM in November 2012 but my husband and I were invited to raft the Grand Canyon, so I cut short my training and bailed on that race, only to find out later that Superstorm Sandy had caused it to be cancelled. When we returned from the raft trip I slowly ramped up my mileage to the mid-40s, ran the Canyonlands Half in mid-March in 1:38:31, and then averaged about 30mpw due to other springtime activities (rafting, mountain biking, backpacking) until mid-May, when we went to England to hike (much of) the Coast-to-Coast trail. While hiking, I sprained an ankle (pretty badly, though I only took off one day) so I just rode the stationary bike for a week when we got home. Then we had a 5-day backpacking trip here, so I didn't start running again until July.

In two weeks, running 6 days/week, I ramped up my miles to 45mpw. (Don't try this at home, kids. I felt okay with this fast increase because 45 is a low baseline level for me. I also ran everything at a very easy pace, with about half the runs on trails.) I held this volume for three weeks, then increased my mpw using the Daniels method of adding one mile for every weekly run (so, adding ~6 miles) and holding for another three weeks, up to a maximum of 65-69mpw which I held until taper (with a few lower weeks for a Labor Day backpacking trip, and for a slight taper/recovery for the Other Half half marathon in October, which gave me a new PR of 1:35:55).

I will make another post (eventually) about my training program, but basically it's my own invention based on the principles of Brad Hudson, which in turn draw a lot from Renate Canova, particularly in terms of the funnel of increasing specificity. But my training basically looked like this:
  • 63mpw average, 69mpw peak
  • 6 or 7 days per week, mostly easy
  • 2-3 days on hilly, technical trails (at easy effort)
  • Hill sprints at least once a week
  • Strides at least once a week
  • Squires-style surges in many long runs (the first 30-120 sec of each mile at a faster pace), also progressions (faster at end)
  • Longest run was 19.5 miles; 2x19.3, 1x18, 2x16
  • Longest midweek run ~12 miles, but I would generally do 2-3 consecutive days of 10+ miles.
  • One formal speed day per week, beginning with 400s early in plan, then 800s, miles, tempo runs at HMP, and finally GMP (goal MP) runs late in plan.
  • Two-week taper with several GMP workouts.
A slight wrench was thrown in the works when I somehow tweaked my right calf 12 days out. I took three days off and did a lot of aggressive self-massage and stretching, and it resolved itself - I don't think it had any effect on the race.


Bad weather across much of the southern US delayed the second leg of my flight, and I ended up getting to Sacramento barely in time to meet my Facebook/RWOL running girlfriends for dinner. Barb, Loren, Audra, Rachel, Jennifer, and Marie were running; Lynn and Judy had been originally planning to run the relay but had ended up deciding to just spectate and cheer (which, it turned out, was AWESOME). After dinner I checked my phone to find that my husband, Britt, who had been working in Bakersfield the previous week, had made it up to Sacramento a day earlier than he'd thought he could, and had checked us into my hotel. We were in room 333 which is a sort of lucky number for us - it's our street address - so I took that as a good sign! Alas, the room itself had malfunctioning heat and we froze much of the night. I didn't sleep more than a couple of hours, and I hadn't slept well the night before. But who needs sleep? (Spoiler alert: apparently not me.)

We were freezing, of course, because California was experiencing an unusual cold snap. When I went down to the special 'early breakfast for runners' the hotel had put on at 4:30am (you can bet I tipped the breakfast lady for getting up to take care of us!) I had on a brimmed hat, a padded sportsbra under an Icebreaker wool t-shirt and arm warmers made from knit acrylic knee socks under a Goodwill track jacket under a warm fleece jacket, gloves, a running skirt with compression shorts under a pair of zip-ankle tights, compression calf sleeves, Smartwool socks, and Brooks PureFlow 2 shoes. Not bad as long as I was moving. I had a small cup of coffee (they ran out) and some juice, and a waffle with syrup, then hit the bathroom and got onto a bus right at 5:15.

