Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon event review and race recap!

I need to start by praising the organizers for the fantastic pre-race communication. Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon info emails started rolling in ten days before the race and I’d received five, including this exceeds-expectations weather update, by the Friday before!

much appreciated! The forecast was for 36 celsius!

On Friday I drove to Terrace to fly to Vancouver, then on Saturday morning I picked up my rental car and hit the road to North Bend!! Including picking up the car and the wait at the border, it took four hours. Easy.

Package pick up was at the Nike factory store. It was easy to get to and a quick process! The actual bag we got is sweet and was perfect for a gear check bag. It zippers closed with another smaller zipper pocket and a Jack & Jill logo. Runners also received a race buff, which I think is the greatest thing ever! The race shirt is a unisex-style tank (see later in a finish photo) and it’s NICE! There were pace tattoos (which proved to be extremely valuable) and I grabbed one from the 3:35 pile. I was given a small ziplock bag for my tunnel flashlight and my bib number was written on it for me. Other than that, there wasn’t a bunch of random stuff to recycle like at big expos, just a little race pamphlet with info and maps. One thing I forgot was to get a B12 shot, which were apparently available for free! Dang. There was race clothing for sale outside of the store too, but a buff and tank is more than enough for me.

I was in and out and then headed to my AirBnB! It was just a few minutes away from the factory stores, and also just a three minute drive from Tollgate Park parking lot, which is where runners park before getting on the shuttles to the start line. Joan’s place, was perfect for race weekend accommodation and you should stay here! She was great!

I was avoiding “stuff” – I seem to become more of a minimalist with each marathon. I decided against headphones, which also meant I didn’t need to carry my phone. I opted for no sunglasses (good choice, not needed 👌) and I committed to walking through aid stations to take full advantage, therefore eliminating my worry about whether or not I should bring a handheld water bottle. My Nakd bars and Endurance Tap gels fit in the SpiBelt and I was good to go.

I wore my Altra Escalantes for this race, which are a pretty minimal shoe. I’m telling you this because the organizers advise to wear something more substantial, but I didn’t have a second thought about my favourite shoes while running the marathon! No issues at all.

Since I had a pretty late lunch, for “dinner” I had bananas, Nuun, a sea salt bagel and a chocolate protein shake. Then it was bedtime! Time for some fake sleeping!

My alarm woke me up at 3:30, I ate my oatmeal and raisins, drank a bunch of Nuun and geared up. A long-sleeved throwaway shirt was totally sufficient but I’m glad I brought it – it wasn’t that warm yet pre-race! My shuttle time was 5:05 (assigned on the bib) and I left the house around 4:40 for the very short drive to Tollgate Park. The parking situation seemed totally under control. It was dark but there were tons of volunteers with flashlights directing us and I was parked and getting on my bus within five minutes.

Our driver wasn’t sure where to go once it was almost time to exit the freeway towards the starting area… I still don’t actually know if he was joking or not but we all knew which exit and how to proceed thanks to pre-race emails!!

Twenty porto-potties (Honey Buckets 😂😂/😷😷) plus the actual park restroom facility made for lots of toilets, but more would have been better. Close to start time, the lineups were pretty long. That being said, there was lots of bush everywhere to squat in if it came down to it as we were in a park in the forest, after all.

my bus companion, Paul from Wisconsin! It was his birthday!

I planned to use the Race Screen app (data screen) in miles so I could manually lap at some of the mile markers. The tunnel is known to screw with GPS so it was the perfect solution for that, plus not running the tangents ideally has messed me up in the past with overall pace, and this would help with that too! Except that my Garmin went haywire and changed back to kilometers without telling me! I tested it the night before and it was doing everything I wanted!

So, I was running with a screen that showed distance in kilometers, but pace (over the last 30 seconds) in minutes/mile, giving me split times in minutes/kilometer, but on all other data screens showing the distance in miles!!! Ya I’m confused even trying to explain that. The old me would have lost it, but I really couldn’t have cared less!

The race started after the American national anthem. We ran for less than a kilometer on an uneven and loose gravel stretch, and then right into the tunnel! It was dark, cool and echoey.

the Snoqualmie Tunnel!

The ground inside was much better – solid with just a few puddles here and there, but runners called out to those behind them to watch out. Because the floor of the tunnel is kind of domed, it was only really suitable to run about three across. This was perfect because it wasn’t too squishy and there was room to pass if needed. The tunnel felt really short to me but in reality it was over 4km long! So cool! Near the end, it got light enough that I was able to put my flashlight into the ziplock I was carrying long before it was time to toss it into the light collection bucket. Perfect.

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It was in the tunnel that I discovered my watch was being a freak. I decided to run by feel with those around me (we started around where the 3:35 pacer would have been..if there was one..) and then just see what happened once we were out of the tunnel. I had my pace tattoo if my watch fully betrayed me anyway!

Once out of the tunnel, the pacing on my Garmin seemed a bit erratic, but the kilometer split times made sense. I trusted it, but I also consulted the tattoo at every mile marker, comparing it to the “time elapsed” screen on my watch. This is the first time I’ve ever used a pace band and it was awesome! I am sold.

The rest of the course is a very mild downhill on an old gravel road which is the John Wayne Trail and the last part, the Snoqualmie Trail. The surface wasn’t bad at all but it’s worth noting that there were some parts that were fairly loose and rocky. I spent a lot of time with my eyes down, watching where my feet would be landing. But, when I wasn’t looking at the ground, the course was GORGEOUS!!!

not my pic, snagged from the race’s FB page

I had forgotten to switch my wedding rings to my silicone Qalo ring, but instead of letting that bother or worry me, I used it as a way to monitor hydration even closer than I would have and it really worked out for me! When I’m dehydrated my fingers majorly swell. It’s so uncomfortable, especially when wearing a metal ring, so I stayed perpetually aware of my hands and stopped at every single aid station to drink at least one full cup of water, sometimes two. This race is definitely the smartest I’ve ever been with respect to fueling and hydration.

There was an aid station with at least two volunteers every two miles after we came out of the tunnel, just before or after the odd mile markers. I found this to be perfect. More are always better, but there was no time where I found myself thinking they were too far apart. This race was very well aided!

At half way, I was almost two minutes ahead of the pace band. I had been monitoring my stomach and it was a good time to stop at a washroom. There aren’t many toilets along the course because there is no way to get them on to the trail. Like I said before though, in an emergent situation you could probably hide and squat anywhere along the entire course. I was quick and kept going, happy and thankful my gut wasn’t cramping up like it often does post-pit-stop.

After 16 miles, I now had to work harder to focus and stay in it. I’d already been stopping at every aid station to hydrate, but in the last third of the race I definitely had to divide and conquer my way to each station and stopping for water was also a rest. I had packed a tiny vial of peppermint oil inside my top and when I remembered it was there I was pumped. I rubbed it all over my arms and collar bones and the cool tingling seemed to keep my mind and body connected.

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My main mantra for this race was “Fluid, Focused, Fearless” but I also tapped into many of the other things that I pre-planned to focus on when it got more difficult. I thought of:

  • my friends at Ironman Canada in Whistler that same day
  • my friend Anthony who I met at the CIM expo, my friends Laura, Jeph, Steph, Karmen & Adam, and my Rupert Runners crew
  • Coach Andrew reminding me that racing is like boxing – we don’t give up from a couple “hits”. During multiple hard parts I thought, “that was just a little slap” or “one shot to the head can’t take me down“, etc.
  • the strong 10k I ran at the Tyhee Triathlon, when I was very tired, hot and my legs felt like wood
  • my favourite pro, Jordan Hasay
  • the author of Beyond Grit, Cindra Kamphoff
  • the Haida shield that I won the previous weekend, which was in my pocket!
  • my friend Owen and our favourite scene from Schitt’s Creek , which I added on to my mantra, now making it “Fluid, Focused, Fearless. Fold it in!!” HAHAHAHAH.

Why am I telling you all these things? Because it matters. A marathon is a long fuckin race and we need to be armed with perspective shifters, motivators and contingency plans!

The last ~8k of the race were very hard for me, but marathons are hard. Duh. At this point I knew I was too off pace to finish under 3:35, but I was well within breaking 3:40! Ladies and gentleman, the purpose of subsequent goals! I walked for a few seconds multiple times and pep talked myself to keep moving forward! A women who I saw many times (we kept passing each other whenever the other was regrouping) encouraged me and I’m so grateful for that! There was also a spectator who shouted at me in the final stretch “ALRIGHT OISELLE, SWING THOSE ARMS AND FINISH IT!” and I listened!!! Hell yeah, the power of the Volée team gear! Thank you, random man!

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My last mile was strong! Got back to goal pace and finished it off. Crossing the finish line, like in any marathon, was pure joy!

Cold wet towels were handed out right after medals were hung around our necks and those were heavenly! It was so sunny and beautiful out (and VERY hot by now) and it was such a fun vibe at the finish area!

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There were mini computers to sign up for next year’s race, screens to check chip times, race apparel for sale, snacks, hydration, photo opp spots, plus the super easy gear check retrieval. The volunteers who got my flashlight and gear bag for me were kids and they were so sweet!

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of course I wish I could have also held up the BQ sign, but I will eventually!

The finish line is a bit further than where we parked at Tollgate Park. There was a shuttle back to the parking lot and it was easy, short and fun.

I loved this event and I honestly couldn’t even think of any feedback to send when they requested it by email. Bus driver school? The organizers are obviously doing a great job, this race runs on both Saturday AND Sunday because of the popularity!

Although I missed the BQ by two and a half minutes, I am not disappointed in any way. I couldn’t have asked for more on this day! The weather was great and the temperature manageable, I ran what I’d consider my second strongest marathon (after CIM), I had fun and didn’t hit the wall or go to the dark place! Also, I discovered some new things about myself as a marathoner! I can:

  • efficiently utilize aid stations instead of carrying an annoying handheld
  • handle unexpected things like a cray Garmin
  • effectively use a pace band
  • coach myself into pushing for the B goal when the A goal has slipped away

PUMP up the JAMmie is not over. This training cycle was fantastic! Coach Andrew has helped me take over AN HOUR off of my first marathon time from May 2016, which was 4:40:50! I’ve been asked if I’ll try again to BQ before the 2019 Boston registration opens in September, but the answer is no. It’s time for a break, and then to continue my journey with Lifelong Endurance! Boston 2020 will be mine!

Conveniently, my qualifying time for Boston 2020 changes to sub 3:40. I will be thirty-five come Patriot’s Day 2020! I’m still going to chase a sub-3:35 though. Keep ya posted!

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PUMP up the JAMmie! – Weeks 14 & 15/16

Getting so close! One week til Jack & Jill’s Marathon! Husband and I were on Haida Gwaii for an overdue honeymoon for the last week and a bit. With respect to the taper for this race, it was good to be away and distracted. Lifelong Endurance has me maintaining some good intensity over the last two weeks and I really like that – it helps me stay sane! I am ready to run.

I am feeling so calm and neutral about this marathon. My goal has turned into a range of times and more importantly, non-time-related goals, like staying focused and fluid and appreciating the beautiful course. I re-read Elizabeth Clor’s book, Boston Bound, recently and this is something that really REALLY resonates with me right now, as I’ve loosened my grip on the goals for next weekend:

“Investment model running is the attitude that you put “x” amount of time and effort into training to receive “y”result on race day..To set a PR or run a specific time, you need to invest the time and hard work. And on race day, it will all pay off.

[this way of thinking] does a disservice to all your hard work. A race result speaks to how you performed on one day in one set of conditions.”

I look forward to doing my very fking best next weekend, whatever the day hands me. Pumped. Here’s what went down the last two weeks, training wise. I’ll be recap our trip on its own because it was THE BEST TRIP OF MY LIFE.

Monday, July 9threst day!

I was surprisingly not sore or overly tired after the triathlon, but I knew it was still a good idea to stick to this scheduled rest day. It felt good to take a day off.

Tuesday, July 10thhard day

  • 2k warm-up
  • 2 x [15:00 @ marathon pace, 3:00 easy]
  • 2k cool-down

later on (and WAY too soon after pizza..)

  • 2k warm-up
  • 6 x [200m hard, 200m easy]
  • 2k cool-down

Wednesday, July 11theasy day

10k relaxed with Erin!

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Thursday, July 12theasy day

10k chill along the Cannery Road 😀

Friday, July 13th hard day

  • 3k warm-up
  • 2 miles @ ~ 4:35/km
  • 5 min jog to a hill
  • 10 x [1:00 hard hill, 1:00 jog down]
  • 3k cool-down

Got the first 2 steps done but it was time to go to the ferry terminal! I slept in a bit! Haida Gwaii bound woooooo!

I DID get the intervals done! They weren’t hill repeats but beach intervals, which were just as challenging in their own way. Super proud to have gotten it finished after a long day of travel and an unplanned camping situation right off the bat (explain later)

Saturday, July 14threst day

First morning waking up in the tent! I did run today, but it was very relaxed and slow on a logging road, chatting with husband beside me on his bike, and then along the beach we were exploring!

Sunday, July 15thlong run day

A planned 27k with no special instructions turned into 20k of extremely challenging and tiring beach running. It was SO beautiful though!! Again, proud to have gotten this +2 hours of running in while on vacation in the middle of nowhere at this point!

I went back and forth along Gray Bay twice, with a few kilometers on the logging road along the campsite in between 😀 The terrain varied from hard-packed beach to soft sand (the WORST AHAHA), rocky beach, big rocks, crawling over huge logs and some weird bouncy seaweed hay.

Monday, July 16theasy day

A small piece of the Secret Cove trail and the whole Gray Bay recreation site for 6.5km! No one else was as the campsite! I literally ran into every spot and checked each one out. We were in the money spot, #1, but I would also recommend the 10/11 site ahahah


Tuesday, July 17thhard day

Omg. This run was SO good! Tow Hill Road is the most beautiful road and the best quality of unpaved road you could imagine. With husband along side on the bike making me laugh and snapping a couple sweet pics that I didn’t know about, this run was one of my favourites ever!

  • 2k warm-up
  • 6k ~ marathon goal pace (I ran a bit faster)
  • 2k cool-down

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Wednesday, July 18theasy day

I skipped my run today and I’m happy to say it! We rode our bikes on the sand of North Beach for about seven kilometers. Then we walked another 5k to Rose Spit. Then back to the bikes (got a ride in the back of someones truck for like 2k) and then biked back again into a serious headwind!!

Then later we checked out the Tow Hill boardwalks and viewing platforms. My legs did a lot today!

Thursday, July 19th

10k Tow Hill Run!

I went from Agate Beach Campground, a little down Tow Hill Road towards Masset for some extra distance, and then to Tow Hill, to the blow hole and back out, up to the top viewing platform, back to the blow hole, out to the parking lot and back to the campsite which gave me 10k!

Followed by a 20k easy hike with husband to and from Cape Fife!

Friday, July 20thunplanned rest day

I went to bed with a headache the night before and woke up with the migraine from hell. It was terrible! I was actually crying as we packed up the campsite and thought I might need to go to the hospital if it didn’t calm down. This also happened to be our camping breaking point. LOL. More on that in trip post as well.

That migraine robbed me of my day! I was hurtin’ and felt one hundred years old from seven nights in the tent so I made an executive decision to skip the planned workout and use the race the next day as a good, solid 10k workout. Later on when I was feeling almost normal, we went for a hike/walk/jog on the Pesuta shipwreck trail. It was 5k each way and that was more than enough for the day.

Saturday, July 21strace day!

Totem to Totem 10k for both myself and husband. What a great course! I ran it exactly as was permitted by Coach Andrew – around half marathon pace. It worked out great and on this day was fast enough for first overall female! I’ll write a separate post about the race itself. The event was so wonderful and I will be back next year, that’s for SURE.

Sunday, July 22ndlast long(er) run day!

7k easy, 8k @ 5:00/km

Holy headwind!!! This run was so frustrating! My heart rate was so jacked from how hard I was working against the wind. I’m glad it’s over 😂 I stopped a few times to have an internal hissy fit. I’m sure the four-hour nap on the overnight ferry didn’t help either. YODO.

It’s time to bank some sleep. I plan to go to bed around 8pm all week and get up at 4:30am. I know it sounds insane but I need my body to be okay with how early I need to get up for the race (the earliest bus to the start line goes at 4am I believe) and I also need it to know to go poo by 6am. LOLLLL. Talk soon!!!!! It’s happening!

PUMP up the JAMmie Day 25: BMO Half Marathon Plans!

I am stoked for this weekend! As I’ve mentioned in the past, I LOVE BMO Vancouver Marathon weekend and Lifelong Endurance and Kristen have me feeling prepared! No sugary snacks pre-race this time! This morning I was digging around on MarathonFoto for old race pics for comparison’s sake and found these gems

This was 2014 – my second ever half marathon, well before Lifelong Endurance was in the picture. The photo on the left is a bit misleading, as I actually had a great day. I improved by twenty-two minutes compared to the first half that I ran in San Francisco six months earlier with Team in Training!

These photos aren’t of the greatest quality, but I can tell that my face is puffy, I have big bags under my eyes and my body looks very different from today (and I’m not talking about running form). I was still boozing regularly at this time in life. The big improvements that tend to come at the beginning of a running journey, party animal or not, didn’t last long. I didn’t run a new personal best in the haf marathon distance for two and a half years after this. Not by coincidence, the new PR finally happened just about a year into sobriety. Obviously quitting drinking alone didn’t transform me into a better runner, but it has definitely been a game changer, along with a new level of commitment, experience and a fantastic coach!

I can’t wait to run this Sunday as the new and improved me! Jamie Komadina! That’s Wesselmania up there in the pics LOL.

Here’s the course we are lookin at, thanks to Strava:

I want to approach this race the same way as The Tenacious Ten; gradual progression, but plan for a more aggressive finish if things are going well. I felt like I had more in me in Seattle and I believe I can hold pace for five more kilometers. On Sunday, I plan to treat the first 3k as a warm-up and run by feel, not conservatively but keeping a close eye on my heart rate. Then, once across the Cambie Bridge and it flattens out, dial back a bit and “start” the plan, which is at this point:

  • Kms 4-10: smooth & controlled
  • Kms 11-16: applying some pressure but still controlled
  • Kms 17-21.1: progress to slay-mode

The weather is looking fine, body feels good and I can’t wait to see my friends in Vancouver, plus everyone who shows up for the #WeRunSocial meetup!

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Tomorrow the Week 4/16 recap will go up early, and then I’ll talk to you next week! If you aren’t running, think about it for next year. Here’s a little preview!

 

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The 2018 Tenacious Ten!

