CIM 2017 – That Hurt…

As I sit here the day after finishing CIM, I still find myself struggling to figure out exactly how I feel about the 26.2 miles I ran.  Without a doubt, it was the perfectly conflicted ending to a perfectly conflicted season.

My 2017 summer running season came to a screeching halt in early August when I pulled my right calf.  For the following two months I basically shifted the bulk of my physical activity to cycling and swimming and attempted to run here and there until my calf would threaten re-injury.  I accomplished some pretty exciting things in that time including a 3 1/2 hour swim around the perimeter of Donner Lake, which I’m still pretty ecstatic about.   Then in mid-September, my back decided to join the party pooping which eliminated my cycling option and made pretty much everything painful.  Emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement.

I finally threw in the towel the first week of October and resolved to let my body heal rather than try to train through the pain.  Knowing full well that there would be little to no chance of achieving my time goals for CIM this year, I informed my coach that I was going to abandon training rather than try to force my body into adhering to a schedule.  I stopped running altogether and started going to yoga again on a regular basis.  Luckily, a few of my favorite local yoga instructors opened Truckee Yoga Collective this same week.

Two weeks of taking it easy, lots of yoga, swimming and a few easy “test runs” and my back and calf issues were fully resolved – by mid October I was able to pick up running again without fear of injury. From there I was able to gradually increase my mileage culminating with a couple of 45-mile weeks.  Having come back from injury I found myself really looking forward to race day!

Then on Monday, November 27th, FIVE days before CIM, I felt the itch.  You know – the itch in the ears and throat that foretells the onset of a cold.  Commence denial – I AM NOT GETTING SICK!  By Wednesday, I was laid out on my couch surrounded by the carnage of a cold – so many tissues.  I was doing everything I could to get through this cold in time to run CIM.  I drank tea and electrolytes. I took Zicam.  I used Flonase.  I went to our local “hippie dippie” grocery store and loaded up on herbal stuff to reduce congestion and increase immunity.  For the record, I usually don’t buy into holistic stuff but at this point I was willing to try anything – even just for the placebo effect.  By Friday I had lost my voice from coughing as a result of post-nasal drip (sorry TMI).  By Saturday afternoon, I was in my car driving to Sacramento to pick up my bib at the CIM Expo – I still felt like crap, but I’m stubborn.

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CIM Expo 2017

 

Sunday morning at 3:30am I woke up feeling pretty good – still a bit congested but my energy levels were decent and I felt up for running.  Fast forward a few hours to the race start at 7:00am – OK yeah – I feel pretty good!  Caffeine – check, poop – check (again sorry TMI, but this is SO important!), still coughing but not much – check.  Let’s do this!  Go time!

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CIM Start Line 6:55 am

 

The race starts out on a gradual downhill and it’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline and excitement.  I started out in the 9 min mile pace range which proved to be really comfortable, but I resolved to stay there and not push too hard given my health status.  I actually felt really really good and started thinking that I may be able to hold on to maintain a finish time consistent with the prior year of (3:58). This feeling lasted all the way through the half marathon point of the race.

At that point, my knees and hip-flexors started to get a bit cranky almost as if to remind me that I was indeed undertrained for this event.  I’ve always encountered discomfort during races and it typically takes the form of migrating pain that never lasts in one area for very long, so I figured that’s what this was.  “Run through it, it won’t last” is what I kept telling myself.  At mile 15 it became clear that the pain was not going away and not migrating.  It was staying put and now my right shin was starting to hurt as well.  “WTF?  I’ve never had shin splits! Run through it, embrace the pain cave.”

I watched as the 3:57 pace group passed me and realized I couldn’t hold on to them which was more emotionally and mentally painful than any physical pain I was experiencing at the time.  It was becoming abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to be able to pull some miracle out of my ass and hold on to my time from 2016. By mile 17 my legs were screaming at me and I began contemplating dropping at the next aid station.  I started to walk if for no other reason than to stretch out my stride and hopefully loosen up the tension creating the pain throughout my lower extremities. To top things off, my cough was back and every once in a while, I’d be racked with a hacking fit. I watched, completely discouraged, as the 4:00 pace group passed by.

At this point, my pace had dropped to roughly an 11 min mile alternating between walking and jogging.  As I continued to contemplate dropping out of the race, a text message came through on my watch from my friend, Jenelle.  “Yeah Mone’!!! Keep it up you’re running strong!!!!” She had looked at the live tracking which showed my results up until the halfway point when I was still feeling good.  I actually started to tear up – I felt completely emotionally and physically drained and discouraged, but I kept going. I knew how much she had endured during her last TRT 100 miler and I figured what I was going through was nothing in comparison.

I’m not going to lie – every single step for the next nine miles hurt.  Every single aid station was a temptation to quit.  Every ounce of my body wanted to stop.  I have no idea how I kept moving. The 4:17 pace group passed me, but I was so close to being finished.  “Let’s just get this over with” kept repeating in my brain.  The last two miles seemed to take FOREVER, but I finally crossed the finish line at 4:23:19, or an average pace of 9:58/mi.  For the record, the course has an extra .2 miles tacked on at the end, at least according to my Garmin. Regardless, this was over 25 minutes slower than my CIM 2016 time.

There was no rush of excitement, or surge of a runner’s high.  I gathered my drop bag, made my way to the post-race brunch, found a bathroom and hid in a stall to cry.  I don’t cry.  I’m not a crier, but for some reason this was a very emotional finish and it ended accordingly. With snot streaming out of my nose and tears running down my cheeks, I changed out of my wet clothes and into dry garb that I had packed in my drop bag. A few minutes later, I emerged out of the stall with tears wiped away and a finisher’s medal around my neck.

The race organizers for CIM have a brilliant tactic to lock runners in year after year.  It goes like this…  You run the race and then you get an email a day later offering the “Re-Run Special”. It is perfectly timed because the pain and discomfort from having just finished a marathon has largely started to dissipate and already begun to fade from memory with nostalgia taking its place.  The special is a significantly discounted rate that is only available to 500 returning runners (over 8,000 runners participated this year) and only available for a very limited time after the race you’ve just run.  This tactic has sucked me in every year since I started running this race in 2014 – the thought being “well, it’s so inexpensive to sign up now that I may as well and if I don’t end up running it, no biggie”. I just got that email and I just registered for CIM 2018.

**Thank you to Jenelle Potvin for sending the perfect text at the perfect time.  I don’t think I would have finished otherwise.

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The Truckee [Half] Marathon

By:  Thing 1 & Thing 2

FullSizeRender3We’re neighbors.  We’re friends.  We run together, bike together, walk our kids to and from the bus together.  We help each other with our respective children.  We’re like sister-wives without the shared husband.  We each have our own –  thankfully, because we’re also competitive and competitive wife-ing could get ugly.

Not surprisingly, we also have done a lot of races together this summer.  When we both decided to run the Truckee Half Marathon, we decided to run it in costume… together, as Thing 1 and Thing 2: because why not!?!?!?! So, the following race report has, of course, been written by the two of us, yep you guessed it… together.

Thing 2: In true pre-race preparation, Thing 1 one and I readied our costumes on the eve of the race. Complete with blue fur headband, striped socks and red tutu, we excitedly laid out our costumes and began texting each other with ramblings of what tomorrow may hold. The plan was for Thing 1 to pick me up (just two doors down) at 6:55 am to be down to the race headquarters by 7:05. I know, big commute. I’m not sure how we managed to get any sleep that night, we were as giddy as two school girls the night before Prom.

The morning of the race, I hurried and dressed in my perfectly Seussical costume, ate my standard pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and bananas, drank ALL the coffee and kissed my family goodbye while snuggly in their beds. In true Thing 1 fashion, she pulled up to my house at 6:52 and raced up to my doorstep. I opened the door, we looked each other over and immediately began jumping up and down in excitement. Yep, two grown-ass women, dressed in stripes and tutus, pig tails and blue fur headbands, jumping up and down at 6:52 in the morning. Great way to start a Sunday!

When we arrived at the race start and check-in, we carried a buzz of infectious excitement and made our way to packet pickup. Everyone of course recognized Thing 1 because of her deep love for Big Blue races, but as a fairly new Big Blue racer, I was welcomed with laughs from fellow racers. We picked up our bibs, rushed back to the car to pin them to our tutus and get a break from the 28-degree weather. Before we knew it, it was time to race! It may have been the distraction of the costumes or that this was a training race for us, but we felt an odd absence of pre-race jitters and were just ready to run and have fun.

Thing 1: As we made our way to the start line, we got in to full character –  giddy, silly, jokesters who weren’t taking ourselves or anything else, for that matter, seriously at all. It’s amazing how a simple costume can do that.  Todd Jackson, the race director, gave the race briefing and then we were off.  Thing 2 and I started toward the back of the pack because, clearly, we were in this thing to go all out and win it (#sarcasm). Running through historic old town Truckee, we waved to both of our respective workplaces which happen to be a few doors down from each other and that’s truly when the antics began.  We started laughing – a lot.  We waved, and yelled ‘hello’ and ‘good morning!’ to pretty much anyone or anything that passed us or that we passed.  Yes, we may have been a wee bit obnoxious.  So, for those on course who were in the zone: we apologize or you’re welcome if we distracted you from your game day focus.

At about a 1/4 mile in, we veered away from Donner Pass road and began the climb up the dirt road to the community college and encountered our first race photographer.  GAME ON!  We started jumping, bouncing squeaking and squealing.  Yes, like two school girls.  Clearly, we entertained (and possibly annoyed) the other runners around us.  As we descended the road down to the intersection of Deerfield Drive and Highway 89, we began planning what we would do for the next photographer.  Would we jump?  Curtsy? Fake a fall?  Somersault?  The possibilities were endless.  At the stop light, we encountered Steve Buelna who was running his first marathon and struck up a short conversation while Steve tried to keep a straight face.  As we all crossed 89, we wished him good luck and most importantly fun! Based on his race report it sounds like he had a wonderful time and a very successful first marathon. Congrats Steve!

Just as Todd had warned us in the race briefing, at about the two-mile mark, there was a section of single track and a plank bridge over a stream requiring all of us to run single file.  No passing allowed.  From there, we crossed the road headicropped-21949730_1611309412273880_2402948014586523968_o1.jpgng into Coldstream Canyon and met up with the second and third race photographers!!!!!  SHOW TIME!  We ran, we jumped, we squeaked – and apparently, we made some funny faces too.

Thing 2: As we made our way into the Donner Lake Campground and picnic area, Thing 1, in all her deep Truckee history knowledge, began to play tour guide and point out certain rocks and landmarks where the Donner Party camped out and snacked upon one another during the infamous winter of 1846/47. After running through the park and past what we call “the lagoon”, we began our climb up South Shore drive. During the Donner Lake Tri, I was convinced that this particular hill would be the cause of my untimely death – maybe Thing 1 needs a snack? Today was another story. We walked up the steepest section to help protect Thing 1’s pending calf recovery and enjoyed (really?) our mid-race nutrition (no cannibalism necessary). Once we hit the top of South Shore Drive, we resumed our comfortable run/chatting-pace and made our way FullSizeRender1around Donner Lake. This lake holds a special place in our hearts and we were surprised to see how low the water level was compared to a month prior. As we began running east along the north shore of Donner, we energetically waved at cars and passersby as we ran. I checked my watch and was surprised to see that we had hit mile 8. Only 5 more miles to go! I couldn’t believe how quickly this run was moving, but then realized that Thing 1 was my audio book/music/entertainment and our consistent chattering caused me to forget we were even running.

When we reached the overpass to continue onto Donner Pass, we decided to kick it up a notch – in the entertainment department that is.  The Truckee Police Department had detoured the traffic and gave us a giant smile and a happy wave as we passed by. Thank you, Truckee PD, for keeping all of us runners safe!  We waved at EVERY car and cheered when they gave us a wave, a smile or a honk in return. “Good morning!” “Hiiii!!” We had made it our objective to turn running into a performance art. Awesome.

Thing 1: Continuing east on Donner Pass Rd., there really wasn’t much in the way of scenery to distract us from entertaining ourselves or oncoming traffic.  We got more animated, waving with hands in the air, smiling, jumping, whatever.  Turning left at mile 11ish we encountered the dreaded Northwoods climb.  Again, walking at a brisk pace to avoid reinjuring my calf, we continued our mobile comedy show. Traffic was moving slow enough that we could easily see people’s reactions.  On the rare occasion that someone didn’t laugh or wave back, we just got more ridiculous until they couldn’t help but crack a smile.  Would we have done this had we not been in costume, hell no!  Costumes are the best!

We topped out at mile 12, turned right and proceeded onto the bike path heading back to the finish.  What?  No more audience in cars to perform for?  Oh well – the giggles and silliness continued all the way.  Who cares if no one else was entertained.  We certainly were! This section of path is also quite pretty as well – bonus!

Our families were waiting for us about a tenth of a mile from the finish.  The kids were cheering and screaming for us.  Our husbands were mildly embarrassed but laughing and cheering as well.  The kids joined us and we literally held hands and skipped across the finish line.  It wasn’t either of our fastest half-marathon times – we finished in 2:25:37, but it was definitely the most fun either of us have ever had running a race!

Thanks Big Blue, Truckee PD and of course all of the volunteers for such a fun day!

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