4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Races

Checking in With Two Weeks to Go

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Rhode Races Marathon is coming up in less than 2 short weeks, and I’m feeling really ready.  I’ve had mostly great runs, and have put in more miles before this race than any marathon prior.  I overdid it in the last 2 weeks and then had a bad run on Saturday, but with a day off yesterday, bounced back with a great 4.6 mile run tonight.

Way back on Jan 16, I posted my 15 week training plan.  I have to say, I have executed it perfectly.  Here is a recap of my plan and what I accomplished:

  1. weekend of 1/23 – Manhattan Half (completed very strong race.  Last 3 miles at 8:40 pace)
  2. weekend of 1/30 – 15 miles (completed 15.8 miles)
  3. weekend of 2/6 – TBD, default being 10 miles.  Maybe long bike ride? (completed 10.3 miles)
  4. weekend of 2/13 – on vacation (nothing!)
  5. weekend of 2/20 – on vacation (completed Cherry Tree 10 mile race – PR – strong race)
  6. weekend of 2/27 – long run 18 miles (completed 17.5 miles)
  7. weekend of 3/6 – Coogan’s 5k race (completed race – PR)
  8. weekend of 3/13 – TBD, default being 10 miles.  Maybe long bike ride? (completed 10 mile run)
  9. weekend of 3/20 – long run – 20 miles (completed 20 mile run)
  10. weekend of 3/27 – March Madness Biathlon (completed race – PR)
  11. weekend of 4/3 – 131 New York Half Marathon (completed race – little unhappy with pace, but really not bad)
  12. weekend of 4/10 – last long run – 21 miles (completed 22.1 mile run)
  13. weekend of 4/17 – start of taper – 10-13 miles (supposed to do 10 miles, but bagged it after hard efforts earlier in week)
  14. weekend of 4/24 – taper
  15. weekend of 5/1 – BIG RACE

So with the exception of a less than stellar 13.1 New York half marathon, and skipping my first taper run this past weekend, I completed all my planned runs, and was satisfied with virtually all of them.  I even executed my plan of running lots of miles, and running hard, in the last 2 weeks before my taper.  This period culminated in an awesome run in Oakland, CA last Thursday, where I ventured up into the hills of Piedmont, behind Lake Merritt.  380 feet of elevation gain in less than 2 miles, and then the same feet of elevation loss in 1.5 miles.  Check out the elevation chart below, including the 5 and 6% grades on the up and down.  After that, still had 3 miles to go on tired legs.  Was a great training session.

Oakland Run Elevation

Looking forward to a nice 2 week taper, and then hopefully a strong run.  I am extremely hopeful that I can beat 4:30, but not so hopeful I can match the 4:22 I ran in Austin last year.  That was a special race, but my 4:22 was more directly related to the 250 feet of elevation loss, and wind at my back, in the last 8 miles, than anything else.  I think those factors subtracted 5 minutes from my time.  I’ll have to work that much harder to make those 5 minutes on a course that doesn’t have the same kind of downhills.  There is a chance, and I’m looking forward to the challenge…


Written by SCL

April 19, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Rhode Races, running

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Final long run for Providence Marathon done

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Reposted from my Daily Mile report.  Click here for the route.  Finished 22.1 miles in 3:57:08.

4th and final of my planned long run for Providence Marathon, in 3 weeks on May 2.  Since the marathon is relatively flat, I decided to come up with a new long run route that was flat.  Best place for that is the greenway around Manhattan, so I traced it all the way back and beyond to 20 miles and ended up with a starting point at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.  I really wanted 22ish miles so I needed to find a short route in the park as a starting point, and Amy C came through with a couple of options, including ‘the flats’, a gravel loop that is 1.4 miles in the area of the park where I wanted to start.

So, I started with that loop, headed down Broadway into Manhattan, down Seaman to the end and hooked up with the top of the Greenway.  It literally is the top, as there is a quite a large hill in the early 2 miles to the GW Bridge.  At the bridge, the path very quickly gets down to sea level and then the rest of the run was to be flat.

At least that was the plan, until I got about 125th st, where the greenway was CLOSED!  Needed to detour over to Riverside, which is up a LONG and STEEP hill to get up to Grants Tomb.  Then along Riverside and Riverside Park before I could hook up with the greenway at 96th St.

The worst part of this run was when I hit the wall at mile 12.  Yes, mile 12.  Not sure what happened, but I totally lost it, and had to stop and walk awhile.  The best I can describe is that I felt a weird sugar imbalance.  At this point I was in the 40’s, which is a crowded area with street vendors.  Tried to get a pretzel, but the guy only had hot dogs, so I ate one, and then got a Gatorade.  Between those, I started running again at 42nd St, and felt much better.

Had my fair share of soreness, tiredness, etc the rest of the way, but was able to work through it.  In fact, the best part was that the last 2 miles was done at 10:15 pace!

