From Bonking to BQ: Hansons Works!
On Sunday Dec. 3, I ran the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento with one goal: to earn a Boston Qualifier (BQ), my third attempt after slamming into the wall at recent marathons. Furthermore, I wanted to BQ by at least 5 minutes to increase my chances of getting a Boston bib (meeting the qualifying standards isn't enough anymore, as registrants exceed available spots).
In June, I decided to join Hansons Run Club and hire a coach, pro-runner Katie Kellner, through the group's coaching services. I knew what I was committing to—running 6 days a week with regular strength and tempo runs, and logging more miles than ever with a busier-than-usual writing and family schedule. I wondered if my body and mind could handle it.
Over the summer, I gradually increased my base to 45 miles a week to prep for 55 to 62 miles in October. I also started personal training once a week to increase core and functional strength. Finally, I revamped my approach to fueling for training and racing. Each day, I made a smoothie with a wide variety of fresh ingredients, especially berries, to boost immunity. Here, topped with homemade granola from Run Fast Eat Slow. I stayed healthy throughout the training cycle, only missing three days with a sore Achilles tendon, which resolved with ice and a Graston treatment from my chiropractor.
On race day, Katie advised me to run the first 20 miles through the rolling hills at my practiced marathon pace and speed up as much as I could during the last, flat 10k. I'd been dealing with a tight hamstring all week, but fortunately, running didn't aggravate it. I felt strong and relaxed throughout the race and never hit the wall, qualifying by more than 6 minutes and negatively splitting the course, as planned.
On CIM itself, it’s a fantastic point-to-point, net-downhill course from the Folsom Dam to downtown Sacramento, although the "downhill" is rolling. If you plan to run it, train on hills. It’s also one of the most well-organized and community-supported marathons out there.
We had ideal running conditions: low 40s at the start and mid 50s at the finish, light winds, no rain, low humidity, and lots of delicious sunshine. Oh, and the intense energy from a supermoon! Every once in a while, the stars align. Sunday was one of those days.