California International Marathon: Race Recap

As I said before, this was a great race. The course was beautiful and although there were rolling hills, there were no incredibly steep ones. And, like the sign on my back said, this was my first marathon. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

The expo was great. As I said in my Pros and Cons post, there were plenty of things to buy, there were discounts and there were samples. It was set up well and easy to find.

The race started at 7 am. I was ready! I struggled with what to wear. I was posing in front of the mirror for hours! Just kidding, I always have problems figuring out how to not wear too much and still avoid turning into a Popsicle. It was in the 30s in the morning. I wore shorts, a t-shirt, arm sleeves, a beanie, gloves and a fleece. I opted to not leave my fleece at the sweat check because I was still cold 20 minutes before the race. I actually did not end up warming up until about mile 8, so I am glad I decided to keep it. My goal was about a 4:20, so I started between the 4:10 and the 4:25 pace groups.

Obligatory blurry camera phone photo
The first few miles were fine. I felt great. I was running at about a 9:00 - 9:15 pace. I was a little unsure whether I should slow down and try to keep my energy or just keep going at this pace and see what happened. My fastest race pace is about an 8:11, so this would not be "all out" but it was a faster pace than I had been doing my training at (more like a 9:50 for long runs). I kept it up until mile 6, when I finally had to stop to pee, even though I really did not want to because there was a line. I lost a few minutes there, but it gave me a chance to take off my sweatshirt and readjust a little.

The best thing about this race is that since I am from California (and usually NEVER run races IN California) many of my family and friend came to watch me. They made signs and wore Santa hats and shook cow bells! I felt so loved! Here is my favorite one.

My biggest fan, Mom.
The plan was that they would be at the 13.5 mile marker, then once I passed, they would get in the car and drive to the 20, then once I passed, they would go to the end. I almost missed them at the first stop. Remember the Relay I was complaining about? My family and friends were mixed in with all the relay runners and spectators. But I did get a chance to give them a high five and hand over my jacket.

But back to the race. After the pee stop at mile 6, I maintained about a 9:10 pace. I still felt great. I had to stop (again!) and wait in line (again!) but except for the stops, my pace was pretty steady. I took my first chew at mile 5 and then pretty much took one roughly every two or three miles after that. There were a few hills which kicked my butt but I really did feel good. Miles 11 - 13 kind of dragged by, because I was antsy about seeing my fans (!!) and I also had the San Juan hills to contend with. There was a nice point right around mile 10 where you run through old town Fair Oaks, which is really cute! You also have to dodge chickens.

At the Half Marathon point, my time said 2:05 (but it took me about three minutes to get over the start line). I felt good about this, since my goal was 4:20 and if I could keep up my pace, that would be easy to achieve. I actually kept up my pace until about mile 20. I passed my family again, gave them another wave and a smile and I remember thinking, "what wall?" Right around mile 21, my knee started hurting and I slowed down and I felt pretty darn tired. I had to pee again and after that, I couldn't get back up to speed. My pace was around a 9:50.

Around Mile 23, as I was struggling to keep my pace under 10 minutes, the 4:10 pace group caught up to me. I thought to myself, "I will just run with them until the end". The pace leader said, "How is your first marathon treating you!?" I told her that my knee was hurting but my spirit felt good. She told me that it would all be worth it, that you only have your first marathon once, and that when I got to the finish line, I needed to make sure I raised my hands in the air and smiled at the camera.

I am not sure why, but that was exactly what I needed to hear. I quit telling myself that I would settle for hanging with the 4:10 group, and I picked up my pace a little.  The rest of the race was run at about a 9:20 pace.

Running down L street - Mile 26
I ended up beating the 4:10 group by two minutes. And Oprah, of course. My knees were a bit stiff but I felt good overall. I took the advice of John and drank a chocolate milk and two waters in rapid succession. 

Finally earned that sticker

Capitol Mall, downtown Sacramento

Final time (still as of yet unofficial) 4:08:27
Pace overall: 9:27 (gosh darn potty stops!)
Potty stops: 4
Family and friends cheering me on: 20 +/-
My first marathon: Priceless

It was pretty good. I was pretty tired for a little while, but felt good physically and mentally overall. Will I do it again? I think so. Afterwards I walked 18 blocks (I needed to walk out the stiffness in my knee) to brunch, where I met up with my family at Cafe Bernardos and we gorged ourselves on Amaretto French Toast with Almonds. Okay, maybe it was only me.

To hear about other people's fitness journeys, stop by Jills for Fitness Friday!

Have you run a marathon? How was it? Have you ever set a crazy goal and accomplished it? What should I do next?


  1. WOW! Look at you! That is so fabulous, I'm so proud of you. Congrats on running your first marathon and I LOVE how that person came by at just the right time to lift your spirits...that's one of the best things about this sport, is how everyone supports eachother. :) Jessica


  2. Nice job! I have been looking forward to your recap post. That is awesome that you had friends and family out there supporting you. I have never had someone make me a sign for a race. Someday!!

    My first marathon was not so great. It was unseasonably hot, with temps near 90 at the finish. I finished in 4:50 and was disappointed to some extent, but not really becuase my goal was to finish. Then my 2010 marathon was great. My goal was 4:30 and I finished in 4:22.

    I will run a marathon next year (possibly NYC, I will enter the lottery this spring) and my goal is a 4:05.

  3. SO SO proud of you! You're my inspiration when I grumble about getting out of bed for my morning walk/run. LOVE the picture of Dorothy -- my beloved kooky sis. xoxoxo

  4. Congratulations marathoner! Welcome to the club. The only way to know what happens at mile 23 is to finish a marathon. That's where I always seem to hit the wall and push through it.

    I've done 3 marathons, 5:07, 4:31, and a 4:25 in the Ironman last month. 4:08 is a great time! Weren't those easy 10 minute miles? haha, you did great. really great. And I'm glad you enjoyed it and got the most out of your marathon experience.

  5. Awesome! You did great! I have only run 1 marathon and I couldn't bend my knee for the last 7ish miles. That was in 2004 and I'm still just happy sticking to half's:) Maybe someday.

  6. Hi Kyria, got your name from Team Rudolph and just stopping by to say hi! Congrats on your first marathon! Man, I can't wait for mine to be over next month. Loved your Christmas postcard - thanks! Where do you make those?

  7. Awesome finish! I got your card what great pictures! How lucky you have been in your travels! If you are ever in NM or Colombia let me know :-)

  8. Amazing recap of this race! I still can't believe you managed that time even WITH bathroom breaks. Wonderful job!!!

  9. Congrats on an awesome first marathon! I just did my first in May, and I'm hoping to do more. I love that you wore a sign announcing your first race!

  10. Such a great job on your first marathon! You did awesome! I've run 4 marathons so far, and I'm totally addicted. When I get this injury cleared up I'll be back in training asap. Your time was so awesome - way to beat Oprah!

  11. I'm so glad you felt so good for most of the race and afterwards. Can't believe you walked 18 blocks. Wowie!

    My first marathon was awful to say the least. I injured myself 2 miles from the end, it poured rain and I started to hurt at mile EIGHT!

    I am really hoping my next one in May is a lot stronger and my goal is to run a 4:30 marathon or faster! I might have made 4:30 if I hadn't injured myself and walked most of the last two miles in my last marathon so I think this is do-able!

  12. Great race recap! And again, great time! I love your sign! I really need to run this race next year, thank goodness for other bloggers being around to help me find good local(ish) races.

  13. Great recap Kyria! I think it's great that you had so many family and friends out supporting you. That is so motivational for me!

    Congrats on a great time in your first marathon! Can't wait to hear all about your next one!

  14. How fun to have your friends out there with the signs. That must have given you such a lift!

    I don't think I realized your run was in Sacarameto - one of the few places I have ever gotten lost! But so pretty.

    I really enjoyed reading your recap and seeing all of the pictures. You did such a great job! and what a clever idea to put that sign on your back. Love that!

    Awesome, Kyria... great memories and hurray for beating Oprah!

  15. Congratulations! Nice finish time and that's with potty stops!

    There's always the obligatory blurry photo :)

  16. Um, WOW, you really rocked that first marathon! A 4:08 in your first race sounds very similar.... :) it was my unofficial first marathon time!!!
    But what makes me think you can do it again and cut your time WAY down is that you significantly underestimated yourself. You will definitely get faster.
    My first marathon was a struggling 4:12, 4:08 excluding getting stopped for traffic in a race mess-up (Roads had closed and shut traffic in with no way out!) and a bathroom break line (yeah, cheating to leave that out, I know). At the time I gave that race EVERYTHING I had. And less than a year later I ran the same race in 3:27. This year....maybe 3:10?!?! Who knows! So, while I think a 4:08 is fab for a first marathon, I think based on the fact that you projected a slower time, you will easily run a 3:35 next year and BQ.

  17. Pretty awesome!!!!! I've run two marathons... both CIM. I love that course...but it might be all for sentimental reasons :P

    Congrats on doing so well!

  18. It sounds like it was so great! I'm glad you had a good experience. And that pace is awesome!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!