At the start I got off the bus and headed for the legendary Massive Wall o' Portapotties. In fact it was so massive that my usual strategy of getting in line, going, and then immediately getting back into line with the assumption I'd have to go again by the time I got there didn't work because the lines were too short! I also snagged a small (8 oz?) bottle of water from one of the Water Fairies (seriously, they had wings on!) to carry with me, so I could avoid the early aid stations; the previous evening one of my friends had said she thought it was likely to be icy around the aid stations with spilled water, and she planned to carry water, and I thought that sounded smart. (Spoiler alert: best decision EVER.)

I got back on a random bus to warm back up and to take off my fuzzy jacket and warm tights to put into my sweats bag, then headed out to find the right truck to put my bag onto and then head to the start. I lined up in the tiny bit of space between the 3:15 and 3:25 pace groups, and as soon as I stopped moving, I started shivering. (According to the weather sites, it was somewhere between 26 and 28°F, so can you blame me?) A very nice man standing near me immediately moved behind me and started vigorously rubbing my shoulders and back, saying, "Relax, warm up, you'll be fine." (THANK YOU whoever you were!)

Just before the start, a tall man came out of the crowd and peered at my Canyonlands Half Marathon hat. "Oh, good, you must be Ilana." It was Chris (Zanrok on RWOL; his blog is Running on Crosswalks, and he has also posted a CIM race report, which I have drawn on to supplement my fading memory) - we had talked about possibly running together, and exchanged info about what we planned to wear. He had originally planned to go for 3:25, but I talked him into running with me on the strength of his recent 10K time of 42:07, much better than my (downhill!) PR. I was delighted he chose to join me, as I had originally planned to run with Mike (Nevada Gulf Rat on RWOL), another net-friend, but he developed a stress fracture in his heel just a few weeks before race day and had to DNS, though he was there with his running group to cheer us runners on.

Actually running the darn thing

With the crush of people around us, it took a while to get going even though it was downhill, but that is to be expected at the start of a medium-large marathon. By mile 2 we were pretty much on pace. I was manually pushing the lap button on my new Garmin 610 every mile mark, while Chris let his autolap, so our splits differed a little; we compared at each mile mark and were usually pretty close, though. Also, we did not always run together, as we realized early on that he is faster on the downhill and I am faster on the uphill. And there were plenty of both in the first 3/4 of the race, never steep but often undulating like a roller coaster. (Which is great terrain for me!)

I had the same feeling I did at Houston: the pace did not feel precisely easy, in that I needed to be constantly pushing my leg turnover, but the effort was not difficult, my breathing was easy, and I had no problem talking with Chris. My HRM didn't give meaningful numbers until 40 minutes in, but when it did I saw my HR was fine.

The first aid station was just past the mile 3 marker, and it was immediately evident that carrying my own water had been a smart decision. Chris was also carrying a bottle, so we veered hard left to miss the sheet of ice that covered the asphalt. In general there was little ice on the road EXCEPT at the aid stations (which resembled skating rinks), though a few places had other ice hazards which the spectators and/or volunteers waved us around. I only saw a few close calls, but my attention was focused on my own race; I heard from others that there were a lot of slips and falls.

Just before mile 6 we passed the first relay station, and not long after that I took off and discarded my Goodwill jacket. Somewhere in mile 8 a bearded spectator on crutches waved and called out, "Go, Ilana!" and for a moment I was entirely dumbfounded - then I realized it was Mike (who I'd never met in person) and waved back enthusiastically. It really gave me a lift!

In fact, I definitely noticed my pace quickening every time we went through cheering crowds or one of the many bands playing music on the course. I enjoy thanking volunteers and the policemen blocking traffic, and interacting with spectators. At one point I went by a woman holding a "GO, RANDOM STRANGER!" sign and I called out to her, "Thanks, random stranger!" (She laughed.) At another, we passed a group of spectators holding signs with someone's name, obviously waiting for their friend to pass so they could cheer, and I told them, "Hey, cheer for us!" (They did!)

