They say under-trained is better than over-trained going into a race. While I have never been over-trained, this time I was definitely under-trained. In terms of distance, I ran as little as almost half my usual marathon training. In the three months preceding the race, I ran only 200 miles. For the marathon before (Boston earlier this year), I had run 380 miles in the three months before the race. Despite the little training, however, I ran my PR: 3:10:56. Last year, I ran CIM in 3:17:02 under the similar running condition. It was a total surprise to run a PR but it was great to conclude the year with a PR.
I am not exactly sure what drove me to take six minutes off last year’s time but I can think of a few things. First of all and probably the biggest contributing factor is the accumulation of hard training this summer. It is possible that this summer’s speed training built stronger legs and I was able to maintain the condition with the minimum level of training. Secondly, I am getting a better marathon runner in terms of pacing and taking risks during the race. This time, knowing I was under-trained, I started slow with 3:30 group. A few miles later, feeling much better than expected, I slowly increased the pace a bit and decided to keep the pace until I hit half and see. Before I would have increased pace drastically to a destructive level and paid the price later. Also after the half, my legs feeling good, I increased the pace another notch and maintained it to Mile 20. The rest was all mental. Finally, the benefit of wearing CEP compression shorts cannot be over-looked. The temperature was low at 29 F when we started and the course had quite a few hills going down. Thanks to the compression shorts, my legs and muscles held up and I did not experience any camps. I started the discomfort of cramps coming up around Mile 20 but they never came. Without the compression shorts, I would have fallen to cramps as I did before.
This year’s race attracted about 7,800 runners. Richard Ervais and Erik Lee of San Francisco Front Runners and Bettie Quan ran the race. The course had more up hills than I remembered but they were not as significant as other hills that I’ve run before. I felt that crowd support was a bit spotty, but I understood it considering the low temperature. But it was a beautiful morning.
For the first time, I wore a long-sleeve shirt over a Front Runner tank-top. It was just too cold to start in a tank-top alone. I should have also worn compression shocks that come up to knee high. That might have saved my calves from getting too cold. I did not wear them, because I’ve never done that before. I should try it in the next long run and see how they feel. I wore Saucony Kinvara II that is one inch bigger than my regular size. It worked great without giving me any trouble. As I run long, feet get swollen, so that was a good to wear something big.
There were lots of water/sports drink stations, especially after the half way point. There might have been more frequently than every mile. This was great, because I tend to drink a small amount often. I see some runners carrying their own drinks in the race, but I don’t understand why they do that. It is so cumbersome to carry them.
CIM is a great race that offers fast course and is organized very well. I would run it again as long as I don’t have conflicts with other commitments.
Some stats below.