4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for the ‘Chicago Marathon’ Category

1 Day Since the Chicago Marathon

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1 day has passed since the Chicago Marathon!  And I’m recovering from a very good race.

First, I find it extremely hard to believe that I blogged every single day starting from 28 days before the race, up until yesterday, which was race day.  I meant to post a obligitory post-race entry yesterday, but was too lazy.  So, guess it will be back to ignoring my blog. 🙂  Well, hopefully not.  There is lots of training to do, and lots of races to run, to continue in my effort to run marathons under 4:30.  I failed again in meeting 4:30, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying.

My next attempt will be in 90 days, in Mobile, AL, at the First Light Marathon!  Training starts on Thursday, when I attend my first speed session.  Now time to start planning my training and long runs!  Fun, fun, fun.

Anyway, back to the Chicago Marathon.  It was a great experience all around.  From an amazing expo (best I’ve ever been to), to a gracious and friendly hosting city, to a well-organized race, to lots of crowd support, it was a blast.  Unfortunately, yesterday was hot.  It was not humid though, and the dewpoint was low, so I was still hopeful for a strong showing.  However, the sun was a major factor in the 2nd half of the race, and the hot and strong sun literally count not be avoided for much of the last 10 miles.  That factor is a problem for me, and I suffered in the 2nd half.

I finished in 4:53:15, good for 21215 place out of 36158, and 2361 in my age group out of 3392.  While that was slower than I wanted, I was still very close to my prediction from earlier in the week, keeping in mind that the heat we had yesterday was even more than what was expected or predicted earlier in the week.  The starting temperature was 65 degrees, and it was 84 when I finished.

“My prediction has a lot to do with the weather, which is still a little bit of an unknown.  We know the temperatures will be in the 50′s to start, and rise to the 70′s.  Much of the race should be in the 60′s, which is a little on the warm side for me.  If the dewpoint creeps up to the upper 50′s, that will add complication and multiple minutes to my time.  That all said, if conditions are really good (low dewpoint, not a lot of running in the sun), I predict a time between 4:35 and 4:40.  If the humidity creeps up, or the temps are too high, or the sun is a factor, then I predict a time between 4:45 and 4:50.  Looking forward to seeing how it goes, and analyzing the results!”

My recovery is going well so far.  The biggest pain was in my right quad, which I could feel a little bit in the race, but then became quite sore afterwards.  Also my left hip is a little sore.  I also have 2 blisters on my right foot, but relatively minor.  Otherwise, everything else feels good, and I’m hopeful to run again by Wednesday, and start up speed training on Thursday.

This race was another great learning experience, and also a great experience in connecting with all of my ‘virtual’ friends.  I had a lot of fun following everyone’s training on Twitter and DailyMile, and following the conversations yesterday with how everyone did.  Of course, there are a few more big races to go in the fall season and I look forward to virtually cheering on everyone doing MCM, NYC marathon, Philly marathon, and others!

I will no longer commit to writing in my blog every day, but the past 4 weeks have allowed me to rediscover how much fun it is to document my training.  I hope to keep this up as I gear up for new challenges 2011, starting with a marathon on my 40th birthday (First Light on 1/9), and ending with my first half ironman triathlon (eeps!), which will be on October 2, 2011, at the Pocono Mountains!

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Written by SCL

October 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm

1 Day to the Chicago Marathon

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1 day to the Chicago Marathon!  And I’m having a blast in Chicago.  I wish I had the time to go into all the details of our trip, so I’ll just have to cover the highlights.

This morning I had a nice easy 3 mile run, partially along the lake.  Lots of people running and the views were great.  Unfortunately, the section I was on was mostly choppy concrete, which I didn’t quite like, but hopefully the rest of Chicago’s many miles of lakefront running has friendlier conditions.  The run itself was great.  Ran past a street fair, and the general street vibe was very much like NYC.  This city seems very runnable, much more so than other cities I’ve visited and tried running in the last few years.

Then we walked down to the river and caught the water taxi to Madison St.  We walked over the Willis Tower, and went up to the Skydeck.  While it opened at 10, and we were there before 10:30, we still had a good 30 minute wait to get upstairs.  The views were great, especially the spots with clear glass below your feet.  So cool!  By the time we headed down and out, the line was out the door, I’m sure more than an hour wait!

Next we caught the water taxi down to Chinatown and spent 2 hours eating and browsing the street and stores.

After getting back to the hotel, I took a 90 minute nap.  While that probably was a mistake, it was really needed.  On Thursday I had a busy day biking and doing outdoor work at a park volunteer project.  On Friday I spent a couple of hours at the expo, which is always quite taxing, and today spend so much time out and about on my feet.

Then we went out walking some more and ended up at Gino’s East, which also had a 30 minute wait to get in.  Was worth it though.

Now just taking it easy and resting up for the big day tomorrow!

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Written by SCL

October 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon

2 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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2 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And this is the day I almost didn’t get the blog post in…

I had a good reason, as today was our travel day to Chicago.  We were out of the apartment around 8am, and took Delta Shuttle from LGA.  Trip was smooth all around, and we were in Chicago by 12:30pm.  After a ride on CTA downtown, we were checked into the hotel, and then had a late lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery.

Afterwards, I headed to the expo, which was really, really, really well done.  Much better than the expo at NYC Marathon, hands down.  Was good on the self control, spending less than $150.  After the expo, met up with my family downtown, and we went to Pizano’s for a late dinner, for pasta and pizza.  That was great too.

Now just settling down and trying to plan tomorrow.  I’d like to get an easy run done first thing in the morning, then probably a busy day of sightseeing.  So far, I’m loving this town!

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Written by SCL

October 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon

3 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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3 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I had a very busy day.

First, after rest days on Monday and Tuesday, had a nice easy shake-out run of 4 miles on Wednesday morning.  Everything felt great.  I was relieved that I had no muscle soreness or pain from the triathlon on Sunday.  The only issue was a slight tightness in my right shin, which really is not a concern, just a warning that I need to pay attention to it.

Ran again early this morning, 4.4 miles, and felt great.  My pace was faster today as well, in part aided by a tailwind while heading up the promenade next to the east river.  Today, my company was participating in several volunteer activities, one of which was cleaning up a park.  I also choose that type of activity, and was excited at the prospect of learning something new, and just helping out a park that otherwise may be neglected.  The park was Highbridge Park, in upper Manhattan, along the Harlem River.

Since the distance is not terribly far, about 12 miles, and I could go to/from home, and can easily park my bike, that I would bike to and from the park.  So bike I did, about 12 miles each way.  Probably not the wisest of decisions, but I think worth it.  It definitely gave my legs some nice cross-training work, although, I was definitely saddle sore by the end of the day.  Hopefully that clears up by Sunday!  So after all the activity today (run, 2 bike rides, outdoor manual labor, etc) I am beat and looking forward to a solid night sleep.

The only potential problem with working in the park today, is that the park was infested with poison ivy.  We got plenty of warnings, and it was all clearly pointed out to us, although we would be working in some areas that had the ivy.  It didn’t concern me too much, as I get poison ivy a couple of times a year from the shrubs at my weekend house in NJ, in fact most recently 2 weeks ago, that is just now fading.  It is very annoying, but usually bearable, so I don’t think a huge risk.  Sure enough, tonight, I’m quite a bit itchy on one spot on my wrist, and on several spots on my legs.  Since I didn’t handle any of the ivy, I’m wondering if perhaps I was bitten up by mosquitoes.  I’ll have a better sense tomorrow what I’m dealing with, but even if a bit itchy, I don’t think it will have much of an effect on my race.

Hard to believe that this is the 26th day in a row that I have blogged!  Hopefully a nice habit started, so that when the race is over, I continue to blog more often than 3 times a month, which is what I had fallen too in recent months.

Finally, very excited my whole family (me plus wife and my 2 girls) is making the trip to Chicago.  Will be a fun family outing.  We are about all packed up, and will head out to ORD via LGA in the morning tomorrow!

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Written by SCL

October 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon

4 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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4 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I’m thinking about time predictions…

I’m very proud of my marathon history.  I’ve run 12 marathons over the last 14 years.  I have many that were disappointing for one reason or another, and many that were kick-ass awesome.  It is fun to periodically look through the results and just remember the races, the courses, the weather conditions on race day (I’ve seen it all), the trips to get to them, the hard work that went into certain ones.  There is a certain satisfaction in seeing the list ‘on paper’ as if it is a permanent record.  I’m really looking forward to adding Chicago to the record, and see where it falls.  My marathon history:

  1. 1996-11-03 – New York City Marathon – 5:27:31 (PR)
  2. 1998-11-01 – New York City Marathon – 5:35:33
  3. 2000-05-28 – Vermont City Marathon – 4:48:01 (PR)
  4. 2000-11-05 – New York City Marathon – 4:52:03
  5. 2002-04-28 – New Jersey Shore Marathon – 5:02:34
  6. 2002-11-03 – New York City Marathon – 5:06:22
  7. 2005-04-24 – Big Sur Marathon – 4:37:37 (PR)
  8. 2007-11-04 – New York City Marathon – 4:51:43
  9. 2008-11-02 – New York City Marathon – 4:31:25 (PR)
  10. 2009-02-15 – Austin Marathon – 4:22:16 (PR)
  11. 2009-11-01 – New York City Marathon – 4:44:05
  12. 2010-05-02 – Providence Rhode Races – 4:46:29

Historically, my proudest, and best, races have *always* been in the spring.  This includes Austin Marathon, which was February, technically winter, but it was in spring-like conditions (in Texas).  This is because I actually get a good, full, hard, cycle of training done in the months leading to the race.  My summer training never goes well, and that includes this year.  I know my training is not where it needs to be, or should be, for me to reach a 4:30 marathon, let alone a 4:22 PR.  With that expectation set, I’m ready for whatever I am able to do, and I look forward to my race in January (First Light Marathon), and my race in the spring (undetermined at this time) to properly ramp up my training and go for that PR.

My prediction has a lot to do with the weather, which is still a little bit of an unknown.  We know the temperatures will be in the 50’s to start, and rise to the 70’s.  Much of the race should be in the 60’s, which is a little on the warm side for me.  If the dewpoint creeps up to the upper 50’s, that will add complication and multiple minutes to my time.  That all said, if conditions are really good (low dewpoint, not a lot of running in the sun), I predict a time between 4:35 and 4:40.  If the humidity creeps up, or the temps are too high, or the sun is a factor, then I predict a time between 4:45 and 4:50.  Looking forward to seeing how it goes, and analyzing the results!

While in Chicago, I’ll be missing one of my favorite races, the Staten Island Half Marathon.  This is perhaps my 2nd favorite non-marathon NYRR race, behind the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  I love the ferry ride to SI, the great staging area they have at the baseball stadium, the usually great weather, and the relatively flat course, etc.  It was also my very first half marathon, back in 1996.  Here is my SI Half race history:

  1. 1996-09-15 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:17:54 (PR)
  2. 1997-09-21 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:24:45
  3. 1998-09-20 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:18:11
  4. 2000-10-15 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:15:37
  5. 2007-10-14 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:06:41
  6. 2008-10-12 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:00:20
  7. 2009-10-11 – Staten Island Half Marathon – 2:01:14

Interestingly enough, this is not a PR course for me.  Only time I PR’d it was my very first one.  I’m sure this is because it is a fall race, and I am *never* in my tip-top racing form in the fall.

Good luck to everyone racing in SI, I’m gonna miss it!

For reference, my full race history is here.

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Written by SCL

October 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm

5 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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5 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I decided to take a rest day this morning.  I could have ran, and under other circumstances I would have, but with only 1 day off after a hard triathlon, with some muscle soreness in my legs, just decided to give it one more day.  In a perfect world, I’ll run Wed, Thurs and Saturday, but I have to be at work extra early tomorrow and a morning run might be difficult.  We will see.  I did walk to and from work today, which is 1.8 miles each way.  Not much, but enough to stay loose.

So now there is a lot of chatter about the weather forecast.  When the 15 day forecast first included 10-10-10, the forecast was looking quite chilly, with the high forecasted to be in the 50’s.  Not sure exactly what happened, but the opposite is now being predicted.   It is now supposed to be warm, with a high in the mid-70’s, although with a morning low in the 50’s.  Since the race starts at 7:30am, heat really should not be a factor for much of the race.  However, the temperature is not the only value in the equation.  The most important factor, at least for me, is dewpoint.  If the dewpoint is below 55, then conditions will be perfectly comfortable.  If it gets below 50, then the conditions will be great.  However, if the dewpoint is up towards 60, or in the 60’s, then it will be uncomfortable, regardless of the temperature.  We probably won’t get a gage on dewpoint and humidity for another couple of days.  The other factor in the equation is the sun.  If it is in the 60’s, with low humidity, the conditions might be great.   However, if there is a lot of sun on the course, and the run is into the sun, then it can also become very uncomfortable.  I don’t know anything about the course to know if sun might be a factor or not, so hard for me to judge.

The folks organizing the marathon are certainly taking the weather seriously this time around, after extreme temperatures in 3 recent years.  Today, they sent an email to all participants outlining their Event Alert System, a color coded system to alert runners on the course about the conditions.  On the surface, it seems quite hokey and easy to mock, however, on race day, if conditions become extremely hot again, that system should allow for better communication with participants about what is happening, and when to slow things down, and when to (potentially) shut it down.

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Written by SCL

October 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm

6 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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6 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I was way too busy today to write up my race report from yesterday.  Maybe I’ll start on the report tonight and try to get it finished tomorrow.

The news to report is that I finished 25 out of 27 in my age group (M 35-39 was actually the largest age group in the race), and I really could not care less.  (I was 120 out 155 overall).  It only encourages me that I have so much farther to go, if I want to work at it in the coming years.  So much room for improvement.  It really is amazing, and inspiring, to me how hard core the triathlon folks are.  The swim was (thankfully) short enough to not be much of a factor in my losing time to others, but I felt like I had a pretty strong bike and run, and yet virtually all of my competition blew me out of the water.  The men 40 and older started out a good 10 minutes after I did, and by the later part of the bike and during the run, those guys were just blowing by me.  So inspiring!

Now, trying to take stock of my legs, and my recovery.  I’m definitely sore in a lot of places, but not badly.  In fact, I’m much less sore than I’ve been after long runs.  I will probably do a recovery run tomorrow morning, just to see how things are feeling.  I think I have enough days left to get in a couple of easy runs (Tue, Thur, Sat?), and let my body heal up to be reasonably fresh on Sunday.  My back is still not 100%, but it doesn’t seem any worse, and I’ve got the rest of the week for that to also to continue to heal.

I think the most exciting thing for me at this stage is watching everyone else get excited about their final preparations, and the race, on Twitter, DailyMile and various blogs.  I love how it seems like there are so many of us from NYC making the trip west.  Looking forward to planning out my own logistics now, the fun stuff!

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Written by SCL

October 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon

7 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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7 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today I had a blast at the Red Bank Triathlon, and ran a great race (for me).  Now I can enter my taper in peace 🙂

I’ll write up a full race report later, but here are the stats, as recorded on my watch:

  • Swim (1/4 mileish) – 14:21
  • T1 – 2:56
  • Bike (21.5 miles) – 1:19:20
  • T2 – 1:00
  • Run (5 miles) – 45:20 (9:01, 9:33, 9:24, 9:18, 8:07)
  • Total – 2:23:04

I came out mostly unscathed.  Just one muscle in my left leg that is barking.  Tomorrow will be a rest day for sure, then perhaps runs every other day the week.

Then spent the last 2 hours doing the laundry!  My wife has been out of town a few days and is not back till tomorrow, so laundry fell (literally) on me last night and this morning.  Wow, 14 year olds generate a lot of laundry!

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Written by SCL

October 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm

8 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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8 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today, I made a silly video.

Not much to add.  Rest day today, but had fun out with my 9 year old around town, including the New York Aquarium.  The trip to Baskin Robbins afterwards unfortunately tied my stomach in knots, but was worth it, and I’m sure it will be fine for the tri tomorrow!

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Written by SCL

October 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon, video

9 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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9 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today will be a rest day from running, although I did have a great session with my personal trainer at lunchtime.  My set of sessions are done and now time to think about whether I want to pay the king’s ransom required to continue working with him.  It is so beneficial, yet so expensive.  Aaaah!

Sorry, but I’m going to be a little negative and complainy today.  Why not, it is grey outside, and being negative is very common in the blog-o-sphere.

I’m really looking forward to the Chicago Marathon.  It is a world class event, in a world class city, and will be an amazing event.  I will inevitably compare every last detail of the race, weekend, and events, with the NYC Marathon, which I have run 7 times.  I’m sure there will be some things that Chicago will do better, like starting at 7:30am, but many things that will be worse.  I’ll try to point them out as we go along.

My biggest problem so far is that I take umbrange with the marketing and informational language focusing on 45,000 runners.  There will not be 45,000 runners at the race, but far less.  Yes it is a HUGE race, but no, not nearly 45,000.  They take 45,000 applications for the race.  Of those that pay for the race, far fewer actually run and finish.  In 2009 there were only 33,703 finished.  In 2008, it was 31,344.  Those years were both advertised also as 45,000 runners.  Big races, but at least 25% less than advertised!  Maybe they started with 45,000 people back in April, but many of them will never make it to starting line due to injury, lack of training, or a change of heart, etc.  It is probably predictable how many people will not run, but I think it is disingenuous to advertise 45,000 when the number of runnres will not be close to that.

In comparison, the NYC Marathon, to my recollection, (which I guess could be faulty) always publishes numbers based on how many people they expect to start the race.  Who knows how many applications they have to accept to get to the 43,660 finishers last year, or the 38,096 finishers from 2008.

In summary, it may be a minor detail to some, but it grates me when Chicago talks about 45,000 runners, when in reality it is 45,000 paid applications.  It is kind of like the attendance numbers at my beloved New York Mets games.  No way they are putting 25,000 fannies in the seats these sad sad sad days, but yes, 25,000 suckers overpaid for their tickets!

OK – I feel better now…

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Written by SCL

October 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Chicago Marathon