I was also talking off and on with Chris, who had run CIM last year during a torrential downpour and pointed out spots where he had had to splash through standing water. He was not nearly the chatty running partner that Greg had been during the Houston Marathon, but I guess we were gabbing enough that one cheering spectator yelled, "Hey, quit talking and save your energy!" at us...oops?

I was carrying two gels in a pocket, to supplement the three that were offered on the course at miles 13, 20.4, and 23.5. I'd planned to take my first somewhere around mile 6 but I didn't feel hungry. Somewhere (mile 8? 9? 10? who knows?) I passed several people holding out boxes with orange wedges in them, and that looked appealing, so I grabbed two and sucked on them as I ran. That really hit the spot! I did end up taking my first gel a bit before the half, though, so I'd have room in my small pocket to grab the mile 13 gel and save it until I wanted it, but somehow I never noticed them being handed out.

This wasn't surprising, in retrospect; the beginning of mile 13 was crowded and hectic since the half marker was also a relay exchange station. I tossed my water bottle around then, and was also looking for my friends Lynn and Judy, who would watch at the half and then move to just past the bridge at mile 21. With all this excitement, not only did I miss the gel handout, I completely forgot to push the lap button at mile 13. I did note my split, 1:41:07 as I crossed the half mat - a little ahead of even splits, and a bit more ahead of my pace band than I really wanted, but still reasonable.

Then, on the left, I saw Judy and Lynn ringing cowbells, jumping up and down, and calling my name. I shrieked right back at them, which is probably why I'm not smiling in this photo (taken by Lynn) because really, I felt a lot better than this makes me look!

CIM half from Lynn

By this time I'd lost Chris, who had moved ahead during a long downhill stretch somewhere around mile 10 or 11. I took my second gel around mile 15. Since I had dumped my water bottle, I started taking water at the aid stations; I was carrying short straws stuffed under the band of my Garmin, which ordinarily I love for races (you pinch the cup around the straw and so get more of the water in you without slowing) but I was still wearing my gloves due to the cold and it was ridiculously awkward to retrieve and use the straws. Fortunately, the aid station guys were pros and had only filled each cup about one-third full, so I didn't have any problem getting most of the water in me rather than on me. I ditched the straws when I ditched my arm sleeves around mile 16.

That was about when I caught up with Chris. Just as I was about to reach him he made a detour to the right side to high-five a huge inflatable Frosty the Snowman! I burst out laughing and called to him, "I saw that! I'm going to tell everyone you high-fived Frosty!" (As you can see, I keep my word.)

We were both hurting at this point, so we didn't talk much. My legs felt like blocks of wood and my gait was off, awkward and off-balance. This made me rather nervous as there was still ten miles to go! My pace had dropped by about 5 sec/mile, and it was taking all my energy to keep that up.

Here I am at mile 17, mugging for the camera. In this case, I felt worse than I looked. Yes, this is a copyright violation, but $40 for a single digital image is highway robbery. But that is a rant which I have already ranted.


At mile 18 I started doing pace math. Okay, 2:19 and a few seconds at 18, if I can just hang on and keep it to 8 minute miles that's a loss of max 15 sec/mile over my ideal 7:45 pace, two minutes and a little bit, I can still make a 3:25 which I would be happy with. Eight miles is my house to the Iron Horse Inn and back. I can do this.

I missed another orange-wedge handout, but the guy in front of me had gotten two, and when his offer of one to the guy he was running with was declined I boldly asked for it instead. Again, it hit the spot, but I knew I needed more calories. Fortunately, there was Gu just past the mile 20 timing mat - a good thing, as mile 20 was (maybe) my slowest mile, with a panic-inducing 8:05 on my manual lap (though it measured 1.01 on my Garmin and so 7:58 pace). Unfortunately, when I grabbed a Gu, tore off the end, and tried to suck on it, the darn thing had frozen to the nearly-solid texture of chewing gum, and I couldn't squeeze more than a little out of the packet. I took one bite, threw the rest away, and decided to get Powerade (the on-course sports drink) at the next aid station just past mile 21.

