4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Great long run!

leave a comment »

Sorry to all of you that care about my training, but I’ve had very little time to blog about my training for the Rhode Races Marathon, coming up in 6 weeks (EDIT: umm, 4 weeks due to delays in getting this post finished!), on May 2.  My training has gone really, really well this year, and I’m looking forward to a great race.

Saturday (actually 2 Saturdays ago now, as I’m pathetic about making time to write) was a big test for me to see where I am with my fitness.  It was the third of four planned long runs leading to the race.  This run was 20.3 miles, a giant loop starting on 14th St in Manhattan, heading down to Manhattan Bridge, then up through Brooklyn and Queens to the RFK Bridge, to Randall’s Island, back to Manhattan and 5.5 miles down 1st Ave to the end.  See map here. I love this course.  I love the fact that it is one giant loop.  I’m not good with smaller loops.  A friend asked if I’d be running loops in the park, and the clear answer to that is NO.  That doesn’t work so well for me.  It is too easy to give in and quit early.  Therefore, I plan my long runs so that I end at home and the only way to end early is to get on a subway.  I’ve done that before as well, but it is pretty rare.

Anyway, back to the run.  I wanted to get a nice early start, as the day was to be warm and sunny, but that wasn’t meant to be.  I definitely take my time getting out of the house, to make sure I don’t forget anything and also to make sure I’ve taken care of any GI needs.  I also made sure to eat some breakfast at least 30 minutes before getting out.  That all added up to a 9am start.

As I went through this run, a theme emerged.  And this is one I think can be applied to distance running in general.  It goes something like this: “And Scott WINS in a 20 round TKO!”  The entire run, I was breaking it down into logical segments, generally because I would drink after each one.  However, in the last 5.5 miles down 1st Ave, which is deceptively hilly by the way, I visualized the uphills as rounds of a boxing match, and the subsequent downhills as the recovery time between rounds.  Mentally, this really, really worked for me at the end of the run.  The hills beat me down, but DID NOT knock me out.  At the end, I was the one standing, and was awarded the TKO.  When I wrote it out, ended up with only 19 ’rounds’, but hey, literary license is allowed!

Early Miles (5 segments)

  • To Manhattan Bridge (mile 1.4) – Down 1st Ave and Allen St to Manhattan Bridge.  I was in the shade for this portion, and just took it real easy.  Had to speed it up to get through Houston on the green light, and miraculously was able to get through Delancey without having to stop for red light.
  • Over Manhattan Bridge (mile 3) – mostly uneventful.  I went on the bike side, not the pedestrian side.  I really don’t think of myself as a pedestrian when I run, and I am very careful to move all the way over as far as possible when a bike is coming.  There were a bunch of bikers, but not nearly as many as you would see on Bklyn or Williamsburg Bridges.  Few casual pedestrians as well.
  • Around the Bklyn Navy Yard (mile 4.4) – Sand St Bike lane to Flushing Ave all the way around to Franklin/Wythe. (mile 4.4) – Nice area to run.  While the traffic is fast, there is not a lot of traffic, and no cross traffic because of the Navy Yard.  Here the sun was shining down, from the right side.
  • Wythe around to Williamsburg Bridge (mile 5.5) – This is a very peaceful area, with some great views of Manhattan and the bridge.  Hasidic area, and lots of people out and about, presumably walking to synagogue on Sat morning.  Still feeling great, had a nice steady pace going.  Still working on first Gatorade bottle.
  • Continue on Wythe to end, becomes Norman, to Manhattan Ave (mile 6.8) – Wythe continues to be very quiet in north Williamsburg, and was able to keep a great steady pace going.  At the end, took my first break to buy a water at a bodega.

In summary, these early miles were easy, as they should be in a long run.  After the 1st mile though, the sun was a constant factor.  The relative calm of the streets allowed me to fall into a nice steady pace.  Again, I broke down the run into segments, but more for making the time pass, and executing my hydration plan, it was not as mentally needed here as it was later in the run.

Middle Miles (6 segments)

  • McGuiness over the Pulaski Bridge (mile eight) – In past runs, I would take Manhattan Ave, or McGuiness itself, but they are both crowded with cars, leaving a narrow space for running.  I recently discovered the bike lane on Leonard, which is perfect to use.  So Leonard to GreenPoint Ave, then down the little hill to McGuiness and then over the Pulaski Bridge.  Very little shade here as well, but was pleasantly surprised I was easily able to get up and over the bridge.  Once over the Bridge, when I crossed over on Jackson Ave, stopped in a shade spot to take my first Gu and drink a bunch of water.
  • 21st St past Queensboro Bridge, to 40th Ave (9.2 miles) – Jackson to 21st St, left on 21st St, and up all the way to bridge.  Heavy traffic area, but lots of room on the road.  Still feeling good.
  • Make way to Crescent, and up to RFK Bridge (11 miles)  – little jig-jagging through industrial streets to get to Crescent, and then Crescent all the way to bridge.  When this long run doesn’t go well, this is the segment when I start to tire, and notice the aches and pains.  But this time, just felt great and kept the nice steady pace going.  Just before the bridge, I stopped to get a new water, and was craving a banana.  However, the 2 bodegas I stopped in both did not have fruit.  So went without.  Frankly, I didn’t miss it,and wasn’t even starving at the end, so this is more of a mind over matter issue I need to deal with.
  • RFK Bridge (12.5) – Main span of the bridge has some spectacular views.  And it was such a clear day, I felt like I could see all the way out to Long Island.  Was really happy to see the old construction GONE – see my blog post on the subject.  Continuing theme of endless sunshine and no shade.
  • Randall’s Island (13.5) – The end of the bridge drops you off more on the south end of the island, and you need to run on the road to get up to the pedestrian path to Manhattan or Bronx.  Was also nice to see that the road construction here is finally finished as well.  Road is nice blacktop now, have not seen that in a long time here.  They are still missing painted bike lanes.  There really should be one, and maybe that will be done this upcoming year?
  • Pedestrian Bridge to Manhattan (14.5) – walked up the steep ramps to the bridge proper, and at that point inhaled my 2nd Gu, and gobbled down a bunch of water.  Worked into the run again as I came off the bridge and around the bend to 1st Ave and 126th St, 112 blocks, and 5.5 miles) from home.

Last Miles (8 segments)

  • to 96th St
  • Hill 1 peak at ~84th St
  • Hill 2 peak at ~70th St
  • Hill 3 peak at ~58th St
  • Hill 4 peak at ~50th St
  • Hill 5 peak at ~42nd St
  • Hill 6 peak at ~30th St
  • The end – 14th and Ave A

It was while I was working up the various hills on 1st Ave that I started thinking about the rounds of a boxing match analogy, and for me, at the end of a long run like this, with all the little rolling hills, it totally worked for me.  Battled up the hills, and then ‘sat in the corner’ on the downhills to recover.  I did not walk up any of these hills, and still felt strong going up the last hill.  The mistake I made was assuming I was done after the last hill, when in fact, I had almost a mile to go down to 14th St.  In the first half of the last mile I started feeling very weary, as if I was in ‘hitting the wall’ territory.  But I also knew how close I was to being done, and something flipped, and the last half mile ended up not being a problem.

Finished the 20.3 miles in 3:26:59, a 19 second PR from my previous best effort on this course!  This was a great run, and now I have one long run left as I work the last weeks of training for Rhode Races Marathon in Providence on May 2!


Written by SCL

April 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Posted in Rhode Races, running

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: