4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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Successful Recovery Week

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It has been a week since the Chicago Marathon. The more I reflect, and read other people’s accounts of the race, the prouder I am of my accomplishment. It was one of my slowest marathons ever, but I ran a consistent race and was done in by the sun and heat only in the late stages, when the temps topped 80 degrees. I was also within 5-10 minutes of my predicted time. Not bad at all! My race report is in progress, and I will finish it soon.

I’ve had a nice recovery week so far. Took 2 days off and then went for an easy 2 miler on Wed. Wanted to loosen things up and test out my sore right leg before speedwork on Thurs. All systems go!

Speedwork Thurs was perfect. It was hill repeats, but a short workout, and not too strenuous. Perfect way to ease back into speed. That effort was about 3.2 miles.

Then today I ran 4, at a nice clip. Was rough though because it was very windy, and it seemed like I was always against it. I also continue to have lingering right shin discomfort, but nothing too bad yet, and I’m sure it will be fine with some attention paid to it.

I finally looked at the calendar and think next weekend should be my first long run in my training for First Light Marathon. But, some Twitter folks are planning a long ride to Nyack, which I might do instead.


Written by SCL

October 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

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

10 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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10 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And I got another late run in, pushing the distance up to 7.9 miles.  It felt good.  I didn’t feel like I would be able to go another 18.3 miles, but I’m sure on race day in Chicago it will not be nearly as windy or as humid.  At least I hope not.  NYC was super humid and super windy today, and my run route took me down the East River, into the wind, and then back up the East River, with the wind.  With a temp of 74 and dewpoint of 74, it was very very very humid and uncomfortable.  I had a bottle of Powerade with me that I drank about every 2 miles.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my week, after suffering a back spasm last Friday.  I ran 4 times since Sunday, for 22.5 miles.  And, if I do an easy run Sat, and the 5 miles required by my triathlon on Sunday, I’ll have 27 miles for this week, easily my highest week in my marathon training where there were no long run.  Then I’ll be satisfied to taper in the last week before the race.

This week was made tougher both because I attended a conference in NYC the last couple of days, meaning long days, lavish dinners, and poor eating all around.  The other challenge this week is that my wife left yesterday to San Francisco for the weekend and won’t be back until Monday.  So I carefully need to plan my workouts around my kids’ schedules.  I can leave them alone together, but I cannot leave Katie alone.  I also cannot go out in the mornings.  So, will make the most of what I can this week.

Hardest part of today’s run was heartburn and a bit of a side stich early on, from my poor eating habits today.  In addition to the too much soda, and generally bad eating, I had taken Katie out for pizza tonight and had a slice myself.  I thought I was OK to run, but the heartburn came right away at the start of the run, but did fade away to annoyance by the 3rd mile.

I was chatting today at the conference with someone I know from Chicago, and it turned out she ran the marathon last year.  That was nice, and inspiring!

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Written by SCL

September 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

11 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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11 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today I was too busy to think much about it.  I did get a run in early this morning, which was a bonus, but then didn’t have a chance to think about it the rest of the day.

I’m attending a conference here in NYC, which means long days and late dinners.  Was home late last night after dinner (with wine).  Still managed to get up at 5am, and get a 4.4 mile run in before helping to get Katie ready for school.  Then was at the meeting all day, which was followed by another late dinner with wine!

My run this morning was actually great.  Pushed a steady hard pace, made possible by the distinctly lower dewpoint, compared to prior days.  Ran 4.4 miles in about 41 minutes, and felt pretty good.  It was my 3rd run in the last 4 days (14.6 miles total), and things are feeling smoother now.  Also, my back continues to improve.  I’m hoping to get a longish run in tomorrow night, then take the day off Friday, and an easy run Saturday before the Red Bank triathlon on Sunday.

Once that is done, I’ll be able to turn my full attention to the Chicago Marathon.

Previous Entries:  12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Written by SCL

September 29, 2010 at 10:01 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

14 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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14 days to the Chicago Marathon!  3 days into my back injury, and, it is feeling much better!  Enough so that I was able to run today, which is awesome!  On the one hand, I had about 20 miles planned for this weekend and only ended with 4, but on the other hand, at least I only lost 2 days of training.  Now need to take stock and determine if I’m up for the triathlon I’m signed up for on Sunday, in Red Bank.

So not only have I had this back issue, but also dealing with 2 other problems after my long run last Sunday.  Both on the right side.  The theory is that since my neck and lower back was tight on the left side for that run last week, I was overcompensating on the right side.    Not only did I destroy the pinkie toe on my right foot with a blister under the nail, but I’m also having shin pain on my right leg, in both of my last 2 runs.  I’m no stranger to shin pain also (a long history of minor injuries), so I know how to deal with it (I hope).

Regarding my pinkie toe, I’ve lost toenails before, but never completely obliterated the nail like I did this time.  Was able to clip out the entire thing, even the full cuticle!  There is now an empty cavity where the cuticle should go.  Definitely an odd sight, but I love the look of the baby new nail already trying to form on the skin.  And, the best news, no more pain in that toe at all!

Two weeks to the big day, and I’m 9 chapters into my motivational lift, A Race Like No Other, so now I’m officially starting to get excited.

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Written by SCL

September 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

18 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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18 days to the Chicago Marathon!  Wheee – this daily blogging thing is fun…

So since Sunday, my right pinkie toe has been bothering me.  Generally speaking, my toes are a mess and hideous, but that one in particular is bad, and was uncomfortable since the run Sunday.  Last night I decided to try to care for it by trimming the nail and removing the dead skin, etc.  As soon as I cut the nail though, it started draining like a blister.  That’s right, I had a blister under the toenail!  At least I knew why it was painful, and hopefully it will now heal in a couple of days.  Fun stuff, and definitely perfectly normal for this stage of marathon training…

With no runs Monday and Tuesday, and mostly likely not able to run tomorrow, I really needed to get a run in this morning.  However, I needed to be done by 6:30 as my wife needed to be out of the house early.  So, up at 5, out before 5:30, and completed 4 miles in the darkness before 6:30.

The run was hard.  First, I had the pain in my right pinkie toe.  Second, I never felt comfortable early and felt a bit of shin splint coming on in the first miles.  Thankfully the shin was not too bad and did fade.  I hope it does not become more chronic in these last training weeks.  Lastly, was heading into the wind for first half, which slowed things down.  Overall, finished the 4 miles in 40:02.

Today is the end of summer.  Buh bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!  Unfortunately, summer will get the last word here in NY as the temps are supposed to be in the mid 80’s the next 3 days.  I’m sure it will be accompanied by humidity.  UGH!

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Written by SCL

September 22, 2010 at 6:13 am

21 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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21 days to the Chicago Marathon!  And today I marked it by running 20 miles, my last long run before the big day.  Today was the 18 mile NYC Marathon Tune-Up race in Central Park.  I added 2 miles to the start of the race to get to 20.

No sugar-coating here, the run was rough.  I simply started having a rough time on the 2nd loop of the park, and then did a lot of walking in the 3rd loop.  The 18 mile race portion was finished in 3:15:54, although you won’t find it in the official results because I forgot to attach my D-tag! DOH!  This is the 4th time I’ve run this race, and my 2nd slowest.  It was more than 21 minutes slower than last year.  There were very good reasons why my time was slower, and so I completely accept the outcome:

  1. Last year was cooler and a little rainy, my favorite conditions
  2. Adding 2 miles to the start of the race means I was not starting completely fresh, and my performance thus started tailing off 2 miles sooner than it has in prior efforts
  3. On Friday night, I slept oddly on my left side, and my left shoulder and lower back were very stiff on Saturday and still not back to normal today.  As a result, my shoulders were a bit on the sore side, and my lower back barked a little bit, especially late in the race

I will simply hope for better on race day.  I do have to say though, last year I nailed this race and did better than I thought possible.  It ended up being the highlight/peak of my season, as my 10k race a few weeks later, and my NYC Marathon were disappointing.  Peaked too early.  I had a similar issue in 2007, a strong tune-up, and a less than stellar marathon.  So this time, rather than peaking too early, I plan to peak at just the right moment, on 10-10-10!

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Written by SCL

September 19, 2010 at 6:54 pm

25 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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25 days to the Chicago Marathon!  Writing daily posts is actually going a long way to keeping me thinking about my training and making the extra effort to get my workouts in.

After not making it to the gym to swim yesterday morning, I did make it last night.  My gym has open swimming from 8-9:30.  I went about 8:45, thinking it would start to empty out, but that was not the case.  All lanes were used, and I struggled in the ‘slow’ lane along with some others.  My last swim was at the NJ State tri in late July, at least 6 weeks ago.  So, a lot of rust on my already sad skills.  Just did 600 meters, and now need to get to the pool twice a week leading up to my tri in Red Bank on 10/3.

Then, this morning, not only got up early to get my run in, but extended my normal morning run to 7 miles.  In the morning, I typically run 4-5.5, but this is the time to start pushing.  I was definitely feeling a little off kilter after softball Monday and swimming yesterday, 2 activities I had not done in a while.  After getting good and warmed up in the first few miles, I really hit my stride heading down 1st Ave (in the new bike lane), and ran at a nice hard effort to finish up.  The last 2 miles were under 19 minutes, which is faster than I have been running lately on those same 2 miles in recent morning workouts in East River Park.  I love the symmetry of the route today.  Nice looking loop, and looks like a mini model of NYC. – http://www.dailymile.com/routes/273674-running-route-in-new-york-ny

Undecided about tomorrow.  I want to make sure I’m well-rested for the 18 mile race on Sunday, which will be 20 for me as I will add 2 miles at the start.  Not sure if I will take tomorrow off and run Friday, or run tomorrow and take off Friday.  Either way, I’d like 2 running days off before Sunday.  I’m thinking I might do a light bike ride tomorrow and run on Friday.  We will see…

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Written by SCL

September 15, 2010 at 11:05 am

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