4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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27 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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27 days to the Chicago Marathon, and the time for procrastination is past.  These are the last 2 weeks for hard training before 2 weeks of taper.  Time to get some good quality miles in…

I’m impressed that I’ve been able to do 2 runs in the 16 or so hours since I wrote the last post.  Last night I ran 5.7 miles over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  It was a great run, at about 9 pace!  Then this morning I went out early and run down to the bottom of East River Park and back.  4 miles at about 9:35 pace.  I’m really thankful that the next large section of the promenade is open in ERP, so that it is more runnable after rains…

Several of my Manhattan street runs go down 1st Ave, from where I live at 14th St.  In the last 2 months, a new bike lane has been installed on 1st Ave, from Houston St up to 34th.  This is great and fantastic news for bikers, and makes things much safer for runners.  However, after running on the path a few times, I think I’m going to opt to run on the bike lane down Ave A instead.  The 1st Ave bike lane, on the west side of the street, and right next to the curb (protected from car traffic) has a lot more cross traffic than  on the east side of the Ave, where I used to run.  And the protected nature of the lane makes it harder to go out and ‘use the avenue’ when necessary.  The Ave A bike line is perfectly fine for running, and I used it last night to head down to the bridge.  The only issue is that it cuts .1 – .2 miles off of my previous routes, but I can deal with that. 🙂

Speaking of bike lanes, I found another new one last night!  I generally use Suffolk St off the Williamsburg Bridge, which now has a bike lane, going up to Houston St!  I love this town…

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28 Days to the Chicago Marathon


Written by SCL

September 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project

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Last week, I followed Mayor Mike on Twitter, when he spent the day posting his own tweets.  Yeah, it was a gimmick, but it got me, and am I glad it did.  Today, this tweet caught my eye: “A Waterfront Project as Cool as the HighLine”: Announced plan to refurbish 2 piers & build esplanade along East River http://bit.ly/11EZIR

As a resident of Stuyvesant Town, and a frequent runner down East River Park, and the entire esplanade down to the SI Ferry terminal, I’m always interested in hearing about improvements that will be made.  Of course, I’m hugely skeptical as well, as I know that most of the East River Park Esplanade has been closed since July 2001, and is only now, 8+ years later, starting to near completion.  I most recently commented on it here.  I also remember about 4 years ago, passing a Fox 5 reporter on my morning run taping a segment in East River Park talking about all the amazing improvements that would be made to the park and the entire stretch of the East River below the park.  Years later, and still nothing. 

Until now?

About 2.5 months ago, on a run, I noticed a new area of construction near South Street Seaport, and wondered what it was.  Well, according to New York City Economic Development Corp (from here), it is the first step in rebuilding the entire esplanade, and the official groundbreaking was today:

“For reasons of design, schedule, and cost, and as a result of the large project size, the ERW project will be constructed in stages. Construction of the esplanade from Wall Street to Maiden Lane is the first construction package, which began in Spring 2009. This portion of the project will showcase the Esplanade design including the seating, planting, paving, railing, and lighting that are proposed for the entire Esplanade. In these two blocks, there will also be unique amenities including steps that lead to the water’s edge at Wall Street.  Future construction stages will begin throughout the rest of 2009 and into 2010, including Pier 15 and Pier 35.”

The overall plan sounds, and looks, very exciting – a 2 level pier, rebuilt piers 15 and 35, Class 1 bikeway, urban beach (phase 2), etc.  While it looks overly ambitious, I will try to be optimistic here and think that they could get this done, and in our lifetime!  Of course, by the time it is all done, I’ll probably be moved out of Stuyvesant Town and won’t be around to enjoy it.

Written by SCL

August 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Perfect end to a perfect weekend

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Had an awesome weekend.  Was off on Monday so spent almost 3 days down at my weekend house in New Jersey.  Topped it off with a long 8.7 mile run Monday night – more on that below.

Friday, kicked things off with an early morning run to East River Park.  It is notable that it was my 3rd early morning run in the last week and a half, not counting an early morning trip to the gym.  Starting to make a habit of getting up at 5:30 to get a nice workout in before going to work.  Friday morning was a little rough because of the humidity, still trying to get used to the warmer weather.  My splits for the 4 mile run were 18:22 and 18:23, pretty darn consistent if you ask me!  I think negative splits are too much to ask for in the humidity, so nice consistent efforts will have to do.

