4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for September 2010

Sept 2010 in Review

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Running – 84.7 miles over 13 runs.  Probably not as many miles as I would like in my last month before a marathon, but it was my second consecutive month over 80 miles, so I’ll take it.  At 764.8 miles, I am still on target for my goal of 1000 miles for the year.  I’m very pleased that every month this year has been over 70 miles.   That is off-the-charts amazing for me, and previously thought unthinkable!  In fact, with 3 months to go in the year, I’ve out-run every single year in my history besides last year, when I only had another 36 miles, with 801 for the year.  Quite an accomplishment for me!

Races – 1 (NYC Marathon Tune-Up – 3:15:54)

Biking – 70.7 miles over 3 rides.  50 miles came in a single day, when I went up to Piermont, over Labor Day weekend.  I’ve only been on the bike once in the last 3 weeks, which is no good as I have a triathlon coming up this weekend!  I have 485 miles for the year, which keeps me on target for my other goal of 1500 run/bike miles for 2010.  485 is also the most bike miles I’ve had in any year since I bought the bike in 2007.

Swims – 1 – Definitely not enough triathlon training for this weekend!

Gym workouts – none

Softball – 2 wins!

Injuries – Back spasm (mild) set me back 3 days.  Also badly messed up my pinkie toe after the 18 mile race.

Sicknesses – none


Written by SCL

September 30, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Posted in Month End Summary

10 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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10 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I got another late run in, pushing the distance up to 7.9 miles.  It felt good.  I didn’t feel like I would be able to go another 18.3 miles, but I’m sure on race day in Chicago it will not be nearly as windy or as humid.  At least I hope not.  NYC was super humid and super windy today, and my run route took me down the East River, into the wind, and then back up the East River, with the wind.  With a temp of 74 and dewpoint of 74, it was very very very humid and uncomfortable.  I had a bottle of Powerade with me that I drank about every 2 miles.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my week, after suffering a back spasm last Friday.  I ran 4 times since Sunday, for 22.5 miles.  And, if I do an easy run Sat, and the 5 miles required by my triathlon on Sunday, I’ll have 27 miles for this week, easily my highest week in my marathon training where there were no long run.  Then I’ll be satisfied to taper in the last week before the race.

This week was made tougher both because I attended a conference in NYC the last couple of days, meaning long days, lavish dinners, and poor eating all around.  The other challenge this week is that my wife left yesterday to San Francisco for the weekend and won’t be back until Monday.  So I carefully need to plan my workouts around my kids’ schedules.  I can leave them alone together, but I cannot leave Katie alone.  I also cannot go out in the mornings.  So, will make the most of what I can this week.

Hardest part of today’s run was heartburn and a bit of a side stich early on, from my poor eating habits today.  In addition to the too much soda, and generally bad eating, I had taken Katie out for pizza tonight and had a slice myself.  I thought I was OK to run, but the heartburn came right away at the start of the run, but did fade away to annoyance by the 3rd mile.

I was chatting today at the conference with someone I know from Chicago, and it turned out she ran the marathon last year.  That was nice, and inspiring!

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Written by SCL

September 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

11 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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11 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today I was too busy to think much about it.  I did get a run in early this morning, which was a bonus, but then didn’t have a chance to think about it the rest of the day.

I’m attending a conference here in NYC, which means long days and late dinners.  Was home late last night after dinner (with wine).  Still managed to get up at 5am, and get a 4.4 mile run in before helping to get Katie ready for school.  Then was at the meeting all day, which was followed by another late dinner with wine!

My run this morning was actually great.  Pushed a steady hard pace, made possible by the distinctly lower dewpoint, compared to prior days.  Ran 4.4 miles in about 41 minutes, and felt pretty good.  It was my 3rd run in the last 4 days (14.6 miles total), and things are feeling smoother now.  Also, my back continues to improve.  I’m hoping to get a longish run in tomorrow night, then take the day off Friday, and an easy run Saturday before the Red Bank triathlon on Sunday.

Once that is done, I’ll be able to turn my full attention to the Chicago Marathon.

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Written by SCL

September 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm

12 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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12 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I’m nursing myself back to health, hopefully.  My back is still a bit tight at times, but running is manageable. 

Last night I had a very strong 6.2 mile workout along the East River.  While my time was a little on the slow side (9:50 pace), the effort was outstanding.  It was late, and rainy, so it was pretty deserted, and peaceful, in a gritty sort of way.  The humidity was rough, and it was only the occasional breezes and cool rain that allowed me to get through it.  I intend to push myself in my runs the next few days, and hopefully peak right around 10-10.

