4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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Perfect end to a perfect weekend

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Had an awesome weekend.  Was off on Monday so spent almost 3 days down at my weekend house in New Jersey.  Topped it off with a long 8.7 mile run Monday night – more on that below.

Friday, kicked things off with an early morning run to East River Park.  It is notable that it was my 3rd early morning run in the last week and a half, not counting an early morning trip to the gym.  Starting to make a habit of getting up at 5:30 to get a nice workout in before going to work.  Friday morning was a little rough because of the humidity, still trying to get used to the warmer weather.  My splits for the 4 mile run were 18:22 and 18:23, pretty darn consistent if you ask me!  I think negative splits are too much to ask for in the humidity, so nice consistent efforts will have to do.

Friday night, went to Citi Field to watch my beloved Mets get pounded by the Yankees.  Despite the score, I had a great time.  Citi Field is such an upgrade over Shea.  It was nice to experience batting practice from so many outfield vantage points, and to enjoy Blue Smoke and the other great food options, and just be able to wander around the stadium during the game.  Was even very comfortable during the massive thunderstorm that blew through before the game.  Plenty of under cover areas to stay dry.  The place also just has so much more character than the old dump…

On Saturday, dragged all our stuff out to New Jersey (lots of laundry), including my bike.  Had a simple BBQ (just burgers and hot dogs) and then went out to the beach.  On Sunday, started my day with a 23 mile bike ride (see course here), followed by a more complicated BBQ (steak, chicken, corn and hot dogs) and then another trip to the beach.  The bike ride was really fun.  It is nice being able to leave my house in NJ, and immediately go into long ride mode as there are few traffic lights to stop at and the traffic is light.  I’m preparing for the New York City Triathlon, so was aiming for a 24-25 mile ride to approximate the race distance, but turned around a little too early, and settled for 23 miles.  This ride used to seem a little hard to me, but after recently biking in Vermont and then at Harriman State Park, where they have real hills, this ride seemed like a piece of cake!

Monday was also very relaxing.  Was able to sleep in and take it easy until the drive back to the city in the early afternoon.  Monday was a beautiful day, with low humidity.

I had already penciled in a run for Monday night.  The decision was how far to go.  With the nice weather, I decided to go a little long.  Summer months are always lowest mileage for me, and my June monthly record was only 42 miles.  I noticed that 8+ miles would break that record.  My 6 and 6.5 mile runs would not be enough, and I really didn’t feel like my 10.3 mile 3 boro 3 bridge route.  So, settled for a route that I rarely run, and haven’t done in almost 2 years.  Down East River Path, up Hudson River Path, and across 14th St back home.  That route is 8.7 miles, and flat, so perfect.  Biggest problem is the trip across 14th St requires a lot of car dodging, and lots of stops at the avenues, but that is OK as I was not so concerned about time.

Even though the humidity was down, the direct sun bothers me and the heat bothers me, so I decided to wait until the sun was well on the way down before getting started.  Got out around 7pm, and picked up a bottle of Powerade to help me stay hydrated.  First part of the run was to and through East River Park.  It was so crowded with runners.  I typically run the park early in the morning or very late in the day when it is not that crowded.  Not sure if it was extra crowded because of the nice weather, but there were dozens of runners in the park, which was really nice to see.

Tried to hold back a little in the first few miles, but the pace was about 9 minutes per mile.  A little too fast.  At about 1 mile, I drank from the water fountain in front of the track at East River Park, conserving my Powerade.  Good thing because I felt like I needed to stop often to stay hydrated.  In fact, the Powerade only lasted until about mile 4.5, heading back up the west side.  It is still quite a ways up to 14th St from there and really wanted to find some water.  Luckily, I thought, there was a detour around the construction site just past the World Financial Center and I passed the Pick-A-Bagel in Battery Park City.  Perfect place to pick up a water.  First though, they did not have the medium sized squeeze bottle, just the regular small size and giant size.  I refuse to pay 1.35 for the small water, so kept going.  The Runners Station was closed, as they are only open till 6pm, but salvation was found when I got to pier 40, where they have vending machines outside.  Was able to buy a Gatorade and continue on my way.

While not overly hot or humid, it was hotter and more humid than I care for, and I was definitely starting to lose it as I neared 7 miles and 14th St.  Caught the light and crossed over West St at the bottom portion of 10th Ave before 14th St, then up 10th, to the turn onto 14th St.  I was quite suprised to see people standing on the high line tracks, as I forgot that it was open, and that it overlooked 14th St in that spot.  I was starting to get a little delirious at that point and decided to have a little fun with the tourists staring down at 14th St by pointing and waving to them.  I was also able to see the great improvements made to 9th and 8th Ave’s as well.  So much easier to cross 9th Ave, now that most of the intersection is a pedestrian square and car free.  On 8th Ave, there is now a protected bike lane.

Anyway, even though I was overheated and my belly full from too much Ade (Power and Gator varieties), I was aided by having to stop a couple of times at traffic lights across 14th St, and was able to finish strongly in just under 1 hour 26 minutes.  For 8.7 miles, this is just under 10 min per mile pace.  Not bad at all with all the stopping.

Yesterday, my groin injury was acting up so no running yesterday or today.  The pain that I have (which I actually DO NOT experience while running) seems to be migrating now to the pelvis area.  I think it is time to get it checked out by a professional!  In the meantime, will continue to build in trips to the gym and off days, and continue treating with ice and stretching.

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Written by SCL

July 1, 2009 at 7:50 am

Week in review

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Haven’t had a chance to write in the last week, so here is a review of what I’ve been up to!

Went to Middlebury VT last weekend.  My wife was speaking on a panel at alumni weekend at the college.  Middlebury is very nice.  We stayed at a great bed and breakfast, and tooled around the various small towns there including Bristol and Vergennes.  Also went to the Robert Frost trail in Bread Loaf, but it was mostly closed due to some flood damage from the winter.

I brought my bike with me to Middlebury, and had an amazing, and humbling ride.  My intention was to bike out and back from Middlebury, on rt 125, to Lake Champlain (see route here).  It was about 15 miles each way.  The hills were relentless, and wore me down to no end, and I could only cover about 12 miles before turning around.  24 miles in total, and a really awesome and hard workout.  I realize that real bikers and triathletes can handle these kinds of hills with no issues, so I need to figure out how to add more hills to my bike workouts.  I like riding at my weekend house in Little Silver, NJ, but there are very few ‘real’ hills out there.  Anyway, it was an awesome ride, and a great tune up for my triathlon this weekend.

As good as the ride was, I think the hills aggrevated my groin.  It was really acting up on Sunday and Monday.  The good news is that it helped me to isolate exactly where the pain is coming from, so now I know where to focus my ice treatments.

Monday night was softball, up in Inwood.  With my groin issue, I was not able to run full out, but the light running in the outfield and on the bases, combined with lots of stretchng, actually made it feel a little better.  Collectively we had a great game, and won 11-7.

Didn’t do any workouts on Tuesday because I had to run down to my weekend house and do some lawn and grounds care, and morning workouts are too hard until school is over for my kids.  Wednesday nights are no good for swimming because there is only a small window the pool is available for lap swimming, so I went for a run last night.

Did my 4 mile out and back to East River Park.  I have a hard time doing ‘easy’ runs, and ran it pretty hard.  Finished up in 34:56, about 8:45 pace.  The groin issue is so far not preventing me from running.  It only bothers me a little as I get started with a run, and loosens up pretty quickly.  However, I’ve lately also been feeling some tendonitis behind my left knee, and that I can feel with every step in a run.  It is not a lot of pain, but just a little bit of very noticeable discomfort.  While not preventing me from running, I think it would prevent me from running all out in a speed workout or race condition.  So far, ice on its own has not done anything.  May need to work on leg based stretches and exercises to smooth it out.

It is interesting.  These are my first real injuries since I started this blog over a year ago.  In the past, I constantly had injury issues and I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without issue.  My last big injury was when I blew out my lower back in July 2007.  Historically, I’ve always had leg problems on my right side – patellar tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splits, etc.  Left leg was always great.  Therefore, never really focused on left side.  My current injuries are on my left side.  Ooops.  Guess I need to pay attention to both sides going forward!

This morning, heading to my older daughters school.  She is 13 and graduating middle school in 2 weeks.  Today is an honors ceremony, and she is doing a solo tap dance routine.  Then off to work, and hopefully to the pool to swim tonight.

With my triathlon coming up quickly on Sunday, I need to make sure I’m well prepared for all 3 events, for the transitions, and most importantly, need to practice getting the wetsuit on and off!

Written by SCL

June 11, 2009 at 7:24 am

Think I messed up

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Last night, I decided I would go to the gym and swim, rather than run, to rest my legs for the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Good plan.  However, I did something kind of silly.  

Over the last few weeks, a nagging injury to my upper thigh/groin area, has gotten steadily worse.  Lately, I’ve been icing and trying to stretch daily, to try and loosen things up and get better.  But, the reality is that it has not gotten any better, and in fact, may have been getting worse.  My leg does not hurt when I walk and sort of does not hurt when I run (I can feel it when I start out, until it loosens up a bit), but I can definitely feel some pain when I flex my leg in certain ways, or when I do certain stretches. 

Anyway, when at the gym last night, I did some very light weight lifting before my swim.  I decided to have a look at leg machines to see if anything looked promising for exercising my thighs, and spotted the abductor/adductor machine.  Got on that, and felt like it was just what I needed, and worked the area where I am feeling pain.  So, without really thinking it through, I did 3 hard sets of both abductor and adductor, on a pretty strong weight.  Then went for my swim and didn’t think anything of it.  Until today, when I noticed my legs hurting more than expected.  Then, realization slowly washed over me.  Of course.  My thighs are in pain because of a rough new workout on muscles that are not used to that kind of work.  I’m sure the muscle soreness will not magically go away by 8am tomorrow for the race.  I can only hope that with a slow start in the race tomorrow, they reasonably loosen up and do not cause to much trouble in the race.  

I think I need to lower my 2:00-2:05 expectation to 2:05-2:10.  Drat…

Written by SCL

May 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Posted in gym, injury, swim

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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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Pain in the toe!

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Started noticing a pain in the toe today.  Left foot big toe is hurting a bit when I put pressure on it.  It is not a nail issue, but more of a joint pain – hoping it goes away soon!  I’ll test it out in my speed workout tonight.

Also, since Saturday, my left shoulder and neck has been slightly stiff.  I thought it was getting better, but then yesterday morning I did a great set of pushups (Week 2, day 3 of the hundred pushup challenge) and wonder if that made things worse.

This weekend I started on a regimen of Vitamin C, as the paranoia of getting sick before the Austin Marathon is settling in.  Hopefully, some extra C will keep any germs at bay…

Written by SCL

January 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

My bloody sock

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Snapped a picture of my bloody sock before I threw it away after my rough run on Monday morning.  Definitely wanted this in the archives!  

Blister is still pretty raw, hoping for improvement by Friday, when I’m supposed to do my long run…
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Written by SCL

December 31, 2008 at 7:14 am

Posted in injury

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Strong run Wed, then minor issues

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Had a very strong 5.9 mile run on Wednesday night over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  My wife was away for the night so a late night run was out of the question – I needed to get home from work quick and get an early run in before relieving the babysitter.  Therefore, I was able to get a nice early start after work, home by 6 and out on the street at 6:30.

Felt great right from the start.  I think it was because of the early time.  If I go out at 9 or 10 PM, or early in the morning, my energy usually does not feel like it is at peak.  Also, the weather was perfect.  It was 41 degress, and very little wind.  Since I was feeling so good, I pushed it from the start.  Especially on the way back, I pushed the pace up the bridge and kept the intensity over the last mile after the bridge.  I finished in 52:15, 8:51 pace.  It was my 2nd fastest time on this course.  It was just a beautiful night, and the J/M trains on the bridge proved to be good pacing partners!  Most interesting site was the gridlock on Delancy St with traffic backed halfway up the bridge…

Then, yesterday morning, woke up with a knot in my upper left shoulder.  This does tend to happen to me when I step up the upper body workouts at the gym.  I’ve been to the gym twice a week since the marathon, and I guess overdid something.  Thankfully it is not very bad and is feeling better today.  Since I was already a bit out of commission yesterday, I decided to take care of a nail issue.  I’ve shedded a couple of bad toenails in the last 4 months of intense (for me at least) training.  One of the new ones coming in was somehow a bit split and created this odd growth.  I’ve tried to trim it to correct form to no avail.  So, yesterday I just yanked the old bad part out.  Toe will be a little tender for a couple of days, but then the nail should grow back in nicely.

My next event is volunteering Sunday at the Joe Kleinerman 10k. (2009 New York City Marathon here I come)  Forecast?  Snow!  Maybe…

Written by SCL

December 5, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Posted in running

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