4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for March 2009

Swimming on the brain

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Made it to the gym tonight to swim.  My wife got home from her work event earlier than expected and I was able to sneak out.  Didn’t have enough time to lift weights first, but that is OK.  It was my first time in the pool in over 2 weeks.  Still very, very shaky, trying to get used to breathing for prolonged periods in the water.  Starting to work in real freestyle stroke while breathing.  I totally lost track of how many laps I did, so we’ll just call it 10 round trips, or 400 yards.

The pool was a bit crowded and my lane was being shared with 2 other people, much faster than me.  Was very disconcerting.  Much better for me when the pool is not crowded!

Signed up for a tune up triathlon, June 14 in Harriman State Park – http://www.nytc.org/dbacceptance.cfm?ID=6.  1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3 mile run.  Looking forward to it – should be a great tune up for the New York City Triathlon.

Written by SCL

March 30, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Posted in swim

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Created my own race

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With races routinely selling out in Central Park now, I’ve resorted to creating my own race!  Well, not really.  I only had time for a short 4 mile run yesterday, so figured, why not make it a speed workout, and treat it as a ‘race’.

The course was my usual 2 mile out and 2 mile back through East River Park.  The weather was OK, not much of a factor.  The temps were cool, around 50, but it was very humid.  Humidity becomes a problem for me when over 65 degrees.  There was a bit of a headwind coming back north on the return trip, but that also wasn’t so bad.  On my mp3 player, I have a short playlist of my favorite running songs.  Those songs help to keep me zipping along.  It is only 10 songs, which neatly fits into a 4 mile run.

On the first half, I did something I had never done before, passing a biker!  Now, the biker was clearly not riding too hard, but I won’t let that get in the way of my accomplishment.  I passed by the biker in the narrow pathway by the Con Ed plant just north of the entrance to East River Park.  I figured once in the park proper, the biker would get going and pass me by eventually, but that was not the case.  When I turned around at the bottom of the park, it was a good .15 – .2 miles before I passed him going the other way.

First half was completed in 16:07.  8 minute per mile pace is about what I’d expect in a race condition, so I was right on track.  The question was whether I could keep the pace up or not.  Last year, in the Fitness Mag 4 mile race, I started out fast, at around 8 min per mile pace, and then died in the last 2 miles.  It was hot and humid that day, though.  Yesterday, I was able to keep the pace up, and finished the second half in 16:10, 3 seconds slower than the first half.

My overall time was 32:17, which would be a PR for me if it was a real race!  Normally, at my training pace, I’d finish that run in 36-37 minutes, showing me the stark difference between a training pace and a race pace.  In a normal training run, I would negative split the course, and in fact, in the last few years, (besides today) the only times I haven’t have been when I needed to stop to walk due to a side stitch or shin split, etc. 

Very excited about the run, and nice to see that I’ve retained some of the speed I picked up in my speed workouts during the winter.  My concern right now is a slightly pulled groin muscle.  I was hoping it would go away on it’s own, but it has not.  Lately it is hurting more.  It rarely bothers me when I run, which is probably a bad thing, since I feel like I can run through it.  Rest would probably be best for it.  I finally looked up some info online, so I feel like I now know the right stretches to do.  I’ll continue icing and stretching over the next few weeks and hope it goes away.

Written by SCL

March 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm

6.5 miles

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Circumstances didn’t let me get to the gym Thursday night, the timing was bad for the gym yesterday, and I’m not quite ready for after-dark training rides on my bike, so I went for another run late last night.  Did my 6.5 mile ‘downtown loop’ (see course here).  I like running at nighttime, the later the better, but on Thurday and Friday nights, the street traffic gets pretty bad.  So, rather than stress about the traffic and getting through intersections and all costs, I slowed down the pace, and tried to enjoy the run.  My time was 1:02:06, slower than typical for me on that course, but very enjoyable.  The weather again was just perfect – 53 degrees.  I love this weather for running.

