4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for the ‘Looking Ahead’ Category

Back in the Saddle (Again)

leave a comment »

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

2011 Highlights – Part 2

leave a comment »

As you all know, I’m not so great at posting here anymore.  My we’ve come a long way (and in the wrong direction) since I posted for 28 days straight leading up to the 10-10-10 Chicago Marathon!

Anyway, this post concludes the ‘highlights’ I wanted to point out regarding 2011.  Find Part 1 here.  Upon further reflection, this post is not so much about anything in particular I did in 2011, and so the ‘highlight’ title is a bit of a lie, as this is more a celebration of January running (for me), and my inverted bell curve of running over the last 13 years.

Below you will see my total miles per month, from the years 1999-2011, covering 13 years.

  • Jan – 798.6
  • Feb – 706.1
  • March – 631.7
  • April – 659.7
  • May – 517.7
  • June – 316.1
  • July – 433.8
  • Aug – 532.4
  • Sept – 692.7
  • Oct – 706.4
  • Nov – 682.7
  • Dec – 730.7

What is striking about this is that I ‘peak’ in Jan in mileage, generally decline through June, and then start another steady increase, peaking again in Dec.

For one, it is clear backup for the statement I keep repeating to anyone who might listen, namely, “I hate running in the hot weather!”  What more proof do you need?

For two, it is a clear indication of the other statement I keep repeating to anyone who might listen, namely, “January is the month I always renew my love for running.”  Partially it is the clean slate of a new year, and partially it is probably due to my birthday, which occurs early in Jan, but whatever the reason, January is the month I most consistently run.  I can only count two years where January was my highest total month of the year, so it is not that January is always my biggest month, however, it is my most consistent month, and every year is among the top few months in total miles.  Since 2005 (past 7 years), January is at least in the top 4 monthly mileage for the year.

If you look at the numbers above, the inverted bell curve is quite clear.  However, it is not perfect.  My goal for 2012 is simple.  March must have at least 28 more miles than April, and November must have at least 24 more miles than October.  If I can accomplish both of those, and keep the other months in their relative places, then I will have attained perfection!


Written by SCL

January 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Still here…

leave a comment »

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

with 2 comments

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

2011 Plans

with 3 comments

I’m not much into resolutions for New Years.  There are some things that I’d like to do before the year is out, but I’d rather call them goals or plans!

First off, my biggest plan for the year is to race Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains on 10/2!  I’m very scared!  But also excited.  A half iron in the summer is a much scarier proposition to me, when I’d probably have to swim with no wetsuit, and deal with super hot temps.  I think in early Oct the weather will be great, even if it is  unseasonably warm or cold.

As a result, the bulk of my year will be focused on swimming and biking.  I’m very concerned in finishing the swim portion of the half iron before the cutoff, and dealing with that is first and foremost.  Secondly, my longest bike ride ever is 50.3 miles, and that is also my only effort greater than 40 miles.  So, I will work hard to ride my bike often and build up to being able to easily do 50 miles.

That will unfortunately dictate less running.  That is fine though.  I hit my 1000 goal last year.  I expect to be in the 700-800 range this year, considering I have a spring marathon, a fall half-iron, and possibly a very late year marathon.

Another big event of the year is the Tough Mudder in April, joining Joe and #teamsuck.  I’ve been thinking about these adventure races for quite some time.  A friend of mine was telling me about adventure races a good 5 years ago.  Then they had the Urbanathlon a couple of years back in NYC, and in recent years, these mud runs have been popular.  A friend of mine did the Warrior Dash last year, and since then I’ve really wanted to run one.  So when Joe put the feelers out there, I bit.  I have to say I’m a bit nervous about it.  It is a 9 mile event, but on a ski slope mountain, and with multiple obstacles along the way.  It will be a test of endurance, will and strength, and I can’t wait!

My other big event of the year will actually occur in 6 days.  On that day, I will turn 40 (age group bump) and also run in the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL.  Since I realized over a year ago that my b-day would fall on a Sunday, I knew that the best way to mark it would be with a marathon.  Luckily, my wife is supportive and has not given me a hard time and is happy to tag along, even though Alabama is not her idea of a vacation spot.  We will spend 2 days in New Orleans, which I’m sure will be a great time!

Otherwise, I’ll fill in the year with other tri’s and races.  Firmly also on the calendar is 13.1 New York in March, Flying Pig Marathon (15th marathon, 9th state) in May, and Red Bank Triathlon (Olympic) later on in May.  Once the summer hits, it will be all about swim and bike training.  I’d like to do another marathon late in the year, but I have to research where the late year races are and compare to the states I have not run in before.  I’ll leave that research for another day.

I’ve been burned several times with hanging my hopes on running a marathon in 4:30, and failing, so going forward, I will go in with no time expectations, and see what that does for me.  Along the same lines, I have absolutely no time expectations for Tough Mudder and 70.3 Pocono Mountains.  So, in a sense, this will be the year where time is irrelevant!

The final goal of the year is to lose some weight.  I used to be diligent about weighing myself, and when doing so, my weight and body fat stayed constant.  However, since I stopped checking my weight about 6 months ago, I’ve gained a good 10 pounds and some body fat percentage.  Therefore, I’d like to halt that behavior, lose the 10 pounds I’d gained and then the next 10 pounds which was my original goal.  I’m not good at watching what I eat, so this will be very difficult.  That will easily be the toughest goal to attain in the year.

Written by SCL

January 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Looking Ahead

Solidifying Plans for Spring and 2011

with 5 comments

Last night I registered for the Flying Pig Marathon, in Cincinnati, OH, on May 1, solidifying my spring plans.  I’ve wanted to run this for several years, ultimately choosing to run Austin in 2009 and Providence in 2010.  Assuming I finish my other planned marathon in January, Flying Pig will be my 9th state and 15th marathon overall!

Will fill in with smaller races during the year, but my major races for 2011 shape up as follows:

  • Jan 9 – First Light Marathon
  • March 20 – (pending lottery) NYC Half Marathon
  • April 2 – 13.1 Marathon New York
  • May 1 – Flying Pig Marathon
  • May 15 – Red Bank Triathlon (Olympic)
  • Oct 2 – Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

Written by SCL

December 8, 2010 at 7:34 am

Posted in Looking Ahead