Race Recap: 2016 CIM Marathon

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  The race recap blitz continues with recap 4/5.

Ever run a race that everyone raves about?  That would be CIM (California International Marathon).  It’s touted as the fastest course in the west and is where a lot of people qualified for the Olympic Trials at the 2015 race.

I had a number of people tell me it’s a super fast course and one of their favorites so I was expecting an absolutely amazing course.  My recap is going to tell a different story…

But let’s jump back a bit. Sean & I headed up to SF to run in the North Face Endurance Challenge on Saturday, Dec 3. He wanted to run the 50 miler and I originally was just going to crew him and then one of my Phoenix friends, Jeremy @runner_blogger_az asked me to be a part of his marathon relay team.  I said if you are ok with me being slow because I am running a marathon the next day + I’m kind of slow to begin with lol, especially remembering the monster hill you have to climb in the fist half of the section.

So we headed off to SF, participated in the Endurance Challenge, which I recapped the other day, and almost immediately after Sean finished we set off to Sacramento.  It would takes us close to 2 1/2 hours to get there because of traffic.  And after being up since 2:45am, we were exhausted.

So, I have to give a huge shout-out & THANK YOU to Brian, @pavementrunner for picking up our packets and then dropping them off at our hotel for us since there was no way we would make it in time to pick them up.

We had a yummy Italian dinner, I did a quick #FlatJenny pic and then off to bed we went.

CIM starts in Folsom and you make your way to Sacramento so they bus you to the start line.  Our buses left at 5:00am so we had to be up in time around 4ish in order to make the bus.  And unfortunately, I did not sleep well that night.

But the show must go on so we got up, put on our run gear along with a lot of extra clothes to keep us warm while we waited at the start.  This race is notorious for it’s super cold start line temps.  I remember reading about one year when it was in the 20s at the start and everyone stayed on the buses for hours waiting.

In any case, this year wasn’t quite that cold, but it was definitely chilly.  We got off the bus, went immediately to the port-a-potties and then made our way over to 7-11 where we got Sean some coffee before meeting up with our We Run Social & ProCompression friends.  ProCompression debuted a special race specific sock for CIM.

We took some photos and then all when our own ways.

Us back to the port-a-potties and then we made a mad dash to the gear check buses which were a disaster!!  Seriously, a total mess.  There were people throwing bags into the trucks, everyone was pushing and shoving and a guy is saying Do not throw your bags, would you throw them at your daughters?  It was a total mess.

We got our bags in eventually and then made our way over to the start.  I was surprised to see that there were no corrals for the most part, just pace signs, it’s interesting in a race where a lot of people are trying to BQ that there are no real corrals.  I started by the 4:38 pace group, but I could have started pretty much anywhere.  They did a quick national anthem and then we were off!

Seeing as I ran a marathon the weekend before & a hilly 10k the day before, I decided to enjoy the race and just run.

Last week Brian wrote a blog about looking at the course profile.  CIM is a net downhill course and when I look at my Garmin, it shows a downhill course.  But there are A LOT of little uphills pretty much the entire course.  So while it is a downhill course, it’s very deceiving because it’s not completely downhill.

I was aware of this and so I started out conservatively, my goal was to finish under 5 hours, as I ran the goal eventually morphed into trying to keep my mile splits under 11mins to keep myself entertained and if I could get close to 4:30 that would be great but I wasn’t really gunning for that.

It seemed like the rolling hills just went on forever.  A few people told me that they were for the first 10.5 miles or so, but it didn’t seem like we evened out until about mile 22 or so.

I started out behind the 4:38 pace group and some how I got a bit caught up with them, there was a big group of people and it was really hard to get around them.  Eventually I made my way around and tried to get a good rhythm going.  This race was good hill training practice, I guess.

In any case I just kept chugging along and eventually I came up on Brian & Richard @blingwhore and the 4:30 pace group.  They went to get some water and I kept heading down the hill.  This was probably around mile 5 or so.

It wasn’t so bad temp wise at the actual start and for the first 2 – 3 miles it felt ok, and then it we went past this farm it was absolutely freezing! I distinctly remember because there was this beautiful young horse that would run up to the fence and then run back and it looked so unbelievably graceful.

I was so cold I could see my breath but I had to keep moving so one foot in front of the other until about mile 7 I ran up and down all the hills.  Then I was totally over it.  I saw my friend Haley, who know lives in SD but is from Sacramento.  CIM is her favorite marathon.  I was like holy hills.  She and her friends laughed and said there were a lot more to come.

