CIM–The Race & The Aftermath

What’s the protocol for recapping a race you didn’t actually run? Can I write 57.25% of a post?

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Running aside, I had a great weekend in Sacramento, and am grateful for the opportunity to travel and spend time with the great friends this sport has brought into my life. On Saturday Kristina and our menfolk (aka BriLee) did the whole fly/drive/get lost looking for parking/etc before hitting the expo and getting down to Race Eve business…


K inspecting the swag, detailing spectator plans (yes that’s me in a kayak flowing downstream), and liquid carbing at Pyramid Brew Co

… and then meeting up with some friends of the hydration and bird variety I love so much…


me, Arielle, Megan, Paulette, Jen, Stacy, Allison

I went to sleep feeling calm, excited, and nervous. Despite the weather and the drunk guy knocking on our door inviting us to the “lingerie party next door” (which the cops eventually broke up), I was EXCITED to wake up and run a marathon. For like the first time ever.

After a fitful night of sleep and waking up in a cold sweat (probably a sign of the cold I’m currently fighting), we did the typical pre-race thing and then made our way down to the lobby for the 5:15 shuttle.


We got down there early, saw the busses outside, and went inside to grab some breakfast. As I was waiting on the toaster, saying something to K with my back to the windows, she suddenly got this horrified look on her face directed just over my shoulder.


Luckily they had to circle the building in order to get out of the parking lot and we were able to jump in front of them and board before they left, but WTF?! Who’s idea to leave 10min early without notice?? I wonder how many runners ended up having to take a $100 cab to the start…

Anyway, an hour later we were parked at the start, terrified of getting off. K had informed me the forecast had somehow gotten worse over night, calling for 100% rain and 35mph winds. My attempts at “maybe it’ll be wrong!” optimism finally died as we sat on that bus, rain pouring down and the wind howling like the special effect sounds from Twister.


30min before the start we finally summoned the courage to hit the portapotties and seek wind refuge in the corral. Donned in our trash bag vests, we puddle jumped to delay the inevitable soaked shoes and distracted ourselves until the gun.

By some miracle we ran into both Margot and Madison in the corral, and right at 7am we took off into the rain.


as close as we’ll get to an actual running pic. just me in my (non-oiselle) throwaway

Truthfully the weather wasn’t AS BAD as I expected. Despite my attempts at relentless optimism, I expected it to be completely miserable. The wind wasn’t constant and there were even a few brief moments of tailwind. The rain was steady but not brutal, and it was warm enough (mid 50s?) that it wasn’t chilling. My Nuun hat got an A+ keeping my eyes dry and mascara in tact, and the trash bag vest kept my singlet dry for 5 miles until I could bear to part with it.

* update: I don’t mean to downplay the conditions, I’m sure if I’d run the full 26.2 they would have affected me more, just simply stating I was expecting worse. those that finished/survived definitely earned their badass stamp. *

It wasn’t long until I felt the tightness in my lower leg. Each downhill tugged a little more, and when we hit the downhill S-curve with the FLOWING RIVER THROUGH THE STREET at mile 10, I attempted a side-step/leap over the rushing water and felt the final blow.



Luckily Aron, Page, and Marjorie were right around the corner and their surprise cheers were a great distraction. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was affecting my gait and I knew then I wasn’t going to finish. I convinced myself to just get to Brian and Lee waiting after the halfway point, and adjust there.

“At least run 20 to make all the carb-loading worthwhile! Be strong – you said you were ready to run in pain! Make it worth it.”

But when I finally found them a little after mile 15, I knew I was done. There was no point in pushing myself through a pain for no reason, not to mention risk setting back recovery even more. I had to be smart in the long term, no matter how bad another DNF hurt my ego.

So I hopped in the car with BriLee and tagged along chasing K around the course – we saw her at 21 and then again just as she finished, blowing away her goal AND pulling in a big BQ on her debut, despite the terrible conditions. Just like Mel’s first half last weekend (the other DNF), I beamed with pride and happiness for my friend’s great race, smiling through the tears (second-hand happiness and first-hand sadness).


pictures of pictures until I can pull them off the camera…

Despite feeling content with my decision and the affirmations from others that it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of “mourning” towards my CIM cycle. No matter how bumpy the road and disappointing the outcome, I was still sad it was over.

But there will be other races, and I WILL come back faster AND stronger. I’ll learn from this, and use the disappointment as fuel for the next.

First though, it’s time to recover.

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Rundies say it’s time to rest

I’m ready for a break. To heal, physically and mentally. The roller coaster ride running has taken me on this year – both extraordinary highs and meltdown lows – has been exhausting.

I have a huge respect for those of you that lace up every day excited to run, simply because it’s something you love to do. Because it brings happiness, calm, joy to your life. But that’s not why I do it.

I’m not a happy love-every-step runner. I run because I like the work, the challenge, pushing myself. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and structure to my daily life. I like analyzing workouts, drawing up plans, watching progress and getting a kick in the pants when the numbers say I’ve been slacking.

Obviously running is not my job, but it IS work to me. And just like anything that consumes your time, effort, and outside life, a reprieve is always welcomed after a long tour.


felt like this post needed another beer pic

It’s no question I need the time to heal physically, but mentally I may need it even more. I’m sickly prone to burnout – no doubt due to the “work” approach to training – and am almost grateful this silly injury is pulling rank and forcing me into a mandatory break.

The (rest of the) month of December will be run-free. 0 miles. I’ll consult with a doctor to make sure my recovery is on the right path, and commit to getting better. I’ll cherish the extra free-time and get all those odd jobs done I’ve had on my to-do list forever. I’ll spend more time working on my relationships and less on my fitness, and soak in every second of the holiday season. I might actually cook a proper meal for once.

Who knows. Things could get crazy.

But once 2013 rings in, it’s time to get back to work. And damnit, I’ll be ready.

Sarah OUaL