Now for CIM. Where to start? It's been 2.5 weeks since the race so I think I can write a more objective review. I have to admit that I was expecting a lot from this race. It's the most expensive marathon I've run and the largest. I'd really only heard good things months before the race, so my expectations were pretty high. Maybe I would have been less disappointed with this race if I'd expected nothing, but as it is I found CIM to be a major letdown.
As you know already, I'd spent 3 days driving west before arriving in Sacramento for the race. I had one day to recover and was able to loosen up a little by squeezing in a couple light 2 mile runs in the days preceeding the race. Having arrived in town Friday, I was able to hit the expo early and wander around the booths. While the people there were very friendly, the expo was poorly marked and it wasn't immediately obvious where to go to pick up your bib, shirt, chip etc... (While waiting at the information stand to ask about race day parking, all 5 people in front of me were asking where to go for packet pick-up.) That was the first warning sign.
|Piercings at Jack in the Box? Um. No, thanks.|
At least you won't get hungry.
That night, I hit up a great Italian restaurant, Paesanos, for some carb loading and had their delicious Cappellini D'Angelo. The place was crawling with people discussing CIM and I got to chat with a couple of them while I was there. Always good to get some advice from veterans.
Before the start, I squeezed through the crowds to the 3:40 pace group and settled in. I wasn't feeling great, but I wouldn't allow myself to think negatively so I kept repeating to myself that I had it in the bag. The pace leader was really upbeat and encouraging so I focused on that. When the gun went off I took a deep breath & we crowded through the start.
Miles 1-8: Calm Before the Storm
Miles 9-14: Unraveling
My mind wasn't in the game. At mile 9 I hit "stop" rather than "lap" on my Garmin. A small detail, perhaps, but it was indicative of a lot more. I lost half a mile before realizing what I'd done and more doubt flooded into my sleep deprived brain.
On top of everything else, I started getting incredibly nauseous. I never have stomach problems but choking down gels or water was an exercise in stubbornness and determination. Knowing that I was actively bonking, I forced them down and kept moving.
Meanwhile, the pain in my foot was escalating. The sensation became not only distracting but it was rapidly progressing such that any other thoughts were impossible. Every time I put any weight on my right foot, a knife tore through my skin. I tried to not let the pain alter my stride, worried I'd cause another injury, but it was severe enough that a stress fracture became an increasingly real concern. Now I began to have a heated argument with myself: keep running and risk serious injury or throw in the towel again and give up on my hopes of Boston this year.
Miles 15-26.2 Game Over
Near the mile 14.4 aid station, the pain won. I was too tired to fight it anymore and I didn't want to spend the next few months sidelined with a stress fracture. I moved to the side and tore off my shoe. The foot didn't look great, but the pain improved significantly with the shoe off. Luckily, I'd read a Runner's World article months ago about how to tie your shoes differently to minimize problems. Once the laces were altered, the pain decreased but I'd lost 3 or 4 minutes for re-lacing and knew I couldn't regain that time.
It was over. Any other race I struggled through, I could remind myself that I knew I could finish. This time it wasn't that I didn't think I could finish, it's that I didn't care. Convincing myself to keep going was a huge challenge. I stopped having fun as a marathoner. The second half of the race was neverending.
Enough of me complaining about me. Here come my complaints about CIM.
1. The aid stations. Wow. I suck for saying that. But the water stops were really poorly run. The only reason I got gels was because I knew which station they were at and I shouted "Gels?!?!" the whole way through. Even then, at 2 of them I had to grab a gel out of the hand of the only volunteer handing them out because they weren't paying any attention to the runners. Nice. To make things worse, Ultima is the beverage offered. FYI: Ultima has next to no carbs. At a marathon. How did that seem like a good idea to anyone?
2. The crowds. I know. That's pretty douchy. Sorry. Normally I'm happy to have anyone cheering, but my expectations were high for a race like this. And to be fair, there were some really awesome signs and people cheering. But the vast majority of people weren't cheering. Or smiling. As hundreds of people passed in front of them, most of the crowd had their eyes focused on scanning the horizon for that one guy they know. Once I finished the race I cheered people on around 25.7 and, though I was surrounded by people, I was almost the only one cheering. When I started shouting & cheering, a couple people briefly joined in. That's about it. What's the point of doing these huge races if it's little better than an empty course?
3. The post-marathon event. Once I finished, I was famished. I headed over for food only to realize there was a 30-some minute wait to get food. Really?!? Since I'd found such a great parking spot I went to my car first to get a Powerbar. That way I would have something to eat while waiting for food. That's a first. Sad.
I'll leave it at that. Would I run CIM again? Probably not. But now, it's time to think about plans for the coming year. More on that later. In the meantime, happy holidays! I wish you all the best.