4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for the ‘Speed Workout’ Category

Speed training and cold weather

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This is the week of the year that I am always the most excited about running.  The start of the new year always invigorates me to do more and better, despite the cold temperatures.  Therefore, I typically sign up for speed work in Jan.  In fact, and this will be the subject of my next planned blog post, January is the month of the year in which I’ve logged the most cumulative miles, at least over the last 13 years of my running log…

I love my Excel running log, and sometimes I can get lost in it.  Tonight is the first session of the NYRR speed training class that I’ll be taking, which runs for the next 10 weeks.  My log tells me that this will be my 20th NYRR speed class session since 1/1/1999, and my 11th time taking the session in Jan out of the last 13 years!  I skipped 2011 because I was a bit burned out after training for a Jan marathon.  I’m not quite sure why I skipped 2003.  It most like was due to injury (?) as 2003 was my lowest running year on record with 123.2 miles.  I think that was the year I had a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that year that took months to heal.  Or was it the year I had patellar tendinitis?  Who knows anymore…

Anyway, my interest today was in the weather.  I can’t help myself, as a recovering numbers AND weather geek!  It has been interesting to see so many people comment on Twitter on both the exceptionally warm weather we had over New Years (highs in the low 50s), and the exceptionally cold weather we are having today, 20s and dropping. 

I took a look at the weather conditions for the first day of the Jan speed session I attended over the years, and was not so surprised to find it is pretty evenly split between cold, normal and hot:

  1. 1-4-00 – 55 – rain
  2. 1-2-01 – 21/2
  3. 1-8-02 – 34 / 26
  4. 1-6-04 – 28 / 22
  5. 1-4-05 – 48
  6. 1-3-06 – 35 – fr rain
  7. 1-4-07 – 55
  8. 1-8-08 – 57
  9. 1-6-09 – 31 / 25 – fr rain
  10. 1-5-10 – 27 / 15

Four times over 45 degrees, three times under 30 degrees, and three right in the 30s.  Tonite will certainly compete for coldest yet, as the temperatures might get below 21, but it is not very windy and so the wind chill should stay above the 2 degrees it was in 2001.


Written by SCL

January 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

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

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

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

Didn’t know I had it in me

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Speed workout last night consisted of a 2 mile interval around the lower loop of Central Park, then a 1 mile interval into the marathon finish line and then, finally, a 600 yard interval to finish up the workout.

First interval started out free and easy, with a good hard pace.  I fell just a bit behind the front of the pack.  I was suprised when we passed the first mile mark in 7:40, and then very pleased that I was able to keep up the pace for the 2nd half.  Finished the 2 miles in 15:25.  This was slightly slower than my previously fastest 2 mile effort about 11 months ago, but that previous record was on a mostly downhill course.  The lower loop of Central Park both has its ups and downs.

We then jogged across to the east side to run a 1 mile interval.  Wow did that feel really hard.  I felt tired from the beginning.  It felt like my legs were burning from the 1st interval.  I was sure that I would clock in at 8 minutes or so.  I was very pleasantly suprised to cross the finish at 7:29.  Again, this was not quite my fastest mile in speed training, but very close.  I had no idea that I could run a mile under 7:30, especially just after a hard 2 miler

After the first two intervals, the 600 yard distance of the third interval felt like nothing.  It is probably about a third of a mile and I finished in 2:02.  This is a very strong effort for me, and faster than all of the 6 times I posted on the same exact interval last week.

This was a great way to finish off the 10 week speed class session.  I’ll take a break now and maybe take the session again in August as I prepare for the New York Marathon (maybe), or otherwise will take it again next January as I usually do to get me through the winter.  I’m looking forward to not having the speed workout penned into my calendar on Tuesday nights, as I want to be flexbile to bike or swim whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Written by SCL

March 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Posted in running, Speed Workout

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Feeling better and planning the next few days

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Feeling a lot better today.  The knot in my back that suddenly popped up on Saturday is gone.  That one was strange.  It was not lower back or neck/shoulders, areas where I’ve had trouble in the past and are a major source of concern.  It was on the left side of the back below the shoulder.  The best was to describe it was a knot – it only really hurt when extending or stretching my left arm.  I can’t recall doing anything in particular that hurt it.  Hopefully it does not come back.

Also, the neck and shoulder soreness resulting from my first bike ride of the season Saturday has melted away.  So, I can clear myself to work out and swim at the gym again!  Unfortunately it won’t be tonight, as tonight is my last group speed session in Central Park (running), which I don’t want to skip as it will be my last group organized speed session for awhile.  So, speed workout tonight, and hopefully the gym on Thursday to workout and swim, and then another bike ride on the weekend, with another run mixed in between.  I would really like to get to the gym tomorrow night, but the problem with Wednesday’s is that the window to use the pool for lap swimming is only 9-9:30.

Written by SCL

March 10, 2009 at 8:42 am

Posted in bike, gym, injury, running, Speed Workout, swim

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Taper mode!

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In taper mode for the Austin Marathon, which is in 9 days. 

Last run was Tuesday nights speed workout in Central Park in the snow!  Central park was absolutely stunning after the storm we had Tuesday.  At least 5 inches of snow everywhere!  The road was sort of plowed, but still snow covered and pretty slippery.  All the trees were completely covered.  The cat statue (really a panther), at Cat Hill, was covered in white!  Our workout was repeats up Cat Hill.  The going was quite slippery (like running on sand) and since I was coming off my 20 mile training run from Sunday, I just stayed in the back of the last group and took it easy.  It was a lot of fun.

Current temp in Austin Tx?  56 degrees!  Looking forward to the trip and to some warmer weather.  Hopefully the temps on marathon day are right in the 50’s.

Written by SCL

February 6, 2009 at 9:47 am

Nailed the speed workout

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Speed workout tonight in Central Park was a 4 mile tempo run of the middle 4 miles of Central Park.  While this is the least interesting of the various workouts we can do, it is always a great chance to race the distance on a familiar course and with lots of hills.

It is the middle 4 miles in Central Park, but clockwise, opposite the direction of most races and the direction that most people run.  What makes this hard is the the first mile includes Cat Hill on the downhill.  That mile is always too fast and then the rest is tough.  Mile 2 is mostly uphill, and there is a fair amount of uphill in the last mile.

Kept a nice, hard steady pace.  Took the first mile too fast, something like 7:40.  On the fast downhill, I could feel my right shin acting up.  For me, it always gets worse on the downhills and better on the uphills.  In the 2nd mile, with a lot of uphill on the West Side, the shin loosened up.  After that, I pushed hard on the uphills and coasted a bit to recover on the downhills.  Finished the 4 mile course in 32:13, soooooo close to 32 min and an 8 min per mile pace.  In the 11 times I’ve done this workout, this was the fastest time ever.  My previous fastest of 32:29 was way back in Dec 2001.

Very happy with how that went!  It felt so much easier to run without the extra layers I had added for the Manhattan Half Marathon this past weekend.  Also, my toe pain did not act up at all.  It seems to hurt a bit when walking, but no pain at all when running.  That works for me!

For next weekend, I need to get a 20-21 mile long run in for my Austin Marathon training.  Forecast is currently calling for a warmer day on Sunday, so I’ll plan my run for then.

Written by SCL

January 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

ICY speed workout

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I was recovering pretty nicely from Sunday’s long 17.5 mile run.  By Tuesday, I only had some muscle tightness in the right leg.  Otherwise felt fine.  So, went ahead with my normal Tuesday night speed workout in Central Park with NYRR.  I hardly ever stretch on my own, but in this class, there is a very thorough 15 minute stretch before we get started.  Good thing, because it loosened up any lingering muscle tightness and I was ready to go.  The workout was 2 mile intervals at the lower loop of Central Park.  The problem was that some sections of the course were icy from the snow over the weekend.  The lower loop is 1.7 miles, so our 2 mile course was slightly longer than 1 loop.  I would estimate that about 1/3 of that loop had poor footing conditions due to the ice.  That kept the times down a little bit.  My intervals were completed in 16:15 and 16:20, very consistent.  Weather was on the cold side, about 25 degrees, thankfully with little wind.

I’ll get 1 more run in before Sunday, where I will run the Manhattan Half Marathon at training pace, and then complete another 6 mile full loop of the park.  This will be my 2nd to last long run in preparation for the Austin Marathon, quickly approaching on 2/15.

Made it to the gym tonight – been able to go 1-2 times each week.  Not a lot, but enough to keep some momentum.

Written by SCL

January 21, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Nice speed workout

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Went out last night for a group speed workout in Central Park – NYRR class.  Workout was at the lower end of the park, 600 yard repeats into the marathon finish line.  Done this workout often over the years, and yesterday was one of my best.  Did 6 repeats – check out the consistency:

  • R1 – 2:05
  • R2 – 2:05
  • R3 – 2:06
  • R4 – 2:06
  • R5 – 2:06
  • R6 – 2:05

Went with the 7:30 – 8:15 pace group and was somewhere in the middle.  Defintely not up front, and not trailing either.  What was great about the workout was how consistent it was, and how in the later repeats, I was able to pass more and more people late in the repeat.

Weather was nice and stormy.  31 degrees with freezing rain.  Total workout was 6.5 miles.

Written by SCL

January 7, 2009 at 10:16 pm