4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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March Madness Race Report

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Yesterday was the March Madness Biathlon in Central Park.  First the vitals:

  • Overall time – 1:28:08
  • Overall place – 197/376
  • Age Group – 26/41


  • Run (2.3 miles) – 19:41
  • T1 – 1:00
  • Bike (12 miles) – 46:10
  • T2 – 1:42
  • Run (2.3 miles) – 19:32

History of Central Park Biathlons:

  • 9/16/2007 – 1:24:45
  • 3/30/2008 – 1:26:17
  • 3/28/2010 – 1:22:44
  • 3/27/2011 – 1:28:08

As you can see, it was not my best.  Actually it was my worst.  But I was sort of expecting it because I haven’t been on my bike much, I was sick last week, and have had a few nagging injuries.  With the negative stuff out of the way, I can say I really had a great time.  There is NOTHING better than being in the transition area of a triathlon or duathlon and just taking it all in.  Even yesterday, when it was 28 degrees before the race, everyone was so upbeat and excited about racing.  It really was a great time.

As far as my race goes, I went out a bit tentative on the first run, and then settled into a consistent 8:30-8:45 pace after cat hill.  I found I was able to catch quite a few people that must have charged up the hill and then found they could not sustain it for the full 2.3 (I’m calling it 2.3, although the official distance is 2 miles) distance.

I blew through T1 very quickly.  It helped that I didn’t need to change my gloves.  I only needed to get my helmet on and get on my bike.

I was surprisingly consistent on my bike on the 2 loops.  My best time for a loop around the park is just under 20 minutes.  I completed the first loop yesterday in 22+, and then was also pretty strong on the 2nd loop, just a hair slower.  The only problem I had was at the top of harlem hill the 2nd time around, when my chain came loose and then got stuck really badly.  An experienced bystander thankfully was able to help me get it loose.  I lost about a minute in total.

I had a little trouble in T2.  The bike rack I was assigned to was a little low to the ground and I could not secure it with my seat.  I needed to use the handlebars.  I unfortunately forgot this when trying to rack the bike, when I went for the bike seat.  When I realized my mistake, I had to get the bike all turned around again, which took some time.  Also, with my frozen feet, I was a bit slow getting through the transition area.

I did well on the last run.  It literally took about 1 mile for me to gain all feeling back in my feet because of the cold.  But once I got into my groove, I really was able to set a good 8:30-8:45 pace.  It felt like I was picking people off one by one.  I probably passed about 20 people in total on the run, and only got passed myself 3 or 4 times.  The finish is in front of the boathouse parking lot on the way down cat hill, and so this remains the only race I regularly run where the finish is on such a sharp downhill.  It makes for a fast finish for sure!  This downhill finish is even better than the downhill finish of Coogan’s.

Interestingly, the first run and last run took me exactly the same amount of time.  My official time shows a 9 second difference because the start was not chip timed, and it took me 9 seconds to get to the start.

All in all I had a blast again, and can’t wait to do this race again another time.  And yes it was cold, but interesting enough, I went back in my running log and saw that when I did this race in 2008, it was also the same 28 degrees at the start!  So perhaps not so unusual.  Afterwards, sampled a muscle milk (yuck) and picked up a few Zico Coconut Waters, which were the perfect recovery drink.

Next up, 13.1 New York on Saturday morning…

Written by SCL

March 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Posted in bike, Race Report, running

Flat Tire in NJ

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Got a flat tire on my bike ride today in NJ.  You can see the incompleteness of my route in the picture.  This was not supposed to be a point-to-point ride 🙂

I’ve been trying to ease back into biking, in the lead up to the March Madness Biathlon, which is coming up in 2 weeks.  I decided to try and ride at my weekend house in NJ.  I just love riding my bike out in NJ.  There are limited traffic lights, limited traffic, and lots of country roads with shoulders and room to ride.  It is so refreshing not to have to first get somewhere, like Central Park or West Side Highway or to the outer reaches of Queens or Brooklyn, before getting into a good riding rhythm.  I can get right to it practically outside my door.

I intended for this to be a 12 mile loop.  I was a little discouraged by the fairly strong wind, which I was riding into to start.  That would mean I would be with the wind to finish up and I was really looking forward to that part.  However, I would never get there.  About 6.5 miles into the ride, I could hear the telltale sound and bumpy ride indicating a flat tire.  My first thought was that this would not be a problem because I have my patch kit.  This would be a good practice for tire patching, and I’d be back on my way in no time.  My second thought was that I forgot to bring a spare tube with me, so that if I had a problem patching it, I would be stuck.

I got the tire off, and the tube out, fairly easily, and found the problem spot.  Unfortunately, when I dug into my patch kit, I found that the rubber cement was in bad shape.  My kit is old, I think almost 3 years now, and the glue was just mostly dried up.  I did the best I could, but after 30 minutes, 2 attempts to ride, and running out of CO2 to pump it up, I knew it was a lost cause.  My wife doesn’t drive, and so I needed to call a cab to get picked up (how embarrassing).

Anyway, lesson learned.  I always need to have my spare tube with me, and need to make sure my patch kit is fairly fresh.  Although the ride was short, it was a good one, into the wind, and tending uphill, so a good workout with an elevated heartrate.  Looking forward to getting out on my bike again soon…

Written by SCL

March 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Posted in bike

First Ride of the Year

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While I will run in just about any weather condition, and usually enjoy myself, on the bike I’m a bit of a wimp.  I don’t like riding in cold weather.  I don’t have the right gear, and having my extremities cold is really annoying, and so I just bide my time until the weather warms before I get my ride of the year in.  I wasn’t planning to ride my bike today, but the day was much warmer than I expected, in the upper 50’s,  and I had time in the afternoon, so I took advantage.

It worked out nicely because the reality is that I need to start getting on my bike.  I have the March Madness Biathlon coming up in 3 weeks, which includes 2 loops of hilly Central Park.  I’d like to get a bunch of bike training in before then to have a strong showing on the bike.  Then it will be time to focus on my planned tri’s, Red Bank Triathlon on May 15 and then down the road, Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains.  Since it was my first ride, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I just went to East River Park, which is flat, to do some intervals.  What I wasn’t counting on was the (seemingly) gale force winds blowing out of the south.  At least it seemed that way.  Consider this – my hard intervals heading into the wind were only at about 12 MPH, while my hard intervals coming back with the wind were in the 22-23 MPH range.  Those are speeds I’d expect to see when working on the tough hills in Central Park, not on the flats in East River Park.

It was about 10.4 miles in total.  I really enjoyed myself and hopefully it is warm enough that I can get out 2 times per week.  In the early weeks I expect to keep all my rides to 1 hour and slowly work in hills leading up to the Biathlon.

I enjoy comparing to prior years to see comparisons.  Here are my first rides of the prior years, since I bought my bike in June 2007

  • March 20 2008 – 4.1 miles up and down 1st and 2nd Ave
  • March 7 2009 – 13 miles – to Central Park and a full loop
  • March 8 2010 – 10.3 miles – loop to Queens and Brooklyn over Queensboro and Williamsburg Bridges

Written by SCL

March 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Posted in bike

Turning the Page

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Yes, yes, I know, late again with my race report.  Still working (in theory) on my Chicago Marathon race report.  The short version is that it was a great day, a great race, hot, sunny, with lots of walking late in the race, and super glad it’s done!

Time to turn the page, and my attention is now fully turned to my next major race, the First Light Marathon, on 1/9/11.  This race is happening, as plane tickets are purchased, and hotels are reserved.  Looking forward to a couple of days in New Orleans, and then a fresh marathon PR (hopefully) in Mobile on race day.

I don’t really create training plans, except to ballpark the dates and distances of my long runs.  I was originally planning my first long run last weekend, but then had a chance to go for a fun (leaf peeping) bike ride up to Piermont with some twitter friends.  Couldn’t pass that opportunity up and so postponed my first long run a week, to this week.  Of course, forgetting that, I was thinking I might drive out to Eisenhower Park for the LIRRC 5 miler on Sunday.  Unfortunately, I’ll run long this weekend instead, and have to put running in a LIRRC race off to another time.

Met with the group (@dnorton, @bklynrunner, @jenbolstat) by 8am, on a perfect day for bike riding, warm (not hot) and very little wind.  Meeting spot was the George Washington Bridge, and we headed over the bridge and up 9W about 16 miles to Piermont.  After a stop at Bunbury’s Coffee Shop for some awesome muffins, we headed out for a look from The Pier, which has an awesome view of the Hudson River.  Then turned around to head back.  The hills are a bit nastier on the way back, but managed to get through it.  The ride was much easier with friends!  I took the subway to and from home rather than add the necessary 20 miles to bike the round trip – no sense in pushing things if not currently training for anything on the bike.

Then yesterday I decided to join up with Josh and his crew for speed work.  They informally meet for speed workouts in Central Park each Tuesday.  Now that I am also speed working, and the day worked out for me, I decided to be a little social and meet up with more folks I know through Twitter but had not really met before.  @speedysasquatch led the way, and I was joined by @sharonpaige, @magdalenafox and @herroyaltallness.  I was arguably the slowest of the group, but no matter.  Did my best to keep up on the 6 x 800 meter workout at the Great Lawn, which was followed up by a blast of core work which I’m definitely feeling today!  I believe I won the ‘dirtbag’ award afterwards, as both the newcomer, and the dirtiest of the bunch after literally using the dirt and lawn (and surrounding acorns – ouch) to support the core work.  In all, ran about 5.3 miles (I think because I forgot my watch/GPS at home) – good work.

In other news, since the marathon I have been dealing with some pain in my right heel/foot.  Nothing major, noticed it early, and a regimen of ice twice daily seems to have done the trick, so I’m feeling back to full health.  I’m looking forward to my long run this weekend, continuing speed work, and working my way back into the shape required to NAIL a 4:30 (really 4:22 PR) marathon in January.

Marathon Fever is in full swing, as the MCM folks get to strut their stuff on Sunday!  Good luck to you all…

Written by SCL

October 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

19 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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19 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I have a lot to talk about today…

1) Mostly had a rest day yesterday, after the 20 miles on Sunday.  Felt good, no unusual pain or difficulties.  I did have a softball game last night, which was fantastic.  I had a particularly good game and great contributions to help my team to a hard-fought 6-3 win.  In fact, I ran the bases 3 times without injury and was able to turn on the ‘burners’ when needed.  Playing softball does worry me, and has caused me problems in the past, in the hip and/or groin area, due to the cutting and sprinting and sudden movements.  However, yesterday was just very fluid, natural, and injury free!

2) Followed that up with a nice bike ride this morning.  Still in recovery mode from the 20 and did not want to run.  A nice easy bike ride was, however, perfect.  9.9 miles around the Manhattan greenways, cutting across 20th St.  So flat terrain, no hills.  The ride did not tax my sore muscles, although I felt it in my quad in the last miles.  My legs are still a bit sore today, but I plan an easy recovery type run tomorrow, and then hopefully some harder runs through the weekend, before my taper technically begins.

3) Last night, I received in the mail my Chicago confirmation and guidebook.  I honestly was not caring about this at all, and had internally been scoffing at the people posting their MCM bib numbers, as if it really means anything other than artificial early excitement so far from the race.  However, I have to say, I got caught up myself, as my bib number is awesome, for ‘me’…  My number is 11971.  Really just an ordinary number, until you consider that my birthday is 1/9/71, and so this is about as perfect a number as I can get.  1971 is my birth year, 1-1971 is my birth month and year.  If you exclude the first 1, 1-9-71 is my birth date.  And, to top if off, my mother-in-law’s birthday is 11/9!  So, I am viewing this as good karma, and the first sign that my Chicago Marathon experience will be awesome!

Previous Entries: 20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28

Written by SCL

September 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Posted in bike, Chicago Marathon

24 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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24 days to the Chicago Marathon! My goal was to ride my bike this morning, and run tomorrow morning, but I didn’t get the ride done.

My plan was to be out the door by 5:30, go to Central Park for 2 loops, and be back by 7am, when it would be time to get Katie (my 9 y/o) ready for school.

Couple of things happened. First, last night, I noticed some discomfort in my hip, a recurrence of nagging pain I had last year. Not serious, but one of those little signs the body gives to slow down.

Second, at 5am, simply could not get up. Well, I could get up, but my personal trainer constantly preaches time to rest and recover and to get enough sleep – essentially the importance of recovery. Since I am seeing him today at lunchtime, I decided an extra hour of sleep was called for, and skipping the ride would keep me fresh for the lunchtime workout.

I preferred to sleep until 7, but it turned out my wife was sleeping in too, and one of us needs to be awake to make sure my 14 y/o gets up (by 6) and out of the house (by 7) on time. So I got up at 6, got freaked out by some things at work, and worked from 6 to 7.

It is a sad state when getting up at 6 is sleeping in, but it is what it is. My hip feels better today, and I’m feeling well rested. Depending on how intense my personal trainer session is today, I may or may not ride tonight, and definitely plan for a 4-5 mile run in the morning. Then off day Sat and 20 miles (last long run) on Sunday!

Previous entries:

25 26 27 28

Written by SCL

September 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

Back on the bike

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I’ve been meaning to get back on my bike for quite awhile.  I did a ride in late January, but have been unable since then.  February was rough in terms of cold and snow and conditions just didn’t allow for me to ride outside.  Also, the last 3 weekends were dominated by races or long runs, and I was afraid to ride outside and mess myself up for critical runs.

But, I’ve got the March Madness Biathlon in less than 3 weeks, which entails 2 full loops of Central Park (plus 2 miles before and 2 miles after, both of which include UP cat hill!), and I need to get going on the bike.  Last night was perfect to get out.  The temp was 55 degrees, at 9pm, absolutely perfect.

So, pumped up the tires, rounded up all the gear, and went out.  My course was the reverse of my favorite 10.3 mile medium range run, namely, up 1st Ave to 60th, over the Queensboro Bridge, down Queens to Pulaski Bridge, through Greenpoint and Willamsburg, over the bridge and back up 1st Ave.

The other interesting factor are my elbows.  They were both in a lot of pain at the end of the bike season last year.  I saw my doc twice, and did a bunch of rehab in the gym.  My left elbow is completely better, and my right elbow is much, much better.  The right elbow will hurt if I sleep on it incorrectly, which will make it achy for a couple of days, but lately I’ve noticed it not hurting as much.  And on the ride, my left elbow was totally fine, but the right one was achy.  It seemed totally fine after the ride.  So, for now, will try to limit my rides to an hour or so, continue rehab in the gym, and hope I can keep it under control.

I believe my elbow problems could be due to my bike fit not being right.  Will try to get to a real bike shop for a real fitting, and get everything properly adjusted.

I have been concerned I won’t have enough miles under my belt before the race, but, when I last did this race, in 2008, my first time on the bike was only 10 days before the race, and I only got 34 miles in ahead of time.  This year, I’ll have twice as many days, and should be fine…

In other news, Rhode Races (Providence Marathon) is in 54 days!

Written by SCL

March 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

Posted in bike