December 9, 2013

California International Marathon

2:20:41 (PR). 13th Place. 

Top 50 Results.

Here's my race report, which I also posted on my running blog.

First mile started off easy (after a starting gun that caught everyone by surprise) and the pack was huge (50-70 runners?). During the second mile it started to get rolling and strung out a bit. By the third mile there were three distinct groups formed - the lead pack, the chasers (which seemed to be the guys going for sub-2:18), and then the slower chasers (Fritz, Nate, me, and about 5-6 more guys aiming for ~2:20). I like to think of our group as the wolfpack. The first 10 miles went by quickly. A couple of the guys in our group fell back, but we had 6 guys working together for most of this time. As we hit the 10 mile mark I heard a guy counting out places and I was in 26th or 27th. Aerobically I was feeling great, but the combination of the cold temperatures and rolling hills was making my hamstrings feel tight - I started to notice it by mile 7 and I was actually a little worried about them until the halfway mark. From 10-13 miles we lost the two Kenyan guys in the group - it was down to the 3 Utah guys and a runner from Mexico (Castillo). We came through the half-marathon in 1:09:32, which was surprising - it felt like it was going to be closer to 1:10, but my math skills and sense of pace were apparently a little off. I'll blame the lack of precision on numb feet (due to the cold, not from the shoes - the A6s were awesome!).

First half splits: 5:32, 5:19, 5:15, 5:10, 5:19, 5:19, 5:18, 5:23, 5:23, 5:13, 5:15, 5:19, 5:16 = 1:09:32

Castillo started picking it up right as we crossed the timing mat and I went with him. That was the last I would see of Fritz and Nate, but it was really awesome to run with them for the first 13.1. Racing alongside your friends and training partners makes the effort feel more comfortable - more like a workout, and that can make a big difference, especially with rationing mental energy during a long race.

I got into a really good rhythm for the next six miles and started to loosen up. It was still cold but the sun was now on us. Castillo pulled away from me (he ran 2:19:30), but during this stretch I caught a few other guys. Andrea was on the course at 16.5 and then again at 19.5 (after already seeing me at 6 and 11.5 - she is really good at this spectating thing). I got another surprise when my friends Nate and Nora were jumping up and down just before the 20 mile mark (Nate and I were roommates in college and they drove over from San Francisco to come and watch). Came through 20 miles in 1:46:19 and sub-2:20 was still in play...

Then life started to get pretty hard after 20, as it typically does. There was a little bit of a wind blowing as we started moving into downtown. It wasn't much, and it wasn't the reason I slowed down, but it was definitely something that I noticed. I think the main reason I even noticed it is because it flashed me back to just over two years ago in Philadelphia. After almost identical 13.1 and 20 mile splits (see the bottom of this entry), I had a flat, straight 10K to go... and was hurting a bit. My hamstrings were starting to feel shot, and just like in Philly, I could feel some wind in my face. But this time I was NOT going to fall apart. No way, not an option! I faded to ~5:30 pace, but didn't bleed any worse than that (what we call a "Paul Petersen crash"). The day before, Andrea and I talked about how important "backup" goals are... that if I wasn't going to break 2:20, I needed to make breaking 2:21 JUST AS IMPORTANT. So that's what I did... I fought hard to break 2:21. I caught Matt Dewald, then went after the last guy in front of me (Stephen Shay) and passed him with about 3/4th of a mile left. I tried my best to sprint from 26 to the finish (I'm sure it didn't look smooth, and it hurt!). My legs were wrecked and it was hard to even walk after crossing the line. But I was happy... to run a PR, to finally see some improvement in the marathon, and to finish knowing I gave it everything I had.

Second half splits: 5:14, 5:18, 5:16, 5:16, 5:22, 5:22, 5:29, 5:32, 5:31, 5:32, 5:32, 5:32, 5:34, 1:09 = 1:11:09

I knew that realistically I was in shape to run 2:20 +/- a minute, so I consider this within the range of a good performance. A Top 10 finish was another goal, and I ended up 13th in a strong field. I don't like the positive split, but I can live with it.

Other thoughts (and then pictures):

Weather - Cold. 27 degrees at the start, actually dropped down to 24 during the race, and it never got above 30 degrees. Cold is definitely much better than hot, but the combination of rolling hills and cold temps is not great for my hamstrings. I actually came into this race a few pounds heavier than I would have liked to be, but that might have actually played to my advantage a bit, because with a little extra insulation I wasn't totally freezing.

Course - Fast (drops 300 feet from start to finish), but could be deceptive. I was mentally prepared for the rolling hills in the first half (because I heard so many people tell me not to underestimate them) but if I run CIM again, I'll do a lot more training on routes that specifially simulate this course. I want to run a Chicago-type course next year, because I think that's what I'm best suited for.

Competition - CIM doesn't draw an "A" list field, but the depth in the 2:15-2:30 range is as good as you'll find anywhere.

Organization - First class all the way. Major kudos to the Sacramento Running Association (especially Danielle Domenichelli) for taking care of everything. There was nothing to worry about... we even knew thing like specifically where our bottles would be ahead of time (For me - table #1, 4th bottle on the right). That kind of attention to detail is awesome.

Nutrition - I'm making progress here, and feel like I have it figured out pretty well now. Gels don't bother me anymore, and I actually take them. I've also have my pre-race / breakfast dialed in. I didn't drink more than 3-4 ounces total during the race, but also didn't really need to in those temperatures.

Post Race Activities - Fancy brunch with a jazz band, hot tub, then flew home.

Training Analysis - I'll save that for another blog post. I'm taking a week off so I'll have nothing better to do. I enjoyed this training cycle and did a lot of smart things. I also learned some things that will affect how I want to approach my running in 2014. Things I am excited about. My buildup to this race was documented on the blog in 3 posts: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Thank You! - Everyone here who follows the blog, etc. I've said this before, but I realize how lucky I am to have such a great network of friends and family (especially my parents... I know they get nervous waiting for the tracking updates to come in). Fritz and Nate, for the camaraderie of training and racing together... let's make this a habit. Andrea, for not being afraid to battle against me when we disagree (often!), and then for 100% support when we go to war... together.

The three packs. Thanks to ViZiPRO, you can see the wolfpack in the back

3/4 of a mile left...

Just close your eyes and it will all be over soon...

Our friends Nate and Nora

With Fritz and Nate post-race

And here's CIM vs Philly... I like the final outcome better this time. Now I just need to nail that last 10K.

PHL 2011  1:09:33 - 1:46:05 - 2:25:57
CIM 2013   1:09:32 - 1:46:19 - 2:20:41

I've run 4 good marathons in a row now (2:22, 2:23, 2:23, 2:20 in the past 15 months). I'm ready to make the leap in 2014!


All splits - 5:32, 5:19, 5:15, 5:10, 5:19, 5:19, 5:18, 5:23, 5:23, 5:13, 5:15, 5:19, 5:16, 5:14, 5:18, 5:16, 5:16, 5:22, 5:22, 5:29, 5:32, 5:31, 5:32, 5:32, 5:32, 5:34, 1:09 [1:09:32 / 1:11:09 = 2:20:41]


  1. Congratulations on a new PR, CIM is a great event!

  2. Congratulations, Jake! Loved your race report, can't wait to read more.

  3. Rock star. Way to go!! Cold day and you pushed the end... seriously amazing. True inspiration.. thanks for the recap

  4. It's always great to set a new personal best. I like your new approach to marathon training and I think it's going to really show in another year or two. I also like how you mentioned that if you fall off one goal, you need to make the next goal just as important. I'm going to steal that from you. See you next month!