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CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

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CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Tom H on Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:41 pm

In mile 4 I look down at my Garmin to see what pace we were running and see my HR is at 177 – above lactate threshold, uh oh.  So I change to display to Time of Day only and don’t look at it again until mile 18. I knew this was going to be a hard race and that my training had suffered due to my hamstring injury, but to see a 177 at that point just pissed me off.  I hadn’t trained as hard as I had to fail.  I determined then and there I was going to gut it out or die trying.

It all started out perfectly.  CIM is a beautifully organized and executed race.  I cannot think of a thing they could do to improve it.  Got up at 4 AM and did my normal prerace breakfast of a Boost nutrition drink and a bagel.  Got in line with about 500 other people for the 5am bus and they had what seemed like a never ending stream of them right in front of my hotel.  At the race venue they had 300 porta potties which handled the crowd of 5800 runners quite well, so I was in and out of there pretty quickly.  Temp at start was as advertised by Accuweather, 48 degrees with good cloud cover.  Perfect.  Did about 10 minutes of walking followed by some dynamic stretching, dumped my sweats with the gear check folks and found my pace leader, Tim.

One good thing about Tim, other than he’s run CIM 31 times and won the Western States 100 4 or 5 times, is that he is 6’ 3”, so easy to see even when he’s not holding up the pace sign.  He got us all nicely corralled and gave a short description of the course and how we were going to run it.  As the clock ticked down to 10 seconds all my nervousness disappeared and I felt an unnatural calm, filled with confidence I was going to succeed at getting my BQ.  It took a mile or so for things to thin out and not worry about being tripped up by other runners, and mile 1 was at an 8:00 pace.  They had traffic cones out in the middle of the road (for no reason I can fathom) and the people in front of you would have to dodge around them at the last minute.  I didn’t see anyone go down, but was just waiting for it to happen.  To hit my A goal of a 3:35, I was going to have to hold an 8:12 for the race, and Tim had explained that we were going to try and pick up a little time on some of the early, more downhill sections, so no problem.  My B goal was to hit better than a 3:38 as my BQ standard is a 3:40 and the past couple of years suggested that a 2 minute cushion should be sufficient.

CIM is a course that starts with 11 miles of significant rolling hills so while there were downhill to gain time on, there were the uphills as well and we did hold a good pace on those.  Mile 2 was an 8:09 and mile 3 a 7:57.   At about the 3.5 mark is when I looked at the Garmin and got the bad HR news and decided to be an ostrich burying my head in the sand so that the trouble would go away.  Looking at the data post-race, that was a good decision as for the first 12 miles I spent way too much time in the 170’s. 

I was keeping up with Tim really well early on, the rolling hills not feeling terribly bad on the legs.  He is, I think, part camel however, as the amount of water he consumed was really minimal.  I’d done a two sweat tests in race day temps in the weeks before the race and found I was sweating/exhaling out 32 oz per hour(!), so knew I had to stay on top of hydration.  I took in 1 or 2 cups every station and was carrying a 24 oz. bottle with Nuun in it for additional hydration and electrolytes.  As a side note, I’ve finally nailed the drinking on the run out of a paper cup thing, which is great.  However, with so many runners in the race causing a slowdown at the aid stations and my pace leader not utilizing the aid stations much, every time I went through one I fell behind and had to burn some matches to catch up. 

At mile 10 or so it started to get hard.  I was cursing the hamstring injury at that point, not because it was giving me any problems, but because I had done my last 20 miles six weeks before the race, then was only able to do the HM and then one run over 10 prior to race day.  I should not be feeling this tired this early!  I had to start digging in about mile 13, and that concerned me a lot.  I was no longer running with Tim, but was keeping him in sight.  I checked my pace and it had slowed to an 8:19 so dug a little deeper and for the next 5 miles averaged the desired pace.  In mile 18 started slowing again and struggled to pick it up and in mile 19 looked at my HR to see what gas I had left in the tank.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was back at about a 164 and that motivated me to pick it up again for the next couple of miles, but I was struggling.  By this time, Tim was out of sight and it was up to me to start monitoring pace to make sure I met my goal.  Passing mile 20 gave me resolve, however.  I was spot on pace for the race and, if I had come this far, I was going to make it another 6.2 - and at a good pace.  But I was hurting. 

Starting at about mile 15 my body was telling me to stop, or at least just walk.  Back then, I was able to tell my body to shut up and keep running.  At 22 my body’s voice was much louder and louder and I resorted to the “run to the next intersection, then the light pole, then the next aid station” strategy.  I was doubting that I’d be able to hold on as my pace slowly deteriorated into the 8:30’s.  So I took a chance and in mile 24 gave myself a 30 second walk break.  It did wonders for my energy level, but at the cost of some really tight calves.  When I started back to running, I felt like I was back at pace but checking the Garmin a minute or so later, I saw I was much slower and had to crank it up a notch! 

I checked my average pace for the race thus far and calculated that to BQ with a 2 minute cushion, as long I kept in the 8:30’s I’d be OK. Mile 25 turned into an 8:39, not good.  Mile 26 – Oh Crap! – was an 8:50.  I wasn’t slacking, I was pushing hard but the gas tank warning light was definitely blinking.  When I hit the 26 marker I knew I had nothing left in the time bank, perhaps a small deficit, and nothing in the body bank either.  Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead at that point, I had to give it every last bit I had.  Ran the last 0.2 at a blazing 8:22 with the home stretch to the finish at a brief dash of 7:41.  Hit the stop button on the Garmin and saw it was a 3:37:49, and official chip time came it at a 3:37:45.  Talk about cutting it close, but I did it, I got my BQ.

My training partner Jenn and I had been within 30 yards of each other for the vast majority of the race.  She, like me, felt it late in the race but pushed hard; coming in just 28 seconds behind me for and easy BQ as well (her standard was a 3:45).  We high-fived each other and started hobbling into the runner’s area.  Neither of us had ever felt so spent after a race, nor had we had the super tight calves that made us take baby steps.  After grabbing a really delicious bowl of split pea soup and a nice chunk of Naan bread we started heading back to the hotel, then realized we had to cross the race course to get there.  We were both moving at something just slower than a snail’s pace and laughing at our sorry selves, so the thought of dashing between runners who were within 0.2 miles of the finish was a bit daunting.  We got lucky though and shortly there was soon a nice break in the stream and we shuffled across.

Metrics for the record:

Official time:  3:37:45, top 25% of AG

Avg pace: 8:19

Avg HR:  166

Avg Cadence: 188, stride length 1.03m

 

My Garmin showed an average pace of 8:16 and that was a result of running an actual 26.33 miles.  And just to give a glimpse at the heart rate from Hell that put me into ostrich mode:

 

 

All in all, a great race.  Don't ask me what the course looked like or how spectator support was, I was too focused to notice.  I got a PR and my BQ, found out how deep I can dig when the going gets tough, and much to my surprise, my hamstring issue was a non-issue.  What a ride.
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:51 pm

Congratulations, Tom! You pushed that one right to the edge of your capabilities and crossed the line with nothing but vapor in the tank. Well done! I'm so excited for your PR and solid BQ. Way to go!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:28 pm

Woohoo!!!  Tom - Congrats on the BQ!  I will see you in Boston in 2016.

(And your race brought back some NYC memories!)
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:26 am

Well done, sir.  Fades are always the toughest kinds of races.
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Schuey on Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:17 pm

Tom great run and huge congrats on that BQ!! Always a great feeling running a PR but to add a BQ to it is like putting two cherries on top of a Sundae!

No doubt that you pushed meter to the red line and received the well rewarded payoff. Oh, by the way nice avg. cadence 188 for the race!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  fostever on Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:43 pm

Congrats on the BQ for 2016!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Tim C on Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:59 pm

@Schuey wrote:Tom great run and huge congrats on that BQ!! Always a great feeling running a PR but to add a BQ to it is like putting two cherries on top of a Sundae!

No doubt that you pushed meter to the red line and received the well rewarded payoff. Oh, by the way nice avg. cadence 188 for the race!

+1 on the cadence.  Impressive!  I think anything over the low 170's is good.
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  mountandog on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:35 pm

Well managed Tom.  With all the setbacks the last six weeks, you got to the starting line, the finishing line and your ultimate goal.  Way to go!!!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  nkrichards on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:39 pm

Congrats on a well earned and hard fought PR and BQ. Can't say you didn't earn that one! Nice job.
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  KBFitz on Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:42 am

Nicely done Tom! Your narrative rings very true. When the going got tough you kept your head in the game. You won this one with your head. And that's very hard to do. But it makes the satisfaction so much more sweet. Hooah!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

Post  Jerry on Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:24 pm

Congratulations Tom!
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Re: CIM = 5 min PR & BQ!

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