Tomorrow, thousands of runners will be launching off from the California International Marathon starting line in pursuit of their dreams. Some envision numbers on a clock above their head 26.2 miles later that guarantee their entry into the 2020 United States Olympic Marathon Trials. While others place their hopes in capturing the coveted USATF Marathon Champion title, simply a PR or even a Boston Marathon Qualifying time. Most of all, every single athlete will be looking to push their minds and bodies to the abyss of no return, the edge where unwavering mental desire meets screaming legs and drowning lungs.
The rabbit family is sending a contingent of speedsters this year that look to fulfill their potential at the famed marathon distance. Jill Deering, the co-founder of rabbit who will be tackling her first postpartum marathon at CIM on Sunday, is looking forward to seeing the speed some of rabbit’s top sponsored athletes can bring to the roads of Sacramento this weekend:
“We are extremely proud and excited to have so many rabbitPROs competing at this year's USATF Marathon Championships hosted by the California International Marathon. The field is stacked and our athletes are ready to compete with the best in the nation this Sunday. It's such a great honor to have our amazing athletes competing and representing rabbit and we just cannot wait for the race to go down!”
The scenic 26-mile, 385 yard point-to-point course stretches from Folsom Dam and travels on a net downhill course southwest towards the iconic finish at the California State Capitol in downtown Sacramento. Coach Terry Howell of Santa Barbara is coaching multiple athletes competing in the field this year and offers us a glimpse into the physiological and psychological perspective one can only obtain from years of experience here.
“From a racers standpoint, it would be hard to find a course as perfect as CIM. The course includes a series of 12 to 15 rolling hills which seem to be placed strategically to force the runners to mentally re-focus while also causing a slight shift in running effort. This shift on the uphill forces greater knee lift and arm drive to maintain race pace, while the downhill causes a slight increase in stride length. Both actions initiate greater muscle recruitment and help reduce the repetitive muscle fatigue runners might experience on a flat course.
Of the 26.2 miles, only 5 mile splits will have a gain in elevation (maximum gain in anyone 1 mile is 26 feet), and this means that for 21.2 miles the course gives you that “wind at your back” feeling.
In addition to having an ideal course, the competition is top notch. It’s not just that there are lots of fast runners, but if last year is any indication, the top runners understand the concept of proper pacing, group running and taking advantage of what the course gives you. In last year’s CIM race, 35 men and 50 women hit the 2020 United States Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standards of under 2:45:00 and 2:19:00.
"Part of my last minute coaching is going over each mile of the course so that the runners fully understand where the course is going to give them the greatest benefit. In addition, we discuss the ideal pacing strategy that will enable each runner to run the second half of the race within 30 to 60 seconds of what they come through at the half marathon point,” Howell said.
Given the fast course and top notch competition, runners from near and far are attracted to the California International Marathon every year. Six rabbit’s featured below give you a glimpse into their training and mental state heading into the 2018 USATF Marathon Championships.
Name: Brogan Austin
Marathon PR: 2:24 - 2016 United States Olympic Marathon Trials
Coach: Tom Schwartz AKA "Tinman"
Weekly Training Volume: 90-110 miles
Favorite Marathon Workout: "I've always loved the long run because it's a good indicator of how your fitness is progressing (hopefully in the right direction!). My long run route also has a myriad of challenging hills that helps break up the monotony of the long run and creates a little game for me. I also have some of my best daydreaming thoughts during my long runs. Plus, it lets me eat an extra piece (or ten) slices of pizza for the day.
Tune-up Race Results: "1st place in 62:39 at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in a 35 second course record, new PR by 1:30, and Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier."
Goal for CIM: Win
“Ever since training with coach Tinman I’ve had pretty phenomenal results. I knew I had the potential to be better than I was performing and Coach Tinman has finally untapped that potential. After running 62:39 at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon, I have some new found confidence and workouts have really begun to click. I plan for CIM to be my coming out party as a contender to make the 2020 Olympic Marathon team.”
Name: Allison Mendez-Cleaver
Marathon PR: 2:50:11- 2015 Chicago Marathon (debut)
Coach: Steve Magness
Weekly Training Volume: 80-90 miles
Favorite Marathon Workout: "I love workouts that closely 'mimic' how my legs will feel the end of the marathon! My favorite workout this build-up was 10 miles easy with 7 mile tempo then 2 mile cool down."
Tune-up Race Results: "14th place in a new PR of 56:10 at the USATF 10 Mile Championship in Minneapolis. 1st place at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in a course record of 1:12:47 (and OTQ)."
