Post by Caleb Masland
2011 California International Marathon Race Recap! 2:35:05 chip time; 66th place overall; 64th place male; 20th place 30-34.
The epic pre-race lead-in is already documented in Chris S.’s race recap, so I’ll just focus on the race itself. Garmin Stats
The first 5k was typical for any marathon, namely jogging and finding rhythm, looking around me for people to work with. Chris and I stuck together until 2+ miles in, when he settled into his race pace and I did the same. The first 10k was mainly just an exercise in being relaxed and not expending any effort, so I was happy that my legs settled into a natural 5:5x pace.
I carried with me a flask of First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot (it was 3/4 full to start). I took my first swig around mile 4 or so. With my trusty Asics arm sleeves, I could stash the flask without expending any energy holding it in my hand. Around the 10k mark, I settled in with another guy and we started chatting a bit. As it turns out, he grew up in Vermont just like me. We stuck together for the next 5 miles or so.
Through the half, my only goal was to stay relaxed and even. As long as I was breathing evenly, I knew I was fine. The pace stayed in the same range. Somewhere before 12, the guy I was running with picked it up a bit. Although the racer in me debated just going along for the ride, I told myself to run my own race (he had mentioned wanting to run 2:30 “if he felt good”). I went through the halfway point in 1:17:34. By this point I had finished and tossed my flask of Liquid Shot.
Just after the halfway mark, I settled in with a small group of guys that would be near me until mile 22 or so. We all never spoke to one another, but we each took our turn setting the tempo. It had the feel of the unspoken organization of a professional cycling breakaway. The only annoying part was one guy had his Garmin set with pace zone alarms…so much annoying beeping.
Through mile 20, I just kept reminding myself to wait, wait, wait. No pressing until the last 10k. All along, our little pack of 4 or 5 guys was picking of plenty of people that expended too much energy in the first half. By the time we passed 20 miles, the other guys in my pack had also fallen back and I was alone again. I saw that I had gotten pretty close (I was counting 30-45 seconds) to the Vermont guy I had run with early, so I decided to just see if I could keep making ground on him. He had a bright blue shirt on that was an easy target. One final gel (Hammer Espresso) and it was time to get busy.
As expected, everything started to hurt in the last 10k. It was almost countdown time. Having driven the course the day before, I knew that once I crossed the H Street Bridge onto J Street, I only needed to run 49 blocks South to reach the turn at 8th Street. I called out each block out loud to keep myself motivated… 47 to go… 47 to go… 46… etc.
Over the last few miles, I also focused on catching and passing as many people as possible. I caught my fellow Vermonter with about 2 to go. He stuck on my hip for about 2 tenths, then said “Fuck,” and faded. Each other person I caught motivated me all the more to keep pressing.
When it got down to 10 blocks until the turn, I was in full short-course race mode. Screw the pain, screw the exhaustion, just run hard. When I hit the 2nd to last turn, I saw a clock with 2:34:xx on it so I dug deeper. I did a combination of sprinting and celebrating in the final stretch and hit the line as the clock read 2:35:05. A goal nailed.
Here are some fun facts: The 13 people who finished in the places behind me all ran a faster split in the 1st half. The 15 people who finished in the places behind me all ran a faster split at 20 miles. But my splits were 1:17:34, 1:17:31… Even pacing or negative splits ALWAYS lead to faster marathon times.
Thanks to everyone who gave me so much support. Especially Lindsay M. I wouldn’t be accomplishing anything without her support.