4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for the ‘injury’ Category

Back in the Saddle (Again)

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Hi there!  After a luckluster year so far filled with injuries, I’ve taken the last couple of months off, and am now starting to work back into running shape.  I consider myself to (yet again) be back in the saddle after injury, hoping that this time I’ll figure out how to stay healthy.  Seems like since I turned 40 in 2011, it is so much easier to get injured, and each injury is harder to recover from.

The year started out decently enough, with a lot of running in January – March, including a lot of speed work, and I was rewarded with a 10k PR (52:43) at the Brrrrrrooklyn Hot Chocolate 10k in January and also a 10 mile PR (1:27:56) at the Cherry Tree 10 mile race in Feb.  Things quickly went downhill from there.

In March, I had an awful Georgia Marathon, (5:12:35) in part because it was really hot that day, which I was not trained for, and also because of the super hilly course.  After that, I sort of lost my mojo, and recorded a DNF at the Verrazano Half Marathon in April.  Then I started having calf issues, which I ignored, which eventually resulted in a badly pulled calf, which put me on the shelf for a few weeks in May.  It also caused me to downgrade the Red Bank Olympic tri to Sprint Distance, where I had to walk most of the running portion.

Once my calf started feeling better, I did a bit of running in June, but late in June my lower back started to hurt, which led to my first ever bout of sciatica nerve pain in my left leg, which was very painful, quite scary as it is so different from muscle pain, and lasted for more than a month before getting better.

Now all of that is behind me.  I’ve changed some things in my diet, to hopefully help me lose a few pounds.  I’m also now seeing a personal trainer, and starting up a new running program.  For the moment I’m focusing on tempo intervals on the treadmill, but look forward to getting back out on the road shortly, getting back to some races, finding a winter or spring marathon to tackle state number 12, and perhaps even challenge that elusive 4:30 marathon!


Written by SCL

September 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

No Ironman 70.3 Poconos for me :(

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Today was supposed to be the day that I raced my first half ironman, but that was unfortunately not meant to be.

It all started two weeks ago, the day of the Yonkers Half Marathon.  In what was to be my final real training session, I rode my bike to Yonkers, ran the race and then rode my bike home.  In total, it was 38 miles on the bike, plus a hilly half marathon.  It was the perfect tuneup for what would be a hilly race in the Poconos.  I thought it all went well, and while the 2:17 half marathon was slower than I wanted, I was very satisfied.

Then the next day, I noticed my mid back was a little tight.  In what was a lack of judgement, (very clear in hindsight) I played softball that night, and aggravated my back even more.  At that point I was not concerned because it was mid back, which in my experience feels better after a couple of days, and is a much more mild injury than straining the lower back or the neck/shoulders.

And so I rested for a couple of days, and by Thursday my back was feeling better.  On that day, however, my left eyelid swelled something fierce, and I took it as a sign to take a couple of more days off.  That coincided with a road trip to Syracuse.  On Friday I spent hours in the car, first taking a side trip to Utica to see the Distance Running Hall of Fame (small, but very cool), driving home to NY, and then driving to my house in NJ.  I believe all the time in the car re-aggravated my mid back again, which started bothering me again on Saturday.  I again wasn’t too worried as it was mid-back and I was sure it would feel better within a couple more days.

On Sunday, it was feeling better and I started planning how I would spend my last week of training before the race.  However, during the night, I felt I strained it a bit again.  On Monday I stayed home from work as a precaution, and the extra time in bed really helped a lot and by Monday night it felt fully better.

Now I was getting really worried that I wouldn’t be able to race.  In my despiration, I decided to push myself hard on Tuesday.  The point being that if I strained it again then I knew I could not hold up for 70.3 miles and would skip the race.  However, if I felt good after working myself hard on Tuesday, then I would pronounce myself fit to race.

Tuesday morning I ran 4 miles and felt great.  Well, the run was rough but that was because it was super humid that day and it was my first run in 9 days.  However, I was very encouraged.  Tuesday night I got on my bike for about 45 minutes, and again felt good.  I thought I was good to go.

The proverbial ‘turning point of the game’ occured on Wednesday morning, when awkwardly sitting on my bed, I felt the muscle in my lower back go.  When the muscle in the lower back gets strained, in means immobility and pain for 2 days, and then another week plus before I’m able to run again.  I know the drill well, because I do this every 2 years or so.  The last time was just after the NYC Triathlon in 2009, over 2 years ago.

And so, my dream of my first half ironman was over.  Yes I was sad and bummed out about it, however, I know it is for the best.  Due to my hip/groin injury, I missed 3 months of training and so I knew I was not in the shape I wanted to be to run this race.  It is not the kind of race you want to go in without full preparation.  Also, I’ve been blessed to have run 15 marathons and raced 8 triathlons, and in the grand scheme of things, missing one is not a big deal.

So today, instead of racing, I spent the day hobbling around and getting a preview of what it will be like to move around when I’m in my 80’s.  Yes, I may be hobbling around now, but next week I’ll start running again, I will run a marathon in Dec (my sights are set on Rehoboth Beach), and I will be healthy enough next year that I will be able to toe the line for my first 70.3.

Written by SCL

October 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Posted in injury

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

Updates and upcoming races

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Just wanted to catch you up on what’s happening with me. In the last two weeks, I’ve been dealing with a bunch of issues, it seems.

First, I’ve had these nagging injuries that don’t all seem to want to go away. Two weeks ago I went for a bike ride on Tuesday night and followed that up with a 10 mile run on Wednesday night. While the run was fantastic, I evidently aggravated something new in the groin/hip, which I could feel a bit at the start of my run, but was quite painful after the run was over. I needed to take 3 days off to recover before my planned long run on Sunday.

My long run on Sunday was great! I plotted a hilly and challenging course (see it here) starting with a loop of Central Park, then up (literally) St Nicholas and Ft Washington to Fort Tryon Park. There I met up with Joe, who accompanied, and paced, me down Riverside back to Central Park. 20.6 miles in all, and feeling good.

On Monday, I lifted weights at the gym and did my first pool swim of the year (gotta start tri training), and then promptly came down with the flu on Tuesday afternoon. I really took good care of myself, but the flu is the flu, and I’m still not 100%.  Today is day 4 in a row with no workout!

In all, this means I’m not quite prepared for this Sunday’s March Madness Biathlon in Central Park. I just have not been on my bike enough, and have not had a chance to work on hills yet. The double loop of the park will be tough, to say the least. That is OK though. It is my 3rd MM, and my 4th biathlon in CP, so I have nothing to prove this time around.  Participating is reward enough. I am just regretting that it will likely be 30 degrees (or colder) at race time early Sunday. Not ideal for biking, at least for me!

Then, upcoming is 13.1 New York next Saturday, and the Tough Mudder, with Joe, the following Sunday. Looking forward to all 3 events in these 3 weeks! Hopefully I’ll be motivated to post some race reports here…

Written by SCL

March 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Posted in injury, Looking Ahead, sick

A great day, with Beer!

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Today was a great day.  Well, after the bit about losing an hour of sleep last night was done, I suppose…

First, I loved today’s #dailymission on dailymile, asking people what they do with their race bibs after the race is done.  For me, I have a manila folder that they all get shoved into, but after I write the date, distance and race name, if any are missing, and then also my time.  My folder is quite big now, and it is a lot of fun to flip through.  The folder actually came in handy when I created my Race Results page.  Today I did flip through for awhile and took a picture, and it brought back so many great memories of races gone by.  Here is what my collection looks like, the one on the bottom is my first, You Gotta Have Park 5k from May 21, 1994.

Then, the greatest part of the day was the Beer Run in Brooklyn, organized by Claire, whose blog is aptly named Will Run For Beer.  So many people came out.  It is essentially bar hopping, but with the bars spaced a quarter to a mile and a quarter apart so that we have to run from bar to bar.  The route today was 6 bars and 4.5 miles.  I had to get home to my family (I’m really grateful they let me disappear with my running gear for a few hours all the time), so had to bail after the 4th bar, but it was a lot of fun.  Met a couple of new people, and caught up with a bunch of others I’ve met before.  In all it was a blast.  I ran about 3 miles from downtown Brooklyn to the start at Prospect Park, and then another 3.5+ on the beer route, for a total for the day of 6.6 miles.

The downer news is that I’m dealing with a couple of naggy injuries that just seem to be getting worse, not better, so I’m stepping up the ice treatment, and might start a regiment of (gasp) stretching, to see if that will help.  Methinks it is time to replace my running shoes, which are now up to 633 miles…

Have a great week everyone…

Written by SCL

March 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Posted in injury, Meetups, running

Brrrr, and back update

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So, the Manhattan Half is on Saturday, and it is going to be a cold one!  I’m a little sad I’m not running this year, as it brings back fond memories of the cold 2009 edition.  If you want to get a sense of what to expect, read my report from that race!

Back update – yesterday I wrote about the pain in my back, which inflicted itself on me on the subway Tuesday night.  It is much better today.  I am able to almost stand up straight and can walk with a significantly reduced limp!  Yay for progress!  The fact is, if I had a softball game today or a race, I’d be out there.  Perhaps a little tight, but able to get it done.

Unfortunately, I have no plans tonight and my impulse is telling me to go and run.  The prudent side of my brain is telling me to take a rest day, but the irrational side of my brain is telling me that we will have 4 inches of snow on the ground tomorrow morning and so you better run tonight, as there is a good chance I will not be able to run at all on Saturday too.  I wonder who will win out…

Written by SCL

January 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Posted in injury, weather

Pain in the … back

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I’ve been feeling great lately from an injury point of view, and was just thinking about how I have not had any back problems in awhile.   I think it was Joe that was recently complaining about his own back issues on Twitter, and I completely identified with that as I have had lots of back problems over the years, and realized it had been awhile since I had my last episode.  Actually, a search of my own blog revealed that is was only in Sept that I last had a problem, while preparing for the Chicago marathon – lol.  That one only cost me 3 days of training, which I guess is why it was forgettable to me.

I will never forget the massive back spasm that hit in a port-o-potty at the finish of the New York City Triathlon in 2009 (talk about BAD timing) (race report here), or the one that caused me to run my slowest 10k ever in 2004 at the Nike Run Hit Wonder (check my results page), or the one that hit before the NYC Half in 2007 causing another very slow race (another stand-out on my result page), and countless other ones over the years.

This week I went to the gym on Monday night.  I intentionally took it easy since I had not been there in a month.  I’m sure the squats, situps, back extensions, and other weights strained my back a bit, but I felt fine.  Then last night I ran a great speed workout in Central Park without any issues.  However, on the subway ride home, I took an odd step down a stair, and felt the familiar twinge in my lower back.  I could tell it was not awful and took it easy the rest of the way home and then laid out on my bed.

This morning I awoke to a lot of stiffness, but thankfully no pain.  While I limped around all day today, I know it could have been so much worse.  Based on how I felt today, I think I’ll be out running again in a couple of days and hopefully back out to the gym by the weekend as well.

Meanwhile, I will practice trying to stand up straight, count my blessings at the lack of severity and good timing, and start obsessing about when it might happen again!

Written by SCL

January 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Posted in injury

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

12 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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12 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I’m nursing myself back to health, hopefully.  My back is still a bit tight at times, but running is manageable. 

Last night I had a very strong 6.2 mile workout along the East River.  While my time was a little on the slow side (9:50 pace), the effort was outstanding.  It was late, and rainy, so it was pretty deserted, and peaceful, in a gritty sort of way.  The humidity was rough, and it was only the occasional breezes and cool rain that allowed me to get through it.  I intend to push myself in my runs the next few days, and hopefully peak right around 10-10.

On a related note, while most people are heading into their taper now, I have come to realize that there is no taper for me.  My entire set of training seems to have been one long taper.  For one reason or another, I just not have put the necessary miles in to have something to back away from, which is essentially what a taper should be.  My high mileage weeks have been around 30 miles, due to a single long run in those weeks.  My other weeks are only in the 15 mile range.  Therefore, I have no need to taper, and rather need to push myself a little in the next 9 days, so I’ll be primed on race day.

On a final note, yesterday I was perusing some old posts.  I happened on Sept 2008, and I was struck by all the challenges I faced that month.  In particular, I had 2 really, really bad races (here and here), and it just helped to put things in perspective for me.  That Nov 2, I ran my fastest NYC Marathon ever, and followed that up in Feb 09 with my most amazing marathon ever.  Just goes to show that even when things are looking down, there are other factors at work, and if you pursue your goal with vigor, good things will come.

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Written by SCL

September 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

13 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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13 days to the Chicago Marathon!  This morning I rested and slept in, until 6am.  My back is still a bit tight and stiff in places, and I think a little worse after my 4 mile run yesterday, so decided to take it easy this morning.  My intention is to exercise tonight, late in the day, so I can just take it easy afterwards.  I was scheduled to play softball tonight, but that was cancelled due to rain.  That will make it easier for me to get a run in, and then take it easy afterwards.

Otherwise, I’m just really looking forward to the fall weather coming into place, but it is just slow in happening.  Even now, when the temperature has dropped somewhat, the dewpoint and humidity is still high, and less than tolerable for my taste.  Right now, the temp is 69 deg, but the dewpoint is 66 deg, or sky high.  Yes, it will not be as bad as mid-summer, but it will still feel far too humid for me.  And it sounds like we can expect more of the same all the way through Thursday.

Here’s to hoping for good weather in Chicago on 10/10.  See the long range forecast here: http://www.myforecast.com/bin/expanded_forecast_15day.m?city=14745&metric=false

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Written by SCL

September 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm