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!


  1. I ran NYC and it was a blast! I would have liked to run CIM this year, but it wasn't in the cards for me. I ran CIM last year. It was fun and I PR'd. I'll be able to run it next year. Have fun tomorrow!

  2. Hi Eileen- Hope you did great today! So which plan did you like better the Galloway or the Higdon? What did you think about the walking breaks with the Galloway. For the NYC I modified the Higdon's Novice 2 schedule. I was hoping to make the Lottery for the NYC Half and wanted your advise on which schedule I should follow to improve my time. I feel that I have improved a bit in my time the last couple of years...but no leaps and bounds like you!! Maybe you can give me some pointers... Have a good week!

  3. @ Elizabeth, honestly it was too close together. I couldn't pull off a better time. Legs were still tired from NY. But I love CIM. Next year maybe I will give it the training it deserves. But NY was so much fun, my all time favorite!

    @ Maria, after CIM, I've decided that I will incorporate the run walk method to Higdon's plan for my next marathon. I was doing this before I jumped into Hal's program. But the two programs put together would be like the best of both worlds. CIM proved to me that the walk breaks are necessary. It delays the fatigue to the latter miles rather than having them right at the half! I didn't do them at CIM and it was dead legs from mile 13. I am ready to put it back in my revised plan. I can't say enough about it, you ought o try it.