But what I found was even better. On my right, the aid station people held out cups and called out, "Water!" And on my left, a big fat bearded man held out a cup and called out, "Beer!" I'd taken a sip of beer at mile 24 of the Houston Marathon, my then-PR, and it had perked me right up. Obviously, beer has magical qualities. So I zigged left and grabbed the small cup of beer and drank it right down to raucous cheers from a crowd that was obviously impressed that a GIRL would drink BEER in a marathon.

You know what? Beer does have magical qualities! First I felt the carb hit, which was awesome. Then I felt the alcohol, which made me a bit lightheaded, but whee, I was running a marathon, I was already kind of buzzed on runner's high, right? Then I burped, which made me giggle. Whatever it was, it gave me the strength to push a little harder and get my pace back under 8 minute miles, and most importantly, that feeling of unbalanced gait went away. (I did take Powerade at a couple of the remaining aid stations, though, just to get some more fuel in.)

Discussion in the forums and the CIM Facebook page had mentioned the bridge in mile 22 - how it was a rude, nasty uphill, coming late in the race. I was so fired up on Magic Beer that I only noticed it because I was suddenly passing lots of people. Whee, over a bridge! And that meant I'd be seeing Judy and Lynn again on the other side - yep, there they were, cheering and waving, and I waved back. This gave me even more energy, and despite the bridge mile 22 was my fastest late-race mile at 7:40 pace.

Just over four miles to go, that's the short loop on the river trail. 2:50:35 on my watch, let's call that 2:50 and a half-minute. My pace math told me at 8 minute miles that would be 32 minutes plus a bit more than a minute and a half for the 0.2, ten minutes gets me to three hours, subtract the half and stick it on the extra, that's 3:24. So anything I can shave off 8 minutes each mile is time under 3:24, I totally have 3:23 and change if I can just keep it up.

The route took a turn to the right, and suddenly, boom, headwind. Not a strong one, but still, headwind. I was about to despair - and then I saw Chris forty feet or so ahead of me. Last we'd talked, in mile 16, he'd sounded like he was in a lot more pain than I was, so I'd been hoping he was still ahead and hadn't dropped off behind me when I wasn't noticing. There he was! I could totally catch him. (And then I could totally draft off him!)

Slowly, slowly, I closed the distance. The headwind was pissing me off. The crowds cheered, but I had no energy to respond. Everything was about catching up to Chris. Slowly, slowly. Mile 25, and I was maybe five feet behind him, with another man, even taller than Chris, between us.

Suddenly there was a shout, and a scream, and the guy in front of me toppled over and faceplanted right into the road! He'd tripped over a traffic cone, or whatever obstacle the cone had been marking; I had to dodge hard right to avoid falling into him. That put a few more seconds between me and Chris, who found a final reserve here and foiled my attempts to catch him.

Shortly before the final turn to the finish (there were separate finish chutes for women and men, on either side of the boulevard median) I saw Britt, standing on the corner and cheering. He rarely comes to my races, so it was a real delight to see him there! I waved back, and energized once more, headed for the finish.

The clock ticked past 3:24 as I approached, but a glance at my Garmin showed I was still under on gun time. I crossed the line, let a woman snip my chip from my shoe, chose the best-looking guy to drape the medal over my head, and then went to the men's chute to find Chris. He was still looking slightly dazed, but had good reason to: he'd just improved his PR from October by ten minutes. As it turned out, he beat me by four seconds, but I forgive him.

CIM banner with Chris

Final time/stats and splits

My chip time was 3:23:31 for a PR of almost 6 minutes. This placed me third in the F50-54 age group out of 269 finishers; I was about a minute behind #2 and a minute ahead of #4, but the AG winner ran an astounding 3:03, completely leaving the rest of us in her dust. (I was also beaten by the F54-59 winner, who ran 3:19 at age 57!) I was the 172/2786 female finisher and 953/6435 overall. Also a BQ-36:29, and yeah, I'm planning on Boston 2015, for a five-year anniversary of running it the first time. :-)

My total Garmin distance was 26.29 miles, which makes this the shortest marathon I've ever run. :-) (In other words, the course is mostly a straight line, and I did not suck too badly at the tangents.) Some splits are long/short due to lap timing and/or not running the shortest tangent, some are maybe due to markers being off. I've rounded to whole seconds and fixed up the final split (due to my not hitting the stop button until some time after crossing the finish) but there are still some oddities in the split vs Garmin pace. Whatever.

I'm pretty pleased with the consistent pace with only a slight fade near the end, a 1:31 positive split - I probably should have paid more attention to my pace band and slowed my early miles down a bit. I think this shows I chose the right pace - since I dole out lots of pace advice on RWOL I knew I had better put up or shut up! I still very strongly believe that the key to a happy marathon is an appropriate goal.

Splits by my Garmin, on manual lap:
Dist      Split  Spl dist Spl pace Avg HR Elapsed
1.01	   7:52	   1.01	   7:48	          0:07:52
2.01	   7:42	   1.00	   7:43	          0:15:34
3.02	   7:47	   1.02	   7:39	          0:23:21
4.01	   7:35	   0.99	   7:41	          0:30:56
5.02	   7:44	   1.01	   7:40	          0:38:40
6.02	   7:42	   1.00	   7:42	   154 	  0:46:23
7.02	   7:39	   0.99	   7:42	   152 	  0:54:02
8.03	   7:45	   1.01	   7:40	   154 	  1:01:47
9.03	   7:44	   1.00	   7:45	   155 	  1:09:31
10.03	   7:38	   1.01	   7:35	   153 	  1:17:09
11.04	   7:42	   1.01	   7:38	   154 	  1:24:50
12.05	   7:47	   1.01	   7:43	   153 	  1:32:38
14.06	  15:20	   2.01	   7:38	   155 	  1:47:58
15.07	   7:47	   1.01	   7:44	   157 	  1:55:45
16.07	   7:44	   1.01	   7:41	   156 	  2:03:29
17.07	   7:47	   1.00	   7:45	   155 	  2:11:16
18.08	   7:48	   1.00	   7:46	   156 	  2:19:04
19.08	   7:47	   1.00	   7:47	   154 	  2:26:52
20.09	   8:05	   1.01	   7:58	   155 	  2:34:57
21.09	   7:58	   1.00	   7:58	   155 	  2:42:55
22.09	   7:40	   1.00	   7:40	   159 	  2:50:35
23.10	   7:49	   1.01	   7:46	   159 	  2:58:24
24.10	   7:48	   1.00	   7:50	   159 	  3:06:12
25.07	   7:52	   0.97	   8:06	   159 	  3:14:03
26.07	   7:49	   1.00	   7:47	   160 	  3:21:52
26.29	   1:40	   0.23	   7:15	   161 	  3:23:31

Britt met me at the side of the finish area. I was shivering uncontrollably by then; he commented that he'd never seen so many shivering people. (It had warmed up to all of 34-36°F, which felt great while running, not so great while not moving.) My gloves were damp and amazingly he had some spare gloves for me. I got my fleece clothes that I'd sent back from the start, which helped, and some warm soup, which also helped, and then he steered me back to the hotel. Our room was moderately warm, but the shower was not, and I couldn't bear to take a cold shower so I went to the hot tub instead, which, yeah, not exactly recommended after a race - an ice bath would have been better, but I was already freezing! This might have contributed to my epic DOMS that afternoon and the next day.

We went to the RWOL West gathering at Hoppy Brewing Company, where runners got a free beer, yay! I ate food, drank beer, met a bunch of people who had previously only been imaginary friends, and then went to the awards ceremony in the hopes I'd placed in my AG. (I hadn't seen anything posted at the finish, and the online results were not up yet.) And, yay!

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

March 2017

   123 4

My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31


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