CIM–The Race & The Aftermath

What’s the protocol for recapping a race you didn’t actually run? Can I write 57.25% of a post?

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Running aside, I had a great weekend in Sacramento, and am grateful for the opportunity to travel and spend time with the great friends this sport has brought into my life. On Saturday Kristina and our menfolk (aka BriLee) did the whole fly/drive/get lost looking for parking/etc before hitting the expo and getting down to Race Eve business…


K inspecting the swag, detailing spectator plans (yes that’s me in a kayak flowing downstream), and liquid carbing at Pyramid Brew Co

… and then meeting up with some friends of the hydration and bird variety I love so much…


me, Arielle, Megan, Paulette, Jen, Stacy, Allison

I went to sleep feeling calm, excited, and nervous. Despite the weather and the drunk guy knocking on our door inviting us to the “lingerie party next door” (which the cops eventually broke up), I was EXCITED to wake up and run a marathon. For like the first time ever.

After a fitful night of sleep and waking up in a cold sweat (probably a sign of the cold I’m currently fighting), we did the typical pre-race thing and then made our way down to the lobby for the 5:15 shuttle.


We got down there early, saw the busses outside, and went inside to grab some breakfast. As I was waiting on the toaster, saying something to K with my back to the windows, she suddenly got this horrified look on her face directed just over my shoulder.


Luckily they had to circle the building in order to get out of the parking lot and we were able to jump in front of them and board before they left, but WTF?! Who’s idea to leave 10min early without notice?? I wonder how many runners ended up having to take a $100 cab to the start…

Anyway, an hour later we were parked at the start, terrified of getting off. K had informed me the forecast had somehow gotten worse over night, calling for 100% rain and 35mph winds. My attempts at “maybe it’ll be wrong!” optimism finally died as we sat on that bus, rain pouring down and the wind howling like the special effect sounds from Twister.


30min before the start we finally summoned the courage to hit the portapotties and seek wind refuge in the corral. Donned in our trash bag vests, we puddle jumped to delay the inevitable soaked shoes and distracted ourselves until the gun.

By some miracle we ran into both Margot and Madison in the corral, and right at 7am we took off into the rain.


as close as we’ll get to an actual running pic. just me in my (non-oiselle) throwaway

Truthfully the weather wasn’t AS BAD as I expected. Despite my attempts at relentless optimism, I expected it to be completely miserable. The wind wasn’t constant and there were even a few brief moments of tailwind. The rain was steady but not brutal, and it was warm enough (mid 50s?) that it wasn’t chilling. My Nuun hat got an A+ keeping my eyes dry and mascara in tact, and the trash bag vest kept my singlet dry for 5 miles until I could bear to part with it.

* update: I don’t mean to downplay the conditions, I’m sure if I’d run the full 26.2 they would have affected me more, just simply stating I was expecting worse. those that finished/survived definitely earned their badass stamp. *

It wasn’t long until I felt the tightness in my lower leg. Each downhill tugged a little more, and when we hit the downhill S-curve with the FLOWING RIVER THROUGH THE STREET at mile 10, I attempted a side-step/leap over the rushing water and felt the final blow.



Luckily Aron, Page, and Marjorie were right around the corner and their surprise cheers were a great distraction. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was affecting my gait and I knew then I wasn’t going to finish. I convinced myself to just get to Brian and Lee waiting after the halfway point, and adjust there.

“At least run 20 to make all the carb-loading worthwhile! Be strong – you said you were ready to run in pain! Make it worth it.”

But when I finally found them a little after mile 15, I knew I was done. There was no point in pushing myself through a pain for no reason, not to mention risk setting back recovery even more. I had to be smart in the long term, no matter how bad another DNF hurt my ego.

So I hopped in the car with BriLee and tagged along chasing K around the course – we saw her at 21 and then again just as she finished, blowing away her goal AND pulling in a big BQ on her debut, despite the terrible conditions. Just like Mel’s first half last weekend (the other DNF), I beamed with pride and happiness for my friend’s great race, smiling through the tears (second-hand happiness and first-hand sadness).


pictures of pictures until I can pull them off the camera…

Despite feeling content with my decision and the affirmations from others that it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of “mourning” towards my CIM cycle. No matter how bumpy the road and disappointing the outcome, I was still sad it was over.

But there will be other races, and I WILL come back faster AND stronger. I’ll learn from this, and use the disappointment as fuel for the next.

First though, it’s time to recover.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Rundies say it’s time to rest

I’m ready for a break. To heal, physically and mentally. The roller coaster ride running has taken me on this year – both extraordinary highs and meltdown lows – has been exhausting.

I have a huge respect for those of you that lace up every day excited to run, simply because it’s something you love to do. Because it brings happiness, calm, joy to your life. But that’s not why I do it.

I’m not a happy love-every-step runner. I run because I like the work, the challenge, pushing myself. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and structure to my daily life. I like analyzing workouts, drawing up plans, watching progress and getting a kick in the pants when the numbers say I’ve been slacking.

Obviously running is not my job, but it IS work to me. And just like anything that consumes your time, effort, and outside life, a reprieve is always welcomed after a long tour.


felt like this post needed another beer pic

It’s no question I need the time to heal physically, but mentally I may need it even more. I’m sickly prone to burnout – no doubt due to the “work” approach to training – and am almost grateful this silly injury is pulling rank and forcing me into a mandatory break.

The (rest of the) month of December will be run-free. 0 miles. I’ll consult with a doctor to make sure my recovery is on the right path, and commit to getting better. I’ll cherish the extra free-time and get all those odd jobs done I’ve had on my to-do list forever. I’ll spend more time working on my relationships and less on my fitness, and soak in every second of the holiday season. I might actually cook a proper meal for once.

Who knows. Things could get crazy.

But once 2013 rings in, it’s time to get back to work. And damnit, I’ll be ready.

Sarah OUaL


48 thoughts on “CIM–The Race & The Aftermath

  1. “The flowing river through the street!” O. MY. GOD. that happened within the 20-30 minutes we were standing there. It was just a puddle when we arrived! It was great to see you running! You always look way taller every time I see you in person…very tall and gazelle-like…really. Battling injury in those conditions…you are really downplaying the conditions, in my opinion (and I wasn’t even running!). Good job for not setting recovery back farther. You played your cards with wisdom and forethought. Well done :)


  2. I think a DNF to avoid an injury is a wise and sensible thing to do and takes a lot of courage. You should be proud of the miles you did and the decision you took! I’m amazed at the 0 miles running for December. I had four weeks of fun running after my big Autumn race (and haven’t done more than 6 milers since) but 0 miles is a BIG target. You should be totally mended afterwards!!


  3. I DNFed in March… so totally understand your thought process here (and I only made it 13 or 14). I hope you heal up fast! I also think you should take another shot at CIM next year, maybe it will stop raining by then!!


  4. I’m sorry you had to DNF CIM, but it sounds like it was the right decision to make. You seem to be taking it well, and a month of rest sounds like a good idea as well – Enjoy the Holidays!


  5. Ugh. Good luck with the tib. I hope that no-run month works out. Even though DNF must feel heartbreaking its good you knew your heart wasn’t in it and it wasn’t worth the risk!


  6. You inspire me to make wise decisions as I do something that seems impossible for this gal who always has gone through life saying I wasn’t a runner. It must have taken extreme courage (and tissues) to make the decisions but in the end, you’ll see it was the right one, I’m sure.


  7. Good job on the race regardless of the DNF. It was probably the best decision to not hinder your injury recovery! I’m sure by the time 1/1/13 rolls around you’ll be itching to get back into your running shoes!

    Also, did you announce the winner of the oiselle shorts and t-shirt?


  8. Your post is motivating. Even though you are hurt and had to take a DNF, but its motivatng and the time off will be a new challenge. Hope you enjoy the holidays and a much needed time off.


  9. I’m so sorry about CIM and your stupid injury. It definitely sounds like you did the right thing, but I know that doesn’t really make it easier. A DNF is tough no matter the circumstances, and you have every right to mourn a training cycle that you put so much time, effort, and WORK into.

    That being said – I think your attitude/perspective is awesome. Giving yourself time to rest and come back even stronger for 2013 is the best thing you can do. From one “running is work” runner to another — I’ve been loving the mental downtime I’ve given myself the past couple of weeks even more than the physical. I’ve been running for most of my life now for very similar reasons that you described…yes, I love it and yes there are some runs when I feel so amazing that I could run forever, but mostly…it is hard work. I thrive off the challenge of it all more than anything else, and burnout comes pretty easily. Enjoy the time off. I hope you come back feeling refreshed and stronger than ever!! (And I hope the injury heals quickly!!)

    A huge congrats to K too!!!


  10. So sorry to hear about your DNF. You’re such a great runner you’ll be back with a vengeance. I finished, but I was battling shin splints and was hobbling over the finish line. I only finished because it was my first full and thought it might be my one and only. Now I’m nursing my injuries and planning my comeback.
    Congrats to your your friend…she did awesome!


  11. All those reasons you listed on why you like running are exactly how I feel. Very well worded. Don’t let the DNF get you down to much, rest is a great idea and when spring marathon training starts, you’ll be all good. Cant wait to hear about it!


  12. not really the same but the night i decided to cancel on NYCM, i felt this sense of failure and disappointment and that i should just “tough it out” and suck it up.
    running is so emotional and there are such highs and lows and once you get through a valley, there will be another great high.


  13. I’m impressed with your wise ways, Sarah. It takes more guts to submit to your body’s signs that it is time to stop than it does to push through and finish the run. I love reading all about your running perspective because it is like the thoughts running through my head. I don’t necessarily run because it is fun – I love the challenge, working toward a goal, calculating and analyzing my runs, etc. It’s nice to know that there are others out there who maybe don’t 100% completely and utterly love to run and do it solely for love of the run. Sending lots of positive vibes for a speedy recovery (and speedy legs once you get back into it – your BQ is out there waiting for you and you’ll get it)!


  14. 2013 is going to be awesome and so is December. Do we know anyone running anything in So Cal this Dec.? Maybe we could go cheer or something :).

    Anyways, I am glad you made the choice you did and excited for what is to come in the next year.


  15. Sarah – I’m really sorry you had to deal with an injury when you are trying to reach some pretty cool goals. (And Boston is DEFINITELY cool) Smart to give yourself the time to heal and get back in the game. Cross train and bring back the running incrementally, and you’ll be ready to crush marathons later in 2013.

    PS – not going the whole way may have been a blessing. A friend of mine ran CIM and said the post-race chafing inflicted on her was beyond horrific….ugh!


  16. A DNF was the smart thing to do especially because you have goals that you want to accomplish. At least for me I think finishing my fall marathon in so much pain and misery was worse than a DNF. Unfortunately I didn’t really now where I could go to quit on the course so I just stubbornly limped on. One other word of may want to change your outlook on running. I have approached running as “work” and running as “fun” and I always get better results when I enjoy it. Just a thought.


  17. I think doing what’s best for your body and taking care of yourself is a MUCH bigger accomplishment than any finish time. I can only imagine the disappointment you probably feel, but I know when you’re back 100% you will really appreciate being good to yourself now!


  18. I got chills reading this. You were smart about this race and that in itself deserves a medal. It takes a lot of courage to do that and you saved yourself from getting more injured, nice job. 2013 is going to be your year for sure. Take the rest of the month to chill. You deserve it sister.


  19. The whole CIM cycle sucks. I am right there with you in the whole “running is work thing though”; sometimes, so very rarely, I get that “I must get out there and run for the heck of it”, but usually it’s a task that I do to accomplish a goal – faster time, longer distance, yadda yadda. I’ve just taken a two week break from “goal orientated running” AKA leave the damn garmin behind, and it was a nice breather. Now I’m back on for #redemptionrace yikes.

    Hope the doc gives you good news and heals up the tib fast.

    Ps – cooking is over-rated ;)


  20. I’m sorry to hear about your DNF, but it definitely sounds like it was the right thing to do. You’ll come back stronger and get your BQ in 2013!

    Also, I appreciate your honesty when you said that you’re not the type who loves lacing up her running shoes and looks forward to all of her runs. I’m the same way, and it sometimes makes me feel like a “bad runner” when I read about other people who always seem SO EXCITED to be running. I love what running brings to my life, but I don’t love every run. So thanks for your honesty, and I hope your injury heals and you enjoy your time off!


  21. Seems like you made the right decision to avoid further injury. Running is very emotional and mental and it seems like you are in need of a break. Enjoy your month off!


  22. You did the right thing. I worked my ass off to run NYCM and when that was cancelled, I ended up running Philly. 20 weeks of very focused training later… my IT band blew out at mile 6 and I ran/hobbled the remaining 20 miles in screaming pain because I was too proud to DNF (it was my first marathon). Now I’m rehabbing my left IT band + posterior tibial tendonitis I picked up in my right leg due to favoring it so much during the race. Delightful. No running until January, but I have a date with destiny in NYC next November and I will have to put in a ton of work to get there starting then (fingers crossed). Here’s to a healthy 2013 for both of us.


  23. A DNF is really frustrating but it sounds like you made the right decision. This is a great opportunity for you to rest and heal for next year’s races!! You are a strong runner so your fitness will come back quickly, I’m sure!! I am currently taking about 2 weeks off to see if that helps with a nagging piriformis problem that I’ve had since the summer. I know the feeling!


  24. i’m actually super impressed with your decision to stop running. I’m not sure i would’ve been smart enough to do so. I hope a doctor can help, and give you some answers. And, I love that you are taking december off. I kinda feel like I took most of 2012 off-every run was “for fun” up until a few weeks ago. I felt like i spent so much of 2011 diving into numbers & not enjoying it. love that you know what works for you and what doesn’t. Curious if that changes your plans for the spring?? enjoy December!


  25. As someone who decided to “tough it out” and not quit during a marathon (when I really, really should have), I can tell you first hand you made both the harder decision and the better decision. I am sure a DNF must sting, but maybe instead of thinking of your training cycle as a waste…think of it as a good learning experience as what you should and shouldn’t do next time. You’ll be so well-prepared you next go-around and ready to reach HUGE goals. Which, I’m sure with a month of rest, you’ll be gunning to reach! Personally, I think this recap is inspirational…so thank you!


  26. It breaks my heart to read that you’re struggling with injury!
    You are so tough to have been out there getting 15-miles in…I’m still in awe at how awful the weather was. I hope we don’t ever have to race in weather that crazy ever again! :)
    REST will heal you, and I definitely recommend seeing your Sports Med Dr. so you can get to the root cause of your Tib pain.
    Also if you ever need any advice on stretching/strengthening exercises I’m here for you! (i’ll have my Doctorate in PT in 1-yr)
    ENJOY your December of loving life and celebrating the holidays!


  27. Aww, I’m sorry to hear about the DNF. I started following your blog right around week 1 of your training and as frustrating as it is, it’s probably the right decision. What a crazy day at CIM – not exactly goal marathon conditions anyway. Good luck with the rest! I’ve always come off a long running rest feeling stronger. :)


  28. Congratulations on making it as far as you did! I’m sorry you had a DNF but I believe you made the decision. Get yourself healed and tackle another marathon in 2013!


  29. Some people are just effing cool and I’ve come to the conclusion that you are one of them. From huge Euge to showers in Sactown, the adventures of OuAL are always entertaining, and not once have I ever thought to myself “I just don’t understand how she’s feeling.”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and journeys with us. I’m fairly certain there will be a day in 2013 when the stars line up for you and you’ll have an even bigger than your normal gigantic smile plastered all over those MSPaint cartoons…


  30. I’m sorry you had to DNF but it sounds like the right decision :( 20+ miles in pain is misery and not to mention risky.

    By the way, my shin, also, is still acting a fool – I am thinking the only thing that will make it better is just not running for 3-6 weeks. The thought makes me cringe, but it’s kind of ridiculous at this point that it’s still lingering.


  31. I think this is a brilliant recap. I have so much respect for you for not finishing. Luckily, I have never been in the same situation. I can’t imagine how much strength it took to pull yourself off the course.


  32. Sounds like you did the right thing. I am kind of like you – I also enjoy the “work” aspect of running. I have some really awesome runs that make me LOVE it for the sake of running, but overall I’d say I’m more like you about it. Type A right :)


  33. This was a heartbreaker. I know there is nothing I can say that you don’t already know or someone else hasn’t already said, but damnit I was really rooting for you and wanted this for you so much. I know (believe me, I KNOW) how bad you want this. Cheers my friend, you WILL get your BQ and it will be so very perfect when you do!


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