Thought a lot about the NYC Triathlon on this run.  The flats loop in Van Cortlandt Park is approximately where the bike turn-around is on Mosholo Parkway.  The top part of the greenway is on the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is the bike course, and Riverside Park passes through the start and end of the swim, and the transition areas.  Made me excited about my planned triathlons this year, which will be my focus starting on May 3!

Written by SCL

April 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Great long run!

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Sorry to all of you that care about my training, but I’ve had very little time to blog about my training for the Rhode Races Marathon, coming up in 6 weeks (EDIT: umm, 4 weeks due to delays in getting this post finished!), on May 2.  My training has gone really, really well this year, and I’m looking forward to a great race.

Saturday (actually 2 Saturdays ago now, as I’m pathetic about making time to write) was a big test for me to see where I am with my fitness.  It was the third of four planned long runs leading to the race.  This run was 20.3 miles, a giant loop starting on 14th St in Manhattan, heading down to Manhattan Bridge, then up through Brooklyn and Queens to the RFK Bridge, to Randall’s Island, back to Manhattan and 5.5 miles down 1st Ave to the end.  See map here. I love this course.  I love the fact that it is one giant loop.  I’m not good with smaller loops.  A friend asked if I’d be running loops in the park, and the clear answer to that is NO.  That doesn’t work so well for me.  It is too easy to give in and quit early.  Therefore, I plan my long runs so that I end at home and the only way to end early is to get on a subway.  I’ve done that before as well, but it is pretty rare.

Anyway, back to the run.  I wanted to get a nice early start, as the day was to be warm and sunny, but that wasn’t meant to be.  I definitely take my time getting out of the house, to make sure I don’t forget anything and also to make sure I’ve taken care of any GI needs.  I also made sure to eat some breakfast at least 30 minutes before getting out.  That all added up to a 9am start.

As I went through this run, a theme emerged.  And this is one I think can be applied to distance running in general.  It goes something like this: “And Scott WINS in a 20 round TKO!”  The entire run, I was breaking it down into logical segments, generally because I would drink after each one.  However, in the last 5.5 miles down 1st Ave, which is deceptively hilly by the way, I visualized the uphills as rounds of a boxing match, and the subsequent downhills as the recovery time between rounds.  Mentally, this really, really worked for me at the end of the run.  The hills beat me down, but DID NOT knock me out.  At the end, I was the one standing, and was awarded the TKO.  When I wrote it out, ended up with only 19 ’rounds’, but hey, literary license is allowed!

Early Miles (5 segments)

  • To Manhattan Bridge (mile 1.4) – Down 1st Ave and Allen St to Manhattan Bridge.  I was in the shade for this portion, and just took it real easy.  Had to speed it up to get through Houston on the green light, and miraculously was able to get through Delancey without having to stop for red light.
  • Over Manhattan Bridge (mile 3) – mostly uneventful.  I went on the bike side, not the pedestrian side.  I really don’t think of myself as a pedestrian when I run, and I am very careful to move all the way over as far as possible when a bike is coming.  There were a bunch of bikers, but not nearly as many as you would see on Bklyn or Williamsburg Bridges.  Few casual pedestrians as well.
  • Around the Bklyn Navy Yard (mile 4.4) – Sand St Bike lane to Flushing Ave all the way around to Franklin/Wythe. (mile 4.4) – Nice area to run.  While the traffic is fast, there is not a lot of traffic, and no cross traffic because of the Navy Yard.  Here the sun was shining down, from the right side.
  • Wythe around to Williamsburg Bridge (mile 5.5) – This is a very peaceful area, with some great views of Manhattan and the bridge.  Hasidic area, and lots of people out and about, presumably walking to synagogue on Sat morning.  Still feeling great, had a nice steady pace going.  Still working on first Gatorade bottle.
  • Continue on Wythe to end, becomes Norman, to Manhattan Ave (mile 6.8) – Wythe continues to be very quiet in north Williamsburg, and was able to keep a great steady pace going.  At the end, took my first break to buy a water at a bodega.

In summary, these early miles were easy, as they should be in a long run.  After the 1st mile though, the sun was a constant factor.  The relative calm of the streets allowed me to fall into a nice steady pace.  Again, I broke down the run into segments, but more for making the time pass, and executing my hydration plan, it was not as mentally needed here as it was later in the run.

Middle Miles (6 segments)

  • McGuiness over the Pulaski Bridge (mile eight) – In past runs, I would take Manhattan Ave, or McGuiness itself, but they are both crowded with cars, leaving a narrow space for running.  I recently discovered the bike lane on Leonard, which is perfect to use.  So Leonard to GreenPoint Ave, then down the little hill to McGuiness and then over the Pulaski Bridge.  Very little shade here as well, but was pleasantly surprised I was easily able to get up and over the bridge.  Once over the Bridge, when I crossed over on Jackson Ave, stopped in a shade spot to take my first Gu and drink a bunch of water.
  • 21st St past Queensboro Bridge, to 40th Ave (9.2 miles) – Jackson to 21st St, left on 21st St, and up all the way to bridge.  Heavy traffic area, but lots of room on the road.  Still feeling good.
  • Make way to Crescent, and up to RFK Bridge (11 miles)  – little jig-jagging through industrial streets to get to Crescent, and then Crescent all the way to bridge.  When this long run doesn’t go well, this is the segment when I start to tire, and notice the aches and pains.  But this time, just felt great and kept the nice steady pace going.  Just before the bridge, I stopped to get a new water, and was craving a banana.  However, the 2 bodegas I stopped in both did not have fruit.  So went without.  Frankly, I didn’t miss it,and wasn’t even starving at the end, so this is more of a mind over matter issue I need to deal with.
  • RFK Bridge (12.5) – Main span of the bridge has some spectacular views.  And it was such a clear day, I felt like I could see all the way out to Long Island.  Was really happy to see the old construction GONE – see my blog post on the subject.  Continuing theme of endless sunshine and no shade.
  • Randall’s Island (13.5) – The end of the bridge drops you off more on the south end of the island, and you need to run on the road to get up to the pedestrian path to Manhattan or Bronx.  Was also nice to see that the road construction here is finally finished as well.  Road is nice blacktop now, have not seen that in a long time here.  They are still missing painted bike lanes.  There really should be one, and maybe that will be done this upcoming year?
  • Pedestrian Bridge to Manhattan (14.5) – walked up the steep ramps to the bridge proper, and at that point inhaled my 2nd Gu, and gobbled down a bunch of water.  Worked into the run again as I came off the bridge and around the bend to 1st Ave and 126th St, 112 blocks, and 5.5 miles) from home.

Last Miles (8 segments)

  • to 96th St
  • Hill 1 peak at ~84th St
  • Hill 2 peak at ~70th St
  • Hill 3 peak at ~58th St
  • Hill 4 peak at ~50th St
  • Hill 5 peak at ~42nd St
  • Hill 6 peak at ~30th St
  • The end – 14th and Ave A

It was while I was working up the various hills on 1st Ave that I started thinking about the rounds of a boxing match analogy, and for me, at the end of a long run like this, with all the little rolling hills, it totally worked for me.  Battled up the hills, and then ‘sat in the corner’ on the downhills to recover.  I did not walk up any of these hills, and still felt strong going up the last hill.  The mistake I made was assuming I was done after the last hill, when in fact, I had almost a mile to go down to 14th St.  In the first half of the last mile I started feeling very weary, as if I was in ‘hitting the wall’ territory.  But I also knew how close I was to being done, and something flipped, and the last half mile ended up not being a problem.

Finished the 20.3 miles in 3:26:59, a 19 second PR from my previous best effort on this course!  This was a great run, and now I have one long run left as I work the last weeks of training for Rhode Races Marathon in Providence on May 2!

Written by SCL

April 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Posted in Rhode Races, running

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The fun part…

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I love so many things about marathon training.  Running with a purpose.  Eating whatever I want.  Watching the miles pile on.  The journey to meet a difficult goal.  Impressive comments I get from people who don’t run.  But the thing I love most of all, the part that I have the most fun with as I get ready for a marathon, is the PLANNING!

I absolutely love the planning aspect.  Starting with planning which race it will be.  Then, for the out-of-town races, the planning of when to go, where to stay, what to do, etc.  Planning the race day logistics.  And most importantly, planning the training.

It is funny, because on the one hand, I don’t really plan my training out very well at all.  For the most part, I wing it.  My marathon training has no start date.  I don’t count the weeks left to the race.  What I do on a given day is typically based on how I feel and how much time I have that day, and not what the ‘training plan’ says I need to do.  I watch at the macro level to make sure that I’m generally getting enough miles in, that my mileage is increasing properly, and that I’m getting the right cross training in, but I do not micro-manage the day-to-day workouts.

However, on the other hand, the one aspect I do plan very carefully is my long runs, and my goal activity for each weekend leading up to the race.  And that is what I’m working on now for my May 2 marathon, Rhode Races in Providence RI.

Couple of holes still, but here is how it is shaping up now.

  1. weekend of 1/23 – Manhattan Half
  2. weekend of 1/30 – 15 miles
  3. weekend of 2/6 – TBD, default being 10 miles.  Maybe long bike ride?
  4. weekend of 2/13 – on vacation
  5. weekend of 2/20 – on vacation
  6. weekend of 2/27 – long run 18 miles
  7. weekend of 3/6 – Coogan’s 5k race
  8. weekend of 3/13 – TBD, default being 10 miles.  Maybe long bike ride?
  9. weekend of 3/20 – long run – 20 miles
  10. weekend of 3/27 – March Madness Biathlon
  11. weekend of 4/3 – 131 New York Half Marathon
  12. weekend of 4/10 – last long run – 21 miles
  13. weekend of 4/17 – start of taper – 10-13 miles
  14. weekend of 4/24 – taper
  15. weekend of 5/1 – BIG RACE


Written by SCL

January 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm