The kinds of pains you get a day, a few days, or even a week or two after a marathon run can say much about what you need to do in order to help improve your future runs.

Here are some of the pains I’ve experienced:

  • Sore quads
  • Sore hamstrings
  • Sore left ankle

Sore Quads

The CIM is a hilly course.  The uphills gave my quads a beating just on the edge of cramping up.  This means that I should do more hill work.  Unfortunately, the only hills available in the Central Valley within running distance are the over passes over highway 120.

I will have to incorporate various quad exercises in my cross training routine.  This can include:

  • squats
  • squat jumps
  • lunges (including carrying dumbbells)
  • jumping switching lunges

Note that I don’t go to gyms; all exercises I do doesn’t require any extensive use of equipment.  As a matter of fact, I prefer no equipment at all.

Sore Hamstrings

I read in Men’s Running magazine that the cause of sore hamstring is not getting the heels to go high enough.  In addition, they  also mention that getting the heels up helps with the foot turn over, and as such, results in covering more ground in shorter amount of time.  This translate to speed.

The one way you can incorporate getting the heels up in your run is by thinking “touch – lift” during your run.  The idea is not to have your foot spend too much time touching the ground.  So if you are finding yourself losing speed even though it feels like you are going harder, then think “touch – lift”.  By keeping this in mind, you can focus on getting your heel up, and close to your butt.

According to Mens Running, this is suppose to help with sore hamstrings.

Sore Left Ankle

My left foot, showing indication of over pronationMy left ankle felt sore after running the marathon.  I didn’t really notice it until one day after the run.

I didn’t even notice what caused it until two weeks after the run.  The root cause is a badly worn shoe.  My left foot just likes to hit with the heel first, resulting in the heel of my left shoe to get worn out first.

To be exact, my outer left heel hits first resulting in an over pronation.  The pain I get is similar to a sheen splint, except the pain I get is on my inner ankle, just above the ankle, towards the heel.

Because of the pronation, the inner ankle tendon is getting more stretching than it needs.

To correct this, I will need to do three things:

  • get better shoes (I didn’t have this problem when I was wearing the Saucony Progrid Mirage running shoes, where the heel to toe height difference is very minimal); at the CIM I used my Nike Pegasus 26.
  • fix my form; this may be a bit tough to do, but with the right shoes, I should be able to achieve this.
  • do ankle strengthening exercises


The long CIM run produced leg pains that dictate areas I need to look at.  The quad pains were indicative of the need to do more hill work or quad work outs.  The hamstring issues I felt were indicative of the need for better form.  Last but not least, my left ankle pain pointed to the need for better shoes and form adjustment.

You might say that a marathon run can make your body feel pain everywhere.  Yes that is true and generally normal; but parts of your body that feel the most pain is indicative of something.  So make sure you pay attention; your body is telling you something.

Best note taking app

Evernote, Best note taking app

I’ve use a lot of note taking tools in my life, including the tried and true notepad and pen.  Nothing have come close to the perfection of Evernote.  Why do I say this?  Well, read on and find out.

What’s wrong with traditional note taking apps and tools?  The very biggest problem with them is that they cause your data to be in one physical location, vulnerable to being lost.  The other problem is that sometimes, you never really have access to that same tool; then, your notes become fragmented and out-of-order.  The next thing is that trying to find an old note can be a big challenge.  Lastly, you are limited to what you can write or type.

Evernote comes close to perfection when it comes to solving your note taking challenge.  Why?  Because it addresses each and everyone of those problems.  And guess what?  It’s free!!!

I’m not going to cover every little thing about Evernote here, but I will highlight its key features:

  • Your notes go to the “cloud”; now it doesn’t matter what happens to your electronic device; it breaks, just get another one and you still have your notes.  If you lose your electronic device, it doesn’t matter, you still have your notes; thus you can never lose your notes (unless Evernote disappears from the face of the earth; which is not very likely considering the success they are having )
  • With Evernote, you can take notes with your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and through simple texting means.  Most of the time, you’ll have your phone, and as such, you can still take notes.
  • The search function within Evernote is great.  You can search using key words, or through tags; nothing can be easier.
  • With Evernote, you aren’t limited to taking notes by typing; you can add other forms of information like:  audio, videos, images, and photos.  You can’t beat that!
  • Last but not least, it is FREE!
Let me know if this information is useful or if you have more information you would like to share.  Comment below.

On 04 Dec 2011, I ran the 2011 California International Marathon (CIM).  It was my first CIM.  If you have not run it before, make sure you read this.  It will help you prepare for one of the most interesting runs of your life.

The Expo

As with any major marathon events, the expo is as much a part of the marathon event as the run itself.  I got there the day before, in time to check into my motel, and then pick up my bib, and check out a few booths.

Lesson #1—make sure you reserve a motel early enough (more than a month before; 2 months before just to be safe) so you don’t get stuck in a smoking room.  That room smelled like the smoker was still in the room.  I don’t smoke and I hate the smell of smoke.  This made it difficult to get to sleep; the movies at the motel was pretty good though.  They had an Indiana Jones movie marathon.

Lesson #2—make sure to have a checklist so that you don’t forget anything.  I forgot to bring a little bit of Vaseline.  When running for a long time, any rubbing between skin can become painful especially in a marathon.  I realized this while doing my final check at the motel.  Fortunately I was able to get something at the expo.

At the expo, I went around a couple of times to check out the various exhibitors.  I did the Chicago Marathon last year and their Expo had a lot of freebies.  Here there were only a couple of booths where they gave out stuff.  The rest of the booths were basically selling running gear and various running-related stuff.  I guess the good thing about all this is that you can purchase running gear you might have forgotten to bring.

On the way back to the motel, I decided to check by the hotel where the bus is supposed to pick us up.  I asked the people working there if this is where the bus will stop by to pick us up; they said that they aren’t a CIM hotel.  They even had a letter stating that the pick up is at 13th and J st.  So I went back to the expo to ask the people who were selling the bus tickets.  They just asked me to check the bus pickup list.  I found another hotel next to the other one I checked and noted it.  The good thing was that it wasn’t too far from my motel—only a short walking distance.  I checked with that hotel staff as well, and non of them seem to really know.  At this point, I realized that the CIM just use these hotels as markers on the map to identify runner pickup points.

The Ride to Starting Line

The thing with the CIM is that the route isn’t a loop.  Basically, you start at point A and finish at point B—26.2 miles away.  The starting line is near the Folsom Lake Dam.  I woke up at 3:30 am and got ready.  By 4:45 am I headed for the hotel lobby where the pick up were to occur.  There were already some runners there waiting for the bus.  By around 5:15 am, the buses (lots of them) came.  I boarded one of the buses.  At around 6:00 am, the bus reached the starting line.  We all disembarked.  There were many buses.  We had the option to sit around in the bus or get off.  I’ve been hydrating in preparation for this, so the call of nature was urging me to get off and visit one of their many port-a-potties.

The Run

At the expo, they announced the weather report.  They predicted a temperature of 44 degrees with no wind at 7:00 am.  They were right!  For the run, I had a blue tech T-shirt, and my black running shorts.  But for the wait, I had a jacket and a nice warm-up pants.  I also brought a pair of light weight gloves.  During the wait, I continued to walk around in order to warm up and drink.  At around 6:35 am, I lined up for the port-a-potties for the last time.  They did a good job here since the wait was only about 10 minutes.  At 6:45 am, I took off my warm up jacket and pants, stuffed them in my goodie bag, and turned it in to the sweat bag truck.  This gave me just enough time to stretch my hamstrings.

At exactly 7:00 am, the run began.  It took around 5 minutes for me to get to the starting line.  I had positioned myself with the 4:25 pacers.  The temperature was perfect; it was enough to make you want to run.

The rolling hills make for a very interesting run, especially at the very beginning.  It can make you run faster than you should.  Which I did.  For the first several miles, there were several steep downhills.  I’m pretty good at going downhill, as I have learned to let gravity pull me down causing to me to go past sub 8-minute pace on several occasions; but then the uphills would get me.  Here’s the funny thing…by the 13.1 mile mark my split was 2:03.  By this time, I already decided to leave the 4:25 pacers behind.

At 17 miles, the 4:10 pacers were in sight.  I started get close to them.  I was doing pretty good, but I was starting to get a hint of cramps on my quads and hamstrings.

The one thing about the CIM course is that it starts to somewhat get flat in the later part of the second half of the run.  That was good, because by mile 23, the cramps hit me.  My hamstring muscles were in pain and wanted to contract by themselves.  The same goes for my left quad muscles.  At this point, I had no choice but to do some stretching and walks several feet before attempting to run again.  I had to repeat this multiple times until I could continue to run again without too much cramp pain.

At 1 mile away, I saw a guy with a sign that says “The end is near”.  At that point, I wasn’t walking any more, no matter what.  I approach the final turn, and saw where the men and women started to split.  I was close.  I wanted to try to sprint, but didn’t want to pull anything especially as the photographers start to take finisher photos.

I finished the run with a time of 4:36—21 minutes faster than my Chicago marathon time!

I might have done better if I took it easy on the first half—maybe.  But one thing for sure, I need to strengthen my quads and hamstrings.  I probably need to add some form of equivalent hill workout in my training regimen.

Post Run Activity

The post run activity was OK.  I got so hungry from the run that their pancakes, bananas, bagels, and cookies tasted good.

The best part was that my family was able to track me down.  We had our own celebration and post run photo op.  It was good to see them.  They are my support team.


The CIM is a good marathon course.  The uphills and downhills and the surrounding areas make it a very interesting course.  The expo wasn’t as interesting as others I’ve been to, but the running experience was awesome.

If I don’t make it to the New York City marathon next year, I’ll do this one again next year.