Wooo!!! You probably know that I love being part of the Oiselle Volée. If you don’t know what that is…

“The Volée is a global community made up of women with diverse running backgrounds and competitive goals. We work hard to raise the bar in terms of how women support other women, fostering strength and leadership – not just through healthy competition, but in daily actions big and small. Our mission is to continue to build our sisterhood: one that is strong, supportive, passionate, and all in on a woman-up world.”

The Tenacious Ten is the like the biggest sisterhood gathering ever, and that’s one of the reasons I love this race! Of course you don’t have to be a member of the Volée to run the race, but a TON of the birds show up for this plus many other amazing women and men. Other reasons I love it are the beautiful and fast course, including the start and finish in the breathtaking Gas Works Park, and that it’s in Seattle. I friggin LOVE Seattle! I felt so ready for this race, thanks to Lifelong Endurance, and I was ready to run well and restore the faith after that gut bomb of a half marathon two weeks ago.

Packet pick-up was both Thursday and Friday from 11am-7pm. Bailey, Crystal and I hit the Watertown Hotel on the way into Seattle before going to our AirBnB. It was easy, fast and not busy. This year they had a Momentum Jewelry table, too. The race shirts are a red version of the Flyte tank, which is a top I already own and love. The hat for this year’s race is also sweet; it’s the same as my Oiselle baseball cap and I like it far more than the trucker version from last year. We got Picky Bars (yum, first time trying them) and the girls bought some Momentum stuff, and then we got going! Thursday night: Mexican food and chill. Friday morning: November Project. We spent the rest of Friday going to Pike Place and eating lots of food, before more food at a little Volee Canada dinner!

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On Saturday morning Bailey and I were drinking our coffee (black for me, no risks) by just after five. The others started to wake up and everyone started getting pumped, eating our preferred race-day breakfasts and suiting up. My final decision was black Volée crop, big blue new Portman shorts, Gibbler PROs, New Balance FuelCore Rush runners and Goodr sunglasses. This time around, I stuck to my quick oats with raisins and NOTHING else for breakfast.

I wore a warm jacket on top of my throw away shirt, plus some $1 gloves and planned to check them in my gear bag once it was time to warm up. It was surprisingly cold. Cold wind was blowing plus it was only 6:30 am when we left the apartment.

The event site opened at 6:30am and we were there by 6:45 for the eight o’clock start of both the 10k and 10 mile races. It was sweet because the porto-potties (or HONEY BUCKETS, as they call them there…gross!) had been locked overnight with zap straps and they were just clipping them off when we arrived so we got fresh toilets ahahah. Win!

The music started up and our lady crew met up with the rest of the Canada Volee, some of whom we’d also met up with the previous evening at JOEY University Village for dinner.

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wild Friday night!

Gas Works Park is so cool! So happy we all found one another easily in the morning! This race isn’t tiny like our local races at home, but it’s definitely not big. I think there were less than two thousand runners and it wasn’t difficult to find familiar faces.

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Just like last year, it was quick to check a gear bag early, but later on the line-up was long, so ditch your bag early! I checked my bag with my jacket and toque. My mitts I kept, and I’m glad because it was cold warming up and I ended up wearing them for three-quarters of the race.

I did five minutes of easy jogging and came back to the main area where we all joined in the warm-up led by Kinetic Sports Rehab. Then we had a short dance party to stay warm. Sally, the CEO of Oiselle, wanted in on the action with the Canadians.

I went for another five-minute jog (AND SAW KARA GOUCHER AND GOT A HUG) and then hit the grassy area between the start and finish chutes to do strides and stretches. By start time, I was warm and ready to run. Really, really glad I took the time to get my strides in! I ditched the long-sleeve up on some random old piece of gas plant equipment and was pretty sure it would still be there after the race (it was), but didn’t care as I brought it for a throw away.

This race doesn’t have corrals, but it does have a few pacers with signs based on pace/mile, not finish time. After the national anthem, Erin and I shuffled up towards the 8min/mile sign and it was almost time to go! I found my GPS signal with the new Garmin Forerunner 35 that I’m using as a back-up (no problems, great watch), and it was time to race!

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Lifelong Endurance gave me a fairly specific race plan as I requested and I was determined to stick with it. Here is the course we were working with; basically flat with a couple minor hills, mostly at the beginning.

The plan, as I mentioned in my training recap of last week, was:

  • First 5k: controlled (~5:04/km)
  • Second 5k: apply a little pressure (~4:58-5:00/km)
  • kms 11, 12, 13: tighten the screws (stay under 5:00/km)
  • the rest: progress to slay-mode (werk)

Never in my life have a stuck to a plan the way I stuck to this one! I am so fking proud of myself for being patient and mature from start to finish. I ran the first few hills super easy and made up for it during the rest of whatever kilometer I was in. I held back and stayed present. So good. Here’s how the splits went:

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I felt good the entire race. When it started to get more difficult to hold pace after about 10k, I stayed present and even said a few funny inside jokes from our girls’ weekend under my breath and it made me smile and remember how much I love this shit. Every once in a while I felt a bit hot so I unflapped the gloves I was wearing to let my hands get some air, but other than that my crop, shorts and compression socks turned out to be the perfect gear for the temperature and weather. Sunglasses were smart and helped me keep my face relaxed. I took water at all stations (I think I remember three or four?) and took a mocha HumaGel around 11km for a caffeine boost and it sat well. There is an out-and-back portion of the 10 mile course. Many people, including me, aren’t fans of out-and-backs, but just like in the BMO 1/2, this one is pretty short and it’s flat. I enjoyed seeing the leaders, including Kara Goucher, fly by in the opposite direction, and I also got to see most of my friends on course at one point or another! High fives and energy boosts.

right around the 9 mile marker! One mile left!

Once I’d run 13k it was time to turn it up, and then when I was on the Fremont Bridge with just one mile to go I really stepped on the gas. My patience was paying off. There were so many volunteers from November Project on course, and one lady who we met on Friday morning was at the final turn back into the park and she was just screaming and it was SO awesome ahah!! I passed a ton of people and literally flew across the finish line. Fuck yeah!

As soon as I finished I got to see Whitney! She crushed her first sub-1hr 10k! Nola also destroyed her 10k and was already done. Then in came the rest of the crew! Everyone met or surpassed their goals for the day! We all got our COWBELL medals (so sick), took pics and hugged the shit out of everyone!

