Boston Bound: California International Marathon
Retrospection. It helps us realize how far we have come. It's easy to forget and to instead continuously think about what's next. This is a blessing and a curse. It is important to challenge yourself each day and to grow. Whether it be mentally, physically, socially, or spiritually, we never want to become complacent in our lives, but it’s also crucial to savor those special moments and REFLECT.
To really reflect on the CIM marathon I need to go back a few years to where it all began. So let’s look back at college Christy's goals... where did she envision herself 7 years from then? I mention this time in my life because it was around this time when I started to dream of completing A (yes, I was only thinking singular) half marathon. Now guys, the furthest I had run at this point, was maybe 4 miles, so YO girl was DREAMIN' big. And although I started to enjoy running and working out in college, I was more into sprint intervals and cardio kick boxing classes were MY JAM. When it came to intensity, I had always been the type to push myself just a little bit harder, knowing you only get out of life what you put into it but with all that being said, long distance running just wasn't something I had ever dabbled in. It SCARED me. I wanted to think that I could do it, I told myself that one day I would run a marathon, but I wasn't sure how, when, or what that would actually look like.
So the story goes on, post college, once the 3AM pizza by the slice days came to an end, I got serious about training. I found 2 friends who were also interested in signing up for a half marathon and we DID it! I signed up, trained, and completed my first half marathon and I LITERALLY felt INVINCIBLE. Honestly, to date this was probably the most AH inspiring mind-body victory for me because it was the beginning of me realizing that I COULD. I realized that short term pain is worth long term gain… and if this isn’t a life parallel, I don’t know what is.
Some of you may have guessed it, but after I finished my first half marathon, I was hooked and I knew right away that I had to do a full.
Jumping ahead about a year, with many more miles logged, and LOTS of food consumed (my favorite part), I CONQUERED a full marathon. Common theme #1 that you will find throughout this story is that finding your SUPPORT and COMMUNITY is crucial for any training plan. I found a close friend (shout out to Nat) who also had the goal of running a marathon and we trained together. Getting up early on Sunday mornings to run 20 something miles, isn’t anyone’s dream but it helps when you have someone else counting on you to help them get through their miles… and knowing there would be a BOMB brunch at the end didn’t hurt either.
Now time to fast forward even a few more years, when I made the cross country move from Ohio to Seattle (PLOT TWIST). This happened somewhere between when I finished my second full marathon in Chicago, after barely training and only beating my time by about a minute, this is when I decided that I wasn’t going to sign up and put in training for another marathon unless I made the goal of qualifying for Boston.
This was an aspirational goal that I only dreamed of when I first started running. I saw other people on social media conquer this amazing feat and looked up to them. When I met Ives shortly after moving to Seattle and found out that she had qualified and would be running in Boston that year, I was immediately inspired and the dream came alive again.
To put things into perspective, my previous PR was 3:52, the Boston qualifying time for my age and gender group is around 3:30 and to ensure I met the cut off, I needed to be somewhere closer to 3:28. As soon as Ives found out this was a goal of mine, her desire to help me get there was shown almost immediately! Well actually it WAS immediately. She point blank said, "I would do it with you, I would run a marathon with you and try and help you qualify." The girl was put in my life for a reason, she pushes me, challenges me, and encourages me… this is just one example. So now that I had my person (theme continues), the search to find a marathon began. After finding out that the CIM marathon is mostly flat and one of the highest Boston qualifying races, I jumped at the chance to sign up! Ives brought it up and was excited to go on a RUNcation in good ole’ Sacramento, CA. She told me that she also had the goal to run an entire race with a friend… and that she would!
Now let’s talk training, I didn’t do anything significantly different from what I had previously done for marathon training, but with Ives helping level me up, simply by knowing someone else was going out there and crushing it every weekend, I pushed myself a little bit harder. I followed a Hal Higdeon plan, but definitely adapted when I missed some runs, and actually did more cross training/strength than I had ever done with previous marathon training.
