Well, that was a giant poop!
I’ve ran more road miles over the past three months, approximately 1,000, training for CIM than I’ve ran over the past 3 years training for ultras. Putting in 80-100 miles weeks in the mountains was beginning to feel somewhat normal, until we uprooted my “training plan” and actually built one that made sense.
So, how did my first marathon go?
If we take the entire results of the weekend into account, then CIM weekend was a success.
Leading up to CIM, I had a busy work week with a Tue-Thur trip to Dallas. Thankfully this was taper week, so my mileage was peeled back and didn’t have to worry about finding a route for a quality workout. I also had a mild groin niggle that popped up after my last track workout on 11/24, but the 10 day taper provided ample time to rest.
Excited about the potential results from three months of hard work, I made the five hour trip up to Roseville on Friday evening, checked into the Hilton Garden Inn too damn close to the freeway (thanks Hilton points), and called it an early night.
After a quick shakeout run on Saturday morning, I washed up, downed a quick breakfast and made my way up to the Placer High School auditorium in Auburn for the Western States lottery. With 3,500 entrants in this year’s lottery (2,500 in 2014) and only 270ish spots up for grabs on Saturday morning, my chances were even slimmer than I assumed (13%). Western States modified their lottery system recently, implementing a 2n process, where runners are allotted tickets based on the number of years they’ve entered the lottery. A first year entrant received one ticket in the lottery. Two year entrants received two tickets. Three years receive four tickets, and the numbers jump up from there (4th year – 8 tickets; 5th year – 16; 6th year – 32 and 7th year – 64 tickets). Yes, there were actually five individuals that were in their 7th lotter year, but thankfully they all made it in.
With new standards implemented in 2014, now recognizing only 100k or 100 milers for lottery qualifiers completed within the past calendar year, I assumed the entrant numbers would remain flat or even shrink compared to 2014 (only recent year where entrant numbers dropped). Granted there were over 2,200 first year qualifiers, the total number of lottery entrants exploded to 3,500. Considering today’s need for instant gratification, I’m interested in watching these lottery entrant numbers over the next several years. My theory is that the number of first year qualifiers will continue to increase, but the numbers for 2-7 year entrants will remain relatively flat or even shrink.
The Placer High Auditorium was absolutely packed, with many people being forced to stand near the exit. Upon arrival, all attendees that had registered for the lottery were issued two identical playing cards that they were to write their name on (mine were the king of diamonds). Entrants were given one card and the other was entered into a separate lottery, with three individuals from the audience being chosen for WS after the conclusion of the regular lottery. There was also a booth selling raffle tickets ($5 for one, or $20 for five). Five raffle ticket winners would be chosen at the conclusion of the lottery, and these winners were offered a free entry into the 2017 WS 100.
Tim Twiettmeir, 20+ sub-24 WS finishes, multiple wins and countless top tens, was the officiator. A multitude of individuals were introduced, primarily members of the WS board, and then specific individuals were asked to pick out 30 numbers/entrants at a time. Ann Trason started off the lottery, as she needs no introduction, but I’ll provide one for the non-ultra readers actually making their way through this blog post. Ann Trason is a 14 time winner of Western States, many times finishing in the top ten overall. She holds countless course and distance records, and is arguably the best ultrarunner, male or female, that has ever raced the trails.
As each number was pulled, Tim attempted, and epically failed on multiple occasions with the international names, to state the number of years in the lottery, the location and name of the runner chosen. The runners name would be immediately populated on a giant screen behind the stage, and would eventually scroll down as others were picked. If someone from the audience was chosen in the lottery, and there were a multitude of attendees picked this year, they would undoubtedly hoot and holler, and then make their way down to the stage to high five and hug the board members, get some WS shwag and then have their picture taken.
The very first name pulled was Scott Tate, a local runner from Santa Barbara. Over the next 45 minutes, Patty Bryant was also added to the list. Patty, another local from Santa Barbara, is one of the most accomplished ultrarunner on the Central Coast. She started the SB Nine Trails race and has finished countless ultras over her career.
