4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for March 2010

Couple of Bridge Updates

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First Bridge Update:

Yesterday I was out on my long run (which was great by the way, and my blog report is partway finished), which included the RFK Bridge (formerly known as the Triboro Bridge).  For the last couple of years, the pedestrian path has been under construction that added MANY, MANY steps onto the bridge.  This was a major annoyance on my runs as the bridge is hard enough as it is, and I usually hit the bridge about 13 miles into my run.  The construction had been ongoing for the last 2 years at least.  I’ve also heard complaints from my biker friends, who have biked the bridge.  Yes, this is much more annoying for bikers, as you have to haul yourself AND bike on the steps.  The many steps were necessary to get you up and over the side rail of the bridge (twice in 2 spots, for 4 times in total) to get onto temporary walkways built off the side of the bridge.

But, good news!

The construction is DONE!  There are still some steps, but nothing horrible, and the steps all have the bike rail to make it easier to get your bike up and down.  First there is a set of steps to get onto the bridge on the Queens side, and then there are sets of steps at either end of the elevated walkway mid-span.  The sets of steps on either end of the elevated mid-span are brand new, clearly this was the point of the construction.

I had not heard or seen this mentioned anywhere, so at least now another 10 people will know 🙂

Second Bridge Update:

Came across this nugget while going through my blogs.  Apparently, the Department of Transportation is planning to make some improvements to the Williamsburg Bridge, to separate bikes from pedestrians.  My first reaction is YES, HALLELUJAH.   I run and bike the bridge, and have had my share of complaints about the setup (see first paragraph here).  However, wait, hold on, stop the presses, I’m concerned about what this change will mean for us runners.  Separating bike traffic is great, and I know exactly what they will do.  I predict they will designate the north half of the bridge to bikers and give the south end to pedestrians, just like on the Manhattan Bridge.  This would be unfortunate, as the south half of the bridge has a really annoying step-like incline on the Brooklyn Side, which is also significantly steeper than the incline on the north half.  Will be annoying for runners.

As a runner, I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I don’t consider myself a pedestrian, and in fact, feel safer, and more out of harms way, if I am running on the bike side, against the traffic of the bikers, and staying as far off to the side as possible.

At the end of the day, these changes are desperately needed on the bridge, as it still continues to become more and more popular as a key connection between 2 very walkable neighborhoods.  On a run over the bridge the other night, I noticed a constant stream of bikers, several runners and many walkers, and that was after 8pm when the traffic should have been dying down for the night.

I know that bikers tend to lump us all together, the lone runner keeping off to the side, and the pack of people leisurely taking up the entire space.  I know because bikers have yelled at me when I’ve been on the bike side of the Manhattan Bridge, even though I’m keeping out of harms way, and the bridge is not crowded at all.  My problem boils down to the notion that I AM NOT A PEDESTRIAN!

Anyway, do any of you, my dedicated 10 readers, have thoughts on whether runners belong with bikers, or with pedestrians?  Maybe I should just give in and always stay in the pedestrian marked areas?  I sure as hell know we don’t do that on the West Side Greenway…

Written by SCL

March 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Bike Lanes, Reflections

Happy 2 year blogiversary to me!

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I’m 2 days late, of course, but 2 years ago, on 3/14/08, I started my very own blog!  See the first post here.  Wish I had more time to write some reflections…

Written by SCL

March 16, 2010 at 7:02 am

Posted in Reflections

Back on the bike

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I’ve been meaning to get back on my bike for quite awhile.  I did a ride in late January, but have been unable since then.  February was rough in terms of cold and snow and conditions just didn’t allow for me to ride outside.  Also, the last 3 weekends were dominated by races or long runs, and I was afraid to ride outside and mess myself up for critical runs.

But, I’ve got the March Madness Biathlon in less than 3 weeks, which entails 2 full loops of Central Park (plus 2 miles before and 2 miles after, both of which include UP cat hill!), and I need to get going on the bike.  Last night was perfect to get out.  The temp was 55 degrees, at 9pm, absolutely perfect.

So, pumped up the tires, rounded up all the gear, and went out.  My course was the reverse of my favorite 10.3 mile medium range run, namely, up 1st Ave to 60th, over the Queensboro Bridge, down Queens to Pulaski Bridge, through Greenpoint and Willamsburg, over the bridge and back up 1st Ave.

The other interesting factor are my elbows.  They were both in a lot of pain at the end of the bike season last year.  I saw my doc twice, and did a bunch of rehab in the gym.  My left elbow is completely better, and my right elbow is much, much better.  The right elbow will hurt if I sleep on it incorrectly, which will make it achy for a couple of days, but lately I’ve noticed it not hurting as much.  And on the ride, my left elbow was totally fine, but the right one was achy.  It seemed totally fine after the ride.  So, for now, will try to limit my rides to an hour or so, continue rehab in the gym, and hope I can keep it under control.

I believe my elbow problems could be due to my bike fit not being right.  Will try to get to a real bike shop for a real fitting, and get everything properly adjusted.

I have been concerned I won’t have enough miles under my belt before the race, but, when I last did this race, in 2008, my first time on the bike was only 10 days before the race, and I only got 34 miles in ahead of time.  This year, I’ll have twice as many days, and should be fine…

In other news, Rhode Races (Providence Marathon) is in 54 days!

Written by SCL

March 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

Posted in bike

Coogan’s Salsa Blues and Shamrock 5k Race Report

with 3 comments

Ran one of my favorite races today, Coogan’s Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5k.  It is loads of fun, from getting to tour around and hang out at the amazing Armory on 168th, to the electric atmosphere out on the streets, to the many many kids running on the course.  The only downer on this race are the multiple hills to endure.  Every time I run this race, I forget a bit about how bad the hills are, and then surprise myself how well I perform on them.  This year was no exception!

Last year, I set a PR, finishing in 24:47.  In fact, I also set one on this course in 2007, 25:34.  The reality is that I don’t have many 5k opportunities, and so this being really the only non cross country 5k course I’ve run since 2001, I am able to PR it even though it is very challenging.

This race tends to be on the chilly side, but today was really nice, and warm in the sun, and seemingly no wind.  Perfect conditions for a PR.  I again perfectly executed the race day logistics.  First, was able to find a parking spot on 181, near where I was planning to go to brunch.  Then, made it to the Armory to get my number before it got insane.  Then, used the bathroom and checked my bag before they got insane as well.

Was lined up in my corral by 8:40.  I really hate to complain about anything about this day, but I do have to stop and complain about the corral setup.  First, at 8:40 AM, 20 minutes before race time, they were only just trying to put up the tape that separated one corral from another, while tons of runners were already milling around.  Second, The corral entrances were very confusing, especially at the 2000 and 3000, where I was.  Nobody seemed to know exactly where to go.  Third, there did not seem to be any volunteers at the corrals.  And finally, there was no effort at all to keep slow people out of the up front corrals, and many slow runners were up front, who I had to dodge and weave around in the first mile.

OK, that said, I loved the experience, even with the dodging and weaving necessary in mile 1.  I thought long and hard about my race strategy, even writing up some notes for Michelle as it was her first time on the course, and I even read my blog post from last year to help remind me how it goes, and get myself mentally into the flow.  I was putting everything possible into my own mental preparation to go for the PR.

I’ll just give you the high level blow-by-blow of the race.  For me, the interesting details are in the preparation, and not in the delivery.  That said, in terms of highlights, mile 1 was rough because of the weaving about, but held back a little and tried to stay consistent – 8:00.  In mile 2, the course opened up and I was able to focus on form and pace.  First a long downhill into Fort Tryon park, and then a long downhill uphill out.  Stayed within myself, but pushed the uphill – 7:57.  Mile 3 is where the rubber hits the road.  Uphill continues out of the park, then downhill, then a nasty 4 block uphill halfway through.  Last half mile is downhill, and I gave it all I got – 7:44.  Last .1 was .43, for a finishing time of 24:27, a new PR by 20 seconds!

Afterwards, had a nice brunch with Michelle, and Amy and her husband Dave.  They walked us over afterwards to an amazing overlook of the Hudson River, palisades area, and GW Bridge.  In fact, it is the spot where there was a giant landslide in 2005, almost 5 years ago, and apparently just finally now all fixed up.

Anyway, great race, and looking forward to running it again next year, and bringing my PR time down again!

Time – 24:26

Pace – 7:52

Overall – 1529 / 5629

Age Group – 221 / 502

Written by SCL

March 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Race Report

Tagged with

Long Overdue Blogroll Update

with 3 comments

Yes, I know, I hardly ever post on here it seems.  Even more rarely is it that I update the surrounding administrivia.  Tonight, for some odd reason, decided to update the blogroll.  These new additions are ALL worth checking out and are all inspirations to me…

Tomorrow is Coogan’s 5k.  Fun race, should be perfect conditions, and I’m gunning for a PR (24:47), which will NOT be easy.  Of course, when you’ve run 36 of them, shouldn’t be easy!

Written by SCL

March 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Reflections