Pimento’s CIM Recap

Well, after training that went south for the last month before the big day I knew deep down that CIM was probably not going to be the knock-it-out-of-the park, frosting on the end of a great year cake I wanted it to be.

My attitude tanked and my body seemed to take two steps back for every mile I ran forward. My naggy left hamstring ache has blossomed into a full-on issue, tightening up and hurting on runs to a point where I can barely lift my leg, let alone maintain anything close to race pace.ย I ran very little during taper with the hope that rest would at least allow me to finish the whole 26.2 miles.

During taper, I came to a few conclusions. One being that it has been a great year of racing and running and that I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and that one race could not erase the previous four successful races I’ve accomplished. Additionally, I decided I wanted to have fun and enjoy CIM no matter how the race ended up. In that light, then, CIM was a success.

I traveled down to Sacramento with my coach and two running buddies for a three-day, two-night road trip. How can I sum up all the hilarity that ensued? Happy hour margaritas, a loud jazz bar, a morning shake-out with two miles at pace (6:38/6:49) where my legs felt good, the expo where I picked up the CUTEST race shirt I’ve ever gotten. Coach and I hit up Costco to load up on cheap liquor to take home to Oregon where you can only buy hard alcohol in a liquor store (1.75 liters of Skyy vodka for $17? Score!), a trip to the sketchiest Good Will ever for throwaway pants, then a delicious pasta dinner and a good night’s sleep before race morning.

Coach drove us to the start, we warmed up (strides felt so fluid and I felt a twinge of sadness for what might’ve been), then we snapped a pre-race selfie and walked to our spots under a rosy sunrise. I went out with the 3:08 pace group, hoping to stay with them as long as I could until my legs started to tighten to the point of no return. Each six-mile split was a gradual and steady decline from the 7:03 pace for the first 10k as my hamstring tightness spread and I crossed the finish line in 3:23:20. My second-fastest marathon but a long way off from the paces I’ve hit on long runs for the past year.

I smiled the entire way and when I knew that a fairy tale PR was for sure out of reach mid-race, I instead did all the things I never do while racing. I high-fived all the little kids, I walked through several water stops and drank the whole Dixie cup of water without inhaling any into my nose, I chortled at signs and took donut holes and licorice from strangers who promised they weren’t poisoned, and I focused on the spectators, who read my name and shouted it out in encouragement. I made jokes with any of my fellow racers who weren’t wearing earbuds. The seasons seem to be about six-weeks behind in Sacramento so the fall leaves are still beautiful and bright, especially interspersed with palm trees, and I soaked up the natural beauty too.

15350498_1176155382462945_5242950551828885183_n
Starting line smiles

At the end I found Coach for a big hug and the news that my buddy Sam broke 3:00 and Ryan finished in 3:12. We popped some bubbly in the room for a little celebration of the sub-3:00 then hit the road for home.

I had fun at CIM, that is indisputable. In all the pictures that my coach took during the race and all the official race pictures that showed up in my email I am smiling. In. Every. Single. One. Under that smile, of course, is some disappointment as well as some soul-searching about my priorities and physical limits and whether my goals are attainable or if my results are worth all the sacrifice that goes into training so hard. Under that smile is fear about this hamstring thing and what effect that will have on my running, because even with no big race on the calendar for next year running is my sanity and happy place.

Under that smile is uncertainty about what is next and how to fill in the gaps that not training will open up as well as relief that I won’t be on a schedule anymore, too. Sigh. So begins a new chapter.

I'm an elementary P.E. teacher with a long-term, ongoing marathon addiction.The next big goal? Keeping up my BQ streak while aiming for a 3:10! I write about the not-so-glamorous side of running and fitting in serious training with a family while staying sane(ish).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

12 comments

  1. Great recap! Impressive that you were able to run your second fastest marathon, despite all your setbacks and fun/relaxed attitude during the race! But can totally understand your disappointment about what might have/should have been, as well as the questions of if the sacrifice was/is worth it. I think that’s something we all struggle with at points, and I hope you enjoy a good break and the next goal will open itself to you at some point in the future!

  2. Sounds like it was a success by most measures. Progress doesn’t always come as fast as we want it. You know it – no matter how much we believe we can jump the process. It’s a process. You have many faster races ahead if you want them. My partner just broke 3 hrs at age 50–after 20+ marathons. In NYC — not the easiest, not the hardest. It can be done. Enjoy the holidays and the year ahead — AFTER some rest. Real rest — not simply an “easy” 30-40 mile week. Just my 2 cents.

    1. That is true- been chasing this 3:10 since 2011 (minus about 18 months of pregnancy/infant-stage), and am just starting to wonder if the stars will ever align for me on race day. Hopefully some real rest and a break will help.

  3. First, hamstrings are the worst. I strained mine and was largely out of racing shape for two years, and now the other one has been bothering me. I’ve had a lot of success with dry needling for the acute pain, but keeping it from coming back/flaring up is actually a lot of hip flexor stretching. Worth a few trips to a good PT to figure out the underlying cause.

    And, I leave you with a quote from “Once A Runner”:

    “People conceptualize training in different ways. Some think it’s a ladder straight up. Others see plateaus, blockages, ceilings. I see it as a geometric spiraling upward, with each spin of the circle taking you a different distance upward. Some spins may even take you *downward*, just gathering momentum for the next upswing. Sometimes you will work your fanny off and see very little gain; other times you will amaze yourself and not really know why. Training is training, it all seems to blend together after a while. What’s going on inside is just a big puzzle. But my little spiral theory gives it a perspective, don’t you think?”

    1. That is a fantastic quote! After so many years of training that goes well and points to my big goal being attainable, then having bad race days due to weather/motion sickness/who knows what followed be a training cycle that hits the skids in the final 6 weeks, I just feel like WTF am I really doing? Is it actually attainable/worth it/sustainable for yet another training cycle?! So much work for such mediocre results time and time again is frustrating as hell. Sigh. Venting :)

  4. I’m so proud of you and happy that you still went to CIM, changed the mindset and really just went out and had fun. Honestly those marathons, while not PR’s are very useful and a good reminder that we can still enjoy ourselves even on non-record setting days so our running happiness shouldn’t be tied to PR’s. With that said though, I know you really wanted a PR and were ready for much faster than you ended up running- following along with your training was awesome and I know that you are going to be approaching that 3:00 mark and probably sooner than you think. Either way you will find success in many ways, whether a fun run or PR’s at any distance- you are not done yet my dear! Enjoy the rest and downtime- you certainly earned it!

  5. The CIM trip would not have been complete without you there. I owe a large part of my success to you Miriam. Thank you for taking me in. I’m excited for the next chapter, whatever you decide to do. All I know is that you will be great at it. Maybe someday I can also smile start to finish in a marathon :)

  6. I relate to so much about your marathon journey. Sure, there are some differences, but so much of it is similar. Looking back, I think I would have been well served to have more qualitative goals and less quantitative ones and to have less of my self wrapped up in my running success. Sure, that’s all easier said that done and I have no idea if that is relevant to you. I’m just spewing/commiserating :) But, I’m proud of you for recognizing you needed to back off and for getting out there even though it wasn’t going to be perfect and committing to enjoying it despite that. Sounds easy, but again, way easier said than done. I hope you enjoy some down time and then figure out where you want to go with running from there. I’ll be rooting for you wherever you decide to go!!! <3