4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for July 2010

Time to reset my training

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I’ve had a bumpy road the last couple of months, with shingles, bad toe blister and then a bad cold.  Also, had been triathlon training.  My 2 summer tri’s are done, and although I have another coming up Oct 3, my training focus now will be on the Chicago Marathon, which is 10-10(-10).  Will definitely try to run some more, and continue to swim and bike once per week each.

My first long run was weekend before last, and I only made it to 10 miles.  Trying to figure out when to get the next long run in, which should be this weekend, but I have some family vaca time coming up and don’t know when or where I can squeeze the long run in.  Will play it be ear I suppose, but time is going to start to run out, as the marathon is, I think, only 10 weeks away from this coming Sunday.


Written by SCL

July 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm

New Jersey State Triathlon Race Report

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I raced in the olympic distance New Jersey State Triathlon on Sunday, which is held in Mercer County Park, in the south central part of the state, not too far from Princeton.  It is the largest triathlon in New Jersey, and is very well run.  They have a sprint on Sat and the olympic on Sunday, which keeps the overall number of participants down for each day.  There were 1350 sprint finishers and 913 olympic finishers.  I was 837 out of 913, and 100 out of 101 in my age group.  I lost 14 minutes with a flat tire on the bike, which cost me a good 60 places overall, and a couple of spots in my age group.  In all, really had a lot of fun in the race, despite having to swim with no wetsuit (which was frightening to me), getting a flat on the bike, and having to run in the extreme heat and humidity.  Would definitely do this race again!

Race started at 7:30am.  Left my house before 5am to arrive before 6am, to make sure I had plenty of time to get ready to go.

Swim – 50:17 – I am not a swimmer at all and never did an open water swim with no wetsuit.  Wetsuits were not allowed as the water temperature was 86 degrees.  I was very slow, and kept getting asked by the lifeguards if I was OK!  Got passed by many waves behind me.  But slow and steady does get it done, and I was surprisingly not last out of the water, a good 35-40 people were slower than me

T1 – 3:41 – with no wetsuit, transition time was much faster than previous races!

Bike – 1:40:39 – at 25.5 miles, was actually longer than the typical 40k of an olympic distance bike ride.  As mentioned, I lost 14 minutes with a flat tire.  Boo!  Otherwise the ride was great.  I averaged 18 MPH on the flat course and was happy with it.

T2 – 2:10 – scarfed down an entire sports bottle of Gatorade and took my time getting things done

Run – 1:15:11 –  the run was simply brutal.  The temps were up to about 90 degrees and the dewpoint was pretty high in the upper 60’s.  There was also a lot of sunshine.  While the run course had shady places, about half of it was in the sun.  Did a lot of walking.  There were thankfully plenty of water stops, and at some of them, they managed to have cold water.  Some also had ice, and at 4.7 miles, they had towels dipped in ice cold water, which was amazing, and helped me run much of the last 1.5 miles into the finish.  As horrible as the run felt to me, and as slow as it seemed, this was my best placing in the individual events.  I finished 717 on the run so outran most everyone that was at the back of the pack like me.  In fact, way more than half of the field took longer than 1 hour to run the 10k, which gives you an indication of how rough it was.

Overall time – 3:51:55

In summary, really enjoyed this race, my 2nd olympic distance tri and 5th overall.  I have room to improve in all areas, and am looking forward to my next tri, on Oct 3, in Red Bank NJ.

Written by SCL

July 27, 2010 at 6:45 am

Posted in Race Report, triathlon

My Bout with Shingles

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It started with a tingling feeling in my back, exploded into a very uncomfortable rash, and then slowly got better after a few weeks.  The ‘it’ was Shingles, and wow it was rough.  Shingles is a re-emergence of chicken pox, caused by stress.  You can only get shingles if you have already had chicken pox, and while contagious, you can only pass the chicken pox to others that have not had it before or have not been vaccinated, but you cannot pass shingles itself.

Here’s a description of how it went down for me.

First symptoms

At the end of May, over Memorial Day weekend, I took a business trip to Nairobi, Kenya.  Very exciting trip to take, but a long way from home.  Was certainly quite stressed out about work, about leaving my family for a week, and the long trip is a stress on the body also.  Left on Saturday night, flew to Amsterdam and continued onto Nairobi.  In all more than a 25 hour door to door trip.  I expected to be a bit jet-lagged and to take a couple of days to get over it.  On Monday evening, I ran on the treadmill in the hotel gym.  With a 20 minute limit, I could only run a little more than 2 miles, and felt fine.  On Tuesday morning, went to treadmill again, and was able to get 40 minutes in.  However, when I came off the treadmill, I felt incredibly dizzy and run down.  I attributed it to the 6000 feet of altitude where Nairobi is located and didn’t think much of it.  That day was a Kenyan holiday and I was off from work.  Spent the day napping and just feeling out of it.  I think it was after that when I noticed I felt a bit tingly in my back.  It is similar to the feeling I get when I am about to get sick with a fever.  Tried to make sure I got lots of sleep the rest of the week, and did not run any more.

In the next couple of days, I didn’t feel any more sick, but that tingly feeling remained.  Thursday night I headed home, another very long trip, through Dubai, and arrived in New York Friday morning.  I was not feeling sick at all, but still had that tingly feeling in my back.  I just figured it was due to the long travel and jet lag, and my wife and I headed out for a weekend we had planned in Middlebury Vt.  Drove up to Vermont on Friday.  On Friday night, I first noticed a rash forming on my chest.

The next day, the rash seemed worse, but I went out on a bike ride that I had planned, and felt very fatigued.


It was after the disappointing bike ride that I started to research what the problem might be.  It didn’t take long, after some searching on the internet, to start seeing references to shingles.  After looking at pictures of people with shingles, and looking at my rash, I was reasonably sure that is what I had.  At that time, it was not painful, and not even uncomfortable.  The rash was just forming, but was not inhibiting me in any way.  The telltale sign was that the rash was only on my right side and in a band from my chest around to my back.  After some more research, I found that it was important to get a diagnosis from your doctor within 48 hours of the start of the rash, to start antiviral medication that helps to limit the severity of the rash.  Since I was far from home, and would not be able to see my doctor for another 2 days, I decided to go to the emergency room in Middlebury.  This was actually a pleasant experience, and we were in and out in no time, with some medication and prescription to be filled.  From that point, just watched the rash get worse and worse and started to feel very uncomfortable.


The most interesting thing about my shingles was that I was not ever in a lot of pain.  I was in some pain and I was very uncomfortable, especially when wearing a shirt, but it was not the kind of pain you hear people talk about that have had shingles before.  I stayed home from work on Monday and Tuesday.  On Tuesday, I was able to get in to see my doctor, and she was amazed that I was not in more pain, based on how I looked, and attributed it to my active lifestyle!  I was signed up for a triathlon that coming Sunday morning, and my doctor strongly advised me not to run it.  She said that I could start exercising again once the rash started healing over.

By Wednesday, there was definitely some healing in the rash, but it had a long way to go.  Since it was all covered by my clothing, and I was not in a lot of pain, I decided to go back to work.  At that point, I was just hoping for enough healing for me to race in the triathlon on Sunday.  As each day went by, the rash was a little better, but I had a couple of big ones on my side and back and those continued to hurt and feel bad when wearing clothing.  When Sunday came around, I skipped the race simply because the rash was not healed yet and I was afraid the wetsuit and the 2 hours of sweating would set it back.  So continued to rest.

Besides the pain and the uncomfortableness of the rash itself, the biggest issue for me was the medication.  It really did a number on my stomach, and the entire week I took the medication I had severe stomach issues.  Each day was a struggle.

Finally, on Sunday I stopped the medication and my stomach started getting back to normal, and by the following Wednesday, I felt that there was enough healing in the rash that I could go for a run.  While I was still uncomfortable while wearing a shirt, I found that I felt perfectly fine running!  That first day, I just ran a rough 4 miler, but I continued to run every single day, in fact for 15 days straight!

It probably took another week for the rash to completely heal to the point where I didn’t feel any pain or uncomfortableness anymore.  For several weeks afterwards the rash was still visible on my body, and now, almost 2 months later, has about completely faded away.  In all, it was about 3-4 days before the rash formed, almost 2 weeks for the rash to heal, and then another week until I felt all better again.

While this was a rough thing to go through, I am very thankful it was not as bad for me as it could have been.  I’ve also learned a lot of about this disease, and found that it is common in older people, where it can be debilitating.  In fact, there is vaccination available that is more commonly given people over 60.  While I’ve been told it is rare for the same person to get shingles twice, I’ve anecdotally heard that it is in fact possible.  At least now I’m aware of the warning signs and perhaps would be able to start taking medication sooner to further limit the extent of the damage.

Written by SCL

July 27, 2010 at 6:21 am

Posted in sick

Providence Rhode Races Report

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(2 months late, but better late than never.  The reality is that I was not happy with how I did and was simply not excited to write about the race.  The first section was written in the 2 weeks following the race)
  • Time – 4:46:29
  • Place – 696/948
  • Age Group – 152/192

Well, this is not the type of report I thought I would be writing.  On Sunday, on immediate reflection, I was happy with my finishing time.  The day was humid and warm, and the sun was strong.  The water stops were sparse and the course was not exciting.  Given that, my time was respectable.

However, after stewing on it for a couple of days, I’m finding that I’m really unhappy with how I did.  I’m coming away from this event with more drive and interest in properly getting it done next time.  In fact, it was in the late stages of the race, trudging through the tough late miles, that I finally realized why I keep coming back for more. (this was my 12th marathon)  This is the only distance, so far, that I have not been able to ‘defeat’.  I clearly can race short distance events, and can even ‘race’ a half marathon.  I can run a half marathon where my fastest miles are the last 2.  However, I constantly feel like I’m getting ‘defeated’ at the marathon distance, by not being able to properly finish the race by running well in the last 10k, or not taking significant walk breaks, like I had to do on Sunday starting at the 15 mile mark.

I will be focusing on tri’s over the next 2 months, and then I can’t wait to hit the training hard for my next marathon.  I think I will try to run less, but make them more intense efforts.  I think adding more intensity to my routine workouts will enable me to race deeper into the events.  We will see, and I’m excited about the challenge.  Anyway, on to my report…


I left the above intact as it is my raw reaction to how the race went in the days after I ran it.  I can recognize the troubles from that day as simply just having a hard time in the humidity.  I’ve been dealing with it daily over the last month here in NYC where the heat and humidity has been out of control this summer.

Since so much time has gone by, I’ll just list some highlights of the day and the race

  • Love out of town races where I stay in a hotel that is close to the race site.  Stayed within a 5 minute walk to the start area, so was able to sleep in, relatively speaking, compared to other marathons I’ve done.
  • Start area was very informal, and it was great to hear Ian Brooks as the pre race announcer.  Over the years, he has been the announcer at many NYRR races, and the familiar voice was quite settling.
  • Was feeling strong in the early miles.  While it was a humid day, the early temps were not super hot.  I got messed up a little because I thought the race was relatively flat, but there ended up being a few unexpected hills in the early miles.  I confused a medium hill at the 4-5 mile spot with the larger hill that we wouldn’t hit until the 7-8 mile range, and think I ended up working too hard on the hills, all told.
  • While it was an out and back course, it was done in such a way that you never really ended up mingling with people in other stages of the race.  Many of the miles were on great biking trails.  Providence really has some marvelous biking trails.
  • The wheels started coming off for me around mile 15.  Once we got to that stage, the sun started coming out, and the temps rose considerably.  It seemed like the back portion of the race was into the sun, and every time the sun came out, I just felt completely wilted, and lost all will to run.  Spent a lot of time walking the remainder of the race
  • That leads to the one real complaint I had, which was that there were not enough water stops, and in the later stages of the race, the Gatorade stops ran out of Gatorade.
  • Really enjoyed the camaraderie with other runners out on the course in the late stages.  We kept passing each other, as we were all walk/running, and having a hard time dealing with the heat.
  • They had a great post race spread, including beer and pizza!  Never was served a post-race beer before, so that was neat.  I did pass on the pizza though.  Maybe that was fine for the 5k and half marathon participants, but just thinking about pizza after that marathon made me feel sick!

Anyway, disappointed by my performance in this race, and looking forward to redeeming myself in future efforts.  I may not be able to get back to where I want to be by 10-10-10 for Chicago, but I’m planning to run First Light Marathon in January, and for that race I expect to be in tip-top shape, and beat my PR!

Here were my splits:

  1. 9:14
  2. 9:13
  3. 9:26
  4. 9:34
  5. 9:49
  6. 9:37
  7. 9:44
  8. 9:51
  9. 9:45
  10. 9:47
  11. 10:02
  12. 10:33
  13. 10:09
  14. 10:15
  15. 10:30
  16. 12:18
  17. 11:43
  18. 12:14
  19. 12:15
  20. 12:51
  21. 13:15
  22. 13:28
  23. 11:41
  24. no split here
  25. 24:20
  26. no split here
  27. 14:46 for last 1.2 miles

Written by SCL

July 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm

June 2010 in Review

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I’m sure I’ve driven most of you away with the lack of updates on my blog.  I think my less than stellar showing at the Rhode Races marathon put me into a bit of a blog depression that I’ve been unable to get out of, probably due to the extremely hot and humid weather we’ve had all summer, which has continued to hamper my running performance.  Now, I’ve decided it is time to start blogging again.  We are right in the middle of triathlon season, and I’m in the early stages of training for the Chicago Marathon, and I’ve got big plans over the next 6 months.  I need something to hold me accountable, and I think this blog may just be the place 🙂

June was a rough month for me.  I started the month on a business trip to Nairobi, Kenya.  The trip was great, but while I was there, I wasn’t feeling so great.  Shortly after I got back to the US, I noticed a rash that turned out to be Shingles.  Ouch!  I actually was very lucky.  My Shingles was very uncomfortable for about 2 weeks, but I never experienced the kind of nerve pain you hear so much about.  Sometimes that nerve pain takes months to go away, and sometimes it never goes away, so I’m lucky I didn’t have it.  In fact, when I saw my doctor, she said I was 7-8 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being a bad case, and was very surprised I was in such little pain, based on how I looked, and attributed it to my active lifestyle.   Boo-ya!

Anyway, on with the update:


Running – 76 miles over 16 runs.  I ran on June 1, felt like crap the rest of the week, then found I had Shingles.  Didn’t run again until June 15.  So, how does one get 16 runs in a month with taking 2 weeks off?  That’s right, by running 15 days straight!  Which I somehow managed to do!  Ran every day, usually in the early morning, and my shortest run was 4 miles.  I was so frustrated at my extended time off that I resolved to run every day for as long as possible.  I made it to the end of June, and then ended up with several toe blisters, one of which was really bad and sidelined me for a few days in early July.  Anyway, super happy with the overall effort considering I had 2 weeks off.  As of the end of June, I had 522.6 miles for the month, on course for 1000 for the year!  Those miles are more than I had in 5 entire years over the last 11 years of record keeping!

Races – 0 (I had to skip the Harriman State Park tri as my rash hadn’t quite healed before race day)

Biking – 47.6 miles over 3 rides.  With time off, and focus on running, didn’t ride enough, but these were quality rides.

Swims – 0 – yikes.  That is not good when you are training for triathlons!

Gym workouts – none

Softball – 1 loss

Injuries – Developed nasty blister at the end of the month that kept me from running for a few days, and took more than a week to heal up.

Sicknesses – 1 (Shingles)

Written by SCL

July 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Month End Summary