At some point Brian, Richard & the 4:30 pacers caught up with me again, we chatted for a few minutes and then I kept moving.  They would pass me a bit later and be in front of me until I saw them at an aid station again around mile 16ish?  I saw Megan @runmeganrun not long after that so I stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes.  Her tummy wasn’t feeling great so she was just trying to survive the rest of the race.  I was still so chilly I had to keep moving to stay warm.

The course itself, was ok, there were some really nice areas with fall trees and at one point we went over the river, but for the most part, we ran through residential neighborhoods and through a lot of strip malls.  Race courses that run through areas like that are not my favorite.  I didn’t feel like it was a very “pretty” course and quite frankly, I didn’t get the “favorite course” vibe that a lot of people have.

Now, I’ve had the opportunity to run a lot of races in some really amazing places and so maybe I’m getting jaded, but running through strip malls and neighborhoods doesn’t do anything for me.  I want a scenic course that gives me awesome views, amazing spectators and entertains me.  While there were a few spots where there were a decent amount of spectators the majority of the race there weren’t many.

Back to the race now, I saw Haley again around mile 20ish I think, I was behind her and I was trying to keep up my sub 11 min miles but I was tired, my legs were shot from all the hills and I was so ready to be done.  I finally caught up to her at mile 21ish as we went over the only bridge in the whole race.  She said this is the last big hill before continuing on.

We went under a tunnel with a big sign declaring we were in the final 4 miles!  The miles were just being checked off from this point on.  We went up a short hill and then the roads changed once we got into Sacramento.  There was a nice flat section in the middle but it was slanted on the sides.  At this point my feet were starting to hurt, along with the inside of my left ankle.  I just wanted to be done and in my warm clothes.

Finally we made it to mile 25 and let me tell you, that last mile seemed like it was the absolute longest mile ever!  There was a big blue inflatable at the end of the road and I finally asked someone if that was the finish line?  They said no, we have to turn at 8th Street.  So I counted down the blocks until we were finally turning.

I finally made the turn heading towards the finish line. This is the only race I’ve ever seen this at  they have separate finish lines for the women & the men. The women get the first left, while the men get the second.

And then for about 15 seconds is the best view of the whole race, the Capital Building with a huge Christmas Tree in front of it!

I had finished my 7th marathon of the year and while it wasn’t my fastest race, it was a decent showing considering all the miles I’ve been putting in lately.

Now, I had to find Sean.  He normally waits for me if he can at the finish line, but I finished about 45 ish minutes behind him so I was thinking he might have gone to get his warm clothes on.  I got my signature medal selfie pic and then headed out of the finish area.

Whole Foods works with them on the post race food and had those yummy Vega snack bars, kind bars and Pop Chips along with bottle water.  Once outside the finish line, they had hot oatmeal as well.  I didn’t see Sean so I made my way to the drop bags so I could get changed.

Once I was changed, I walked around looking for him for about 30 minutes.  I eventually ran into Brian, who I congratulated and then said I can’t find Sean, hoping he might have seen him.  And he did around mile 25.5 so I took off and there he was.  I was like I’ve been looking all over for you! LOL.  It looks like he left the finish line right before I finished and then I went to change and he thought I hadn’t finished yet.  OOPS, but I’m so glad that Brian saw him.

Pros: Well organized (except the bag drop at the start)
Nice medal & long sleeve shirt
Good post race food

Cons: All those hills!!
Not a very scenic course
Roads that have a lot of pot holes/cracks on them

Would I run this race again?  With all the races out there, probably not.  There weren’t enough spectators for my liking and personally I didn’t really enjoy the course.  It reminded me of the Phoenix-Mesa marathon course, yeah, it’s a net downhill, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pretty course.  I’d rather run Mountains to Beach again (even after my bad experience there) because at least there are beautiful views.

I can’t even say that I didn’t like it because I did badly, because I had a decent race, I think that it just didn’t live up to the hype.  I was expecting something amazing and for me, this wasn’t it.

Have you ever run a race that everyone raves about only to be disappointed?

2 thoughts on “Race Recap: 2016 CIM Marathon”

  1. Just read your recap on CIM and you bring up the same points I have for this race! I kept waiting for the vibe that everyone raved about. I am glad to have finally run CIM but like you said, not a race I would come back to. By the way, saw you at NYC on course and I’m in the pro compression photos, did not realize you were there (but then at 5am, I was just trying to stay warm lol).

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