Okay, now onto the FUN stuff! Our RUNcation, started off with some champagne and snacks as we hit the airport right after work. OH.. FUNNY story there, we literally boarded the WRONG flight, to Portland. Oh you know, for some odd reason there were two airplanes you could board off of the same terminal ramp and with the rain and wind in full speed, of course Ives and I boarded the one to Portland. We kept commenting on how small the plane was and eventually someone asked, are you sure you’re going to Portland? Well no, of course not! We first, looked at each other dead in the eye with a little panic and then both just died laughing as we grabbed our bags and ran to board the plane to Sacramento.
We landed late and to save money we were staying at a budget friendly hotel. With nothing nearby besides a diner, we ate the perfect pre race meal, a greasy burger and some sweet potato fries ( not the best meal we have ever had). With all of that being said, we hit the hay to wake up early to pick up our bibs and registration the next day.
Woo! Race day EVE was SO fun, Ives and were like kids in a candy store as we tried LITERALLY every sample they had to offer. What really sticks out to me is when Ives was asked to be an ambassador for Health Aid Bouch because of her PASSION as we were trying samples. It was magic and we know we are freaks.
After a few muscle massages later, and Ives losing yours truly as I got mentally lost in the beautiful gear wracks, we had a pretty amazing day of brunch, ULA planning session, and a carb filled dinner.
Race day, onto the juicy stuff … we woke up at the butt crack of dawn, somewhere around 4AM to catch the buses to the starting line. Gear included, the same crop leggings I have worn for EVERY race I have ever ran, my ULA “Conquer Your Summit” tank, flip belt, a packet of cliff blocks, and an old sweater to throw off when the race started.
As we were getting into our corrals, OF COURSE I had the pre-race digestive issues... along with everyone else and their mom. I waited in line while Ives started stretching, both feeling a little stressed to make it to our corral in time. I finished just in time to jet to our corral for the start of the race! Anyone else do this EVERY time?
Off we go! We are moving and a grooving. Feeling good, keeping up with the 7:30 pacer. Stopping for NUN every 2 to 3 miles and eating a block every 4 or so miles. Somewhere along mile 10 I realize I might cream my pants (oops did I just write that). I know this is TMI, but I gotta be honest, because this was one of the hardest parts of my race. I HAD to stop for a porta potty break, I needed to find one close. PRAYING I would run into one that wasn’t occupied and to my pleasant surprise, I was able to jet into one and get my business done in a matter of 20 seconds. Ives continued to run and I was able to catch back up with her. Oh boy, was this a relief. TALK ABOUT STRESS.
The run was relatively flat, but there were still some hills. The weather was perfect and I really was feeling great. Keeping great pace with Ives by my side and making random conversation with new faces.
I get in the zone when I am running, sometimes I don’t even pay attention to what is happening around me. It’s a form of meditation for me and really just a way to get through it. Staying focused on the outcome. The route was through the city and I really have no major complaints. There was one pretty steady hill towards the end, but at that point everything is numb anyways.
As we neared mile 20, I could feel things start to shift in my brain. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and finish, but I also started to get choked up just thinking about accomplishing this big goal I had set for myself so long ago and wasn't sure that I would ever do it.
It was important to not think about the pain, but to rather focus on all those cheering me on from other cities and all those who I had told this was my goal. This helped keep me accountable as well as thinking back to all of the other races I had done, this wasn't the first and actually, I could. Each mile towards the end I focused on someone I loved. Ives also helped encourage me when I felt myself slipping. I looked at everyone else around me who was pushing themselves and this fired me up and kept me going.
The last 3 miles of any marathon, seem like the longest! I honestly blacked out a little, but recall as we were approaching the last .5 miles my entire body went into adrenaline mode. We picked up, continued to push our pace and as we were approaching the finish line, we grabbed hands and crossed that baby TOGETHER. Chills, shock, and excitement came over me as my body realized what had just happened.
Champ, tacos, and a major celebration was in order. I qualified for Boston baby! Finishing in at 3:26:56 and shaving over 25 minutes off of my last marathon! Holy smokes, I kind of just impressed myself, that’s close to a minute off of every mile. The power of he power of consistent training (I’m talking making it a regular habit to train like an athlete and challenge your body), using your mental strength, and most importantly having community and support (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ABOVE ALL ELSE IN MY WORLD)! Honestly guys, if I can do this, I promise you that big HAIRY goal that you have had in the back of your head is ATTAINABLE. Find someone to help you put a plan and start the journey!