4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for December 2008

2008 – the year in review

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Had a fantastic year!

Started with a very strong 41:59 5 mile PR at the Fred Lebow Classic  (Hopefully I’ll be able to run it this year to see if I can improve on that), then half marathon PR’s at both Bronx (1:56:55) and Brooklyn (1:56:42), and ended the year with my marathon PR of 4:31:26, not quite the 4:30:00 I was shooting for, but very very close.

That’s all great, but what really made 2008 a fantastic year was my renewed dedication to putting in the time.  I ran 762 miles over the year, destroying my previous high of 608 set way, way back in 2000.  Also, in the first half of the year, I spent a lot of time on my bike and trying to learn to swim.  I participated in the March Madness Biathlon on March 30, when it was a frigid 28 degrees, and ran in the Philadelphia Triathlon (sprint distance) on June 20.  Considering I still can’t really swim, I was really happy with my time of 1:54:19.  I went to the gym 36 times, and biked 423 miles.

I ran all 5 Grand Prix Half Marathon events, AND the New York City Half Marathon.  I also took 2 sessions of the NYRR running classes, to make sure I got the dreaded speed workouts in.  In total, I ran 119 times, and did a better job running long – my average run was 6.4 miles, by far my highest ever.

My average weight dropped from 227.5 in Jan to about 225 in December, and my body fat percentage also went down, from 23.5 to 22.5.  My “diet” didn’t really happen, so at least I should be able to make good progress in that department.

Of course it could have been better.  As usual, my times slowed as the weather heated up, and could have gotten up earlier in the morning more often to get a few more runs in, and as mentioned, I could stand to lose some more weight.  Hopefully I can improve on my times again in 2009.  Coming up, I’ll be running the Austin Mararathon on Feb 15, and the New York City Marathon on Nov 1.  I’ll be participating in the New York City Triathlon, which still seems very scary to me.  I’ll also try to get another biathlon in, a training triathlon in the spring, and a bunch of NYRR races.

Finally, I started this blog, which actually makes me feel more accountable for my activites, and gives me a better focus.

Looking forward to a strong 2009!


Written by SCL

December 31, 2008 at 9:04 pm

December 2008 in review

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Running – 66.3 miles over 13 runs (most number of runs in a month this year!)

Races – 0 (but I volunteered once!)

Biking – 0 miles – 0 rides

Injuries – 2 (mild shoulder strain, foot blister)

Sicknesses – 1

Swims – 0

Gym workouts – 4

Written by SCL

December 31, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Month End Summary

Happy New Year!

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Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year… And, hoping you meet all your 2009 running goals!

Written by SCL

December 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

My bloody sock

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Snapped a picture of my bloody sock before I threw it away after my rough run on Monday morning.  Definitely wanted this in the archives!  

Blister is still pretty raw, hoping for improvement by Friday, when I’m supposed to do my long run…

Written by SCL

December 31, 2008 at 7:14 am

Posted in injury

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Shin splints gone, but still had a bad run :(

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First off, this article really spoke to me, as I know I’m carrying around at least 5 pounds of excess fat these days.  I won’t know for sure until I get home from my vacation and can weigh in, but I feel fat.  I’m sure it caused the shin splints that ruined my run yesterday.

I almost didn’t go out for a run today, afraid that the shin splints would come back.  But, when it is 75 degrees outside (I’m on vacation in South Florida), how can you resist.  So, I dragged my lazy ass out of bed at 9am, dilligently executed the preventative shin splint rubs and stretches, and was out on the road by 10am.

I could tell right away that it was much hotter than yesterday.  Yesterday, I was out in the 7am hour, and 3 hours makes a huge difference in the sun becoming a factor.  Otherwise, the weather seemed really nice – 75 degrees and little wind.

After the first mile, I could tell that the shin splints would not be recurring today.  Great news!  At least I know I can ward it away with a little up front prevention.  So, now just needed to focus on getting through the rest of the run.  

At about 1.5 miles, started feeling the sharp pain of a blister on the back of my left foot.  Damn.  The pain was sharp and clearly would not be a small nuisance.  This is also familiar to me.  It is funny – when this last bothered me, it was 6 weeks before the New York City Marathon, when I was running in my 2nd long training run.  Right now, we are approaching 6 weeks before the Austin Marathon, and I’m going to run my 2nd long training run later this week.  Exact same timing.  I have no one to blame but myself though.  My running socks are old, starting to develop holes, and are very thin.  My shoes are also starting to build holes on the fabric on the inside of the back of the shoes.  This is a dangerous combination.  When I get home from vacation, my first order of business will be to get my feet assessed at JackRabbit and get a new pair of shoes and a new set of socks.  The Saucony Grid Hurricane’s I have now have been nothing but trouble.

Anyway, decided to push ahead with the full 5 mile run.  I knew from my last bout of the blisters that the pain would eventually subside.  And, subside it eventually did.  Then I hit my next problem, the heat.  In the summertime in NY, I hate (with a capital H) the heat.  The heat and I do not get along.  I thought I could deal with it for a couple of runs in the middle of winter, but it turned out I could not.  By 4 miles, I had to stop to walk.  My mistake was not bringing a bottle of water along.  In total, I walked 3 times in the last mile.  Unfortunately, while the blister pain subsided while running, to add insult to injury (no pun intended) it actually hurt a lot when walking.

Overall, my time of 48:06 (9:26 per mile) for 5.1 miles is not bad at all considering the blister and walking.

When I got back to the hotel, it was time to tend to my injury.  By coincidence, last night, my 7 year old fell in a parking lot and skinned both her knees, so I had peroxide, cotton and Hello Kitty band aids available.  When I took off my shoe, my worst fear was realized as a saw my very bloody sock.  I was hoping it was just a simple blister that did not open up, which is easier to deal with and faster to heal.  But no, blister was deep, and will likely take 2 weeks to fully heal – see picture below.  My kid got a big kick out of my howling from the peroxide (boy does that sting), and the Hello Kitty band aid I sported the rest of the day.

Tomorrow morning, hitting the road back to NY.  Guess I’ve got a good excuse not to run along the way!




Written by SCL

December 29, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Posted in injury, running, Uncategorized

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Weather? Perfect. Run? Horrible

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Arrived in Florida last night.  After 3 days cooped up in the car with 3 other sick people, and 4 days (since Christmas Eve) of eating like a pig, I was looking forward to the warm, sunny weather, and getting in a nice warm weather run.  I’ve probably gained 5 pounds of fat with all the big meals I’ve eaten in the last few days, and all the snacking and soda drinking I’ve done in the car.  So, this morning is when I would start battling back – was up by 7am and out on the road at 7:30.  Mapped out a nice 5.1 mile route around the Plantation, FL hotel where I’m staying.

All went well for about the first mile.  Then, I could feel the familiar sounds of my right shin throwing a hissy fit.  While I have not experienced shin splits in at least the last year, I have a long and familiar history with the affliction.  Crossed my fingers and hoped it would just go away.  Sometimes, if you continue to run through it, the muscle loosens up on its own, and sometimes, it just gets worse.  Today, it just got worse.  By 1.5 miles, I had to stop and walk.  Walked for a few minutes, did a couple of stretches, and tried to continue, but it was simply not meant to be.

I ended up cutting the workout down to 4 miles, and walked for probably 1.5 of the miles.    Big, fat disappointment.  I was just stunned that the shin split would show up now.  In the past, this is something that normally bothered me in the cold weather of winter, but the temp was a perfectly warm 75 degrees.  The culprit is probably the extra weight I’m now carrying around.

Anyway, really not happy with how things went this morning.  Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

Written by SCL

December 28, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Posted in injury, running

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Hi from Fredericksburg, VA

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1st leg of our trip to Florida is done.  Spending the night in Fredericksburgh, VA.  Haven’t hit the warm weather yet, but expect to by tomorrow night in South Carolina.

While out and about before and after our Christmas party today, saw a few people running, and I was very jealous!

Woke up with a bit of a sore throat today – hoping it doesn’t get a lot worse.  My kids have both been sick in the last 2 weeks, and my wife and I both got the sore throat today.  Definitely not a fun car ride with all 4 of us coughing and blowing our noses, etc.  I’ll take a dose of NyQuil before I sleep – that always makes me feel better the next day. 

Lastly, discovered and registered at the Daily Mile website.  Looks like a social network where you can indicate what races you are running in and see others running in the same race.  You can also post your workouts.  First problem is that most of the New York City races are not in there 😦  Otherwise, seems interesting.

Written by SCL

December 25, 2008 at 11:12 pm

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Happy Holidays!

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Hope everyone has a great Christmas, Chanukah, New Year, time off from work, etc.

I’m taking a family road trip down to Florida for the week. Leaving tomorrow late, after our Christmas party, and should be back on Jan 1 or Jan 2. Looking forward to getting at least 2 warm weather runs in – very exciting.  On the 2nd, I’m planning my 2nd long training run in preparation for the Austin Marathon – probably 18 miles or so…

In other random news, I’ve had A Race Like No Other, by Liz Robbins, in my Amazon cart for awhile now, waiting for a time when I needed to buy something else less than $25, to get the super saver shipping. Well, finally had something else to buy, and the book showed up yesterday. Looking forward to reading it.

Written by SCL

December 24, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Cold and icy week

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Been too lazy to write lately, so this is an attempt to catch up over my last several runs.  Sorry for the length!


Been very cold and stormy here in the northeast this past week.  In the last week, we had snow on (last) Tuesday night, then had snow followed by sleet and rain on Friday, and then finally snow again Saturday night followed by lots of rain Sunday morning.  We seemed to have a deep freeze between each storm, including Monday’s lovely low of 13 and high of 25 degrees.  As I edit this on Wednesday, we are having a cold rain, at 33 degrees.

On Saturday, I decided not to run the Ted Corbitt 15k, and instead just ran my typical 4 miler to the end of East River Park and back.  Except on Saturday, it was anything but typical.  When I went out at 2 in the afternoon, it was still only 22 degrees outside.  This meant that the snow, sleet and rain from Friday turned into ice.  The path from Stuyvesant Cove (18th St) to East River Park was a complete mess.  It looks like they had plowed the path at some point before the snow changed to sleet and rain, and then not again after the storm was over.  So, instead of a clean path, or unplowed packed snow, we had an inch of jaggedly frozen ice, with footprints turned into frozen craters.  Since it was so cold, the ice had no give to it at all, making for a very uneven surface.  I was only able to run on the unplowed parts to the side of the main path.  Thankfully, the main path at East River Park was halfway decently plowed (some pavement between the ice sheets) from the track down to the south end, so I only had to deal with the really bad conditions for about a mile of the 4.2 mile run.  Slowed down the pace as a result, and was very happy with the 36:53 total.  While it was more than 3 minutes slower than my record setting effort 2 weeks ago, I can’t complain!

My next run was on Monday night.  I was feeling a little down in the dumps.  On Sunday I was feeling under the weather, and I’d recently cut 2 different runs down from a planned 10 miles to something less.  I’m growing concerned that my training runs are not long enough.  On Monday, my cold had passed, and I really felt like I needed to run, despite the cold weather, and it was very cold.  I went out at 9pm, and it was 22 degrees, 10 with the wind chill.  I opted to do my lower manhattan loop, 6.5 miles.  I definitely got some odd looks from people as I ran down the street in the cold, but I’m sure I was more comfortable then they were. 

Some cool sights along the way:

  • Large crowd of people waiting on line outside on the east side of 4th Ave, just below 8th St.  Wonder what that was about – they are crazier than me
  • Corner bodega bathed in bright white light around Spring St.  Some kind of filming going on I guess, in the cold – they are also crazier than me
  • Two sets of people taking pictures on the East River Promenade between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge – they are also crazier than me
  • One old guy doing tai-chi on the Promenade, and not dressed warmly enough – he is crazier than me.

It think you get the idea.  Running at 9pm when 22 degrees outside may be crazy, there are many other crazies out there, doing crazier things.  My favorite part of the run was coming north on the bike/running path, just past the Governer’s Island Ferry and the Heliport.  All of a sudden, you can see the full view of the East River, stars in the sky, the downtown Brooklyn skyline across the way, the cars streaming both ways on the BQE, and the beautiful Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges ahead.  It was wonderful, and always lifts my spirits.  Oh, my time – 58:20, the same exact time I had on 11/16 (see bottom of this post), which is my fastest on this course.

Last but not least, I got out for a run this morning.  My kids are off from school, which gives me the flexibility to go out.  Of course, I was lazy and didn’t get out until 7.  Another stormy day, 33 degrees and rain.  Decided to run my new favorite stormy weather course, 5.1 miles down to the East River, then to Wall St, and back, with 2 miles of covered roadway under the FDR!  It was a typical wet weather run, working around puddles, cars, etc.  Still ice in some spots, especially on the curves in the path around the old Fulton Fish Market.  It is an out and back run – the out portion was in 24 minutes, while the back portion was in 22 minutes, a nice negative split.  In all, I finished the 5.1 miles in 46:15, or 9:04 pace.

Written by SCL

December 24, 2008 at 11:50 am

Skipped it

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Decided to just skip the Ted Corbitt 15k this morning. With the nasty weather, they ended up changing it to a fun run. Also, I already have my 9 races for Marathon eligibility, so there was really no need to run. With the slippery conditions, I could not have gotten the quality run I was hoping for. Finally, my older kid turned 13 today. She was supposed to be out all morning at a test prep class, but was a little sick this week and ended up skipping it. So, stayed home and had a nice morning with the family. Despite the cold, I’ll try to get out and run this afternoon – 23 degrees right now at 12:30 – brrrr.

Written by SCL

December 20, 2008 at 12:35 pm

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