4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for December 2010

First Light Training Update

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Been awhile since I’ve posted an update of my training here.  With only 11 days remaining until the First Light Marathon, I’ve peaked my training and am now into my taper.  Highlights since I last gave a training update:

  • Week before last – I felt like I had been nursing sore calves and so worked hard to stretch and massage them out, and only went for two easy 4-mile runs during the week, down East River Park.  These were both early morning runs, before the sunrise, and I was surprised to see many people out there in the dark and cold.  On Tues 12/14, this including a covering of snow and flurries!  Topped out the week with an epic 21.3 mile run
  • Epic 21.3 mile run – On Sat 12/18, trekked up to Van Cortland Park for my last long run before marathon training.  Met up with Sharon as she lives near the park, and she stuck with me for the first 8+ miles, which included a loop of the soccer fields at VCP, and then down through Inwood and the top part of the west side greenway.  Then we split up and I continued with hills in Central Park and then the Queensboro and Williamsburg bridges.  It was a hard run, but I got it done, and felt comfortable that I’m ready for another 26.2
  • Ill-advised speedwork – 3 days after my long run I met up with Sharon and Josh in Central Park, and we did a hard (for me) loop of the park.  I was not prepared, didn’t warm up and didn’t stretch, and had a lot of trouble with both my shins and my calves.  I was actually limping for 2 days afterwards and in serious pain.  I need to be much smarter next time out – lesson learned!
  • Blizzard run – After getting some miles in on Saturday, on Sunday I was planning for a longish 10 mile run.  However, the NYC blizzard changed those plans.  Instead I did go out in the blizzard for a short run.  It was a really rough challenge, with the deep snow (5-6 inches when I went out) and the strong winds.  I thankfully had a turtleneck style shirt I could raise up over my mouth nose and cheeks for protection.  It was nasty.  I managed to get 3.3 tough miles in.
  • After 20 inches of snow, outdoor running is really difficult.  If I lived closer to Central Park or the west side, I’d have run outside, but in my neighborhood, the treadmill is the only option.  Ran on the treadmill last night, and managed 4.8 miles!

At this point, I’m safely in my taper.  I may do a longish run (6-10 miles) on New Years Eve evening, to make up the lost miles this past Sunday.  It would still give me 9 days to finish up my taper.

I leave you with some recent pictures:

Protecting myself from the elements on a blizzard run


My lonely blizzard footprints on the run in East River Park

My bridge (Williamsburg) illuminated in the blizzard!

Same bridge on the day before, a grey (but pretty to me) day


Happy Holidays!


Written by SCL

December 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

New York City Half Marathon #lotteryfail

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There was much uproar this week regarding the New York City Half Marathon.

In a nutshell, the lottery system was unfair to us New Yorkers, as we had about a 12% chance to make it through the lottery, where US and international folks had about a 72% chance to get in.  Really, that is no joke or typo.  This is inherently unfair, and NYRR has already taken steps to fix it.  I hope they do more.  Their official statements are here.

But really people, it is a lottery, you should expect not to make it.  Even if they allowed fewer non NY’ers, the odds were still stacked against you. 

I did enter the lottery, I did not get accepted, and it is fine with me.  I really did want to run, but I can think of other things to do with my money.  The big, and possibly only, problem I had with the process is that it just took “too damn” long.  In looking back at my records, I registered for the lottery on July 13.  That is JULY, over 5 months ago, and the race will not occur for 3 more months.  That length of time is insane!  And I didn’t even register on the first day.

I think NYC Triathlon has the lottery thing done right.  They opened the lottery on Nov 1, kept the lottery open for 3 days, and then immediately picked the winners.  No waiting for months, hanging in limbo, to see if you made it or not.  No dragged out registration period to inflate the number of people who want to sign up.  etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, it took about 5 minutes to get over my disappointment on Wednesday.  Thankfully, on that very day, a Twitter friend was posting about the Tough Mudder event he is planning to run, and asking for people to join him.  Now that sounds like a fine substitute to me!  Signed myself up today…

Written by SCL

December 17, 2010 at 11:20 am

Rainy Day Update

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Today is a rainy day in NYC.  I’m not feeling motivated to do much of anything this afternoon.  Can’t even watch the Giants game at 1pm due to the bad weather in Minneapolis.  The game was pushed to Monday, and then pushed to Detroit when the Metrodome roof caved!  So, this was the perfect time for a blog update and report on my training for the First Light Marathon, which is 4 weeks from today.

Speaking of the weather, I’ve been trying to understand what the weather might be like for the marathon.  Yes, Mobile Alabama is typically a warm place, and the average high is 60 degrees for the beginning of January.  However, last year it was 25 degrees at the race start and only got up into the 30’s, with a lot of wind.  So, it certainly can be cold, but it might also be very warm.  Not much I can do about it, other than cross my fingers and hope that it is a perfect day in the 40s and 50s!

Which brings me to today.  It was very rainy and very windy, and while I didn’t want to go out, I really felt like I needed to get the miles in.  Also, it is possible that marathon day will be in the 50’s and rainy, so it really is important to practice running and dressing in the conditions.  I decided for a run over the Manhattan Bridge and back.  I like to run down Ave A and Essex to Division St, which then leads over to the run side of the bridge.  On the Brooklyn side, I extend my run up the Sands St bike lane before I turn around.  In all, it is 6.8 miles with 2 good hills in the middle!  My other option is the Williamsburg Br, which I’ve run many times in the past.  However, that route is a mile shorter, and also that bridge is more crowded than the Manhattan Bridge.  Was happy with the choice to run over the Manhattan Br.  The rain was hard in the beginning, but then it tapered off in the middle, but came back with a vengeance for the finish.  It was quite windy throughout.

Yesterday I also went out for a run, 5.2 miles down the East River and back.  In the first half mile, I hit 1000 for the year, which was my goal and and a big milestone for me.  There will be more reflection at the end of the year, but I’m really happy with the miles I have been able to put in.  I believe next year will be more focused on biking, so I may not have another shot at 1000 miles in a year for awhile, so I will enjoy it while I have it!

In other news, I’m noticing that the pace of my normal runs is dropping, which I know is a direct result of all the speed work I’ve done.  My runs lately have been in the 9:15-9:30 range, rather than the 9:45-10 range that was typical.  I had signed up for the 10 week NYRR speed session which ends next week.  Unfortunately, I was only able to make 5 of the 10 sessions.  However, I did make up for it with 2 short distance races and 2 outings with @speedysasquatch and his speed crew in Central Park.  So in all, 9 hard speed efforts, and I’m definitely noticing the difference.

As for plans in the next few weeks, I have a doozie of a 21.5 miler planned for next weekend. See the planned route here.  Then I’m looking forward to a 3 week taper.  I set my last 2 long runs 3 weeks apart, and the last long run 3 weeks before the marathon.  I think providing this opportunity to heal is important.  Before the Chicago Marathon in October, my training was not in the right place and I didn’t really taper.  But this time I’ve put in a lot of miles and hard effort and feel I’ll need the 3 week taper to heal up.  I have not had any injuries per se, but I have felt quite banged up in a few places.  Most recently, both of my calves have acted up.  Thankfully a bit of self treatment has swatted that problem away, but I still have other minor lingering soreness that I hope to have all better by 1/9.

This holiday season always flies by so fast that I know I’ll be jetting down to New Orleans (first destination on the trip) before I know it.  Can’t wait!

Written by SCL

December 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Back in Time

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Don’t quite know why but I was inspired to click the Dec 2008 month in my blog archive, and I just had so much fun browsing the entries.  That was in the day where I did a lot of blogging, before Dailymile took over as a place to log my daily workouts and in the days before work became so busy I hardly have time to even post in Dailymile, let alone blog! 

I’m sure you won’t have as much fun browsing as I did.  But in case you have some time on your hands, here are some of the better posts:

  • 12/8/08 (2 years ago today) – full recap of all my weekend activities
  • 12/5/08 – day NYRR announced 5000 participant race caps
  • 12/12/08 – a good ol’ fashioned soaking
  • 12/25/08 – the day I discovered Dailymile
  • 12/31/08 – my bloody sock

Written by SCL

December 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Looking Back

Solidifying Plans for Spring and 2011

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Last night I registered for the Flying Pig Marathon, in Cincinnati, OH, on May 1, solidifying my spring plans.  I’ve wanted to run this for several years, ultimately choosing to run Austin in 2009 and Providence in 2010.  Assuming I finish my other planned marathon in January, Flying Pig will be my 9th state and 15th marathon overall!

Will fill in with smaller races during the year, but my major races for 2011 shape up as follows:

  • Jan 9 – First Light Marathon
  • March 20 – (pending lottery) NYC Half Marathon
  • April 2 – 13.1 Marathon New York
  • May 1 – Flying Pig Marathon
  • May 15 – Red Bank Triathlon (Olympic)
  • Oct 2 – Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

Written by SCL

December 8, 2010 at 7:34 am

Posted in Looking Ahead

Joe Kleinerman 10k Race Report

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Today was the Joe Kleinerman 10k race in Central Park.  As I posted the other day, I thought I had a fair shot at my PR for the 10k distance.  This was based on the notion that my PR is around 8:30 pace, and I raced 5 miles last week at 8:27 pace.  However, in the end, the PR was not meant to be.  I missed it by 43 seconds, and look forward to finding another shot at it.  My finishing time was 53:26, and my PR is 52:43.  The weather was not a factor, at least for me.  It was 30 degrees with a little bit of a wind.  Not bone chilling cold, and no discernible big winds to deal with.  I much prefer this to the opposite condition, which is 70’s and humid that you might find in early June.

While I was able to maintain an 8:34 pace for the first 3 miles, the first 2 miles had significant hills, harlem hill and the rolling hills on the west side, which was definitely tougher than what was in the first 2 miles in the Prospect Park race last week.  It simply took too much out of me, and I then lost 45 seconds in the next 2 miles.  I actually felt good cresting cat hill and had a good second wind in that section of the park.  The only hope I had was that giving it my all would result in something similar to the 7:52 I ran in the last mile of the race in Prospect Park.  However, my 6th mile was 8:18, and I knew PR effort was done.  I took water once, in the 4th mile, which was part of why that mile was slow compared to the rest.  Here are my splits:

  • Mile 1 – 8:41
  • Mile 2 – 8:23
  • Mile 3 – 8:37
  • Mile 4 – 9:07
  • Mile 5 – 8:47
  • Mile 6 – 8:18
  • Mile 6.2 – 1:35

Not to say I’m unhappy.  I’m actually very happy with the effort. I’m happy that despite pushing very hard over the first 3 miles, and then hitting a rough spot, I was able to recover nicely, power up Cat Hill, and run a very strong last mile, which was actually my fastest of the race.  It encourages me to think that I could PR the distance with another few weeks of speed work.  I likely will not race 10k for awhile, as there are none upcoming on the NYRR calendar, and I’d have to search elsewhere.  Also, I have lots of longer distances races planned for early next year.

As a side note, it seems to me that NYRR runs many fewer winter races than they used to.  I can recall a time when there were winter races almost every weekend, but there are only 2 races each in Jan and Feb.  That is too bad.  Probably a result of the parks department being stingy with how the park is used, and the effort required by NYRR to put on these races, that have grown so much in recent years.

Anyway, after 2 consecutive short distance races, time to turn the page and focus back on my marathon training.  First Light marathon is 5 weeks from today.  My last long run will likely be in 2 weeks.  The biggest problem I have right now is extreme tightness in both of my calves.  Interestingly enough, it bothered me more yesterday when I was running slow, and this morning in a slow warmup, than it did in the hard effort of the race.  It clearly is not holding me back, but I need to be careful with it to ensure it doesn’t become a bigger problem.  Maybe time to find The Stick or a foam roller, to work it through.

Written by SCL

December 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Gunnin’ for a PR Sunday

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Just thinking about my upcoming race on Sunday.  Will be running the Joe Kleinerman 10k, and I think my PR is within reach.  My PR was set in April 2007 (April Fools Day actually) at the Scotland Run, in 52:43.  In fact, I remember this day well because it was the day the March Madness Biathlon was going on in the park, and the day I was inspired to buy my bike and join in.  I subsequently bought my bike on June 7, and then participated in the Central Park Biathlon on Sept 16.  And in the intervening 3.5 years, I’ve raced 3 biathlons and 6 triathlons!

But back to my PR shot, 52:43 is 8:30 pace.  Last week I raced 8:27 pace for 5 miles in Prospect Park, so I’d only need to keep that pace up for 1.2 more miles!  Although the uphills in Central Park are tougher, the downhills are equally easier!  I’m looking forward to the challenge.

It will be my 6th Joe K 10k.  Here is my history:

  1. 12/11/94 – 1:02:21 (PR)
  2. 12/14/97 – 1:03:25
  3. 12/12/99 – 58:31
  4. 12/10/00 – 1:00:23
  5. 12/9/01 – 53:35 (PR)

Wow, didn’t realize I have not run this race in 9 years!  Good luck to all of you racing this weekend…

Written by SCL

December 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Predictions, running