The last 2.5 miles of this run are identical to the run I did on Wednesday night.  What struck me was what had changed in the 2 short days that had gone by. 

First, the ice skating rink at South Street Seaport came down.  It is gone!  On Wednesday, when I passed it, and nobody was skating, I was wondering why that thing was still around and if anyone was still outdoor skating this late in March – doesn’t the allure wear off by Feb?  Well, guess I was right that it was time to go. 

Second, the bike lane on Ave A that was chalked down on Wednesday was painted!  You have no idea how exciting this is for me.  I run up Ave A a lot, and cars generally did a bad job there of keeping to 1 lane.  Even though the bike lane will not stop rogue cars and cabs from doing what they want, I feel like it gives me a ‘right of way’.  With a bike lane, I will stand my ground against cars that are not playing nicely with a lot more confidence.   The bike lane also makes Ave A a more attractive downtown path when on my bike and trying to get down to the Williamsburg Bridge.  I’ll have to try it out soon!

Written by SCL

March 28, 2009 at 8:12 am

Posted in running

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Why am I so sore today?

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Trying to figure out why my arms are so sore today.  If my arms are sore, then I won’t want to go to the gym and swim tonight, which was in my plan.  What gives?  I only went for a 5 mile run last night. 

Oh right, I spent almost 2 hours yesterday morning cutting, pulling, wrestling with, and dragging massive vines out of my yard.  Guess I gotta work my arms up into gardening and weed whacking shape…

Written by SCL

March 26, 2009 at 9:25 am

Posted in injury

Invigorating run

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Was able to get out for a 5.2 mile run down 1st Ave and East River path down to Wall St and back.  See here for the map taken using my iPhone and GPS.  I was surprised it held the signal underneath the FDR drive – good to know.

Had a fantastic run.  Since it was first run in 8 days, took a little while to loosen up, but then felt really great.  At 44 degrees, the weather was just perfect for me.  Felt really invigorating, especially since today was the first day I felt good after 4 days of being sick.  2nd half of the run was really nice with the wind at my back.

The most exciting news of my run was the trip up Ave A.  They have chalked down the lines for a bike line, all the way from Houston St up to 14th St.  This will make running on Ave A safer for sure, and keep cars from making 2 lanes where there is only 1.  I had been hoping for this since December, when I first noticed the 1 block bike lane on Ave A between 9th and 10th St (see bottom of this post).

Written by SCL

March 25, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Posted in running

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Feeling Better

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Been under the weather since Saturday and so have not done any running since my run in Miami last Tuesday.  Feeling a lot better today so will get out for a run tonight.  Looking forward to it!  Currently 48 degrees so maybe it can creep up towards 50 by late afternoon.

Last weekend, the washing machine in my weekend house in New Jersey starting making a really loud noise.  Spent the morning today waiting for Sears to come look at it.  My window was 8-12, and of course, they came after 11am.  While waiting I was able to get a lot of cutting and trimming work done on some of the shrubs and bushes on my property.  Despite the cuts and scrapes on my legs (only long pants I had in the house were my work pants!), the physical labor felt good.

The bad news for me is that the estimate to fix the washing machine is $700, more than I paid for it 7 years ago.  Guess I’ll be shopping for a new machine this weekend.

In NYRR news, we are still waiting for a final confirmation on May 30 as the day for the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Came across this picture on Curbed.  Perhaps this is the reason for the delay?

Written by SCL

March 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Posted in NYRR, running

Updated 2008 Grand Prix Finishers Certificate

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I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I received an incorrect finishers certificate for the 2008 Half Marathon Grand Prix.  Well, I was very happy to see that NYRR corrected the error of their ways, and sent out updated certificates last week!  Woo Hoo!

Written by SCL

March 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Posted in NYRR

Still alive…Just not motivated!

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I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog since the marathon in Austin last month.  Just haven’t been able to get myself properly motivated.  I think this is partly because I’m starting to step up swimming and biking, and I’m just not so strong in those disciplines yet!

I’ve also had this nagging groin pull for several months.  Not anything bad (I did run a 4:22 marathon on it, after all!).  I think I aggrevated it around the time of the New York City Marathon last year.  Figured it would just go away on its own.  Well, no luck so far, and it has recently started bothering me a bit when I run, so I’m starting a regiment of icing to see if that helps.  Since I’m between big events right now, it seems like the right time to slow down a little, take stock of injuries and recover properly.

Last week I lifted weights and swam on Saturday, biked on Sunday, and ran on Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday, my run was in Miami, as I had travelled there on business last week.  It was nice to run in the 80 degree weather on Tuesday afternoon, after running in 40 degrees Monday night!  My run took me from Miami Beach to downtown Miami – very beautiful after the long New York winter. 

Since then, though, I have been mostly inactive.  Felt the beginnings of a cold on Saturday, so skipped my planned gym/swim workout.  I did manage to go for a 14 mile bike ride yesterday morning, but am still feeling the effects of the cold today, so will take it easy today.

For the next couple of days, I’ll stay home, rest as much as possible, and ice up the groin to see if I can get that all healed.  In the meantime, I’m praying for the warmer weather to come, and planning out my spring schedule of races.  I prefer running in the colder weather, and definitely run more in the winter than in the summer, but this cold weather is really getting to me now – really looking forward to some 60 degree days in the coming months!

Written by SCL

March 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Posted in bike, gym, injury, running, swim, weather

Forward progress

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Since I’m stepping up the biking and swimming aspects of my training, I have spent significantly less time on running.  Only 4 runs this month so far for ~24 miles.  Even though I know it is not true, it somehow makes me feel like I am accomplishing less.  I think that may be because a good swim or bike ride makes me very sore right now.  It will be slow going the next few weeks while I get my body used to a different kind of pounding.

Since the last time I blogged, I got in a good swim and bike workouts.  On Saturday I lifted weights at the gym and then went to the pool.  As sad as it may be, I love going on Saturday nights because the gym is empty!  The pool I use is 20 yards long and I have been doing nine 40 yard repetitions.  On this last workout, I again did nine repititions, but two of them were for 60 yards rather than 40.  It may not seem like much, but I can see small improvements each time out, which makes me happy.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I went for a 16 mile bike ride across to the west side and up the hudson river bike path to 135th St – see map here, generated on my iPhone.  There are no hills so it was not a very strenuous workout from that perspective, but it was windy, a bit cold, and only my 2nd workout of the year, so it felt hard.  I’ll try to get a short run in tonight. 

Next up for me is a business trip to Miami tomorrow through Thursday.  I’m excited to get two warm weather runs in, although the run workouts in my last trip to Miami in December (here and here) were a total disaster.

Written by SCL

March 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Posted in bike, gym, running, swim

Blogging outdoors!

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It is still kinda cold outside, 40 degrees, but I’ve got spring on the brain and so am walking downtown to pick my 13 year old from dance class.  Stopped off at Madison Square Park to take advantage of the free wi-fi to kill some time.  Funny, last time I did this, I also had weather on the brain.  The answer to the question I posed back then is that the weather in Austin in Feb is wonderful!

On a more serious note, had a visit to my doctor today.  I’m used to dealing with running injuries, but lately having a health issue.  Nothing to be concerned about, and 2-4 weeks of Cipro will hopefully kill the bacterial infection my doctor suspects I have.  We’ll see!

Otherwise, had a great workout lifting weights at the gym last night.  Had another pathetic swim session in the pool, but I can already see some small improvements after 3 visits.  I still have 4+ months to get myself up to swimming a mile before the New York City Triathlon.

Probably will stay inactive tonight, and maybe drag myself out of bed for an early run in the morning.

Written by SCL

March 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm