Saturday, December 31, 2011

UltrAspire Spry - Gear Review

For Christmas, my husband and daughter decided to give me this wonderful new Brooks tech shirt and matching shorts from the Running Warehouse.  I love the shirt and shorts, but I had to exchange it for something else that caught my eye! From time to time I get this email from the Running Warehouse about sales and stuff.  I never really pay much attention since I have all the gear I could possibly need--well, for now, that is.   I try to avoid going to the RW it's pure temptation. But the email I received, lured me in. Thank goodness my Hubby gets me.  He knows that I am hard to shop for, I am very picky.  So my returning the running tee and shorts was okay with him.

Lately, I've been running with a hand-held 20 ounce bottle.  It's good for up to 12 miles of long run. Any longer than that, I would normally get a re-fill from a gas station or a water fountain. Luckily with the 14 miler last weekend, there's a supermarket perfectly situated by my Turri Road loop. For longer than 14 miles, I would usually wear the belt with four-flasks of 8 oz, which gives me a total of 32 oz. With the weight, sometimes it rubs me in spots that while running I can't really feel, but during a shower with hot water--let's just say I can't ignore it. Chaffing is not my thing. The extra pocket of the belt for gels is a plus. I can squeeze in my phone if I want to take pictures for my blog.  The thing that annoys me however is having to reach for stuff in the back while running. It messes up my gait and form and slows me down--not that I am running at an incredible rate of speed or anything like that, but at my glacial pace, seconds matter to me--most especially if I'm doing a pace run or tempo run. The other annoyance of mine is the way that my forearm would hit the top of the flasks or my water bottle. I can't totally blame the bottles, but with my short frame, I tend to hit it on my sides. It doesn't help to rotate it a bit since there are 4 bottles evenly space around me. I just learned to settle with it over time.

What do you think? Is it a keeper?

How do I look?
Now I have a choice.  Here's where the UltrAspire Spry comes in the picture.  It is a vest where everything is at your fingertips. It allows you freedom of movement, where all the action takes place in the front. I took it for a spin on my 5 mile pace run today. It would have been nicer if I didn't dilly dallied and waited until the sun was high. It also would be great as an extra layer for warmth on a cool day. After all it is a vest.
Hello running vest you and I will pal around in 2012!

I decided on the blue. It comes in purple and red. But RW didn't carry red and since there was only 1 left in blue and a ton in purple, I opted for the blue.  It's more like a bluish-greenish tint. It's pretty.  The Spry comes with 5 pockets in the front with two loops by the shoulder harness for something I haven't thought of.  But I know its going to come in handy.
I forgot to mention the reflective strips on the back

The back has one big pocket for bigger items such as a jacket.  I would use that big pocket for arm warmers and gloves or even extra bottle of water. One nice thing about the closure is that it is held by a magnet.  It's not a chinsy magnet, this one is strong. I hate the Velcro closures because it seems to always scratch me especially when I am in a hurry. Usually I am in a hurry. I'm just jamming stuff in so I can get back into running. Not only does it scratch me, it's guaranteed that the Velcro would snag my more high end tech shirts. Yes I am always bummed when I discover new snags!
This is where my smart phone is going.

Gu gel pouch perhaps?
The back side pocket is a perfect size.  Now the front is what I love.  Everything is right at my fingertips.  On the left side harness/shoulder strap, there's a zippered pouch where I keep my smart phone. I carry my phone for safety and also for pictures now that I have a 5 MP camera. It fits perfectly with more room to stuff more items in it. In front of the zippered pocket is another pouch which has a slanted opening for easy access. A Gu gel would go in there perfectly. Above the zippered pouch is another pocket. This one is slimmer and flatter. I envision putting a Gu gel in there or my pepper spray when I run the trails of Montana de Oro. (I've yet to come across a mama wild boar.) Above that slim pocket is another strap.  I know it's handy for something but I haven't thought of any at the moment. 
Don't let this pouch fool you, it can fit a water bottle in it

Magnetic pocket for electrolyte tabs

Hook closure, so small and unobtrusive

The front closure is held by diminutive metal loop that hooks on to the other side.  It is not like the usual clip, where my skin sometimes gets caught if I was too hasty. Ouch! Tightening and loosening takes seconds. There's two harnesses that connects the front and back, one on the left and one on the right. Again the tightening and loosening mechanism is quick.

