I did it! Not only did I qualify for Boston, I ran 4 minutes and 49 seconds faster than qualifying time. I also shaved almost 6 minutes off my previous personal best in 2009. Sure it took me 4 years and 3 marathons to finally qualify for Boston, but I did it. It was a combination of hard work, smart racing, and perfect racing conditions.
I trained hard for this race, missing only one run throughout the 5-month training schedule. The one run I missed was the 30-minute run scheduled for the day before the race.
For some reason, I felt stronger and faster this time around than I did back in 2009, despite the fact that I AM 4 years older. I don’t know if it was because I changed my diet, which allowed me to shed more weight throughout the season.
Tucson and San Diego taught me a few important lessons I took to heart. Tucson taught me to race smartly (i.e., not to rush out the gate and burn out in the last few miles), and SD directed me to pick the right race (i.e., colder races).
This year, the conditions were perfect at the California International Marathon. It was a sunny and windless day; albeit it was 28 degrees at the start, and stayed cold throughout. It certainly beat the 80-degree weather in San Diego in 2010.
Someone once said, “Run the first half with your brains, and the second with your heart”. This year, I stuck with my pace group as opposed to getting greedy and running with the faster pace group like I did in Tucson. I held back when I felt the urge to run faster in the beginning. This allowed me to conserve energy and run faster at the end of the race. I never hit the “Wall” at mile 20, and I also never stopped to walk like I did at all my other races. The last 2 miles were especially tough as a result of the leg pains. However, I mentally convinced myself that all I had left was a “short run”, and urged myself to keep pushing the pace.
As a bonus, our pacer was actually running faster than he was supposed to, and gave all of us a nice cushion for our qualifying time.
I’m in so much physical pain right now, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Would I run CIM again? Probably not. It was an extremely well run race, but the atmosphere was too intense. It seemed all everyone would talk about was “qualifying for Boston”. Now that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, I can finally start enjoying future races without a cloud hanging over my head.