Race Flashback: CIM

I’m not running a race for another 3 weeks or so, so here’s a race report from last month. The California International Marathon (CIM) was my second race at this distance. I had managed 3:46:11 at the S.F Marathon in August, and so a 3:35 BQ on this fast course seemed within reach.

CIM is a point-to-point with a net elevation drop of 300 feet – a nice little assist. My stretch goal was 3:30, which would get me a guaranteed entry for the NYC Marathon, should I care to do that. It also had the attraction of being almost exactly 8:00 min/mile pace, so I could carry the split targets in my head. 8, 16, 24… Second hour 4, 12, 20… Third hour like first hour, fourth hour like second hour. Neat. I had used a pace band at SFM, but found it tiresome to deal with.

All the times given are from my watch. I did not wear the Garmin, feeling that I needed to focus on the actual running part. Here’s how it went.

It was chilly at the start, and so, like many people, I kept my sweats on till the last possible minute. After the resulting scramble to turn in my bag, I tried to get into position near the 3:30 pace group without much success in the crush. There are no waves at CIM, just a wide start line. Off go the wheelchairs, then everyone else 30 seconds later and that’s it.
After maneuvering through the 3:40 and 3:35 groups I sped up and eventually caught the 3:30 group at mile 3, having averaged 7:54 pace so far with a downhill assist. Careful Jim, don’t forget this is a marathon!
So then we jogged along in low rolling hills: 8:02, 7:57, 7:58, 7:58, 8:04… and I started to think this 3:30 thing might be do-able.
Then I just fell into a groove that was slightly faster than the pace group, and gradually moved ahead of them: 7:52, 7:51, 8:01…. I hit the half at 1:44:17, which is only two minutes slower than my half PR of a few weeks ago. “Maybe I’m crazy, but this feels OK…. Wonder if I can negative split?”
Having thus challenged myself, I moved the pace up a notch: 7:59, 7:52, 7:55, 7:46… At the 18-mile marker, a woman eased past me, We compared splits and she had started even further back than me. She had a pacer, who joined us at mile 20 and we gradually accelerated. 7:50, 7:48, 7:48, 7:42, 7:38. I was staring at my watch at that last one, thinking “Wow, getting near tempo pace , how is this possible? If I’m gonna crash, I’m running out of distance to do it in.”
They eventually gapped me at mile 23, but I continued at the new pace: 7:41, 7:36, 7:38, and yes, it was starting to hurt a bit. I think I lost my idiot grin at this point. Some of the time, anyway.
Mile 26 was a bit slower, 7:54, but I was having to weave though other runners somewhat. There was just enough in the tank for a little sprint at the finish (4 more places), which left me with that 5K want-to-puke feeling. Then I looked at my watch again and shuffled away happy. The second half took 1:42:33, for a full watch time of 3:26:50, The idiot grin was back! My chip time turned out to be just 1 second faster, at 3:26:49, so it was quite a satisfying morning.

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3 Responses to “Race Flashback: CIM”


  1. 1 threlkeld January 9, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Nice race report — an even better with the big PR. Congrats on knocking down a few barriers at once! I hope to run CIM in December, so it’s helpful to read reports like this.

  2. 2 jime2 January 9, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks. I expect you’ve seen the course profile. Tt is pretty fast. It’s just the start that’s tricky, so try and get close to the line. I rode the bus to the start, and would do so again.

  3. 3 spaulukonis January 12, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    What an inspirational race report!


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Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
10K43:44
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)

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