On a related note, while most people are heading into their taper now, I have come to realize that there is no taper for me.  My entire set of training seems to have been one long taper.  For one reason or another, I just not have put the necessary miles in to have something to back away from, which is essentially what a taper should be.  My high mileage weeks have been around 30 miles, due to a single long run in those weeks.  My other weeks are only in the 15 mile range.  Therefore, I have no need to taper, and rather need to push myself a little in the next 9 days, so I’ll be primed on race day.

On a final note, yesterday I was perusing some old posts.  I happened on Sept 2008, and I was struck by all the challenges I faced that month.  In particular, I had 2 really, really bad races (here and here), and it just helped to put things in perspective for me.  That Nov 2, I ran my fastest NYC Marathon ever, and followed that up in Feb 09 with my most amazing marathon ever.  Just goes to show that even when things are looking down, there are other factors at work, and if you pursue your goal with vigor, good things will come.

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Written by SCL

September 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

13 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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13 days to the Chicago Marathon!  This morning I rested and slept in, until 6am.  My back is still a bit tight and stiff in places, and I think a little worse after my 4 mile run yesterday, so decided to take it easy this morning.  My intention is to exercise tonight, late in the day, so I can just take it easy afterwards.  I was scheduled to play softball tonight, but that was cancelled due to rain.  That will make it easier for me to get a run in, and then take it easy afterwards.

Otherwise, I’m just really looking forward to the fall weather coming into place, but it is just slow in happening.  Even now, when the temperature has dropped somewhat, the dewpoint and humidity is still high, and less than tolerable for my taste.  Right now, the temp is 69 deg, but the dewpoint is 66 deg, or sky high.  Yes, it will not be as bad as mid-summer, but it will still feel far too humid for me.  And it sounds like we can expect more of the same all the way through Thursday.

Here’s to hoping for good weather in Chicago on 10/10.  See the long range forecast here: http://www.myforecast.com/bin/expanded_forecast_15day.m?city=14745&metric=false

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Written by SCL

September 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm

14 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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14 days to the Chicago Marathon!  3 days into my back injury, and, it is feeling much better!  Enough so that I was able to run today, which is awesome!  On the one hand, I had about 20 miles planned for this weekend and only ended with 4, but on the other hand, at least I only lost 2 days of training.  Now need to take stock and determine if I’m up for the triathlon I’m signed up for on Sunday, in Red Bank.

So not only have I had this back issue, but also dealing with 2 other problems after my long run last Sunday.  Both on the right side.  The theory is that since my neck and lower back was tight on the left side for that run last week, I was overcompensating on the right side.    Not only did I destroy the pinkie toe on my right foot with a blister under the nail, but I’m also having shin pain on my right leg, in both of my last 2 runs.  I’m no stranger to shin pain also (a long history of minor injuries), so I know how to deal with it (I hope).

Regarding my pinkie toe, I’ve lost toenails before, but never completely obliterated the nail like I did this time.  Was able to clip out the entire thing, even the full cuticle!  There is now an empty cavity where the cuticle should go.  Definitely an odd sight, but I love the look of the baby new nail already trying to form on the skin.  And, the best news, no more pain in that toe at all!

Two weeks to the big day, and I’m 9 chapters into my motivational lift, A Race Like No Other, so now I’m officially starting to get excited.

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Written by SCL

September 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

15 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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15 days to the Chicago Marathon! And I am still a bit down for the count (back spasm yesterday), but it is not nearly as bad as I feared, or as bad as I’ve had it in prior back episodes. Really counting my blessings.

I stayed home from work yesterday, but was not relegated to bed all day, and it was not terribly painful to stand up, sit down, roll over in bed, etc. More of just an annoying uncomfortableness, than the kind of nerve and muscle pain I’m used to dealing with my back. In fact, I was able to my family down to our weekend house in NJ last night. I am able to get in and out of the car with just minimal stiffness and pain. And, since my lower back and neck are OK, I have almost full mobility in the car.

Today will be a full day of rest. Tomorrow I’ll probably start some light stretching and core work, and maybe be able to start running again by Monday or Tuesday. I have softball on Monday night, and weather permitting, I hope to be able to join.

Last night I was checking out where my hotel is in relation to the race, since I know next to nothing about Chicago. Looks like I’m less than a mile from the start, and the course winds around near the hotel at least 3 times, so maybe my family will be inspired to watch for a bit???

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Written by SCL

September 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm

16 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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16 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And in the wee hours of this morning, the other shoe dropped.  Severe back spasm in the night, and I’m down for the count.  I predicted this in my post just yesterday:

“Third, my back is very tight for some reason, which makes me nervous.  I’m concerned that I will do something to hurt it in the next 2 weeks.”

Ironically, I had a good session with my personal trainer yesterday, where we took it a bit easy and reviewed all the core stuff I should be working on to prevent just this type of injury!  I felt great after the workout, and the tightness I had been feeling the last few days seemed to be getting better.

I’m very familiar with the routine here.  I do this every1-2 years.  This time, I’m thankful:

  1. It happened at home, so I could be in bed right away, and not go out and suffer at work on injury-day-1 or have to travel home from somewhere, like I did the last time this happened at the end of the NYC Triathlon last year.
  2. It is mid back, sort of under the left shoulder, so no pain in neck/shoulder and no pain in lower back – I still have a good range of motion.
  3. I have no major races or events this weekend AND that it happened with 16 days to go to the marathon.  This typically takes 10 days to full recovery for me.

I should be OK for the marathon, although with lowered expectations.

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Written by SCL

September 24, 2010 at 8:57 am

17 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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17 days to the Chicago Marathon!  Decided to rest this morning. 

First, my right pinkie toe is still a big fat mess.  I snipped out almost the entire old nail, drained the blister again, and am hoping for the best.  Yesterday, it was very painful to walk in shoes, and today it is thankfully much better, but the toe is tender.  Second, I have my session with my personal trainer today, so want to be fully rested for that.  Third, my back is very tight for some reason, which makes me nervous.  I’m concerned that I will do something to hurt it in the next 2 weeks.

I recently finished up the last book I was reading (classic sci-fi, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) and perused my Goodreads ‘to read’ list for another book.  A Race Like No Other, by Liz Robbins, was on the list, and I had completely forgotten I have the book and never read it.  This is the perfect time to read it.  For one, I’m not running NYC this year, and will miss it.  I’ve run NYC 7 times, but do not expect to run it in the next 5 years.  Will be a little trip down memory lane.  Second, that book will be the perfect motivation in the 2 weeks leading up to the Chicago Marathon.  If I can cover 2 chapters a day, I’ll finish before my race.

Last thing I want to tackle today is the new race NYRR has announced, the NYRR 5, a 5 mile race in Central Park, to be held on the Friday morning before the NYC Marathon.  On Twitter, I’ve seen nothing but people bad mouthing it, and complaining about how expensive it is, at $40 for members.  Yes, it is expensive.  But no, it is not geared towards those of us that live in NYC and run/race in Central Park all the time.  It is meant for runners that are coming from out-of-town, and have friends or family that want a chance to feel some of the New York City Marathon excitement of running in Central Park.  Or, for those of us not running the marathon, but want a way to participate as well.

Please allow me to get up on my soapbox again (as if you have a choice!), and repeat what I tried to tell people when they complained about the NYC Half Marathon.  THEY DO NOT NEED YOU (or me, or any one of us).  THEY ARE NOT MARKETING THIS TO YOU.  THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE NECESSARY TO PARTICIPATE IN A WORLD CLASS EVENT IN A WORLD CLASS CITY ON A WORLD CLASS WEEKEND.  There are plenty of other races going on around town for us to choose from, and this is precisely the reason why I rarely run NYRR races anymore.

OK, I’ll step down now.  I feel better.

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Written by SCL

September 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

18 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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18 days to the Chicago Marathon!  Wheee – this daily blogging thing is fun…

So since Sunday, my right pinkie toe has been bothering me.  Generally speaking, my toes are a mess and hideous, but that one in particular is bad, and was uncomfortable since the run Sunday.  Last night I decided to try to care for it by trimming the nail and removing the dead skin, etc.  As soon as I cut the nail though, it started draining like a blister.  That’s right, I had a blister under the toenail!  At least I knew why it was painful, and hopefully it will now heal in a couple of days.  Fun stuff, and definitely perfectly normal for this stage of marathon training…

With no runs Monday and Tuesday, and mostly likely not able to run tomorrow, I really needed to get a run in this morning.  However, I needed to be done by 6:30 as my wife needed to be out of the house early.  So, up at 5, out before 5:30, and completed 4 miles in the darkness before 6:30.

The run was hard.  First, I had the pain in my right pinkie toe.  Second, I never felt comfortable early and felt a bit of shin splint coming on in the first miles.  Thankfully the shin was not too bad and did fade.  I hope it does not become more chronic in these last training weeks.  Lastly, was heading into the wind for first half, which slowed things down.  Overall, finished the 4 miles in 40:02.

Today is the end of summer.  Buh bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!  Unfortunately, summer will get the last word here in NY as the temps are supposed to be in the mid 80’s the next 3 days.  I’m sure it will be accompanied by humidity.  UGH!

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Written by SCL

September 22, 2010 at 6:13 am