Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CIM 2011: A step away from BQ

CIM 2011
Dec 4th , 2011

CIM has been a very special race since 2003, it has always pleased me with better results. I love the course, its gentle rollers starting from Folsom almost until mile 15, and from then on its a gradual downhill, one can shuffle and get consistent pace to finish. It was a easy decision for me to choose this as the race to run a Boston qualifier(BQ).

Back in May, just before our daughter Ahana was born, I was pondering over a challenging goal, one which would motivate me to train during odd hours and also not spend too much time on trails(basically ultra's where out of question). BQ seemed like a interesting goal for a race 7 months ahead. starting 2013 for my AG it is 3:10. Considering my PR was 3:38 in 2010 CIM, I wasn't too confident going forward with that goal, but that was the motivation to go out and log quality training miles.

Once I set my mind on that goal I decided to plan my training schedule, after perusing various articles and books I decided to train based on Pete Ptitzinger's 55 mpw training schedule. my training started in Aug 2011.(Ahana was  2 months old :)).

Brief highlights of my training months were:
Aug: Base building week running about 40mpw

Sep: mainly planned to run lactate threshold workouts(tempo) and 45 mpw, but due to my eye surgery and various other commitments I lost 3 weeks of training , but got a good 10k race(42:40).

Oct: Best month of the lot, 50mpw and a bonus 50M finish(10:34hrs) which was my qualifier for 2012 WS 100. This month I mainly focussed on doing lactate threshold workouts(tempo) and semi-hard 18/20 mile runs.

Nov: 2nd great month training, I was able to train 55mpw and additionally logged good speed workouts. I was able to run a decent half marathon (1:35:30) which pretty much indicated I wasn't prepared for 3:10 with CIM 4 weeks away, instead 3:15 seemed plausible goal. There was no more confusion in my mind, I decided to drop 3:10 and instead chase 3:15.

Race day:
I was supposed to drive to Sacramento with Goutham and Kiran, but both decided to drop due to various commitments. Another friend from work Josh decided to pace me the 2nd half. He did indicate he had a caught a stomach bug so might have to drop as well. Finally I convinced my dad to join me on the ride to Sacramento, we had a nice dinner at his fav place in a Thai restaurant. After the usual night routine, I slept early. I got a good 4 hr sleep, before I woke up at 3 am to prep for the race.

As I was laying out my stuff I realized I hadn't packed my HR monitor and GPS watch, that was some disappointment for me, since I had trained all along with these gadgets and had planned to run a even race based on my heart rate. Oh well I quickly convinced myself to not bother too much about gadgets. I had very good training under me all I had to do was a good 3hr+ run. I decided to stay with 3:15 group, I didn't have any choice, pacing was not my problem now.

       goal pace for the day

Race conditions were perfect, I think it was in early 60's and no rain predicted. After the race morning ritual I stayed behind 3:15 pacer. As the race progressed I stayed about 100yards behind and seemed like a good pace to hold. Initial miles flew by, pace seemed right and was in the groove 5 miles into the race, I was looking fwd to meeting Josh at half way mark, and I stayed right on the road in anticipation of seeing him. I caught his green top, he jumped into the race with me, due to his stomach bug it took few miles to settle in, soon he settled into the pace and vocationally chatted about the race and plans ahead.

Crossed half-way in 1:37:40, felt great but marathon feels good until 22 and I was'nt sure if I can sustain the pace, but it felt easy breathing wise.  One aspect of CIM course is it is rolling untill mile 15 and from then on its a gradual downhill, so if paced right, 2nd half feels slightly easier. 

                         CIM Course profile (courstesy

As I crossed mile 20 I told Josh we can increase the pace after mile 22, but as we approached mile 22 I was just holding that pace, didnt want to break out that time, and instead just hung in there with the pacer. Last 2 miles runs through downtown Sacramento and as I crossed each block I could see myself crossing in sub 3:15, I was still enjoying my run, my muscles, legs, arms , heart and mind all were working in unison and the feeling was just like a perfectly oiled machine.

I was 10 yards behind when 3:15 pacer Peter Kelleher   he did such a fine job, I was glad my gadgets weren't with me.  Also it was great to run with Josh he kept me upbeat during the 2nd half of the race and kept me off of thinking about my splits, which btw turned out to be even(Thanks to Peter).

Josh, myself and Dad(at finish)

Wow! finally sub 3:15 a pace which I didn't think it was in my range, it just opened up a range of possibilities for other races ahead.  It was one of the best race day ever(CIM gets better each passing year).  After the race I just went to a corner and closed my eyes and just enjoyed the moment, usually I am always in looking forward mode and start deciding about my next race, but this time it was different, I was in the moment and as I was walking towards the food section,  I saw past 5 months in a flash: my training, running in groggy state after putting Ahana to bed,  odd 20miler run done in 3 different segments, efforts to get my weight down, balancing work,life and training, all seemed to have worked right into the plan.

Thanks to Rashmi and Ahana for all their support,  and ofcourse Zoey who has been my constant weekday run partner. I did try to keep my training not effect our lives but it did involve huge support from them.

Some articles which helped in planning my training:

Very resourceful site which lists different workouts based on pace of a given race.

4. Advanced Marathoning
Highly recommend this book.

5. Pete Pfitzinger's 55mpw Training Plan
Trained mostly based on this schedule.

CIM 2012: it will be another attempt at BQ and this time it is sub 3:10.

Aspects which I think contributed towards a faster time by about 55 secs per mile.
1) Training (contributed 20 secs per mile) :  
     i)  Pete's 55mpw training plan.
     ii) 12 weeks training consisting of lactate threshold workouts, race specific speed workouts(as listed by mcmillan's website for target goal pace)

2) Lighter shoe (contributed 10 secs per mile):
   I trained few of my long runs in 6 oz shoe Merrel Trail glove, I am not a proponent of barefoot running or minimalist shoes, but this shoe felt GREAT, running has been so much fun in these shoes. my calf muscles are much sore after long runs, but during runs, I love every step of it. I decided to run the race in them during the last week and It worked great.

3) Loosing weight (contributed 15 secs per mile):
  Based on the plan suggested by Racing weight, I found my ideal racing weight to be around sub 140 and <9% body fat seemed achievable. I ended up loosing about 9lbs for this race to 138lbs.

4) Perfect weather and pacing (contributed 10 secs per mile):
   Weather did play a big role, I love running in 60's and CIM was just that. pacer did a great job in holding us back during 1st half and we ran a even race.


Rajeev Char said...

Congrats again! 3:10 is within reach this December. Good luck Anil!

Anil Rao said...

Thanks buddy, hope so! lets see how 2nd half of year turns up. I guess you busy with Ironmans for most of yr any PR marathons?

Harish.Shetty said...

Anil Anna,
Congrats, awesome report and a good lesson in How to prepare for a PR race. Not choosing to go all out and enjoying the race. I guess If you prepare for 3:05 PR. you will be home. Good luck with the Boston PR!