Goal for CIM: "My goal is to have a great 3rd marathon experience! I want to run to my capabilities, but also be smart about it. Even though I have already earned my OTQ, my goals haven't changed...I'm still trying to sneak under that 2:45 barrier!"
“A lot of people in Austin are training for this race so I'm excited that I'll get to share this experience with people who I love and care about! I've run a lot of miles with these people since July and have even gained wisdom from those familiar with the CIM course. Let's just say, Austin, TX is gonna show up in Sac!!!”
Name: Anthony Costales
Marathon PR: 2:13:12 – 2017 California International Marathon
Coach: Self Coached
Weekly Training Volume: Averaged 100 miles/week, topping out at 120 miles/week
Favorite Marathon Workout: "Mixing up fartleks into a tempo and back to fartleks."
Tune-up Race Results: "1st place at the Moab Trail Marathon, which doubled as the USATF Trail Marathon Championship, with the 3rd fastest course time in race history."
Goal for CIM: "Stay competitive with some of the best marathon runners in the USA."
“I think of CIM as my home marathon course. I first ran CIM as a relay when I was 15 years old as my first road race. Over the last 14 years I have ran in the race 10 times. It is exciting that an event that holds so much personal history to me is hosting the USATF Championships.”
Name: Ramiro “Curly” Guillen
Marathon PR (or debut): 2:17:35 - 2017 California International Marathon
Coach: Terry Howell
Weekly Training Volume: 80-90 miles
Favorite Marathon Workout: "My favorite workout this training cycle was when I did 6x1 mile with 75 seconds recovery and averaged 4:47 pace."
Tune-up Race Results: "I was not able to do any tune up races due to injury and races being cancelled because of the fires."
Goal for CIM: "My goal is to run under the 2020 USATF Olympic Trials A standard of 2:15:00."
“I have raced this course twice previously and have had great results there. In 2016 I ran 2:21 and last year 2:17. I do better on courses I am familiar with. Training has been going well and I feel stronger than ever. I can’t wait to see what I can do.”
Name: Jarrett LeBlanc
Marathon PR: 2:22:10 – 2018 Silo District Marathon
Coach: Terry “The Man” Howell
Weekly Training Volume: Average of 78-83 miles per week with highs of 86-89 and lows of 72-75
Favorite Marathon Workout: "Long and fast! Since the Rock & Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, my favorite workout has been 4-5x3k on with a 1k recovery float. The float is meant to be at 5:25-5:35 mile pace, which is only about 20-25 seconds off of GMP. The 3k were in between HM and marathon pace."
Tune-up Race Results: "I had a 10k in early November, which was really windy and hampered fast times. But my training has been the best mental and physical boost I could ask for! Taper tantrums are real! Even for lower mileage guys like myself!"
Goal for CIM: "I have had the most consistent year of running any athlete could ask for. I have maintained a healthy status and have been really enjoying the process. I fully trust my training will put me in a spot near the front of the 2018 USATF Marathon Championship."
“I’m excited for CIM because this will be my real first shot at a marathon time. I ran one of them in May, but it was more of a workout and fundraiser. I have had so much going on since I retired from running in 2016. I had to pull out of the 2017 CIM race due to a lack of fitness after rejoining the sport 5 months prior.”
Name: Ryan Miller
Marathon PR: 2:19:17 – 2018 Grandma’s Marathon
Coach: Terry Howell
Weekly Training Volume: "Built up to 90 miles per week over the summer before taking 10 down days for my wedding and honeymoon in September. Then averaged 90-95 miles per week from late September to mid-November, peaking just above 100 miles per week."
Favorite Marathon Workout: "I’ve really gained a lot of confidence and fitness from the fartlek workouts Coach Terry has prescribed during this buildup. This includes 4x3k with 1k floats, 4x4k with 1k floats, and 4x1k with 2k floats. The faster portions were slightly quicker than marathon pace and the floats were slightly slower than marathon pace."
Tune-up race results: "New PR of 1:04:06 for 4th place at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon."
Goal for CIM: "My #1 goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials by going under 2:19:00. Anything faster is a bonus."
“I’ve had the 2018 California International Marathon in the back of my mind everyday since being accepted to the USATF Championship field in July. My first marathon was bittersweet as 2:19:17 was better than I believed I would run given my buildup, but just 17 seconds short of qualifying for the trials. I’ve left no stone unturned this fall in preparation for this race and can’t wait to leave it all out there on the roads!"