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YEAHHH!!! My watch showed me a time of 01:19:01, which I was overjoyed about, but I was also hoping that the official chip time might be just under, and it was ahahah!

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So happy with this!!!!! And can’t believe I ran kilometer sixteen in 4:25 yahooo! Back in the area where we warmed up with Kinetic, there were donuts, apples, water and tunes. I met up with more friends from home who were down for the race, plus various Instagram buddies, including Jess (@forminfocus) who I’m hosting the We Run Social meetup with at BMO Vancouver in two weeks!

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Once I got my gear bag (the line wasn’t too long, I waited about five minutes in line) and got my warm clothes on (plus my throwaway shirt that I retrieved), I had lost my crew. My phone died too, so I just took my time walking back to our AirBnB in the sun with the cowbell jingling around my neck and feeling happy with my new 10 mile PR. LOL.

The Tenacious Ten is fantastic and I highly recommend this event. Oiselle creates a very energetic, fun and inclusive vibe. The location is unreal, with a scenic course and perfect start/finish location. The swag was great, with a new colour of a tank top I already liked enough to buy in the past, and a hat that I will definitely wear. The logistics were easy, the value was worth it, and Seattle is such a great city. I will be back next year, already planning to drive down from Kelowna where I’ll be for school at that time!

Relating back to Operation: Pump up the JAMmie, this race is good news. My goal marathon pace, come Jack & Jill, will be 5:00/km, so I’m working on holding paces around or faster than that for longer and longer. Ten miler: in the bag; next up is another shot at the half marathon. Then the workouts are going to get longer, faster, and two-a-days are coming my way as well. Lifelong Endurance and I are doing this. Stay tuned.

Talk soon from Week 3!

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2018 Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon! Race Recap

I love the marathon! What a beast of a distance. If you follow me on here, you know I went down to Phoenix to have a good time, do my best, and because I don’t think I could go from December (CIM) until the end of July (Jack & Jill) without running another one! Thank you to my coach and Lifelong Endurance for understanding that!

This trip was a quick one. When I decided to go back to school, I knew I’d need to be conservative going forward to save as much money as possible! So here’s my weekend recap and event review! I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t my best weekend, but the event itself was awesome!

On Thursday I flew out of Terrace super early to Vancouver where I connected to Phoenix. I didn’t check any bags since it was only a 2-night trip, plus my track record with lost bags… Upon arrival, I had no internet on my phone which was a huge pain in the ass and I had to take a real taxi instead of an Uber to the hotel. The result was about three times the cost, but I did what I had to do. Later I found out there was an issue with roaming on the AT&T network or something…it was fixed within a few hours, but unfortunately my trip kinda started with frustration, on top of lack of sleep.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Phoenix-Mesa/Chandler was where I booked for this trip. This was one of the hotels listed as partners for accommodation on the race website, and though not super close to the finish line, it was more reasonably priced. I’ve had great experiences with the Holiday Inn in the past, so I went with it. Next time, I’ll just suck it up and stay at the closest hotel! I was smack in the middle of freeways with not much at all to walk to or explore, and I felt a bit isolated. It wasn’t a good location for final pre-race runs, either. Also, I hate to be negative, but there wasn’t a single thing indicating that this hotel was partnered with the race. Usually host hotels welcome runners in one way or another, and host a buffet the night before. A woman I met was told there’d be water, fruit and granola bars in the lobby for runners on race morning, but come Saturday the gentleman at the desk didn’t know what she was talking about.. As for the hotel in general, it was alright, but a tad dumpy compared to other Holiday Inns, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend the restaurant.

Anyways! Email communication from the race organizers was fantastic all along. After arriving I received more info/reminders about the expo, and then another email addressing runners’ concerns about the new 6am start and whether or not headlamps would be necessary. I didn’t feel I needed a light at all, but lots of people brought them and it was nice to get some guidance on that!

On Friday after a short, tired and less than scenic run, followed by a hard nap, I Uber’d to the expo. I was feeling negative because of a headache, lack of sleep and an old blister on one of my heels that turned into a giant painful owie from wearing gumboots the week before. It was causing me significant pain. I hoped the energy at the expo would cheer me up, and it did! It was set up outdoors in a parking area at Mesa Riverview shopping centre.

It was what I expected for the size of this race – good, but nothing extravagant. There were spots for photos, lots of good vendors, and it was cool that some of the expo was within tents, with another section outside and uncovered. I had no problem quickly grabbing my race packet. The shirts, which are tank tops, are awesome and I will definitely wear mine in real life! There were lots of samples, including Clif, who would be on-course the next day. My favourite running shoe brand, Altra, was there selling unboxed returns for sixty bucks! My eyes popped out of my head and I left with two new pairs of road and trail runners. PRO Compression was there, of course, and the WeRunSocial meetup that they sponsor started at 4pm. We all received t-shirts that were printed with a cool pic from a previous year’s race and they fit amazingly! We all visited for a bit, took a big group photo, and then I went back to the hotel for an early night.

this is Elle! I love her. She won one of my Instagram contests in the past!

one of my favourite run bloggers and inspirations, Carlee

the 2018 Mesa-PHX #werunsocial & PRO crew!!! Ryan is holding the AZ sock ❤

Once back in my room, I organized my race kit and packed a gear bag for after the race, which included a sweatshirt, jacket, sandals, face wipes, Excedrin and a few sample snacks from Carlee. Race packets included a massive sticker with the participant’s bib number on it to stick on to the gear-check bag. Super handy!

Ready to go, equipped with my essentials, including my Volee crop and AZ PRO socks!

Two-thirty am, my alarm went off, not that I was sleeping! Start-line busses ran from 3:30 to 4:45am and the race began at 6. I got organized, microwaved my oatmeal and guzzled some Nuun and coffee, then headed to the lobby to meet my new friend and Uber partner, Eric. My heel was killing me and it was swollen, but since it was mostly painful to walk, vs. run, I tried to forget about it. I recruited another woman in the elevator, and the three of us shared a ride back to Mesa Riverview where school busses shuttled runners to the starting area on top of the Ursery Mountain. This is a point-to-point race, my fave! It was all very easy, well-marked and organized. Zero stress whatsoever regarding the getting-to-the-start process!

This was my favourite starting area of any race I’ve ever participated in! THERE WERE CAMP FIRES!!! And this was good because it was COLD! They were also blasting the best tunes.

I found Elle almost immediately. Yay. And shortly after, Brian, Carlee and Ryan.

Brian, PRO Compression Ambassador Boss haha

Another athlete also coached by Lifelong Endurance, Kate, recognized me and came to say hello and chat before the race. I was so happy to meet her and hear about her goal, which she crushed! I wish we took a pic!

it was easy to identify our crew with the AZ socks!

The forecast predicted it to be a cold one relative to other years, but it was colder than I expected, just like at CIM! On top of my race outfit, I had a throwaway wooly headband, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, my RUNVAN gloves from the Fall Classic, and the thin zip jacket that runners received at the CIM finish line. If it weren’t for the fires, I would have been regretting not having sweatpants. Runners were allowed to stay on the busses as long as they wanted so it would have been fine either way. Bring throwaway layers!

After the national anthem and a couple measly but appreciated fireworks, we were instructed to file towards the starting line, self-seeding based on where the pacers were located. Then we were off!

It was dark, but not pitch black! I could see just fine. I started off pretty relaxed, but had some anxiety since unfortunately I hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom yet…ughhhhh. Not a good way to begin..It was chilly and I kept my long-sleeved shirt on for the first half of the race! It wasn’t overly crowded, which was awesome. I believe there were around 2000 full marathon bibs.

The first almost 7 kilometers are downhill. I’ve heard reports that it’s steep enough to “trash your quads” but I didn’t find that whatsoever. The view from the top of the mountain, although it was still dark, was beautiful! And the cacti!! It was nice to start downhill without too much effort and find a groove, but worrying about an inevitable pit-stop took up some valuable energy.

Just before 7k, the one significant uphill began. It was not steep by any means, but pretty long, climbing steadily for 2.5 kilometers. I stayed loose and maintained effort, not pace, as planned, and it was no problem. Once reaching the top of the hill, I was happy it was over but it’s nothing to be afraid of! However, if you live somewhere flat, this will be a significant hill for you. Now I needed to find a porto-potty and I sped up, feeling a bit frantic and stressed.

Then came another 7ish kilometers of mostly downhill, with a few flat spots or short, mild inclines. Before I knew it I was at halfway. I can’t remember if it was a bit before or after that I found a porto-potty without a line and made an efficient stop. I raced out of there to make up for lost time and it really fucked with my mojo. I had a bad feeling.

Having just passed the half-marathon timing mat, things were feeling more difficult than they should at this point. Dammit. Reflecting on the entire experience, I think my fear of the pain on my heel, plus knowing that this wasn’t a big goal race, I had kind of given myself permission subconsciously to give up a little. That, combined with feeling stressed through the first half, and I hadn’t set myself up for a strong race! #alwayslearning

From half to 30k, I began to fade pretty hard, but I was still really enjoying my run and wasn’t worried about it. This has happened multiple times in marathons around 25k, something I want to work on eliminating! I accepted it and continued forward, but I did stop quite a few times to walk for 5-10 seconds to try to regroup.

DID I MENTION THE RACE PHOTOS ARE FREE? yeah.

Kilometers 36-40, although basically pancake flat, truly felt like an incline to me. I was struggling at this point and in comparison to all that elevation drop in the first half, it was so hard! I predicted this contrast with respect to the course profile, but combined with burning out, it was super tough. Wearing my Oiselle Volée top was so helpful because there was so much encouragement from spectators and other runners who recognize the Volée racing gear!

ran a chunk with Carlos!

Finally, the last kilometer! Here we had a little bit of a decline again, which was nice for that final push. I passed quite a few people, which is always great! I wish my brain had have been working a little better, because I didn’t realize HOW close I was to the possibility of a PR, though it would have been tiny. Oh well! Serves me right for experimenting with a new Garmin app on race day!

The finish line area was happening! After receiving my medal and a bottle of water, I was given a cloth bag, which I must say is the greatest idea ever for any finish line. When you have no dexterity left and people are handing you bottles of water, chocolate milk, bananas, bars, medals, etc, you need a place to put these things! I made my way to the FRENCH TOAST STATION and gobbled down a piece, then found a place to sit down and organize myself. I immediately got a splitting headache and was limping a little. Boo!

The sun was out and it was a beautiful but chilly day and there was lots of awesome energy around me. It would have been nice to stick around and enjoy the festivities, but my body gets cold and stiff almost immediately after running for that long, and I was in pain. I called an Uber after suiting up in my layers and downing water, sports drinks and chocolate milk.

03:51:58, very happy with that!!

The traffic around the finish area was a gong show and it was hard to find a place to get picked up, but my driver and I figured it out and I got back to the hotel quickly without much problem. If I could make a suggestion, it would be to have some signage indicating where to go for runners to be picked up. Maybe that was a thing and I didn’t notice in my post-marathon daze..?

I really liked this event! It was so organized. The location of the expo and shuttle busses was easy to get to and navigate once arriving. The starting area was FANTASTIC with the loud music and fires, and the first section of the race coming down the mountain was gorgeous. There could have been more porta-potties at the start, but that’s always the case when thousands of people are trying to go before the race starts! The aid stations were really awesome and there wasn’t a single point in the race where I found myself thinking “man, I wish an aid station would come up!” because there were so many of them!! The spectator support was very decent, especially for such an early race, and the finish area was high-energy with lots going on and lots of refueling options. THE MEDAL IS SICK! The race tank is awesome and I will definitely wear it in real life, which rarely happens, and the Mesa-PHX sweat towel is also a cool and useful keepsake. I didn’t have any issues retrieving my gear bag, which is a big one.

2016 – 2020 will form a 5-point star with all the medals! I know Carlee & Brian have all 3 so far.

As for my more personal thoughts on my race experience, I feel pretty happy about it. Although I didn’t have a strong race, and I had some stomach issues and heel pain, there are a lot of positives here, and since it wasn’t a goal race, I feel fine about it!

  • zero forefoot pain or discomfort, which I’ve been dealing with off and on since September
  • second ever marathon pit-stop was efficient, and I now know that pit-stop does not necessarily = sabotaged race plan!
  • came within 40 seconds of my marathon PR, even though I had some issues and struggled through most of the second half! Imagine if everything had come together?!
  • fueling was good again, Nak’d bars and Razz Clif shots!
  • no chafe
  • had fun the whole time
  • I can tell by how my body feels as well as from a few photos that my form has improved. Still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way!
  • walked through aid stations to make sure I drank a full cup of water at each one
  • Though I faded, I would not say I “hit the wall” hard by any means

Yahoo! Marathon number seven is in the books! I really want to come back to this race, it was awesome. Next time I’ll stay at the Hyatt, stay a little longer and bring a buddy. Normally I love travelling alone, but something about this trip made me want a weekend companion..I didn’t find the area as easy and welcoming as Sacramento. The Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon kicks ass and I think you should consider adding it to your bucket list!

Race Review: the California International Marathon 2017!

In 2016, after I ran my first marathon and guzzled the runner Kool-Aid, I took note of this hashtag that I continuously saw on Instagram: #runCIM. What is that?? It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was a very popular, fast, net-downhill marathon in Sacramento, California which claims the be the “fastest course in the West”. It seemed like a LOT of people thought very highly of this CIM, and lots of people went there with hopes of a PR or BQ, so I added it to my very long list of marathons to run some day. Then, I discovered my coach was running CIM 2016. So were other people on my Instagram feed. I WANTED TO RUN CIM TOO!! So I registered for 2017! ahahaha

Fast forward two more great marathon experiences (Victoria and Disney), two other disappointing ones (Calgary and R’n’R Seattle) and a SOLID sixteen week buildup, and it was time to head to Sacramento!!

I arrived around 10am on Friday morning after a very early alarm in Vancouver and two flights connecting in Seattle to get me there. This was of course after my initial travel from home to Vancouver on Thursday. The joys of living in the middle of nowhere 🙂 My new friend Nancy and I split a cab to downtown and it was about thirty bucks USD between the two of us. I had awesome luck right off the bat – there happened to be a room available for me at 10:30am when I got to the Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown! Check-in was 3pm and I went there just intending to drop off my bag, get lunch and then hit the race expo at noon, but I ended up with a way better situation which was shower, nap, Starbucks, expo, lunch. YES.

The location of the Holiday Inn (one of the host hotels) worked out really well for me. It was about a mile from the Convention Centre where the Expo was held which made for a nice walk to stretch out my plane legs.

Also, bus pickup “B” (runners are encouraged to take the free busses to the start of the race) was like fifty metres around the corner at 3rd and L Street, but more about that later.

The CIM Expo was sweet! The giant C I M letters immediately after entering was a sweet photo spot, as well as the race course map and the giant poster with each of the thousands of runners names on it. (Mine and Karmen’s names fit in the same photo!)

Bib pick-up was by last name and it was quick and easy. We were also given a nice reusable CIM bag, CIM ankle socks, a runner’s belt thingy, and a buff-style headband. All of this swag is very legit. I like all of it aside from the belt thingy, it’s just a little fanny-pack’ish for my liking but I’m sure some people would find it very useful!

Around the first corner, going with the flow of the sea of people, were a bunch of tables for the relay runners, so I continued past to the race shirt table and was given my shirt. IT’S WICKED. If you know me, you know I loathe 99% of race shirts. Always too short or flared out at the bottom, or with a choking neckline. But this shirt! A long sleeve half (maybe quarter?) zip, navy blue top that wasn’t short or flared out at the bottom! Finally. I even wore it on the trip home. #runnerd

I cruised around and discovered that I didn’t have to go to Fleet Feet Sports to find the Goodr Sunglasses I’d been wanting because they were selling them at the expo! The Flamingos on a Booze Cruise are finally mine!

I visited the Oiselle booth where Hannah was holding down the fort, and then I checked out the event merchandise which was pretty awesome, but not so fantastic that I had to further break my shopping freeze. After a lay down at the hotel, I suited up for four easy kilometers around my area and over the Tower Bridge.

Bedtime was seriously like 6:30pm and I am so glad I went in bed at that time because I somehow managed to sleep pretty solidly for like ten hours!! Friday is sleep night, and sleep night was a success.

Saturday morning was the CIM Shakeout Run!! It was nice having the ten minute jog to the convention centre to wake up a little, and it really did wake me up because it was cold that morning! Around 4°C I believe. Perfect for running once warmed up, in my opinion. In the lobby where everyone met, I met Steph (@runstrongrun), Amy (@runaissancewoman) and Vanessa (@vancesa) and we chatted for a while before it was run time.

The route was simply loops around Capitol park, each lap being about a mile, and runners could do as many loops as they wanted! There was a big group pic outside and I got to say hello to Elyse (@milestomedals) and have a huge hug.

I linked up with Amy and we got to know each other on the jog and she told me this would be her first marathon. Solid crew at this shake-out!

I went back into the expo after the jog, chatted with Dr. Lesko at the Oiselle booth and browsed around for a second time.

The afternoon consisted of candy from Andy’s Candy, PIZZA at Pizza Rock with my friends Karmen and Adam who were both running the marathon as well, and then more naps, pad Thai from Lotus Thai, and early to bed for some classic “fake sleeping” that I specialize in on all race eves. LOL.

My alarm was set for 3:45am, but since I wasn’t sleeping anyway I got up just before 3:30. This gave me more than enough time to make my oatmeal with hot water from the Keurig, eat my rice from the Thai restaurant, get my race kit together and layer up with throwaway clothes.

My check bag I had packed the day before. I left the lobby at 4:40 and was in the lineup for the school busses by like 4:43. The bus situation was so easy and organized, but I was also there a good fifteen minutes before the 5am scheduled departure to Folsom. My new buddy Eric and I chatted on the whole ride to the start area, which took about 45 minutes if I remember correctly. He was running his first marathon and had bought a brand new BMW the day before but got his dad to drive it home. His finish celebration would be driving his new car!

Once arriving at the start line, runners are allowed to stay on the busses to keep warm, or get back on any time. I ditched my check-bag right away (fast and easy), went pee in one of what looked like thousands of PortoPotties, and then got back on a random bus for a bit because it was pretty cold. At 6:30 I went to the corner by 7-11 for the #WeRunSocial meetup and by the time we were done visiting and taking a group photo it was time for me to go find the 3:52 pace group!

 

Kim ❤

But I had to go pee again!! By now the porto lines were LONG and slow. Since I am Canadian and don’t give a F, I peed behind a bush with a bunch of men (LOLOLOL) and then jumped into the starting area with the 3:52 pacers, Clark and Carolyn. There’s no way I’d have been able to use one of the toilets in time before the gun so good thing I’m a free spirit.

Go time!!! It was chilly and I kept my long sleeve Disney 10k shirt on for the first few kilometers before I ditched it. It was such a beautiful morning though! The first part of the race is in a pretty rural area and people were having fires in their front yards, holding signs and ringing cowbells. It’s also pretty downhill for the first mile which was really nice for a warm up. It was pretty congested and I tucked in tight behind Clark and Carolyn and rode their rhythm as I warmed up and enjoyed the “holy F I’m running a marathon today” energy. Our pacers were amazing and so great about reminding us to fuel and hydrate often and early. I started on my first Nakd bar around 6km, and hit the first water station with no spilling, even though I had my Nathan handheld. My plan was to drink from all stations that were easy to get at plus from my own bottle whenever I felt like it, eat my bars and also take the Cliff shots from the four fuel stations since I have lots of experience with that brand. I needed to get plain water from the stations since I had Nuun in my handheld. I am really glad that I had it because some of the hydration stations were SO crowded!

A lot of my run was a blur, that’s just the way it is. I was just focusing on staying calm, relaxed and present, and trusting the pacers to get me to at least half-way before I would break off on my own. I truly believe I saved SO MUCH valuable energy by running with them because I didn’t look at my watch once until probably 25km, and I didn’t have to obsess about my pace on the hills. Speaking of hills…

This race is a net-downhill, and yes there are lots of glorious stretches of mild downhill, but there are also a lot of rollers and tons of flat. It made for excellent variety and using all different muscles, and it also provided the opportunity to take an inventory of running form and breathing because each hill was always followed by a mild downhill to recover. I LOVE THIS COURSE SO MUCH!!!!!!

The section through Old Fair Oaks Village around kilometers 15 and 16 was a nice boost, it felt like I was at Oktoberfest or something, lots of bands and spectators and such a cute little area! The turns through that section of the race obviously weren’t helpful for GPS distance, but it kept it interesting and was a nice distraction since the majority of the course runs in long straight lines. I honestly don’t even really remember much between that village and getting to the half-way timing mat. I know I took note of some really pretty trees, and talked a little with a woman from San Diego who was running with the same pack. The last short, steeper hill that I recall was just before half-way.

I remember I felt really good, like so good it was almost scary, up until like 32-34km and even after that it never got bad, just regular marathon feeling.  Even so, I felt the pace group was a good idea to stick with for a while beyond the half marathon mat. There was a stretch somewhere between half-way and “the Wall” where we ran up a long but very gradual hill that seemed to last for a really long time. But, each time there was a hill that had me starting to feel fatigued or less in control, a gradual downslope would follow and give me time to regroup and lower my heart rate. I felt strong running through “the Wall”, which I swear was further along than the 20 mile marker but maybe I just can’t recall properly. There was a big cowbell crew at one spot that I initially thought was Oiselle and something hit me and I got all choked up ahaha. Crying while running a marathon is awesome. So emo!!!! I took note of passing the 30k marker since Clark was making fun of me for being Canadian and running in kilometers, and soon after that is where I started to run without being latched on to the pace group. I looked straight forward and kept steady. Kane had told me to think of him during kilometer 32, and I did,  and continued to remind myself that it was now time to just simply run a 10k. I also knew that aside from some bridge around 35km, the rest of the course was very flat. Divide and conquer. Get to the bridge. Laugh at the bridge. Run on pancake-flat to the State Capitol! I passed many people on that last tiny bridge hill (which doesn’t feel tiny when you’ve been running for over 3 hours..) and then I said my inspiring runner friends names, my husband’s name, coach, and told myself “I can run 5km. I can run forward. Running is faster than walking. Moving forward will get me there sooner than if I stop.” My feet were on fucking FIRE and I was ready to be finished.

The actual Oiselle cowbell station was so loud and awesome and I choked up again running through them around mile 23. So awesome. Once turning onto J street (my hotel was at 3rd & J) after that bridge, the street numbers start to countdown all the way into downtown, from 57th street. I knew there was another left-right turn onto L street, where then there were 20ish blocks to run until the sharp left on 8th, and left again onto Capitol Mall (the finish stretch) towards the Capitol building! RUN TO 8TH STREET JAMIE. Later-fun. Later-fun. Later-fun. There was a drum line, and tons of spectators, the energy was awesome! I picked out a guy in a bright yellow shirt and rode his pace for a bit, then did the same with another runner. FINALLY I was at 8th street!! I was running right where Amy and I had run and chatted during the shakeout run! Almost there!! Hung that sharp left, kept pushing, and just as I was making the final left turn into the finish chute, I heard “JAMIE!!!!!” and I saw Karmen and Adam shouting for me! F*CK YES!!!

where’s everyone else? ahaha

I put forth my best effort kick to the finish, which I don’t think was my fastest ever, but that’s good because it means I was finishing on empty, the last piece of the plan!

I crossed the finish and got my medal, which is massive and SICK!! I was in a happy daze and put on the cloth jacket given out to each runner and got a stranger to take my pic in front of the Capitol. I felt like I was on drugs I was so woozy and weak but so so so happy!!! I nailed my “B” goal of 3:51:xx for a twenty minute improvement on my previous 4:11 personal best! YASSSSSSSSSS!!!!

I found a sunny patch of grass once I (very easily) retrieved my checked-bag, and took my time changing into some warm clothes, chugging water and eating a banana. Karmen and I texted a bit, she’d had a good day and Adam a GREAT day!! We didn’t find each other though, I find after the race I’m too stunned for much. I hung out and chatted with other runners and once more looked at the race merchandise (and refrained) and then walked like a snail along the final stretch of the course along L Street cheering before I hit up Starbucks for a venti white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream. Then I zombie walked to my hotel in bliss, texting coach Andrew!!!

The California International Marathon is the best marathon experience I’ve had, so far! I’m sure this has at least a little to do with the fact that I had a near-perfect day, but aside from that, the logistics and energy of this event plus the fantastic course makes me understand why it has such a great reputation. High fives to the Sacramento Running Association for hosting a bang-on event! The expo was great, the swag impressive, shake-out run super fun, start-line transportation was stress-free, the course was great (I wouldn’t call it scenic, but just great) and the medal is gigantic and beautiful!!!!

Before the CIM, there was only one marathon I’ve run so far that I really want to run again, which is the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Now, I have two. I plan to run CIM again in the future and I encourage you to check it out because it lived up to its reputation in my books!!