I ran for 5 miles and it worked great.  I practiced taking my smart phone out to take pictures and it was a cinch.  (Here's a bonus picture for you from my Baywood run. You can see Morro Bay's Morro Rock through the tree.)
 Morro Rock through the trees 

The pockets are perfectly placed where I can get my gels in and out. My water bottle was the perk.  I didn't expect to fit it, but it did. I was going to run with it on my hand but for short runs like this, I am able to run free. This means I can have another 8 ounce of water on me in addition to the hand-held 24 ounce for longer runs up to 18 miles.
I must say this vest was made for people who like hand-helds.  I know I am going to like it for the simple fact that I won't have to set it down on the ground when I use the porta-potties unlike my Fuel belt.   You know what I am talking about.
The Nathan HPL #28 Running Vest

Krissy Moehl, the ultra runner superstar likes to run with her hydration vest without the bladder.  She likes the vest because she can get to her nutrition quickly.  Nathan Sports made a vest specific to Krissy's liking with a slimmer pouch on the back. It is called Nathan HPL #028 Running Vest. They stopped making it for several years then Nathan Sports brought it back--it might have been this past year. I've had my eyes out for it, Zombierunner carries it and I am so glad that I waited.  I like the Spry's magnetic closure a lot. This will save my tech tees from snags. Good things comes to those who wait...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Napa Valley Marathon Training Week 11

It has been a while since I have posted.  Sandwiched between the holidays, my little girl’s 12th b-day came barreling at me in awesome speed. I barely had time to get my runs in, but I did manage to get them in.  I just have been doing a poor job logging in my miles. It’s because I had unknowingly wiped out my calendar clean.  I had been logging my morning heart rate and weight first thing in the morning and my miles on my ipad calendar.  When I synched my ipad to my computer, it told me that I had the option to update to OS 5.00.  The sound of getting something new always gets me giddy.  I put off downloading the new software and rightfully so since the cause of my hesitation was the fact that the little message came on that said, some of my stuff would be erased.  Well it said it in much more flowery language and being the idiot that I am pushed yes! So it did, I have now overhauled my system to the updated one sans my NYC training data!  I wanted to crawl in a small space and cry.  But the good news is my entry in the Daily Mile would save me. It’s just a lot of work having to transfer every single day in manually!  I wished there was an exporting device that I could use.

I have been formulating my training plan for Napa 2012. As you can tell, I don’t have the luxury of training 18 weeks using Hal Higdon’s Plan. After CIM, I merely have 13 weeks, and one of those weeks is technically my recovery week.  I have to condense 18 weeks of training into 12 and hope that it will be enough.   The tricky part is finding that balance between rest and hard work.  I finally devised a plan. And I hope it works.

I just finished Week 12 with roughly 25 miles:

Mon – Rest

Tuesday – Easy (4.41mi)
I ran with the Running Divas. I could only go for 1 mile with them, then puttered out. They are like gazelles.  I love running with them.

Wed – 5x200m hill repeats (3.1 mi)
Hill kicked my butt. I went back to Lizzie Hill for some tastes of steepness. I knew I would need some rest come Thursday.

Thursday – Rest

Fri – Fast (5.71 mi)
I forgot to set my Garmin. I ran with my other morning running buddy, Mora. It felt like we ran faster than normal.

Sat – Rest
Sun – Long Run (12 mi)
I ran one loop of Turri Road. This was awesome. I’ve incorporated back one minute walk breaks per 10 minutes of running. Jeff Galloway would be so proud. Including the walk breaks my pace was 9:45 for a hilly route.

It was an awesome week, on the whole.  A little low on the miles, but I am not worried about it. I wanted to make sure that I eased back into the mileage. I’ve learned to be patient. It was around this time last year that I injured myself doing too much.
Happy Running!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CIM 2011 Race recap

What a whirlwind of a weekend! The 29th annual race from Folsom to the State Capitol did not disappoint. Running in near-perfect marathon conditions that included temps in the upper 30s and 40s, clear blue skies and virtually no wind, CIM featured 6,000 starters with 5,750 eventual finishers. An additional 3,600 runners took part in the four-person relay, with 2,000 more participating in the 2.62-mile "maraFUNrun".  It was a well-run race—kudos to the wonderful volunteers and race organizers.  Long touted as the fastest course in the West, this was not an easy course. The course is deceptively difficult even with the “net” drop in elevation. Without further ado, here’s my race recap for marathon #23, CIM 2011.

Heidi and I drove up to the Expo on Saturday. The walk from the parking lot to the convention center was windy.  That worried me. The forecast said the winds would die down by Saturday, but there we were.  I thought of having to adjust the pacing and I just filed that in the back of my mind. At the Expo, we picked up our bibs, safety pins, tech-shirts, timing chip, and sweat bag full of useless coupons and advertisements.  It was a no-hassle pick-up, everything was organized according to last name alphabetically. Lines were minimal. Signs were easy to spot.
I was next

No lines on Saturday

On and off the announcement came which gave updates about the weather for race day: 37 degrees at the start and sunny skies.  They assured that winds were not going to be a factor. I got a little relief upon hearing that.  We walked around for a bit and said hello to my morning running buddy, Aron of Running (Aron ran the 8K Masters exhibition this June in Hayward Field in Oregon at the USA Track and Field Championships).    She looked great and their booth looked awesome.

The marathon shirts are wonderful. We got to pick long sleeve or short sleeves.  I love long sleeves and it was from Greenlight Apparel. The tech tee is a little more substantial than say the normal tech tees I’ve gotten recently from NY or Napa.  This shirt is perfect to run in cooler temps. And best yet, the small fits perfect! It is a true to size. I can’t tell you how dissapointed I get when the marathon shirt fits too big or too small.  They get an A+ for the marathon shirt.

Thank you for the great marathon shirt CIM!

There's more of a greenish tinge in real life.

After we’ve looked around we were out of the Expo in an hour. I am happy to report that I didn’t buy anything new. No shirt, no socks, jacket, or even gels. I must be getting better.

Heidi did get away with a running headband!
For a split second, I thought of buying a running tutu. You might think it is silly. But it would be perfect way for your loved ones to identify you on the course from a mile away. I can’t tell you how many times, hubby almost missed spotting me on the course.  One such day, long before the age of digital cameras, hubby had one shot left on the film in our camera. He took the shot, but as the subject came closer to him, and he realized, “Oops, that’s not my wife.” He kept it to himself until the picture was developed. It was a wonderful surprised when I finally saw it, “This isn’t me!”  He knew it at the time too and didn’t tell me. Anyway, back to the running tutu. It’s cute and girly and it looks awfully silly, but unique.  If he can’t pick me from the crowd, I don’t know what.
All done, time to get the timing chip.  Sorry for the unsteady hands, must be my excitement

We drove back to Elk Grove, about 15 minutes outside of Sacramento, to meet my friends, Leon and Vicky who hosted our stay overnight. (Vicky and I have been friends since Jr. High). We had dinner take out at Macaroni Grill and the pasta feed was on. My friends insisted on a dress rehearsal so we did.

Took a few photos and called it a night, after Heidi set up our breakfast on the counter: Oatmeal, banana and bagels. Leon set up his espresso machine.  I had a good night sleep all week and the night before was no exception. I had my phone alarm set to go off at 3:30.  I woke up three times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  This time I didn’t bother looking at the clock, because that would stress me out counting down how much more time I could sleep.  Ignorance was bliss. Before I knew it, it went off.  Heidi likes to sleep as much as she can, so I let her be. I ate my breakfast and put on my running gear and throw away sweats.  The plan was to leave the house at 4:50 to be at the Sheraton Grand Hotel by 5:20 am.  Leon dropped us off and the buses and the lines formed were already blocks long.
The yellow school buses which would take us to Folsom.

Yeah, we're moving.
Keeping warm with my throw-away sweats from Goodwill.

It was cold at 37 degrees.  We got on the yellow school buses and left for the start at Folsom about 5:35 am, on time.

Upon relaxing on the bus, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my banana and bagel in my sweat bag. Rats! I felt like my breakfast was already wearing out. My plan was to eat the rest of my breakfast on the bus.  All I had to eat at 3:35 am was oatmeal, ½ of a roll of bread and a shot of expresso. The only thing I had in my bag was a my apple pie Larabar for after the race. So I ate that to top off my reserves. Mistake #1. There  was nothing I could do about it, it was not enough.

The bus ride took less than an hour. We were entertained to rocking disco music the whole way. We got to Folsom at 6:25am and the first order of business was porta potties!  When I saw the long lines of porta potties it was as if angelic voices sung “Hallejuhah”.
Gazillion porta-potties. This brings tears of joy to my eyes.
Taking care of business.  Sun is starting to come up.

We warmed up and did some static stretching and 10 minutes before the race started we hunted down our bag trucks for our sweat bags, then we took off for the starting lines. We looked for the 4:00 pacers and as soon as we found them the National Anthem was being sung.  The singer sounded like Leann Rimes.  But it probably wasn’t.  I guessed we were about 2 and a half minutes away from the start.  And just like that we were off!

Little blurry, but that's the start with the two blue arches.

It has been 3 years since I last ran CIM.  The first time was 2004, and then I waited until 2008 to return. Each time I came back with a small PR of 4:19 and 4:17, respectively.  Although I love earning those PR, it is a very difficult course. That’s probably why I gave it a few years before doing it again. The first 20 miles is pretty much rollers and if you’ve pace yourself correctly, you will have something for the final assault in the last 6 miles of gradual downhill.   If you didn’t—well it can feel like a death march.

Miles 1 – 5:
9:32/9:10/8:42/8:51 (Gu) /8:56

Mile 1 was downhill and Mile 2 was a slight up.  We were feeling pretty good, staying well on pace.  Heidi was running evenly behind me. We tried to hang to our pacing group as close as we could. It was crowded and jockeying for position sometimes can easily throw you out of whack. I was darting in and out of people that I had to be careful.  Since I am so short, I could get an elbow right on my face if I wasn’t paying attention.  Oh the perils of being short! In the early miles, we were surprised to see the 4:15 pacer on top of the 4:00 pacer, Heidi noticed it and I reassured her that we were fine. We didn’t need to increase our speed. Clearly the 4:15 pacer was going way too fast. She figured it out and finally pulled back a bit after she realized that her pacing group was ahh…behind her—duh!  Pacing is truly an art form!
I might have pulled away from the 4:00 pacers just a bit after the third mile. I wanted a little bit of cushion just in case for pit-stop—story of my life. Then I can catch back up. That was my rationale anyway.

Miles 6  – 13.1:
8:45/8:56/9:03/9:09 (Gu) /8:52/9:03/9:08/9:19

I was ahead of the pacers by a minute and a half or two.  Miles 6 to 9.55 had a bunch of rollers and I was trying my best not to fall off pace. If you’re going to mess up this is the place to do it. I met up with a fellow Marathon Maniac with that familiar goldenrod singlet. I ran with him for a few miles and felt great and in the groove up until crossing the 13th mile.  Then all of a sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks, I was slowing down to look for places to go to the bathroom.  I thought of one area at first and then decided it was not good enough cover.

Miles 14 – 19:

At Mile 14, I was already feeling the distance. The rollers from Miles 6-9 took its toll on me. In hindsight, maybe I should have dropped back 15 seconds rather than keeping the 9:09 pace.  I thought “uh-oh” this was not good. I pulled out my salt packet. My hands were stiff from the cold and trying to get it out of the zip-lock baggies was a nightmare. Seconds were ticking away as I fumbled through the plastic bag. I accidentally dropped it near a wet spot at an aide station and thankfully it didn’t get wet.  I also took 2 Advils for the leg pains that was about to come on.  The salt/Advil mile took 10:17 from me. Yikes! I was a bit cutting it too close. I pressed on. I caught back up with the 4:00 group and catching back up with them threw my pacing a little. I hitched a ride with them for as long as I could.  I kept looking at the ground and the feet that were marching effortlessly in front of me.  “Stay with them. You’re not tired” I convinced myself. Then the devil won.  I let them go.  By Mile 15, I felt the urge to really go. I kept my eyes peeled for the green porta pots.  Found then and lined up.  Realizing that there was no progress after a few seconds, I decided to run again. At Mile 15.5, I found my spot behind a bush and a car, well- hidden. Perfect. After that it was a relief, I managed to pick up the pace and kept it in the 9:30s. By this time, even the 9:30s felt like a bigger effort to keep up. It was downhill from then on. At mile 17, a felt a friendly tap on the shoulder. Ah sight for sore eyes, it was Heidi! She looked strong and steady.  I told her I felt like “$&*t”. She said “No, we’re looking good.” I think she misunderstood the gravity of my statement. I tucked in behind her for a few more miles.  Then I told her to go ahead and stay strong, I was cramping. She told me to hydrate well on the next aide station.  That was good advice but it may have been a little too late. I had already tossed my water bottle with the GU Brew.  On this section and from here on out, I had to rely on the nasty Ultima drink they served.  It tasted like Grandpa’s cough medicine. It had vitamins, but who needs vitamins during a race? What I needed was electrolytes! I was so glad I had brought my own salt packets. Otherwise I would have been in worse shape.  In addition to that drink, the cups were dental Dixie cups that held 3 oz. of fluids.  One or two of those cups sure wasn’t enough.

Miles 20 – 26.2:
10:08 Gu /10:19 Gu /1039 Gu /1032/10:48/10:35/10:42/2:47

I kept behind Heidi for 3 miles but it was time to let her go. As soon as we crossed the dreaded “Wall” arch, I slowed my pace and there she went. I said “Good-bye Heidi and see you at the finish.” She couldn’t hear me. I trudge on, one foot in front of the other.   At Miles 20 to 22 I felt an incredible hunger. I squeezed in a Gu gel at every mile for 3 straight miles to keep the hunger at bay. This wasn’t a good sign. I knew I was running on empty and the Gu was not even making a dent.   Then the oddest thing happened on Mile 22 or it might have been on 21—I can’t remember for sure.  I needed it to chase down my Gu. I reached for a cup not paying attention to who was handing it out.  I noticed the bubbles and I thought great, finally an apple juice. I took a swig and spit it out. Beer! Argh! Not what I was expecting, it left a bad taste in my mouth. A older couple laughed at my expense as they saw me cringed.  I was glad I can make somebody smile.

I pushed the pace but my calves started to cramp. My legs would not let me do under 10:30 minute pace. It was a matter of survival. Gone were my dreams of subbing a 4:00 hour marathon.  That went away from the halfway mark. This was not my day, I’ve come to grips with that. I lowered my expectations and thought I would be very happy if I could do under 4:15 or even 4:12 and match my 2010 NY time.  On the other hand, it could have been much worse. There were runners on the sides who were stretching and obviously nursing some bad leg cramps. That could have easily been me.  I was just glad I was still moving, however glacial pace it may be.

At this point, I stopped looking at my Garmin. What was going in my head in this last 10K? Three months from this day, I would be running 2012 Napa Valley Marathon. I was sorry I mailed in my Napa registration. I wonder how receptive they would be if I lied and called them up and said I have no money in the bank, and not to cash my check?”  I hit a rough patch that, I even swore I will never run another marathon again. It was like a death march. Runners were now passing me left and right. At Mile 24 the 4:10 pacing group passed me running as strong as ever.  I wished I had done the walk breaks, that would have delayed the fatigue maybe?  All the “what ifs”, the “shouldas” and “couldas” were swimming in my head.

As we neared downtown Sacto, the fall colors of the trees lifted my spirits up. What a beautiful sight. The autumn colors of the trees reminded me of the East Coast.  For a split second, it erased my hurt. I just wished the finish would have been closer—a lot closer. I kept watching for the mile markers. Each time I saw that familiar blue flag which bore the mile markers, it signified that I was getting closer to the finish.  I knew two sharp left turns would be just up ahead.  There were two finish chutes: one for the men and one for the women. Finally I saw runners up ahead making that first left—“Thank you Jesus”. We’re here.  Then came my last left turn, I picked it up and the cramps gripped even stronger. No final kick for me today, “Just hold it steady and you’ll cross it.” I saw the clock barely turned over to 4:14.  Really? That meant I was right at my 2010 NY time—if I hurried. My Garmin read 4:11 and since it took me 2 ½ to cross the start, I knew it could be close. This might be my second best time! How sweet would that be! Then it happened. I finally crossed and official time was 4:12:06 and my Garmin time, identical at 4:12:06.
Surprisingly vertical after 26.2 miles

I got my handsome medal, my space blanket, took my after-photo shot, got my drink and chocolate milk.  I hobbled around for a bit trying to see if I could spot my red-headed friend! I got my sweat bag and headed into the changing tent.  Heidi and I agreed to find each other by the changing tent. This was a good plan. She found me and tears of joy were exchanged.  She PR’ed at 4:07:39 and beat her 2010 NY best of 4:08:08!
All done!
My good friend Vicky and I

One nice thing about CIM that I haven’t seen other marathons do is have a changing tent right there at the finish.  It gets cold with the running gear and it just feels 100% more comfortable if we could change into dry clothes as soon as it is over. Thank you CIM for having this!

My 2011 marathon season ended with CIM.  I couldn’t have been anymore happier than what I’ve been able to accomplish this past year with 5 marathons in 10 months. It wasn’t easy. Struggling with injuries in the beginning of the year and finally capping the year off with my second best time ever, can a girl ask for anything more?  I am forever thankful for someone above who keeps me safe and lets me keep doing what I love to do.

May you run long and happy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thoughts about CIM 2011

Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been a while since I’ve last posted. I have been laying low. It seems like my attitude towards this last 3 weeks of training is a little subdued. It was such a huge high leading up to NY then came the holidays, mashed that with recovery/mini build-up/taper. Basically I took more time to rest. It’s probably better to be more rested than over trained. So to bring you up to speed, here it goes…
Since NYC Marathon, I have repeated the last 3 weeks of the training in preparation for CIM. I only had 4 weeks in between these two “A” races. It was imperative that I get the proper rest before jumping back into the same workout. I’ve done marathons as close as 3 weeks apart (Napa and Oakland both in 2010 and 2011). But the difference was, Napa, the first marathon was my “A” race and the second marathon was a hilly, “fun” marathon, where I didn’t expect to PR. I ran Oakland because it was my hometown hosting it. Unlike NYC and CIM, where both are my “A” races back to back. It’s where I had my personal best—all 4 times that I’ve ran them. So my expectations are rather high. At the same time, I cannot be sad if I don’t pull off another PR this soon. For one thing, I am piggy-backing on the training from NY for CIM.
I had great results with Hal Higdon’s Program. Training 18 weeks for NY, for CIM, I am basically riding on the coattails of NY. I hope I still have something left in the tank. On one hand, CIM’s course is easier than NY’s course. There is only one short bridge at mile 22. However short it is, mind you it is still an incline and it is aptly place on mile 22. That’s when the wheels typically fall off for me which will be a challenge in itself. That’s not to minimize the undulating course of CIM. From my recollection having race this in 2004 and 2008, the rollers kept coming and going up until mile 20. The worst was the first half, then the rest were gentle but enough to take out a lot from me. After mile 20 it is pretty much downhill. But this is the hard part. You’re pretty much dead and spent that it feels like a death march to the finish. A vision that is so clear in my mind is it that it feels like you're amongst zombies as you get to the finish line. Runners have lost their shuffles and reduced to dragging their feet as in the TV show "The Walking Dead".
As you can gather from my description above CIM is a hilly course. It is tauted as the fastest course in the west. People flock to this marathon because it is a BQ course. Sure it is, but the operative word is “net” downhill. A lot of folks mistake it to be easy due to the downs. But you got to respect the hills, where there's downs there are ups for sure. My strategy for CIM is to not to take the hills too aggressively. I am going to back off and press on the down a bit to make up some time. But I know I cannot recoup what I’ve lost on the ups. That’s just how it goes. Back in '04 and '08, I was a bit slower and had no hill training, that’s probably what helped me PR because I took it easy on the hills. Now that I am better at hill climbing, the name of the game is to back off a bit and save some for the downs. One nice thing to look forward to is that the rollers give your leg muscles a little change. If it were all flat or all down, that would be extremely hard since you would be using the same muscles over and over again. That’s a different kind of tired and I fear that the most.
CIM has absolutely great pacers. I am on the fence whether I would use them or not. In 2008, I was using the Jeff Galloway run-walk method and at the start I saw the 4:05 pacer. An idea came to mind. I didn’t know what to do, join the pacer or stick to my plan. I did both and it backfired. I lost valuable time trying to play catch up. I would walk for a minute and I would lose them. By the time I caught up to them, it was time for my minute walk break again. Then it cycled like so for a couple of miles and then they finally left me. I was kicking myself for changing plans during the race. I lived and I learned.
I don’t even know how I managed to PR in 2004 and 2008 on a training that was minimal at best. The training I had was a hodge-podge of programs that I’ve managed to string along. I only had one 20 miler, no speed, no tempo. It was barely a program if you can call it that. I am curious to see what I can pull this time around. I’ve done three 20 milers, ran at night in the dark, on the trails, against the wind, and on undulating terrain of Turri Road. I’ve incorporated tempo work, Yasso and hill repeats, and middle of the week long runs. I’ve peaked at 55 and 62 mile weeks. The training difference between then and now is night and day. I also don’t want to get ahead of myself and expect huge returns. I have 3 goals: one is to match my time in NY. Another one is to break four hours and a third one, I cannot say because I don’t want to jinx myself. After the race I will talk about it.
In preparation for CIM, the week after the marathon I took 4 straight days off—no running. By Friday Nov 11, I ran 4 miles to shake out the legs. I felt great. No lingering soreness, I was running at 9:00 pace. I was happy to see this, because I was back on my GP. I took a rest on Saturday and Sunday I ran 8 miles at 9:22 pace. I had a great pace although at the end it felt labored.
Two weeks after the marathon: I rested Monday and Tuesday I ran for 6 at 8:57 pace. This one surprised me because I’ve never ran a Tuesday workout sub 9 first thing in the morning when the legs are just warming up. I was elated by this workout. Wednesday was a rest day. Thursday was a hill repeat workout using a very steep hill at 12% grade. My paces were 8:10/8:35/9:02/9:31/9:34 at 50 seconds each 5x. It was a tough workout and I was glad I was able to finish in the heat of the afternoon. Friday was a 6-miler on Johnson Ave at 9:03. Again I was happy that this was under goal pace. Saturday, I ran another 6 miles at 8:59 pace on LOVR with a negative split. Sunday, I ran my longest long run for CIM at 12 miles. I ran it at 9:33 pace. It rained the whole way and my thoughts were: I was going to be okay with at 10:00 pace. But it turned out better than that because my pace for the whole run, soaked and all was 9:33 with a negative split to boot.
Three weeks after the marathon: This turned out to be the taper of tapers. I only ran 3 days: Tuesday tempo with 6 miles, an 8-mile race on Thursday and a quick run for 6 on Sunday. Tempo pace was 8:24, Thanksgiving Hunger run was 8:32, Sunday run was 9:23 pace.
Marathon week: 3 days of running. Tuesday was a speed-workout for 4x400 and a two-miler on Thursday and Saturday rounds out the week. The 400 laps turned out great. Although my pace was 6:41 average for the 400s, it felt a little labored. It was not as easy as four weeks ago when I ran it in the predawn hours in the dark. Maybe the time of day had something to do with it. It was a little warmer at 8:40 am as opposed to 6am.
Looking at my last 3 weeks of training for CIM, the 9 crucial runs averaged out to be 9:02 pace. That tells me that a sub 4 is in the cards for me on Sunday, barring a meteor shower, hail storm the size of golf balls and wind and rain. I’m all in!   I’m ready to close out 2011 with a bang.
CIM here I come! Wish me luck!J

Happy Running!