4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for September 2011

HRM

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Yesterday I ran a 5k race in East River Park, finishing in 29:56.  I typically run 5k’s quite a bit faster, but I’ll take it, and am satisfied considering I’m still returning from injury.  Today I raced the War at the Shore triathlon at Long Branch, NJ.  It was a ton of fun, but really difficult because the ocean (swim) was roaring today, and I had to deal with rain and winds on the bike and run.  I finished in 2:20:26, which I’m satisfied with, and served as a great tune up for Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains, which is in 3 weeks.

As nice as these races were, I was more satisfied by what my watch told me my heart rate was during those efforts.  You see, ever since the Flying Pig Marathon on May 1, my watch / heart rate monitor was telling me that was heart rate was sometimes dangerously high.  I was seeing HR spikes during my workouts that were abnormally high.  It would spike at a high number and then go down to a normal number, for no obvious reason at all.  I was pretty sure it was on the fritz because sometimes the watch would report 200+ when I wasn’t even running, it would sometimes show a very high number when I ran at an easy conversational pace, and because my own personal test of my pulse during workouts did not agree with my watch was telling me.

It took me so long to confirm the non-issue because at first I was injured and stopped running, and second I was in a little bit of denial because when I started running again, I knew I was out of shape, and it was the summertime where my HR tends to be higher.  In the beginning, before it kept getting worse and worse, I thought that what the watch was telling me was reality.  Lastly, I balked at buying a replacement strap for my watch because it costs over $50, and I just didn’t want to spend the money.

In my first effort at debunking the watch, I ran on the treadmill at my gym, where the equipment contains HRM’s.  However, once your pace goes over 4 MPH, the machine stops telling you your HR – I guess a safety feature.  In my second attempt, I actually Read The Manual for my watch, and it said you should run the strap through the wash if it seemed it was not reporting accurate numbers.  So, I did that, and then it would report normal numbers for the first part of my workout, before spiking high again.

Finally, with a half ironman triathlon coming up in a few weeks, I knew I needed to bite the bullet and just buy a new one to confirm for once and for all if I had a problem that warranted seeing my doctor.  So I did buy a new one, and it arrived on Friday.  During my races on Sat and Sun, my heart rate showed very normal and consistent numbers with no high spikes at all, and so I am now satisfied in seeing that I have nothing at all to worry about.

In reflection, I think I figured out what happened here.  On April 10th, I participated in the Tough Mudder, and let’s just say that both my watch and heart rate strap got down and dirty and ended up with a lot of caked in mud that day.  I suppose I damaged it permanently, as in my workouts soon after, I can see these odd spikes that were not happening earlier.

Anyway, I’m happy that I have a clean bill of heart rate health, and while I will continue to keep a close eye on this possible issue, I think I’m fully in the clear.

Written by SCL

September 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Reflections

Still here…

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Hey, I’m still here, just haven’t been motivated to write in my blog through injuries I had in the spring and summer. 

I had a very busy winter and spring of training and racing, and after a marathon, half marathon and olympic distance triathlon within a 4 week period in May, I needed a break.  In short, I had hip and groin issues, primarily caused by glutes that ‘stopped firing’.  I’ve been working with a personal trainer and am just now starting to get back to being healthy again.  Summary of the last 4 months:

  • May – 61.2 running; 59.8 biking
  • June – 0 running; 14 biking
  • July – 18.4 running; 40.8 biking
  • August – 39.5 running; 84.4 biking

My runs are a good 60 seconds per mile slower than my typical training pace, but that is OK.  I suspect I won’t be back to full form until I start speed workouts in the winter time, and I hope to be back in PR shape by the springtime.  In my past experience, when injured, it takes a good 12 to up to 24 months to get back to full strength where I feel like I’m capable of PR’s.

The impetus to get back on some sort of track now is that I have the Poconos 70.3 race quickly coming up on Oct 2.  I registered for the race early, and it is quite expensive, so I really want to get it done rather than defer.  While my longest run so far is only 5.7 miles, my longest bike ride only 27 miles, and with no time in the pool in the last 3 months, I know this will not be the race that I was hoping for, but I do think I’ll be able to get it done, and within the 8 hour cutoff.  My biggest fear is not being able to finish the swim before the swim cutoff time, but I think and hope the swim is down current in the Delaware River, which would be a big help.

In the next couple of weeks, I have some big tune up races I’m really looking forward to:

  • 9/10 – a 5k race in my ‘home park’, East River Park.  NYCRUNS is holding a race with East River Park Track Club and I can’t wait to participate.  My running log says that I’ve run in the park 265 times since 1999, and NEVER in a race.  Hopefully all the Irene flood waters will have receded by then. 
  • 9/11 – War at the Shore in Long Branch – middle distance triathlon.  Relatively short Ocean swim, with a bike and run that is close to olympic distance.
  • 9/18 – Yonkers Half Marathon – I plan to ride my bike to the race so that I’ll get a good brick workout done

Then in October, the town where I have my weekend house, Little Silver NJ, and the neighboring town, Shrewsbury, both have small 5ks I hope to be able to run in.  I’m also hoping to convince my 15 year-old to join at least one of them…

I found that being injured was actually not so awful.  First, I Hate (note the capital H) running in the summer and this was a great excuse to take a break in the hottest months of June and July.  Second, it was refreshing not to have to get up early on the weekends for races or training runs/rides, and make my family sacrifice their plans around my races.  Was great to be home more often for my kids.

I’m on the prowl for upcoming marathons.  While I’m not registered yet, I have my eye on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Dec 10, which would be my 10th state!  For the spring, I’m tentatively looking at either of Georgia Marathon, Eugene Marathon, or Fargo Marathon – would appreciate any feedback or thoughts on those races.

Anyway, that is my update, and I hope to post more often than every 4 months going forward!

Written by SCL

September 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm