4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for April 2009

Feeling a bit ill today

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Ugh.  Getting a sore throat today.  We’ll see if it is just an annoying cold that runs its course quickly, or if it turns into a big deal.  All that Swine Flu news is certainly not making me feel any better!  Was planning to go to the pool to swim today.  Guess I’ll skip it…

In other VERY GOOD news, my groin injury has mostly gone away!  I only first wrote about it in March, but it had been nagging me since last year.  I was a little scared last week when my entire upper inner thigh started to hurt.  I think I aggrevated the whole area during a bike ride.  However, the thigh pain went away quickly, and the increased biking in the last 2 weeks seems to have been helping out.  Now, there is only a very dull ache if I really stretch to find it. 

Injuries are weird.  Sometimes, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why they flare up, and sometimes, they just go away when least expected.  Anyway, I’m not complaining!  I’m sure something else will start hurting soon to take it’s place.


Written by SCL

April 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Posted in injury, sick

In the Marathon, plus cynical thought of the day

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Spring marathon mania this time of the year.  Boston last weekend, London and More (almost) this weekend, New Jersey next weekend, and tons others happening at this time of the year.  So, figured I needed to get into the action too.

It’s official, I’ve dropped down the necessary $149 bucks (registration plus processing fee), and I’m running the 40th edition of the New York City Marathon!


It will be my 7th New York City Marathon in the last 14 years (my first was 1996), and my 11th overall marathon!  May be my last NYC for awhile though as I look to try other fall marathons in the coming years.  Currently not making any particular effort to run 9 NYRR races in 2009.

I finally busted 4:30, with 4:22:16 at the Austin Marathon in Feb.  Could I possibly dare to dream that I could improve my way up to 4:00?

Cynical thought of the day about NYRR and the automatic entries – it’s an easy money maker!  Both in the initial email telling me about my automatic entry, and in the first reminder email, there were very explicit instructions about how I could extend my automatic entry to 2010, if I don’t think I can run the race this year.  All I would need to do is register for this years race (dropping $149 bucks in the process) AND THEN cancel.  Then, I would have the option to PAY AGAIN next year to run in 2010.  Wonder how many of the automatic entry folks sign up and then cancel right away.  Nice way to get some extra money out of your loyal, 9+ races per year, customers!  It’s one thing to have this option in the case where you train, and then something happens near race day, like injury, conflict, etc.  It’s another altogether to encourage you, from the start, to pay $150 for the privilege of possibly signing up, and paying again, next year. 

I think if you want to defer to the following year, you should be able to do that at the time you sign up, for a more nomial fee.

OK, I feel better now…

Written by SCL

April 27, 2009 at 11:19 am

Hot weekend

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Wow, it was hot hot hot this weekend!  Managed to get a nice bike ride in before it got hot on Saturday, and then waited the heat out today and went out for a run in the relatively cool evening.

First, the bike ride.  Was up at 6:30 yesterday and out of the house by 8am.  My wife needed to be out of the house by 1, so I wanted to be home by 12.  Anyway, at that time it was still cool out, in the 50’s, and the forecasted high was for 85, so better to go out early.  Headed over the Manhattan Bridge and down Flatbush Ave.  I normally don’t like to ride down Flatbush Ave because of the heavy traffic, but since it was early on Sat morning, I figured the traffic would be calmer, and it was.  I wasn’t hungry and didn’t eat anything before I headed out.  Luckily as I passed by Prospect Park, I noticed they had the Greenmarket going on, so did stop to eat a delicious blueberry muffin.  Continued on my way down Flatbush and then down Bedford all the way to Coney Island.  Took a little break and then rode on the Belt Parkway service rode way out to Queens – took a break on the way at the Canarsie Pier.  Amazingly, there was fog along the coastline, and the pier was covered in fog.  Couldn’t easily see across to Rockaway.  Pretty cool.  Sort of improvised on the way back, and used my NYC bike map from last year to try and link up to bike routes that would take me back through Brooklyn and to the Williamsburg Bridge.  See my route here.  Final tally was 34 miles!  Was definitely feeling beat down by the end.  

Most exciting thing that happened was a flat tire!  Luckily, I’m a savvy cyclist and know how to patch my tire.  I actually had a spare tube, but instead opted to patch the old tube – figured it was good practice in case of a future emergency.  Took about 15 minutes to get the flat fixed, and was on my way again.  I don’t think it was a perfect job, as it seemed air was still slightly leaking.  Will need to keep an eye on it and fix for good before my next ride.  Was finished by 12pm, and it was definitely getting hot out.

Was off to my house in New Jersey last night and spent the day there today.  Grilled burgers and dogs today and we had a nice picnic at the beach for lunch.  It was awesome to be out on the beach so early in the year, but the water was freezing cold.  Beach was packed though.  Also, did my first mow and water of my lawn.

Wanted to get a run in badly today.  Waited it out until about 9:30pm.  The temp had dropped to 72 degrees, from the high of 92.  Humidity was also pretty low.  Did my 4.6 mile loop up Ave C, then down 1st Ave to Delancey and up Ave A.  I was running parallel to the East River for about a mile in the early part of the run.  Could actually feel a cool breeze off the water.  Was very hot and sweaty at the end, but at least felt relatively cool in the early going.  Finished in 42 minutes, which was just fine for me.  Am really digging the new bike lane on Ave A.  Makes me feel safer going up through that area, as cars always used to double park and use the side to make an improper second lane.

This was my 3rd run of the week, and I ended the week with over 21 miles!  The trick is to keep it up as the weather heats up over the next couple of months.  I dread this time of the year, when it starts to get hot, because I really hate running in the heat!  Today notwithstanding, maybe we’ll have a coolish summer?  One can dream!

Written by SCL

April 26, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Posted in bike, running

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Nice mid-week activity

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After getting a so-so run in on Tuesday night, my intention was to get two more good efforts in Wed and Thurs.  I’d have preferred to bike ride, but it was still simply too cold for me after work.

So, on Wed, I went to the gym for a swim.  Half hour in the pool, and did 26 pool lengths, still working primarily on breathing, and started to work in freestyle.  I’m starting to get the hang of breathing, but then having a tough time combining it with freestyle.  I am continuing to get better though, and I still have 3 months till the New York City Triathlon.

Last night (Thursday), I had a little extra time on my hands, by leaving work at 5:30.  So, decided to go for a longish run.  Did my “3 bridges, 3 boros” run over the Williamsburg and 59th St Bridges, which is 10.3 miles.  That was my longest run since the Austin Marathon.  The run went pretty well.  My legs felt a little sore as I worked through the first few miles and over the first 2 bridges, but then I started getting into a good rhythm and really sailed over the 59th St bridge and down 1st Ave home.  My time was about 1:40, and while that is still slower than my runs earlier in the year, it was still under 10 mins per mile, which is fine for a long training run.  I was pretty wiped out afterwards and slept on the early side.  Not too sore today, which is good.

By the way, this was my first run over the 59th St Bridge (since I live on the Manhattan side, that is what I call it, NOT the Queensboro Bridge) since it’s centennial last month.  I’m hoping there are some commemorative events in May.  See PigtailsFlying coverage and thoughts here

I opted for the longer run since I really need to get myself ready for the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  My last two Brooklyn halfs have been under 2 hours.  Not so sure I’ll be able to do that this year with my current lack of running, and particularly if the weather is too hot without putting in quite a bit more work.  I really wish this race was still in March and not in late.  Making it more difficult this year is that it starts with 2 loops around Propect Park, rather than the 1 loop at the end, as in years past.

I intend to get a good bike ride in with the really warm expected weather this weekend, and then will hopefully swim too.

Written by SCL

April 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm

NYC Running Blogger Meetup

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If you run and blog and are in our fine New York City, let’s meet up on May 14 – Go here for more details!

Written by SCL

April 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lower Manhattan Loop run

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Was going to write this last night, but I happened to be watching the Mets game, which turned my stomach and put me in a really bad mood.  I’m getting over it now…

Did my typical lower manhattan 6.5 mile loop run last night.  I thought the weather was great.  Cool at 53 degrees, somewhat foggy and misty, and a bit humid.  You could feel the chill in the air, which I love, but I suspect we won’t have much of that anymore.  Supposed to warm up to the 70s again the next few days, then it will be May, and then it will get hot, and I’ll start to hate running again!

I thought I was having a really great run.  I mostly caught green lights so did not need to stop and barely needed to slow down at any intersections along the way.  I felt like I really picked up the pace the 2nd half of the run on the East River bike path, and really sprinted my way through the last half mile up Ave A.  At the end of my run, my watch said 1:02:17, definitely slower than I expected.  I’ve completed this in under 59 minutes a couple of times, and thought I would be in the 1:00 to 1:01 range.  I guess my lack of running the last month is having an effect on me.  Gotta step it up and be ready for the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 30.

While the pain I felt the other day in the upper inner thigh went away (must have been from my bike ride on Saturday), I still have the lingering mild groin strain that has been bothering me for a few months now.  I’m going to continue to run through it, and ice and stretch, and hopefully it won’t get worse as I prepare for the New York City Triathlon in July. 

Change of scattered thunderstorms later today.  Was hoping to bike ride tonight – we’ll see what the weather looks like first.  If it is rainy, I’ll try to get to the gym to swim, although on Wed, there is only a 30 minute window for open swimming, 9-930.

Written by SCL

April 22, 2009 at 7:56 am

Active, but didn’t get a run in

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Got home from my vacation on Thursday night with the intention of getting in a good bike, run and swim over the nice weekend.  Don’t you hate how things don’t work out as planned?  I guess with a swim and bike, I was close, but was not able to get a run in, and now am having additional muscle pains in my left leg.

To start, on Friday, I had a bunch of errands to run and then had to get my rental minivan returned to Newark Airport.  I was also trying to get my handyman to come to my house in New Jersey on Saturday to help me hook up my old dryer, after the installation of my new washing machine last week. (won’t go into any more details as this is a long story)  Anyway, he called me late morning on Friday and was available to come out on Friday afternoon.  This was perfect for me, as we really wanted to get that out of the way so we could do our laundry at the house Friday night and Saturday morning, but it killed the day for me in terms of exercise.  By the time I got out to NJ, then returned my minivan to Newark and got home, it was very late in the day, and time for my wife and I to turn around and head back out to NJ for the night to do 8 loads of laundry.  But, at least I had the foresight to bring my bike with me, as I planned to get a nice bike ride in on Saturday morning.

The ride went well, just as planned, and I had a nice 19 mile ride, from my house out west to Colt’s Neck on 537 and back.  I love riding my bike in NJ, as I can go out my door and go immediately into ‘hard ride’ mode.  In NYC, I need to get myself over a bridge, and in some cases, well out over the bridge before I can get into any sort of riding rhythm that doesn’t involve stopping for traffic lights every few minutes.  Even biking in Central Park first requires a 3 mile ride through the city traffic before I can start the workout, with the same 3 miles back afterwards.  I hope to get into a habit of bringing my bike out weekly to get a nice weekend ride when I can.  Only problem with that is I can’t leave the car unattended for fear of someone stealing the bike off the bike rack.

My 7 year old really wanted to go to the movies to see the Hannah Montana movie.  I was angling to take her next weekend, but some other late Sat afternoon plans changed, so we had the time, and she really wanted to go.  So, I relented and took her to Kips Bay for a late afternoon showing.  Also, before that, with the weather so nice, I took her outside so she could spin around on her bike a little.  Then Saturday night I was able to go to the gym to workout and swim.  I had not lifted weights in about a month, so took it easy there.  My swim workout was, as usual, kind of sucky, but I’m finding that I can do a front crawl type swim for several lengths of the pool without stopping.  This means my breathing technique is getting much better.  Good news.  But I still can’t put it together to do freestyle.

