Race Review: CIM 2011 - Finisher!

Last Sunday, 12/4/2011, I ran the California International Marathon (CIM), five weeks after running the Marine Corp Marathon.
Revisiting the race that was easily my biggest bonk ever was a bit intimidating. I went over my running plan fifty times to make sure I wouldn't suffer the same outcome (plus my wife wasn't going to pace me the last 13 miles like last time).

CIM had 8000 marathoners and 1000 relay people this year (full as usual). The weather was cool (36F), dry with no wind. As a bonus, the CIM folks decided to become the marathon with the most port-a-potties in the U.S. (apparently 1 unit for every 26 runners).

We got up at 3:30am and took the 5:30am bus from the host hotel to the start. Our bus driver got lost in the dark as did a number of the others. Luckily we made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. Riders were allowed to remain on the bus until 5 minutes before the start, which was nice.

The race began on time and was well-organized. The event is billed as a fast net downhill race ("A very fast course, if not THE FASTEST, course in the country") which is true, however, there are a number of rolling hills in the first 20 miles or so.

After a 0.5 mile downhill start, the course followed various semi-rural roads, always with a not-too-steep incline followed by a not-too-steep-but-a-little-steeper-than-the-incline decline. I worked to maintain a consistent pace and not charge ahead on the downhills.

Luckily, I had some amazing crowd support at Miles 8 and 21 which gave me something to look forward to during the race.

The rollers end at just about Mile 20 when you pass through "The Wall". The last 6 miles of the course are extremely flat and many runners fly on this last part of the course. Those of us with screaming quads cheered as the kills multiplied!

The last few miles were rough but somehow I crossed the finish line intact. My legs were killing me from the rolling hills but I managed to avoid repeating a major bonk. Tired but happy I closed the book on my 13th marathon and slept in the car on the way home.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course with good crowd support. Grade: A

Course - Rolling hills. Make sure to train for them. A few scenic spots. Last six miles are the best part. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Well distributed and staffed. Water in garbage cans, from rubber hoses. Ultima. Yuck. Grade: C+

Swag – Great medal, nice dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+