Friday night, went to Citi Field to watch my beloved Mets get pounded by the Yankees.  Despite the score, I had a great time.  Citi Field is such an upgrade over Shea.  It was nice to experience batting practice from so many outfield vantage points, and to enjoy Blue Smoke and the other great food options, and just be able to wander around the stadium during the game.  Was even very comfortable during the massive thunderstorm that blew through before the game.  Plenty of under cover areas to stay dry.  The place also just has so much more character than the old dump…

On Saturday, dragged all our stuff out to New Jersey (lots of laundry), including my bike.  Had a simple BBQ (just burgers and hot dogs) and then went out to the beach.  On Sunday, started my day with a 23 mile bike ride (see course here), followed by a more complicated BBQ (steak, chicken, corn and hot dogs) and then another trip to the beach.  The bike ride was really fun.  It is nice being able to leave my house in NJ, and immediately go into long ride mode as there are few traffic lights to stop at and the traffic is light.  I’m preparing for the New York City Triathlon, so was aiming for a 24-25 mile ride to approximate the race distance, but turned around a little too early, and settled for 23 miles.  This ride used to seem a little hard to me, but after recently biking in Vermont and then at Harriman State Park, where they have real hills, this ride seemed like a piece of cake!

Monday was also very relaxing.  Was able to sleep in and take it easy until the drive back to the city in the early afternoon.  Monday was a beautiful day, with low humidity.

I had already penciled in a run for Monday night.  The decision was how far to go.  With the nice weather, I decided to go a little long.  Summer months are always lowest mileage for me, and my June monthly record was only 42 miles.  I noticed that 8+ miles would break that record.  My 6 and 6.5 mile runs would not be enough, and I really didn’t feel like my 10.3 mile 3 boro 3 bridge route.  So, settled for a route that I rarely run, and haven’t done in almost 2 years.  Down East River Path, up Hudson River Path, and across 14th St back home.  That route is 8.7 miles, and flat, so perfect.  Biggest problem is the trip across 14th St requires a lot of car dodging, and lots of stops at the avenues, but that is OK as I was not so concerned about time.

Even though the humidity was down, the direct sun bothers me and the heat bothers me, so I decided to wait until the sun was well on the way down before getting started.  Got out around 7pm, and picked up a bottle of Powerade to help me stay hydrated.  First part of the run was to and through East River Park.  It was so crowded with runners.  I typically run the park early in the morning or very late in the day when it is not that crowded.  Not sure if it was extra crowded because of the nice weather, but there were dozens of runners in the park, which was really nice to see.

Tried to hold back a little in the first few miles, but the pace was about 9 minutes per mile.  A little too fast.  At about 1 mile, I drank from the water fountain in front of the track at East River Park, conserving my Powerade.  Good thing because I felt like I needed to stop often to stay hydrated.  In fact, the Powerade only lasted until about mile 4.5, heading back up the west side.  It is still quite a ways up to 14th St from there and really wanted to find some water.  Luckily, I thought, there was a detour around the construction site just past the World Financial Center and I passed the Pick-A-Bagel in Battery Park City.  Perfect place to pick up a water.  First though, they did not have the medium sized squeeze bottle, just the regular small size and giant size.  I refuse to pay 1.35 for the small water, so kept going.  The Runners Station was closed, as they are only open till 6pm, but salvation was found when I got to pier 40, where they have vending machines outside.  Was able to buy a Gatorade and continue on my way.

While not overly hot or humid, it was hotter and more humid than I care for, and I was definitely starting to lose it as I neared 7 miles and 14th St.  Caught the light and crossed over West St at the bottom portion of 10th Ave before 14th St, then up 10th, to the turn onto 14th St.  I was quite suprised to see people standing on the high line tracks, as I forgot that it was open, and that it overlooked 14th St in that spot.  I was starting to get a little delirious at that point and decided to have a little fun with the tourists staring down at 14th St by pointing and waving to them.  I was also able to see the great improvements made to 9th and 8th Ave’s as well.  So much easier to cross 9th Ave, now that most of the intersection is a pedestrian square and car free.  On 8th Ave, there is now a protected bike lane.

