Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update May 30, 2012
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California International Marathon and relay

1st Sunday in December, Folsom to Sacramento, CA
340 ft overall decent, highly rated as one of the best Boston qualifier marathons.
Take the course tour.
App and info: Telephone 916-983-4622 or click on California International Marathon above.

Alicia Dingsdale relates her Boston qualifying experience:

On Dec. 2, 2007, I ran the 25th annual California International Marathon, which stretches from Folsom to Sacramento, Calif. With a sunrise start at 7 a.m., it was still a brisk 43 degrees, though it warmed up a bit and featured wind gusts up to 20 mph during the race. These served to wake up the runners and blow beautiful yellow and orange leaves across our paths, making it a memorable setting. Some 3,000 marathon runners and 3,000 marathon relay runners signed up for the race, which has a very smalltown feel.

Pre-race planning:
Earlier this year I decided I'd reached the point in my training where I could start mounting a Boston Marathon qualifying attempt. Since I'll be 40 in April 2009, I set my sights on achieving 3:50:59 or under, which is the qualifying standard for that age.

I began training in August using the FIRST plan, which I've talked about before. FIRST runs are far tougher than anything I'd done since high school. They entailed these workouts each week: one day of track speedwork w/target times determined by recent race performance; one tempo run (slightly slower than 10K pace) to improve LT; one long run, which got increasingly longer and faster through the program; until the runs culminated with several done at projected marathon pace. In addition, you HAVE to perform hard cross-training on the off-days. That includes cycling and swimming.



Alicia rewards herself for a race well run with a glass of ale and uses her finishers medal as a coaster.

Why this race:
Several friends had run CIM successfully and reported great experiences, so I opted to go up to Sacramento to run it. After I signed up, I discovered it has the 2nd largest percentage of Boston qualifying times, behind only Boston itself.

Race strategy:
Pacing - Used my heart rate monitor to keep myself at about 80% of cardiovascular reserve for first 15 miles (where most of the rolling hills are located), then gradually increase by a few beats per minute every few miles until mile 20, when I could begin running faster to the finish.

Nutrition - The hotel set up breakfast at 3:30 a.m., so I was able to eat a bagel at a comfortable 4 a.m. (three hours before race start) along with an Ensure. I drank Gatorade for the next hour as well.

During the first 8 miles of the race, I followed the strategy that worked during training: I drank Gu2O, the sports drink that's easiest on my stomach, out of my screw-top Ultimate Direction handheld bottle, then switched to water + gels, grabbing 2 cups of water while running thru several aid stations and pouring them into my bottle. I had Carb-Boom gels at mile 8 and 16. In addition, I carried Enduralytes, which I used on two occasions when my quad had inklings of cramping. No cramps ensued.

What about the race itself?
It started in rural Folsom, where we'd been bused. People came out of their houses to cheer us with cowbells. The course was made up of rolling hills, especially through mile 16 or so, with the down hills being a little longer than the up hills. It is a net downhill course. (It has a 325-foot elevation loss from beginning to end.) Crowds got bigger as we approached Sacramento. It was much better supported than my previous marathon, Orange County.

I kept waiting to hit the proverbial wall after mile 17, which was the mark in my training runs when I began to falter at times. But it never happened! I felt like a metronome, strongly striding through the last miles and passing people who were struggling.

In the last few miles you run through downtown Sacramento and approach the Capitol Building itself. The cross-streets are numbered so you can count down how many blocks are left. Since mile 15, I'd been staring at my Garmin as the time went by and the average pace gradually moved from 8:40 to 8:39 and so on. I simply had to hold 8:46 average to qualify, so barring a complete disaster, my goal was within reach.

By 15th Street, I knew my husband would be standing somewhere on the capitol mall on my left. He waved at me and I raised my arms and yelled, "I'm going to Boston!" as I ran by. I made the turn at 8th Street and then again onto Capitol Street into the women's finishing stretch. The Capitol Building and finish line loomed in front of me. Final time: 3:46:28.


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