CIM: Thoughts from a race

I love running bears!

So, I ran California International Marathon (CIM) on December 4.  This race starts in Folsom and ends at the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Pretty course, tough course.  It is advertised as a fast course, one with a net downhill elevation.  And all that is true. But this is not an easy course, by any means.  The first 15 miles of this race is dotted with small and moderate-sized rolling hills that do a number on your legs.

So, my goals for this race were:

1)Run happy, finish strong, smile and appreciate that I’m fortunate to run

2) New PR: sub 3:28

3) Race Day Magic!: sub 3:20

4) “Do you believe in miracles”: 3:15

I am happy to say that I achieved goal No. 1. This my standard  goal of every race.  The rest will take care if itself in due time.  And this is the secret to my running happiness, I am realizing. PRs and BQs will come when they come. We cannot rush success.  We cannot conjure magical days on our own. They happen when they happen.  All we can do is train, do our best, run happy, smile, and never forget that this is NOT a job, but something we enjoy for love, life and laughter.

So I was pretty much on goal for the first 15 miles of the race.  Then my right quad started misbehaving, really hurting such that my gait got thrown off a bit.  I fought through it, but soon realized that magic wouldn’t happen today and that i would have to fight to the finish. I did my best, but slowed the pace and just pushed through.  I saw Megan and Eric at Mile 20 and that gave me a boost, but by then any hopes of a new PR were gone.  Let me now say that this was my most mature race as a marathoner.  A year ago, had this happened to me, I would have gone into a pretty dark place and struggled to run happy.  I have learned that when hard and difficult things happen in marathons the true test of our running maturity is how we react.  Do we fold the tents and shut down? Do we push and do our best t the end? Do we have a mental breakdown akin to a temper tantrum, or do we say to ourselves “this sucks. But I am running and healthy, and doing something few people have done. So I will run with pride no matter how hard this is or how badly I hurt.”


At mile 20

I’m still learning how to break through mental walls late in races. But as much as I want to be tougher and developed a steelier mind, I cannot rush this process.  I want to run late in to my life.  I want to be that old geezer running his hundredth marathon at 85.  I want to be that person that people look to when they think of longevity and good cheer on the roads.

This was on my mind as I fought through the last miles of CIM.  Yes, other things were on my mind too: “Whose idea was this race?! I’m gonna punch him right in the kisser!”  “I hope my leg doesn’t fall off before I finish. I’m not sure I could carry it and my bottle the rest of the way.” “How much does a leg weigh?”  “Legs might be hard to run with since they might keep[ bending at the knee.  Too much flopping.  I’d rather run with an arm or a head.”  “All I want right now is to sit in Megan’s van and drink a gallon of Starbucks coffee!”

What next?  Time for a recovery period.  I still have a goal of finishing the year with 2,400 running miles and I will get that.  This is a bit short of my 2,500 mile goal from earlier in the year, but then again, I hadn’t planned on running CIM, either.  My body is tired. But my mind is more so.  I’ve raced 5 marathons since November 2010.  That’s a lot of mental pressure.  I need to veg out and run without a purpose for a few weeks.  I’ve purchased a new bike, and have been swimming more than ever.  While my mind is struggling with not having a “goal” race to train for, I welcome this period of recovery.  In the last miles of the marathon, I found myself thinking that my mental edge was a bit dulled from all the racing.  I was coming to terms with a recovery period while finishing a marathon.  And I was able to enjoy as much as possible the last few miles of CIM, knowing it would be later in 2012 before I ran another.

Official digits:

Finish: 3:37:48

Splits–5.9 Miles: 44:27; 13.1 miles: 1:40:21; 20 miles: 2:38:08

Men 40-44: 239/603; Men: 1121/3270; overall 1465/5754.


The papparazzi caught me sleeping in the van on the drive back to SF


  1. Hey Gordon…I am new listener to your podcasts and a new visitor to your blog. I am also a vegan and love that your blog incorporates a few of my favorite things. Running and the Vegan Lifestyle! I am starting at the beginning of Running to Disney and I am around podcast 8. As I hear you talk of times and mileage I knew that I had to comment on this post and say, “You have come a long way!!!” I laughed when I heard you say, ” I will always be a back of the pack runner.” It’s been encouraging to listen to you and now see your progress!

    I began running in May and have completed a few 5Ks. I am now training for a 10K. I ran along with one of your more recent podcasts last week (quick 3 miles) and it must have been me following your steps because I ran it faster than I have before.

    So refreshing to hear your thoughts above! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I laugh at the things I knew for certain back then. I’ve learned now to never say never. There will be a point where you hear me say I’ll never be Vegan! LOL

  2. Hey Gordon, great race. I especially liked goal number one… there is no doubt in my mind the other goals will come, You Are a BEAST!!!. As I approach my first Marathon, I thought I had a pretty good mindset, heading in, but a series of events, and a run , that felt real odd, and maybe I was obsessing too much has thrown my confidence/joy, into a tail spin. In any event, I’ve a 23 mile training run X-Mas weekend, and I hope i can keep focus, (if not, I’m sunk, lol). Anyway just a word of support for you, I admire your “realness, and “fortitude” happy Holidays!!
    P. S. I Think I’ll run Disney instead of the Donna… will you be running this year?

  3. Hi Gordon. I was the guy you met right after finishing CIM a couple weeks ago. It was so great to meet you, and although we ran side-by-side for a couple miles (around Miles 7-9) I guess I do feel like a bit of a dork that I just didn’t say hi to you then. (You were in the zone, man — I couldn’t break your trance if I tried!!) Anyhow, when I saw you come across the finish line thought you looked strong even though you were possibly in pain. Great run, sir!

    And, as you may recall from my own banter about CIM, those last few miles were torture for me as well. I was sure my body was going to tell my mind to shut up with all the “perseverance” nonsense, and just shut down. Thankfully it didn’t. Good thing there were plenty of people to cheer us on. (Did you see the ‘Jesus’ character holding the sign “The End (of the Race) Is Near!!”? Hilarious!!)

    Anyhow, I’ve put my email address on the details attached to this post, and I’d love to hear from you sometime. Any time you come to the west coast again, let’s run together. (I’m running RnR San Diego in June..)

    Greg Boncimino
    CIM 2011: 3:22:43

    P.S. It was great to meet Megan too. Say hi for me.

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