4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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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

New Jersey Marathon

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I’ve definitely got ties to the New Jersey Marathon. My weekend house is in Little Silver, which is two towns away from Long Branch (just need to pass through Oceanport). My home beach is Seven President’s State Park, which is passed through at mile 1 and mile 14 on the course. I also follow several bloggers that will be running the race this year. Best of luck to Run Jen Run, Run Ansky Run, Echers: A Girl and Her Blog, all running the full, and Races Like A Girl, running the half.

But, I also so despise this race. They say first impressions are the hardest ones to shake, and boy was my first impression rotten!  I ran the race in 2002, when it was called the Jersey Shore Marathon, and the race started in Sandy Hook.  It seemed like a cool idea, run 5 miles in Sandy Hook, then run down the ocean to Deal, and then turn back up to Long Branch.  However, I did not consider the possibility of torrential rain, which is what happened on that day.  My drive to the High School in Long Branch takes less than 10 minutes, but it was one scary hydroplaning 10 minute drive.  The rain was hard, the wind was whipping, and I was not feeling happy about the prospect of running 26 miles.

There was a shuttle bus to the start, which was one of the little Sandy Hook parking lots, with very little cover.  We were all trying to stay dry huddled under some tents.  Thankfully the rain did let up a bit as we got to the start, and then it rained off an on during the race, but the wind was fierce.  It was also a lonely race.  There were hardly any spectators, who can blame them, as Sandy Hook is not exactly easy to get to for spectating, and the bad weather, I’m sure, kept most people indoors.  While the rain let up, I can’t say the same about the wind.  It was a steady wind out of the south, and unfortunately, south was the direction we were heading in, from about mile 3-4 (the top of Sandy Hook) to the turnaround at about mile 23.  The wind was unrelenting and very harsh.  I had finally busted the 5 hour barrier twice in 2000 (New York City Marathon and Vermont City Marathon), and this was the first race I thought I might be able to run a 4:30.  Alas, with the bad weather and the wind, that was not to be the case, and I finished in 5:02:34, 1092 out of 1329 finishers.

I actually found this article in Running Times recounting the day – it was a fun read.  I wonder if the course change had anything to do with the desolation of Sandy Hook and the potential harshness of 18 miles in one direction.  As much has I HATE a two loop course, that is probably the best way to handle this race.

I know I should not let my first impressions sway me too much, and I’m willing to give this race a second chance.  I think I may be able to spectate for a bit on Sunday, and if so,  it would probably be in the Monmouth Beach area, between miles 3-4 and 16-17.  I can’t say that I’ll race it again, as going forward, I’m trying to spread my marathons across the 50 states.  I’ve got 5 so far (New York, New Jersey, California, Vermont, Texas), and so 45 to go!

Forecast for Sunday is, of course, for rain, but temps in the 50’s.  If the rain is on the light side, this could actually be perfect weather.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  Good luck to all!

Written by SCL

May 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

Posted in Race Report, weather

Gotta figure out how to get a bike ride in tonight

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Weather is perfect!

Written by SCL

April 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Posted in bike, weather

Still alive…Just not motivated!

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I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog since the marathon in Austin last month.  Just haven’t been able to get myself properly motivated.  I think this is partly because I’m starting to step up swimming and biking, and I’m just not so strong in those disciplines yet!

I’ve also had this nagging groin pull for several months.  Not anything bad (I did run a 4:22 marathon on it, after all!).  I think I aggrevated it around the time of the New York City Marathon last year.  Figured it would just go away on its own.  Well, no luck so far, and it has recently started bothering me a bit when I run, so I’m starting a regiment of icing to see if that helps.  Since I’m between big events right now, it seems like the right time to slow down a little, take stock of injuries and recover properly.

Last week I lifted weights and swam on Saturday, biked on Sunday, and ran on Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday, my run was in Miami, as I had travelled there on business last week.  It was nice to run in the 80 degree weather on Tuesday afternoon, after running in 40 degrees Monday night!  My run took me from Miami Beach to downtown Miami – very beautiful after the long New York winter. 

Since then, though, I have been mostly inactive.  Felt the beginnings of a cold on Saturday, so skipped my planned gym/swim workout.  I did manage to go for a 14 mile bike ride yesterday morning, but am still feeling the effects of the cold today, so will take it easy today.

For the next couple of days, I’ll stay home, rest as much as possible, and ice up the groin to see if I can get that all healed.  In the meantime, I’m praying for the warmer weather to come, and planning out my spring schedule of races.  I prefer running in the colder weather, and definitely run more in the winter than in the summer, but this cold weather is really getting to me now – really looking forward to some 60 degree days in the coming months!

Written by SCL

March 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Posted in bike, gym, injury, running, swim, weather

Blogging outdoors!

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It is still kinda cold outside, 40 degrees, but I’ve got spring on the brain and so am walking downtown to pick my 13 year old from dance class.  Stopped off at Madison Square Park to take advantage of the free wi-fi to kill some time.  Funny, last time I did this, I also had weather on the brain.  The answer to the question I posed back then is that the weather in Austin in Feb is wonderful!

On a more serious note, had a visit to my doctor today.  I’m used to dealing with running injuries, but lately having a health issue.  Nothing to be concerned about, and 2-4 weeks of Cipro will hopefully kill the bacterial infection my doctor suspects I have.  We’ll see!

Otherwise, had a great workout lifting weights at the gym last night.  Had another pathetic swim session in the pool, but I can already see some small improvements after 3 visits.  I still have 4+ months to get myself up to swimming a mile before the New York City Triathlon.

Probably will stay inactive tonight, and maybe drag myself out of bed for an early run in the morning.

Written by SCL

March 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Sunday bike ride?

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Picked up my bike from the bike shop last night.  Got a tune up and handlebars retaped.  Also added a 2nd water bottle cage.  I see the forecast for Sunday says mid 60’s.  MID 60’S!!!  Sounds like it might be a good day for my first bike ride of the season.  Just need to figure out how to work it around our planned family outing to the New York Botanical Gardens to see the orchids.

Written by SCL

March 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Posted in bike, weather

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Snow! And undecided on 2009 New York City Marathon

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Had a nice snowstorm today.  Maybe 7 or 8 inches in NYC.  I love the snow.  Love being out in the snow, driving in the snow, playing in the snow, digging out of the snow, etc.  My kids both had snow days, but my office was open.  So, I trudged into work in the snow.  Did leave early, at 3pm, to get home in time to take my 7 year old out to play in the snow a bit.  She had a great time.  I made snowballs for her, so she could throw them at me.  Then we went to the drugstore for a snack (Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies) and she also picked out a special pencil.  It was a nice father/daughter outing.

Then had to then drive to my house in New Jersey to dig out my driveway and sidewalk.  Wow there was a lot of snow there.  It is a few miles from the coast, in Little Silver.  I would estimate 15 inches – or maybe more?  See picture of deck furniture below.  The shoveling was a hard job, but still fun in an odd way.  I think my arms will be very sore tomorrow.  Good thing I’m running tomorrow night and not scheduled for the gym.

Finally, regarding running, I’m extremely undecided about the NYC Marathon.  I’m horrified at how expensive it has gotten.  Used to be a no brainer to run every year if I could get an automatic entry.  However, at $138, plus the $11 registration fee, it is no longer a no brainer.  I’ve already paid $225 (I think) for the NYC Triathlon, plus the fee for the Austin Marathon.  Plus, I’m planning at least 2 bi/tri preps before the NYC Triathlon, which are also expensive.  In addition, I finally beat 4:30 in my last marathon, so I’m not sure I have anything else to prove.  On the other hand, I’ve got the automatic entry this year and probably should take advantage of it in case I don’t get the 9 NYRR races in this year.  Also, I’m on a marathon roll, and if I push hard, maybe I can get my time down to 4:15, which would be amazing.  Anyway, I have until the end of April to decide.  Could go either way…




Written by SCL

March 2, 2009 at 11:59 pm