At around 9:45am and after 75ish runners had been chosen, all the tea and water from the morning had started to kick in. Entrant upon entrant was receiving their ticket to the big dance, and also being updated onto the screen, as Ann Trason was replaced with several other “pickers.” There didn’t seem to be a break in sight so I snuck out to take a quick leak. I asked my neighbor to watch my seat, as the auditorium was jam packed and I was trying to stay off my feet in preparation for the race.
Heading back from a quick bathroom break, I thanked my neighbor for holding down the fort, and settled back into my “comfy” high school auditorium seat. Not thinking much of my 13% chances, I glanced up at the board and saw the following info, “Jadd Martinez, San Luis Obispo, 3 years” populate on the screen. Pretty sure I had to read this four or five times, and I even asked my neighbor if they had in fact called out my name. She confirmed and said, “You’re in! Go up on stage!”
With Tim Twiettmeir ripping off names and after just reading off several women in a row, I wasn’t sure if howling and sprinting down to the stage was the appropriate response, unless I wanted everyone to think I was in the middle of a sex change procedure. After awkwardly making my way down, I talked with one of the board members, pointed up at the screen and said, “That’s me.” The gentleman stopped Tim and told him we have another attendee picked. Tim looked down and all I could muster was, “Sorry Tim, I was taking a piss.” I was rushed onstage, picked up a cool WS visor, and ushered to the back where a cameraman was waiting to snap a shot.
The rest of the lottery was a semi-blur, as another 200 runners were chosen, a lot of audience members were picked, unfortunately no other SLO or SB runners were chosen, and some notables like brother combo’s and husband wife combo’s were picked. One of the most interesting attendees chosen was a first year entrant and one of my favorite former A’s players, Eric Burns. Mr. Hustle was a great A’s player for a few seasons before being traded to the Diamondbacks. He was so much fun to watch because he never quit on a play, and you could tell he was giving 110% in every game… great qualities for an ultrarunner.
After the audience lottery and raffle drawing were completed, I made my way back down to Sacramento to check-in and relax before the race.
Not certain if I’ll ever race CIM again, but if I do there is no doubt I’ll be staying at the Marriott Residence Inn on L street. Centrally located across the street from Capitol Park, the Residence Inn is only two blocks away from the convention center, which is the packet pickup site. The convention center was also the shuttle location for the next morning, so I knew the commute wouldn’t be bad. Not entirely sure what the cost was for the night (thanks Marriott points), but from a conversation with a fellow runner, I’m glad I booked this hotel in advance. After dropping off my gear and buying a pass for the Marriott’s pasta feed on Saturday, another perk for those interested in a CIM hotel location for 2016, I made my way over to the convention center to check in.
Over the years, I’ve visited the Sacramento convention center a few times for work. Outside of the SLO marathon and Western States, I hadn’t attended a race that warranted a vendor fair. Not realizing that there were nearly 14,000 people racing on Sunday, I wasn’t sure what to expect at check in. Walking into the convention center, I was amazed at how packed it was with people and vendors. Multiple booths were set up marketing their own races. There were several local vendors selling everything from shoes to Gu’s, and they even had an anti-gravity treadmill to try. On my way to the treadmill, Erdinger a German brewery that I remember from my school days in Deutschland, was onsite providing free samples of their non-alcoholic beer, touting its recovery properties. After hanging out for awhile at the vendor booths, I made my way back to the hotel to catch up on some work, grab an early dinner and hit the hay.
Waking up at 4:00am isn’t something I’d recommend on a Sunday, unless your house is on fire. A last minute shoe and sock removal decision, shit and breakfast were the only things I had to tackle before the ride to Folsom. After an uneventful shuttle ride from an Elk Grove School District bus, I made my way over for one last potty break before the start. Squeezing my way in between runners with less than five minutes to race time wouldn’t be difficult in most ultras. Doing it with 14,000 people in front of you is a wee bit more difficult. Thankfully, the weather had relatively held up and hadn’t started poring yet.
After a quick countdown we were off…
The first couple miles were choppy, as I started several hundred runners back, and had to fight for a decent line to move into a comfortable pace. Hitting the first few miles in 6:17, 6:20 and 6:10, I felt confident about starting conservatively and hoped to keep the same consistency for the next 23. The next few miles were uneventful as we moved through Folsom on our way towards the Capitol.
Crossing the 10k mark right at my target pace, I tried to stay comfortable and get into a rhythm. Mile 7 passed with relative ease, and then came mile 8. If you’ve ever had that “dead leg” feeling during a workout, where no matter what you do your legs can’t get moving, this is what hit me at mile 8.
How the hell were my legs dead???
I’d tapered for 10 days, got a sufficient amount of rest, had been eating clean with no caffeine or alcohol during the ramp up, and now my legs were shot less than a third into this race. My mind went right into ultramode.
Was I dehydrated? No, I’d been peeing clear for well over a week.
Glycogen issues? It’s mile freaking 8!
Was the early pace too quick? Negative, my breathing was comfortable and the several months of heart rate training helped to guestimate I was in the 160-170 range.
Body scan… anything hurt? Nope, but the legs feel like lead.
Ok, now I started getting worried. How am I going to push this pace for another 18 miles, with legs that feel like they’d already gone 100? Slowing down by 15-30 seconds per mile from 8-12, I made frequent surges to try and hold on and hopefully wake up the legs. That didn’t work. I slammed a couple gels and downed 15 ounces of water in a futile attempt to curb any nutrition or hydration issues. This obviously didn’t work, but I was scraping for anything to help.
Crossing the half marathon mark in 1:24 expecting a 1:20-1:22, on paper this wouldn’t look too bad. The 10k splits tell an entirely different story. I had slowed down by nearly 30 seconds per mile, and it wasn’t looking pretty for the second half. After several minutes pondering a drop, considering I wasn’t going to finish anywhere near my time goal, the main reason I stayed in the race was because this was a point-to-point marathon. I was 13 miles away from the finish, without any means to make it back to my hotel other than foot. Funny what keeps you motivated at times, but I decided to suck it up and finish.
Crossing under a sign that read “The Middle Miles,” I knew immediately that the backend of this race was going to get ugly… really ugly.
For any runners reading this post, we’ve all been in racing situations where we get passed. Hopefully, we’ve got something in the tank to respond and hopefully it’s an acute event. For nearly all of my races over the past three years, I’ve made an effort to start conservatively, knowing that I race better as a hunter. This marathon was no different, as I expected to pick people off slowly as the race progressed.
From miles 13-26, I would be passed by 200+ runners, literally passing only two people; a guy that stopped to walk and a blind racer with his guide.
The second half of CIM takes runners on a beautiful journey to the state Capitol, passing various cities and towns along the route from Folsom. The volunteers are awesome and plentiful, there’s live music blasting all along the course, and there are more people out cheering on the route than any race I’d ever ran. The Sacramento Running Association puts on one hell of an event, and I encourage anyone reading to plug this race into the calendar.
Finishing in 2:57ish (1:24 and 1:33 splits) spewing no less than a thousand expletives along the backside of this course, I was really happy to see Farrah, Nelson and Nina at the finish line. My face likely didn’t show it and thankfully I was all cussed out, but we caught up for a bit after the race.
After a short walk back to the hotel, a quick shower and call to Alejandra, I made my way back to SLO in time for Tolosa’s pickup party. At least the wine helped to numb the kick in the nuts I’d just taken.
What I learned:
- Whether it’s a difficult workout, a project at work or a personal issue, I try to practice a bit of “not quitting” each day, and this definitely helped at CIM
- I’ll wear socks when racing anything longer than a half marathon, and ANYTIME when it’s raining
- Marathons put a pounding on muscles that I wasn’t entirely expecting. The consistent pace, except for in my experience, along with the hard surface sure does put a hurt on the body
- 2Toms silicone-based body gel is the absolute best anti-chafing product I’ve ever used! Hopefully, someone from the company is reading this blog because their product isn’t cheap and I’d love to be an ambassador. Maybe they can take a before and after pic of my inner thighs with body glide vs. 2Toms. Maybe this isn’t a very good idea…
- Yes I wet the bed big time at CIM, or at least my legs did, but I’m very happy with the work I’ve put in over the past three months and am SO EXCITED to get back on the trails and implement these quality workouts in preparation for Western States