Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | December 1, 2012

California Dreamin’

The day after the Chicago marathon, I could barely move. Two days after, I could move, but had trouble walking. “Never again,” I reminded myself. By Wednesday, I could walk, and even go up and down stairs. Just the thought of running, however, seemed painful. But by Thursday, I felt pretty much fine. And that’s when the trouble began.

Even though I’d gotten a BBQ, I’d missed qualifying for the 2013 Boston Marathon. I had, however, qualified for the California International Marathon. The what, you ask? Good question.

California International Marathon is a race held in Sacramento in December that has been touted by many, including the running legend Bart Yasso, as one of the fastest marathon courses in the country. Why so fast? First, it’s a point-to-point, meaning the turns are minimal. (For those who don’t run marathons, lots of corners can slow your finish time. The course is measured out running the shortest tangents, and unless you manage to hit all of them perfectly, you add a little extra at every turn. Over the course of 26 miles, that mileage adds up.) But more importantly, the course is a net downhill. Not a crazy downhill, like St George or Tucson, which look favorable but can put a lot of stress on your quads and lower legs. Instead, CIM has rolling hills and gentle downhills, not enough to beat up your legs, but just enough to make you feel like you’re having a good day.

And I could use a good day.

Not everyone who runs CIM has to qualify. When registration opens in the spring, anyone can sign up. But it fills up – fast. However, the race organizers know that CIM is attractive to people trying to qualify for Boston, particularly for people who have narrowly missed their qualifying time and could use the advantage of a downhill course. People like me, for example. So, in October, for two weeks, they open registration to anyone who meets the CIM qualifying times – which happen to be just a few minutes slower than Boston. Just enough for yours truly.

So as my legs were returning to normal after the Chicago Marathon, when the pain had faded and after the blood stains had been washed out of my socks, I got a little tempted and found myself surfing around the CIM website.

I’d never qualified for a race before in my life. Here it was, my chance to feel validated. Yes, the race was full, but I could get in. Why? Because I qualified! How cool is that? I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to feel special like that. So, I registered. The fact that I’d then have to run another marathon was just an after thought. A bad afterthought.

Will I be able to reach my BQ time? Maybe, maybe not. It’s only 8 weeks after Chicago marathon, which may or may not be enough time to be fully recovered. And now the weather looks like it will be working against me: headwinds that will negate the benefit of the downhill course.

But still, I qualified, which makes me feel special already. Perhaps I should run in a princess costume to feel even more fabulous?

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