4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for March 2009

Didn’t know I had it in me

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Speed workout last night consisted of a 2 mile interval around the lower loop of Central Park, then a 1 mile interval into the marathon finish line and then, finally, a 600 yard interval to finish up the workout.

First interval started out free and easy, with a good hard pace.  I fell just a bit behind the front of the pack.  I was suprised when we passed the first mile mark in 7:40, and then very pleased that I was able to keep up the pace for the 2nd half.  Finished the 2 miles in 15:25.  This was slightly slower than my previously fastest 2 mile effort about 11 months ago, but that previous record was on a mostly downhill course.  The lower loop of Central Park both has its ups and downs.

We then jogged across to the east side to run a 1 mile interval.  Wow did that feel really hard.  I felt tired from the beginning.  It felt like my legs were burning from the 1st interval.  I was sure that I would clock in at 8 minutes or so.  I was very pleasantly suprised to cross the finish at 7:29.  Again, this was not quite my fastest mile in speed training, but very close.  I had no idea that I could run a mile under 7:30, especially just after a hard 2 miler

After the first two intervals, the 600 yard distance of the third interval felt like nothing.  It is probably about a third of a mile and I finished in 2:02.  This is a very strong effort for me, and faster than all of the 6 times I posted on the same exact interval last week.

This was a great way to finish off the 10 week speed class session.  I’ll take a break now and maybe take the session again in August as I prepare for the New York Marathon (maybe), or otherwise will take it again next January as I usually do to get me through the winter.  I’m looking forward to not having the speed workout penned into my calendar on Tuesday nights, as I want to be flexbile to bike or swim whenever the opportunity presents itself.


Written by SCL

March 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Posted in running, Speed Workout

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Feeling better and planning the next few days

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Feeling a lot better today.  The knot in my back that suddenly popped up on Saturday is gone.  That one was strange.  It was not lower back or neck/shoulders, areas where I’ve had trouble in the past and are a major source of concern.  It was on the left side of the back below the shoulder.  The best was to describe it was a knot – it only really hurt when extending or stretching my left arm.  I can’t recall doing anything in particular that hurt it.  Hopefully it does not come back.

Also, the neck and shoulder soreness resulting from my first bike ride of the season Saturday has melted away.  So, I can clear myself to work out and swim at the gym again!  Unfortunately it won’t be tonight, as tonight is my last group speed session in Central Park (running), which I don’t want to skip as it will be my last group organized speed session for awhile.  So, speed workout tonight, and hopefully the gym on Thursday to workout and swim, and then another bike ride on the weekend, with another run mixed in between.  I would really like to get to the gym tomorrow night, but the problem with Wednesday’s is that the window to use the pool for lap swimming is only 9-9:30.

Written by SCL

March 10, 2009 at 8:42 am

Posted in bike, gym, injury, running, Speed Workout, swim

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Nice weekend

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My original plan was to bike on Sunday, which was forecasted to be the warmer day.  But Saturday was so nice, and the forecast for Sunday ended up being cooler and possibly rainy, so I decided to get my bike ride in on Saturday instead.  As my first ride of the year, had a good time dusting off the gear.

Was able to expiriment with a new toy.  I have an iPhone now, and MapMyFitness has a great iPhone app that uses the GPS device to track your route on the fly.  I have elected not to use this for running because I don’t want to run with my iPhone, but I don’t have an issue with biking with my iPhone in my saddle pack.  The app worked really well – you can see the route it mapped here.  I’m really looking forward to using this on my bike rides.  Routes on the bike tend to be really long, and sometimes it is hard to map out exactly where I went.  This will make it much easier to estimate my total distance.  Only problem is that the GPS drains the iPhone battery really quickly.  Seems like it won’t run for more than 2 hours.

Anyway, had a great bike ride.  Went up to Central Park and then did a full loop of the park.  First bike ride since 10/15/08.  The park was really crowded and I had to slow down a couple of times to let throngs of people cross the road.  Even with the slowdowns, finished my loop in 20:02, my 2nd fastest of my training runs in the park.  

 On Saturday night, I was supposed to go to the gym to work out and swim in the pool.  However, before my bike ride, I noticed a twinge in the left side of my back.  It was not lower back, and not neck or shoulders, so I was not very concerned and went ahead with the bike ride.  However, I will not lift weights or swim with any back problems.  Still bothering me a little today, so skipped the gym again.  In addition, my neck and shoulders were really sore from the bike ride yesterday.  My next good chance to get to the gym is Thursday, so I’ll hopefully be all better by then.

Instead, I went for a nice run this afternoon.  6.2 miles – out and back down East River Park and part way down the East River path.  It was warm, 61 degrees, so was able to run in shorts and short sleeve shirt.  Took it easy and finished in 57:30.

Also had some good family time this weekend.  Went to the New York Botanical Gardens this morning to see the orchid show.  The orchids are from Brazil this year, and they were spectacular.  

The challenge the next couple of weeks will be how to get going with swimming and biking without hurting myself, and reduce the need to take multiple days off between workouts.  As best as I can tell, I need to work myself up to 6 workouts per week to properly prepare for an olympic distance triathlon, which doesn’t allow for many rest days.  I refuse to push too hard and get injured early in training…

Written by SCL

March 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Sunday bike ride?

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Picked up my bike from the bike shop last night.  Got a tune up and handlebars retaped.  Also added a 2nd water bottle cage.  I see the forecast for Sunday says mid 60’s.  MID 60’S!!!  Sounds like it might be a good day for my first bike ride of the season.  Just need to figure out how to work it around our planned family outing to the New York Botanical Gardens to see the orchids.

Written by SCL

March 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Posted in bike, weather

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NYRR Grand Prix

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I’m a bit behind with my running news, but a few weeks ago I received a package from NYRR recognizing my completion of the Half Marathon Grand Prix for 2008.  Last year was the first time I completed the full Grand Prix, finishing all five of the NYRR half marathons.  Do I get bonus points for also running the New York City Half Marathon?

Included was a nice letter, a patch, a drawstring backpack (perfect for wet and dirty running clothes after a good workout) and a finishers certificate.  The finishers certificate listed all of the races with my finishing times.  The only problem – some of the times on the certificate are mixed up and don’t quite match with the race they are listed next to, sort of like a homework assignments my 7 year old might bring home from school: Match the race on the left with the finishing time on the right!

Seriously though, I’m proud of the effort, especially since I will not be repeating this year as I already missed Bronx.

Written by SCL

March 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Posted in NYRR, running

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Snow! And undecided on 2009 New York City Marathon

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Had a nice snowstorm today.  Maybe 7 or 8 inches in NYC.  I love the snow.  Love being out in the snow, driving in the snow, playing in the snow, digging out of the snow, etc.  My kids both had snow days, but my office was open.  So, I trudged into work in the snow.  Did leave early, at 3pm, to get home in time to take my 7 year old out to play in the snow a bit.  She had a great time.  I made snowballs for her, so she could throw them at me.  Then we went to the drugstore for a snack (Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies) and she also picked out a special pencil.  It was a nice father/daughter outing.

Then had to then drive to my house in New Jersey to dig out my driveway and sidewalk.  Wow there was a lot of snow there.  It is a few miles from the coast, in Little Silver.  I would estimate 15 inches – or maybe more?  See picture of deck furniture below.  The shoveling was a hard job, but still fun in an odd way.  I think my arms will be very sore tomorrow.  Good thing I’m running tomorrow night and not scheduled for the gym.

Finally, regarding running, I’m extremely undecided about the NYC Marathon.  I’m horrified at how expensive it has gotten.  Used to be a no brainer to run every year if I could get an automatic entry.  However, at $138, plus the $11 registration fee, it is no longer a no brainer.  I’ve already paid $225 (I think) for the NYC Triathlon, plus the fee for the Austin Marathon.  Plus, I’m planning at least 2 bi/tri preps before the NYC Triathlon, which are also expensive.  In addition, I finally beat 4:30 in my last marathon, so I’m not sure I have anything else to prove.  On the other hand, I’ve got the automatic entry this year and probably should take advantage of it in case I don’t get the 9 NYRR races in this year.  Also, I’m on a marathon roll, and if I push hard, maybe I can get my time down to 4:15, which would be amazing.  Anyway, I have until the end of April to decide.  Could go either way…




Written by SCL

March 2, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Feb 2009 in review

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Running – 75.1 miles over 8 runs.  Already at 178.2 miles for the year!  Went past 5000 miles in my running log, started on 12/26/1998

Races – 1 (Austin Marathon – 4:22:18)

Biking – 0 miles – 0 rides – 1 tune up though!

Swims – 1 (very pathetic)

Gym workouts – 4

Injuries – 0

Sicknesses – 0

Written by SCL

March 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Month End Summary

Salsa, Blues, Shamrocks and … PRs!

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Ran the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k race yesterday morning. 

Actually, almost didn’t run it, because I forgot to pre-register.  I really enjoy this race – 5k’s are very rare and this race is a special challenge because of the hills – and have had this on my radar since the 2009 calendar went up.  However, I realized late in the week that I didn’t receive the customary email NYRR sends out prior to races, and sure enough, I figured out that I never registered.  I’m cheap (I know, and can freely admit it!) and hate to sign up for races last minute, due to the extra charges.  Since I missed the pre-registration, I’d need to drag my butt to NYRR to register in person.   Not only was that a hassle, but my 7 year old daughter had a sleepover with a friend at my apartment Sat night, and my wife had a work commitment at 10am Sunday morning.  I could get my 13 year old to babysit for a couple of hours, but that is not ideal, so I sort of resigned not to run the race.  The forecast was also a bit messy, and I really didn’t want to run if they would turn it into a fun run.  But, on Saturday morning, I found out my wife’s appointment was pushed to 12:30, and the forecast for Sunday morning was looking better, and I made it into the city with time to get to NYRR to register, so I decided to run.

As usual, got to the race 2 hours early to secure a good parking spot.  The armory is a cool place to hang out before the race, but it gets insanely crowded.  This year the race was a club points race, which meant it would be even more crowded than in years past.  So, I decided to hang in my car till about 20 minutes before the race and then line up.  The start, finish, and course was slightly different from years past.  Historically, it started and finished right in front of the armory at 168th St.  But this year, they moved the start to 173rd St, to provide enough headway for start and finish staging.  This meant that the course itself would be extended.  Instead of a turn around partway through Fort Tryon Park, we would run all the way around the end of the park.  I think the change was effective.  The start and finish was well organized, and the run to the end of the park yielded spectacular views of the Hudson River and upper Manhattan.

My goal for the race was 25 minutes, but I’d be happy with anything up to 25:33, the PR I set at this race 2 years ago.  I’ve always done well on this course, but it is challenging due to the hills.  The advantage of the course is that the last half mile is a nice strong downhill, making for a strong finish.  

I was in the 3000 corral, and got through the start in about 56 seconds.  I was able to get right into a good hard pace.  I was frustrated by trying to pass slower people in the first half mile going up the hill, and had to do some weaving and dodging.  Second half of the mile tends downhill.  Pushing a hard pace, mile 1 went by in 7:55.  Very good, a little faster than my goal pace, but, could I sustain it?  

Mile 2 is comprised of a long downhill into Fort Tryon Park, and then a long uphill out of the park.  I definitely held back on the downhill, saving my energy for the uphill.  This seems to be opposite the strategy of most people.  A lot of people passed me on the downhill, and then I passed a lot of people on the uphill.  At 1.5 miles, after a good mile of downhill, my shins were hurting.  I sometimes get shin pains, and for me, they get worse on downhills and abate on uphills.  I was not concerned as the next mile was uphill, which I figured would loosen the muscle.  Luckly, that turned out to be the case.  Mile 2 was completed in 8:14, as I held back on the downhill and was a little conservative on the uphill out of the park.  

I was still under PR pace, but not quite at 25 minute pace.  Would need to push hard in mile 3.  First half of mile 3 is uphill and the crest of the hill is very steep.  I had just enough energy to push that hill hard.  I pushed as hard as possible and focused on good form and swinging my arms.  Once we crested the hill at 2.5 miles, I felt completely spent, so I allowed myself a half a minute of recovery on the downhill before pushing hard into the finish.  Mile 3 was completed in 7:53, and the last .1 was in 45 seconds, for a final time of 24:48, a new PR, and an 8 min per mile pace.

I was very happy with the effort and results.  Floated on cloud 9 back to my car and down the FDR drive home.  Was suprised how hungry I was the rest of the day, and at how sore I am today, after only running 3 miles.  The hard effort really takes its toll, even on short distances.

Anyway, with my marathons behind me now, I feel like I will focus on shorter distances and speed in the next few months, while I also bike and swim in my triathlon training.  I’m thinking about targeting a good hard 4 miler next, and trying to best my PR of 33:22.  Colon Cancer 4 miler is filled up, so my next shots will be Run for the Park on 4/5 or Run as One on 4/19.  Then, perhaps, go for a 10k PR at the Healthy Kidney race in May, which is 52:39.

As I said, I’ve had great results in this race.  My Coogan’s Salsa Blues and Shamrocks 5k history:

  • 3/5/2000 – 26:03
  • 3/4/2001 – 26:23
  • 3/4/3007 – 25:33
  • 3/1/2009 – 24:47

Went back in the NYRR results archives, and see that only 1022 runners finished in 2000.  This year, there were a lot more, at 4700.  I finished in 1476, an amazing 31st percentile.

Written by SCL

March 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Race Report, running

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