My intent was to go for a run on Sunday.  I had tickets to go see the Mets at Citifield, so needed to run first thing in the morning, or late in the day.  My wife was feeling kind of sick Saturday night and Sunday morning, so I stayed home to be around in case my kids needed anything.  Then, off to Citifield to see the Mets lose 4-2.  Citifield is a beautiful place, and a much better overall experience than Shea.  Losing Shea does make me sad, though.  I had a Saturday ticket plan for the last 15 years, and in the last couple of years got to at least 20 games per year.  But, Citifield has effectively priced me out and so I’ll probably only be going a handful of times this year. 

During the day on Sunday, I noticed my left leg was in a little pain.  The left side is where I’ve had some kind of nagging groin pull for the last few months that has not gone away.  The pain I started feeling yesterday was more in the upper inner thigh, on the side or even back of the leg.  Not sure if it is related to the groin, or if it was caused my my bike ride or swim Saturday, but I thought it best to not run, and instead, start up a serious ice regiment.  So, I’ll be focusing on icing my leg the next few days, and trying to decide if I run should run easy or not while I wait for the pain to go down.

Anyway, off to work.  Catching up from missing a week of work will not be fun, so we’ll see how much time I have for exercise this week.

Written by SCL

April 20, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Posted in bike, gym, injury, running, swim

Trading mountains for skyscrapers

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After 13 hours in the car, made it back to NYC from Asheville, NC in one piece.  Actually, the trip was quite smooth with only a couple of instances of some construction traffic.  I much prefer to drive on I81 through Virginia and North Carolina, rather than I95 through the big cities.  It is much more scenic and the traffic is more predictable.

Anyway, looking forward to getting my training back in gear tomorrow.  I’m a little scared of my weigh in tomorrow morning – wouldn’t be surprised if I gained 10 pounds on this trip. It seemed that all of our meals were of the comfort food variety, and quite big.

Western North Carolina is beautiful and I will miss the mountains a lot.  We have purchased 3 small investment homes (occupied by year-round renters) in Asheville over the last 5 years, with the thought that we might spend part of our retirement years there.  Each time we go, I really feel the stark difference between the big city (with its skyscrapers and hustle and bustle) and the little city (with its mountains and serenity) and it is harder to come back to the big city each time.

After we came through the Holland Tunnel, my mother-in-law, who tagged along with us this time, said “we traded the mountains for the skyscrapers”, and I just thought that was soooo true.

Can’t wait to go back next year, or maybe in the fall!

Written by SCL

April 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

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Good news on the NYC Half

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I see that the New York City Half Marathon is back on the calendar, for Aug 16.  Full details are not available yet, but we do know that the course will remain the same, they will allow for 10,000 runners, and registration opens May 1 as first come, first served – no lottery!

I will likely skip it this year, as Aug 16 is my 7 year old’s birthday.  With it falling on the weekend, we most definitely will be spending it at the beach at my house in New Jersey.  I’m OK with that though, as I’m not going to maniacally run every big race this year, like I’ve done the last couple.  

On a similar note, I’ve decided to run the NYC Marathon this year (for the 7th time) since I have an automatic entry, but will look to run a different fall marathon in 2010.

Written by SCL

April 16, 2009 at 7:07 am

Vacation is fun…

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…but I have not exercised a lick in days. And, eaten like a pig, of course.  So, looking forward to getting back home and getting my be-hind in gear, pronto!  Weather in NYC looks great for the weekend, so reason not to get in a good run and bike ride.

First up, though, is the long drive back home from Asheville, NC.  Gonna cover the whole distance today so will be home in my comfy bed tonight!

Written by SCL

April 16, 2009 at 6:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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