California International Marathon 2019: From 3:41 marathoner to 2:41 marathoner
The night before my first marathon in 2013 with my friend Sid, I learned what a gel or “goo/gu” was and that there existed this concept of qualifying for the Boston Marathon from a fellow runner at our Airbnb. I had done what I thought was a pretty good job of training and was ecstatic about fighting through “the wall” to finish in 3:41:14, an average of 8:27 minutes/mile. I remember looking up the Boston qualifying time for my age group afterwards and just laughing at the 3:05 time, almost a minute and a half faster PER MILE. I didn’t think it was possible. I also didn’t complete another marathon until 2016.
If I were to tell my 2013 self that one day I’d not only qualify for Boston, but improve on that first marathon by AN HOUR and average 6:10 minutes/mile, I would have assumed that in the future, we all became enhanced cyborgs or that they perfected body transplants. As coach Roche says, DREAM BIG!
- A: ❌ Sub-2:40
- B: ✅ Sub-2:42 (2:41:14 would be exactly a 1-hour improvement from Santa Rosa on 8/25/13!)
- C: ✅ Sub-2:45
- D: ✅ PR (2:47:27)
Pre-race: 60g oatmeal + 1 spoonful of PB + honey + emergen-c + beetroot + tea w/honey + 2 coffees (one from hotel room, other from lobby) + Gu Summit Tea on the bus = ~800 calories with ~550 about 3 hours before and ~250 calories about 1.5 to 1 hour before
Race: 2 Gu Roctanes (Cold Brew, Pomegranate) + 1 every 20m (0:20, 0:40, 1:00, 1:20, 1:40, 2:00, 2:20) = 900 calories
Here’s the 16 weeks leading up to CIM for me. I ran the Chicago Marathon 8 weeks before CIM in 2:47:27 with the plan to take the first half somewhat easy and race the second half.
- Average: 56.1 miles per week
- Average minus sick/injured weeks: 63.8 miles per week
As far as the race itself, I listened to Coach Roche and approached the race ready for an IMPERFECT day and treated all the issues that came up as problems to triage/solve. Got sick the week before the marathon? Don’t panic. Just try to bank sleep, drink plenty of water and honey tea and hope I feel better by race day. Pain on the back of my left foot at mile 15? Probably just a blister. Should I stop to try to get a band-aid on it? Should I look at it? Probably not. Seeing the blood would probably just make me nauseous, and chances are that putting a band-aid on it wouldn’t do much to help with the pain. Maybe consider putting vaseline/body glide on that area next time. Stomach problems at mile 20? Don’t panic. I adjusted my breathing, checked to see if it was slowing me down. Decision time: if it was going to slow me down, then consider stopping for a bathroom break. Otherwise, just breathe and keep going (even if it risks 💩ing myself- happy to report that the calculated risk didn’t blow up in my shorts). Slight cramping/stitches? Just breathe and try a few breathing tricks to change up the cadence: two breaths in for every breath out or breathing out when my left foot hits the ground).
Overall, I didn’t quite have the PERFECT day needed for the super super A goal of 2:40, but hit the B goal I set for myself of 2:42, and hit a very slight negative split (1:20:54 / 1:20:38). I was hoping for 1:21 / 1:19 on a perfect perfect day. I was pretty concerned about the rain and wind in the days leading up to the race, but just accepted there wasn’t much I could do about it besides just prepare as best as I could to stay warm/dry before the race. I knew I had PRed previously at Boston 2018 in worse conditions. Luckily, the weather cleared up and it barely rained on us (just a little bit during a few of the middle miles and in the last 6 miles). I LOVED the ENERGY and AMAZING VIBES from all the AMAZING women going for the OTQ B standard + their pacers! 💙💙💙
This race was an AMAZING way to celebrate/cap off an AMAZING year of running/training/racing. Thanks to everyone that I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of sharing miles with this year!!! Special shoutouts to coach David Roche and the amazing #SWAPTeam, Excelsior teammates, the Sports Basement Bryant and 🍕 crew, and the AtlasGO, Back on My Feet, Run365 SF and DSERunners communities for all the amazing miles and support/love, and of course my friends Ricky and Sid for a very important aspect of training-EATING and sharing many meals together.
Thanks to Andrew Ng and Jon Nall for reading drafts of this.
Originally published at https://www.davidtran.me on December 10, 2019.