What a year! It has been a great year and what a way to finish up the 2010 season then with a PR at the California International Marathon. I ran CIM in 4hrs and 14 minutes. Wow!!!! I still can't believe that I made my goal for this race.
Just like last year I stayed with Anthony and Lily and we car pooled to the start. As I was getting ready and putting on my race bib a little bit of anxiety came flooding through me. This is the first race since my DNF at the Sierra Nevada Double back in September. The anxiety didn't last long but long enough for me to remember. I told myself to calm down and just to enjoy this day. Run the race as I had planned and if it is meant to be a PR then it will happen.
The weather at the start was unusually warm. Last year it was freezing cold and a bit windy. Not today, it was was actually a bit warmer then anyone had imagined. Which meant I had over dressed just a bit.
At the start I had planned on heading out with the 4:05 pace group, but had planned to trail them a bit. I didn't want to push to hard in the start and have nothing left for the second half. The first mile was within my time frame about a 9:36 pace, probably due to the congestion. I stayed calm and relaxed knew that the field would open up. I remained comfortable and in control working my way to the far side so that I could have a little room to maneuver when I needed to. By about mile 3 I found Ralph and we ran a few miles together just chit chatting and cruising along. At this point I noticed that I was going out a little bit too hard and was running around 9:20 or so, so I slowed it down a bit. I was feeling comfortable but I also knew that there was a lot of miles left in this race.
The biggest delima I had was where to shed my clothes. I had on gloves, sleeves and a vest and I wanted to dump them. I had a few options and a few miles to think about it. I ended up taking the gloves off and just holding them, they came in handy as when I would eventually be able to get some water it went all over my face instead of in my mouth. Maybe I should practice how to drink out of a paper cup while running. It is pretty tricky. I had opted not to carry a bottle as it would put too much strain on my chest wall. I didn't want to strain my muscles because they were actually healing and just about 100%.
By mile 6 I was still feeling very comfortable, I found a nice rhythm. I didn't drop my clothes where I had intended to but instead decided to drop them at the Fleet Feet Aid Station which was at mile 8.9. As I approached the aid station I had already tucked my gloves in my vest pocket and had my vest and sleeves off and was ready to throw it. I saw Kirk and tried to get his attention but he didn't hear me. I heard "Melisa, just give it to me." It was Pam, I hadn't even seen her. I had such tunnel vision. I said "ohh thanks, I didn't even see you." I gave her my things and I think I grabbed some water from her and I was on my way. Thanks Pam, you rock!!!!!
9 miles down, my legs were feeling good, mentally I was focused on the task at hand and I also noticed I was still pushing a bit too hard. I had to reassess my situation, I know there was still a long ways to go, I needed to back off a bit. But that is so hard especially since I had a nice rhythm going. I backed it off just a bit and was very glad I did. The course was coming upon "the big hill" for CIM. I just cruised up it and fueled as I went.
I became a little over anxious approaching the half way point because I knew my family was going to be there waiting for me with some more gels and some coke. Last year I was walking when they saw me, but not this year. This year I was looking strong and I looked like I could keep going at the rate I was running. I could see my family, my sister Kristina, Brent and Lil man and some friends were also there. I stopped and took some GUs from them and drank a few gulps of coke and I was off again. They said I looked great and wished me luck. What support, it was great to see them and the good news was I was right on schedule. I came into the half way point at 2:03. There isn't a better feeling then knowing that I am on track to reach my goals. Now all I have to do is keep it together. Because here is where the race really begins.
At 13 miles I took in 2 GUs. It was good thing I did. Because the next few miles were a mental and physical battle. By mile 15 my legs were feeling a bit funny. You know the feeling, it is not a good feeling. I was trying to keep a steady pace, but things drastically slowed down. Uhh ohh, not good. I took in another GU but that didnt' help. My pace was really slowing down. I could hear the 4:15 pace group slowing catching me. I knew if they passed me it would mentally defeat me. Then I had a thought, I needed salt. I saw the medical tent and immediately ran to it and asked for salt. Thank goodness that medical was there because once the salt hit my system my legs felt better and my pace was back. I was once again hitting my goal pace.
It was also at this point that sheer panic hit me. As I was getting my salt the 4:15 pace group had passed me. Crap that is not good. I had a adrenaline surge and took off. I just kept thinking, no I have to get back in front of them. I need to stay in front of that group to have any sort of a chance to make my goal. The salt really helped me because my legs were back. What a feeling to have my legs back. I started to make my move. I regained control of my frantic pace and within a few miles I was back in front of the 4:15 pace group and still feeling strong.
Sometimes during the lows of running all it takes is someone to call my name and smile. That is what kept me going through out this race. It is so uplifting to have such great support from family and friends and it was great that they were there during those moments where on the outside it looked like I was doing great but on the inside I knew I was hardly holding it together. Just a simple "Great job Melisa" and a clap and that would give me the confidence to push just a bit harder. To find the next gear. Thank you so much everyone!
I was in front of the 4:15 pace group but once again my legs started feeling shaky. My quads were burning and I was again having doubts. Then I saw it, the medical tent. I made my way to it and asked for 2 salts. I was cramping again. This time though I was able to stay in front of the 4:15 pace group. The salt again helped with my cramping and my legs began to feel better which brought me more confidence.
Once I hit mile 20 I told myself only 6 more miles, I run that all the time. No problem! Only this was going to be where I had to dig deep and find my inner strength. It could have been easy for me just to say ohh well and stop pushing myself, but that is not who I am. I wanted to reach my goal and if I was going to reach that goal I was going to need to push myself these last 6 miles like never before.
I ran hard or as hard as my legs would go. I kept my eyes on the prize. The 4:15 pace group kept pushing me. I could hear the cheers as I ran by and then I would hear the cheers and the crowd yelling "go 4:15" and I would panic and push harder. I kept looking over my shoulder and man they were still there not fading at all. I kept pushing, but my legs were tired but my goal was so close to me. I dug deep and kept moving. I knew that if I stopped I wouldn't be able to get moving again. I was slowly giving myself some distance from the 4:15 pace group. But I knew I couldn't relax I had to keep pushing. It was almost like they were chasing me the last 6 miles and I didn't want them to catch me. Try playing chase for 6 miles, it is draining!
3 miles to go. This would be the longest 3 miles ever. Longer then the dam hill during the American River 50 mile endurance run. I kept pushing, pushing to stay in front of 4:15. Then out of nowhere I hear "Melisa!!!! Great job!!!" another friendly face. 2 miles to go, I can do this. I am going to do it! Again the longest 2 miles ever. It just kept going, the end was not near, I don't know if I can hold on any longer. But I kept pushing. 1 mile to go. .50 to go, almost there, keep going. Then there it is. The Finish. I can see it. The final turn and the finish chute is near. I crossed in 4hrs and 14 min. I did it!!!! I finished but not only did I finish I made my goal.
It was a great feeling overwhelming knowing that I didn't give up, I had recovered from cramping and that I had executed my race plan. I Pr by 24 minutes. Wow!!!! I still can't believe it. I had a goal and I achieved that goal. What a day! Thank you to all of my family and friends who were there encouraging me along the way. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers!!!!!