California International Marathon 2015 Race Recap

Here is my race recap of the California International Marathon 2015.

The California International Marathon (CIM) was my first marathon that I ever ran way back in 2010. I have ran it three times already. My first time was an experience, like many people who ran their first marathon. It was painful and exhilarating all at the same time.

My second running in 2012 was even more painful as my calf cramped at the start line and never let go, plus we got over an inch of rain that was driven by up to 50 mile per hour gusts. But I PR’ed by 9 minutes, and nearly 35 minutes over my previous CIM.

My third running was last year in 2014, where I PR’ed again by nearly 14 minutes, and nearly an hour faster than my first CIM. I ran my heart out and had a great run.

This year was my fourth running of CIM, and I had no PR aspirations. Originally, I was going to pace a friend of mine to her Boston Qualifier, but she got injured. So, I was going to pace my friend Endorphin Dude to his personal best marathon time. I didn’t feel like pushing myself this year for the marathon. Some of my most enjoyable runs have been where I helped somebody else meet their goals.

I really like pacing people, it adds more purpose to my running.

I met Endorphin Dude at the CIM expo and he crashed on my couch the morning before the race. We woke up early and drove to the finish line to catch the bus to the start line. Last year was much more jubilant as there were other bloggers on the bus with us. This year he fell asleep.

Endorphin Dude was a grumpy ninja on the bus. It might have been because I woke him up.

Endorphin Dude was a grumpy ninja on the bus. It might have been because I woke him up.

At the starting line, we visited the porta potties and then found our pace group. The rain had just started, but it was just a wee drizzle, and the temperature wasn’t all that bad. I was wearing my trash bag and was fine.

The rain was intense.  Oh wait, that was us.

The rain was intense. Oh wait, that was us.

Endorphin Dude wanted to run a sub 4:30, so we lined up in the 4:25 group (there was no 4:30 pace team), and waited for the start. We talked to some folks who were running their first marathon and gave them tips on the course. We had both run the course three previous times, and I had the advantage of only running marathons on three different courses. Opposed to Endorphin Dude, who has run 98 marathons, and another 50 ultras, he can’t remember courses anymore.

At the start we took off, I had to hold him back so he didn’t burn himself out too soon. It was amazing seeing about 4000 people in front of us running the course. The first 5 or so miles were crowded, with the rain and wind people weren’t spreading out as much as they had in previous years. We didn’t even bother stopping at the first or second aid station because they were so crowded.

At the third aid station, I ran a little bit ahead so that I could see the Dashing Wife at the first relay exchange (she was running with her Moms Run this Town group), I also got recognized by a few other people (it pays to have a uniform, the yellow shorts and blue calf sleeves make me stand out).

We had passed the 4:25 group and were pushing to a 4:20 finish. I kept his pace down so he wouldn’t burn himself out. I made him walk up some of the steep hills. Also, it was tough for me, I usually take walk breaks at the aid stations, he doesn’t. But since I was running about 1 minute per mile slower than my last marathon, I wasn’t too worried about it.

I had to pee since about mile 3, but the porta-potties were crowded, so it was about mile 8 or so when I finally saw a free one. I told E-dude I would catch up. I had a glorious pee, and I wasn’t getting rained on. Then I had to catch up. I probably had some people wonder what the hell I was doing because I was running at a 7 minute pace to catch up to my runner. Considering most everybody else is running at a 10 minute pace, it was probably pretty odd. Luckily for me, I only had to run that fast for a minute or so before I caught up to him.

We were doing great, Endorphin Dude was smiling at people and talking with fans and friends on the course. I took a video at mile 14, and was making dumb jokes and making fun of whatever I could. We were passed by the 4:25 group around mile 15, but still well on pace to get a PR for him.

It was mile 18 that things started taking a turn for the worst. I could tell something was changing. He had this thousand mile stare, and wasn’t responding to any of my dumb jokes. He also wasn’t responding to cheers from his fans. He was still running but his pace dropping quickly.

I had to change my strategy of keeping him moving forward. I had to start talking to him about what he has accomplished previously. I was telling him that we had less than 8 miles to go, less than the trip from Rattlesnake Bar to the Finish line at AR50. The time we had to push to get to the finish line 2.5 years ago. It was the last stretch of Rocky Raccoon, his Western States qualifier. Whatever I could think of.

I started going through the aid stations for him. I would grab water and food and pass them to him as he was running. I had to also make decisions for him, like giving him salt tabs, orange slices, or GU to keep him going.

At mile 20, he got a huge cramp in the center of his back. I had to do some pressure point massage to get his back to loosen up, while we were running. I am sure that made an awesome sight.

Another thing I did was help him run the tangents. If I could help him run as straight a line as possible, I could shave a few seconds off his time.

The 4:30 time went away around mile 21. We had hit the numbered streets in Sacramento by that point. Flat and easy running. His pace kept dropping, but his PR of 4:34 was still on the table, but we had to push it. I told him he had to run like he was running up the Last Gasp Hill at AR50.

Also during this time, I am chatting with people, encouraging them along as well. I was dancing where I could and trying to have fun, hoping that attitude would rub off on folks. I kept pushing Endorphin Dude too. Reminding him that he wasn’t allowed to give up. Around mile 24, I knew it would be virtually impossible for him to get a PR, he didn’t have 9 minute miles left in his legs. But I didn’t tell him that. I just kept pushing him. I wasn’t going to let him give up.

I also started my annoying distance count down when we hit mile 25. Just 2 km to go. Not 5. Two. Less than five laps around the track. That actually got a couple people running. We kept pushing to the finish, Endorphin Dude was in agony. His face was all twisted up in pain, he had his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, he was hurting.

The final half mile is along the capitol lawn, and right at mile 26, you pass the food line and all the other finishers. We just have to run three more blocks, turn left, run a block, turn left again, and run one more block. We really started to push. We crossed the finish line two minutes short of his PR, but it was his second best time ever.

Achieving a second best time isn’t all that impressive for some folks who have only run five or ten marathons, but this was Endorphin Dude’s 98th marathon. That is impressive.

Endorphin Dude and I after the race.  He didn't PR, but it was close.

Endorphin Dude and I after the race. He didn’t PR, but it was close.

Turns out that reason he was in so much pain was that he had a kidney stone. He passed it about 48 hours later and it was bigger than one of those NERD candies (a word E-dude loves so much). He ran with a kidney stone. Impressive.

He also said that if it wasn’t for me, he would have walked the last 8 miles, and would have finished a lot closer to six hours.

After the race, we ran into some of the other friends of ours, Jonesy and Ace. These crazy bastards ran a 50 mile race the day before, in under 10 hours, then they ran a marathon the next day in under 4 hours. Unbelievable.

Tony with his ultra running buddies, Ace and Jonesy.

Tony with his ultra running buddies, Ace and Jonesy.

One of the things that was nice about running about 25% slower than usual is that I felt great the next day. Also, I had the most fun I’ve ever had on a marathon. I had no concern for time, I just was running and helping my friend meet a goal. Pacing is so much fun, and even better than running for a goal.

The only issue I had was that I had a bandaid fall off my right nipple, so I had some damage there.

One of my bandaids fell off, and I had a slight injury.

One of my bandaids fell off, and I had a slight injury.

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