Anyway, even though I was overheated and my belly full from too much Ade (Power and Gator varieties), I was aided by having to stop a couple of times at traffic lights across 14th St, and was able to finish strongly in just under 1 hour 26 minutes.  For 8.7 miles, this is just under 10 min per mile pace.  Not bad at all with all the stopping.

Yesterday, my groin injury was acting up so no running yesterday or today.  The pain that I have (which I actually DO NOT experience while running) seems to be migrating now to the pelvis area.  I think it is time to get it checked out by a professional!  In the meantime, will continue to build in trips to the gym and off days, and continue treating with ice and stretching.

Written by SCL

July 1, 2009 at 7:50 am

East River Park Promenade

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Thanks to The Lo Down, I see the next section of the East River Park Promenade is finally open for business!  This is the section behind the track.  Hopefully they can get on with the rest of it quickly.  I won’t use the promenade section much, as I use the main road for my runs, but the faster they get the promenade all opened up, the faster they can repave the rest of the main road, which is in a very bad state of dips, valleys and holes, and good for swimming after it rains.  I was ecstatic when they repaved the northernmost section in the winter, and hope the rest can be repaved by this upcoming winter.

I remember the uproar when they first closed down the promenade (Daily News Article), just before July 4, 2001.  Only been 8 years…

Written by SCL

June 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm

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Back in the morning run routine

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Got out for a morning run.  Hopefully today is the start of a good new habit of morning workouts.  Yesterday was the last day I needed to get my 7 year old out of bed at 6:30 and out of the house at 7:05.  That schedule was just not conducive to morning workouts.  My kids don’t sleep till 10:30 or 11, and then it is really hard to get up any earlier than 6am.  Therefore, morning runs have been scarce the last 3 years.  Katie will be at a new school next year, closer to home, so the new morning routine in Sept will hopefully allow for running or time at the gym.  It is also quite possible that I was inspired by Jason and Ari, who both wrote about morning running this week.  Some of my friends on dailymile also run and workout in the morning, which is great.

Anyway, back to today’s workout.  4 miles total, out to the bottom of East River Park and back.  Felt very sluggish, either because of not being used to the morning, or still shaking the cobwebs from my triathlon on Sunday.  In terms of injuries, my groin only bothered me at the beginning, and loosened up within the first half mile.  My ice and stretching is, I think, helping to keep the problem at bay, and I think it is finally starting to get a little better.  The tendonitis behind my left knee also did not bother me at all today running, although I still feel it when I press around the area with my fingers – will continue the ice treatments.

Total time was 37:16.  2nd half was slightly slower than first half.  That is a big sign that things weren’t perfect.  Normally, I negative split this course.  Should have happened today as well, since I was running into the wind in the first half and with the wind the 2nd half.  Rain was also a factor.  While it was light when I started out at 6:30, it got progressively heavier and I was soaked through by the end.

We’ll see if today is a one-shot deal, or if I can make it a habit again…

Written by SCL

June 18, 2009 at 8:47 am

Week in review

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Haven’t had a chance to write in the last week, so here is a review of what I’ve been up to!

Went to Middlebury VT last weekend.  My wife was speaking on a panel at alumni weekend at the college.  Middlebury is very nice.  We stayed at a great bed and breakfast, and tooled around the various small towns there including Bristol and Vergennes.  Also went to the Robert Frost trail in Bread Loaf, but it was mostly closed due to some flood damage from the winter.

I brought my bike with me to Middlebury, and had an amazing, and humbling ride.  My intention was to bike out and back from Middlebury, on rt 125, to Lake Champlain (see route here).  It was about 15 miles each way.  The hills were relentless, and wore me down to no end, and I could only cover about 12 miles before turning around.  24 miles in total, and a really awesome and hard workout.  I realize that real bikers and triathletes can handle these kinds of hills with no issues, so I need to figure out how to add more hills to my bike workouts.  I like riding at my weekend house in Little Silver, NJ, but there are very few ‘real’ hills out there.  Anyway, it was an awesome ride, and a great tune up for my triathlon this weekend.

As good as the ride was, I think the hills aggrevated my groin.  It was really acting up on Sunday and Monday.  The good news is that it helped me to isolate exactly where the pain is coming from, so now I know where to focus my ice treatments.

Monday night was softball, up in Inwood.  With my groin issue, I was not able to run full out, but the light running in the outfield and on the bases, combined with lots of stretchng, actually made it feel a little better.  Collectively we had a great game, and won 11-7.

Didn’t do any workouts on Tuesday because I had to run down to my weekend house and do some lawn and grounds care, and morning workouts are too hard until school is over for my kids.  Wednesday nights are no good for swimming because there is only a small window the pool is available for lap swimming, so I went for a run last night.

Did my 4 mile out and back to East River Park.  I have a hard time doing ‘easy’ runs, and ran it pretty hard.  Finished up in 34:56, about 8:45 pace.  The groin issue is so far not preventing me from running.  It only bothers me a little as I get started with a run, and loosens up pretty quickly.  However, I’ve lately also been feeling some tendonitis behind my left knee, and that I can feel with every step in a run.  It is not a lot of pain, but just a little bit of very noticeable discomfort.  While not preventing me from running, I think it would prevent me from running all out in a speed workout or race condition.  So far, ice on its own has not done anything.  May need to work on leg based stretches and exercises to smooth it out.

It is interesting.  These are my first real injuries since I started this blog over a year ago.  In the past, I constantly had injury issues and I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without issue.  My last big injury was when I blew out my lower back in July 2007.  Historically, I’ve always had leg problems on my right side – patellar tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splits, etc.  Left leg was always great.  Therefore, never really focused on left side.  My current injuries are on my left side.  Ooops.  Guess I need to pay attention to both sides going forward!

This morning, heading to my older daughters school.  She is 13 and graduating middle school in 2 weeks.  Today is an honors ceremony, and she is doing a solo tap dance routine.  Then off to work, and hopefully to the pool to swim tonight.

With my triathlon coming up quickly on Sunday, I need to make sure I’m well prepared for all 3 events, for the transitions, and most importantly, need to practice getting the wetsuit on and off!

Written by SCL

June 11, 2009 at 7:24 am

First hot weather run of the year

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I was very naive at the start.  The humidity was not high, and the temperature didn’t seem too crazy, at 84 degrees, but it was still the afternoon and the sun was shining.  That, combined with not having run in anything higher than 72 degrees since early September (except for a couple of rough runs in South Florida in December), made this run very difficult.  I guess I’m just not ready for hot weather running yet.  I know it will get easier, with more practice, as the hot weather becomes entrenched.

Two mistakes, I think.  First, I tried to run too far, and second, I didn’t bring water or Gatorade with me.  I chose a 6.2 mile route, out and back through East River Park and down the East River a ways.  There is a water fountain in front of the track in East River Park, about a mile into the run, which I would pass at miles 1 and 5.

Could feel the heat pretty quickly, but the first half of my run was into the wind.  Running into the wind is good in the heat, because it helps evaporate your sweat, and keep you feeling cooler.  I did dial the pace back a bit.  With a quick stop at the water fountain, my first 2 miles were done in 18:21.  After another 1.1 miles, I hit the turnaround, and was then running with the wind.  There was less resistance here, so the going was easier, but it felt much hotter without the wind.  My pace was steadily dropping as the middle 2.2 miles were finished in 21:27.  

Then, things started to get really hard.  The sun started really bothering me, and I started feeling very dehydrated.  Did not stop before getting to the water fountain again at the 5 mile mark.  Drank a lot there, but could not continue running.  Was feeling dizzy and just very tired.  Alternated running and walking the rest of the way.  Probably walked almost half of the last mile.  Final 2 miles was done in 21:20, not bad considering the walking.  6.2 mile total was 1:01:09.

The hardest hot weather run is the first.  I’ll be better prepared the next time, and hope to be properly acclimated by the time we get to July and the New York City Triathlon.

Written by SCL

May 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

Nice track workout

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Inspired by Runners World, (although I still want to know how to properly run a true mile on the track) I set out to do a track workout at East River Park.  Needed to be sure I timed it just right.  If you go too late, and it is dark, the lighting is terrible.  If you go too early, the track is swarming with running groups, soccer games, and lots of people.  So, left my apartment at about 7pm.  Worked out really well.  Central Park Track Club was just finishing up, so there were hoards of people on the sidelines, but the running crowd was definitely thinning.

I’ve had a nagging upper leg / groin injury that is still not going away.  First started bothering me after the NYC Marathon last year, and was just a slight for awhile, but in the last 2 months has started to get worse.  I thought recently that it was getting better, but the reality is that the pain is still there.  In fact, while it only affected the left leg originally, it is starting to affect the right as well.  It doesn’t bother me so much when I run, so I will continue to run through it, hope I can make it past the NYC Triathlon in July and the NYC Marathon in November, and then take care of it properly, if it does not go away.  I’m again icing and stretching (the stretches really help, but I’m not at all diligent in doing this, which is part of the problem!) so maybe that will help.

Anyway, between the leg injury, and playing softball the night before (legs a little sore, and hip hurting after I had an ‘incident’ with the fence in the outfield), I was definitely not feeling 100%, but good enough.

My fastest mile ever on the track is 7:10, which i did in December.  Yesterday I did two 1-mile repeats, first was 7:24 and the second was 7:37.  Very happy with both.  Then I did 2 half mile repeats, in 3:39 and 3:41, very consistent!  Again, happy with both considering my leg issues.

Lots of activity in the park.  2 soccer games happening on the south end of the track, and a large group of women doing rugby drills, first ball handling, then hitting.  That is soooo cool…

Need to get a long run in this weekend in preparation for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and then a long bikeride, in preparation for a sprint tri coming up in a few weeks.

Until next time…

Written by SCL

May 20, 2009 at 10:00 am

Track workouts – Runners World

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While I don’t do track workouts all that often, I do enjoy them.  My ‘home’ track is at East River Park. It is about 1.1 miles from my front door to the track, which is a perfect warm up / cool down distance. In the last year, my typical track workout is 2 x 1 mile and then 2 x .5 miles.  The last time I did this workout, in late November, I clocked an unbelievable 7:21 in my first mile.

While working through this month’s issue of Runners World, I came across their 4 page spread on track workouts.  I’m glad they covered the topic, as they provide great tips and information, and also, remind us of the fact that the track is there, and is a great way to do speed workouts.  As I mentioned, my last track workout was back in November, and I think I’ve been inspired.  I WILL do a track workout this week!

As informative as the article was, it did not answer a question I’ve had for a long time.  Exactly how do you run 1 mile on a track?  I know that a mile is 4 times around the track, but, is that measurement from the inside lane, or the center lane, or some other way?  The article points out that the outside lane can be 40-50 meters longer than the inside lane, and over 4 loops, that can be a significant difference.  At this point, I assume that the measurement is taken from the inside lane, but it would be nice if the article spelled out exactly how that works. I know the difference is negligible, but, 4 loops around a track is 1600 meters, and 1 mile is actually 1609.344 meters.  So, 4 loops would leave you 9.344 meters short!

I typically run in lane 2, giving me lanes 1 and 3 for passing,. Maybe this is just right, if you consider the 9+ meters you’d be short with 4 loops!  Inquiring minds want to know…

EDIT – I reposed this question to my DailyMile feed, and big thanks to Stephen W (http://whereswaldon.com/running/) for coming through!  He pointed me to this site, that allows you to do all kinds of calculations on all kinds of tracks! http://www.eracewalk.com/CalcTrac.htm

Written by SCL

May 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Back on the horse with a little 4 miler

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Feeling much better after being sick all week.  Still a little on the congested side, but running is good for loosening up, and getting out, all that extra congestion.  Since it was my first activity in a week, I decided to run my simple 4 mile run to the end of East River Park and back.  I went after 7pm, so the park was not all that crowded.  The weather was great.  The run was definitely tough, my legs felt very heavy.  First 2 miles was done in 18:11 and the return miles in 18:04.  Normally I get a pretty strong negative split on this run, so this is a sign that I was not running on all cylinders today.  After the long layoff, not complaining.

Most interesting part of the run was passing a bunch of people that had “Shore Walkers” race numbers pinned to their back.  I probably passed about 15 of them in East River Park.  The bib also said “Great Saunter 2009”.  The people that I passed definitely looked to be pretty well spent.  Well, turns out that the Great Saunter 2009 is a 32 mile walk around the perimeter of Manhattan, starting at 7:30am.  The end of the walk was South Street Seaport, so these people still had 1-2 miles to go at 8pm when I passed them by.  I definitely tip my hat to them.  Way to go!  I’ve never heard of the Shore Walkers, but it looks like a very well organized group, with multiple walks occurring every weekend.  Maybe will need to check them out sometime.

Written by SCL

May 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm