4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘Speed Workout

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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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

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

Jam Packed Weekend

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Had a very busy weekend running around all over the place.

Was at my house in New Jersey Friday night into Saturday lunchtime.  Had to get all the leaves out from the back of the house to the street.  Hard labor, but fun.  My 13 year old helped me drag the tarp out and back a whole bunch of times to generate the very large pile you see below.  My little one, as you can see, would love to take the credit!

Giant leaf pile

Giant leaf pile

Then made some time for a speed workout session at the track at East River Park.  My intention was to get it in before dark, but it unfortunately gets dark at 5pm these days.  Made it to the track about 5:10.  The good news is that the construction work definitely seems to be progressing on both the next new section of the promenade (at the track), and in the replacement of the main road surface at the north end of the park.

In terms of the run, had fantastic results.  My first 1 mile interval was completed in 7:10.  7:10!!!!  Shaved 9 seconds off my time from last week.  Had enough in me to finish a second mile in 7:22, more than 10 seconds faster than my 2nd mile in the last workout.  Finished up with 2 half mile intervals, at 3:28 and 3:22.  Weather was cold, but bearable.  Park was very dark, and very empty.  Couple of other hearty souls out there when I started, but I had the track to myself at the end.  At around 5:40ish, a bank of lights actually came on at the track.  It covered about a quarter of the track, but at least we were not in complete darkness…

Was then up early Sun morning to volunteer at the Joe Kleinerman 10k, to fulfill my requirements for entry to the 2009 New York City Marathon.  It was very cold, and my toes were frozen from being outside for 4 hours, but it was a lot of fun.  I patrolled the 1000 (red) corral at the start, and then was cheering the runners on just before the 6 mile mark during the race.

In the afternoon, made a trek up to Westchester with my wife’s family for a cemetery visit to mark the death anniversary of a family member.  We typically do this once a year and then have a giant meal.  This year we went to Valentino’s, in Yonkers.  It was wonderful and I completely and thoroughly stuffed myself, to the point where I thought I might block an artery and have a heart attack on the spot!  It may have been one of the most gluttonous meals I ever had – not good for the diet.

Therefore, later in the evening, made it a point to get to the gym.  Since the signs of my shoulder strain from Thursday were gone, I went ahead with a nice upper body workout and a bunch of crunches.

My final accomplishment of the weekend was hooking up my new DVD burner (picked up a refurb unit at a steal at http://www.woot.com in the last Woot Off) to my collection of electronics connected to my TV.  See the crazy picture below – above the TV we first have the VCR (still have a bunch of VHS laying around), then the Verizon FIOS cable box (must use the cable box with FIOS), then the TiVo (I know many cable operators have DVR’s, including Verizon, but TiVo completely rocks), and finally my new DVD Burner (hooray!).  Amazingly, they are all operational – I am in heaven – can finally offload some stuff from my TiVo to DVD.  This includes all the Shea Stadium specials plus the final game at Shea, and the NYC marathon coverage from channel 4.



Written by SCL

December 8, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Posted in East River Park, running

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East River Park speed workout

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I’m a firm believer that speed workouts is a great way to get faster.  The only problem is, I hate them!  I have a hard time doing them on my own, which is why at least for one session a year, I’ll take the 10 week NYRR running class.  Since the next session doesn’t start till January, and I’m right now in training for the Austin Marathon and wanting to get some speed workouts in, I gotta do it on my own.

It is a little challenging to get it in at this time of year.  My preference is to go to the track at East River Park.  Since the track is not lit at night, and the park can be a little spooky at night, it is only a good option in the daytime.  Since it gets light late and dark early, I can only really get to the track on the weekends.  And, the weekends is when I want to run long, or am busy or away, so don’t really have room for a speed workout.  Needless to say, getting the speed workout in is a challenge.

We were let out of work at 3pm today, so I had a great opportunity to get to the track before it got too dark, and I took advantage!  Construction in the park is currently problematic.  I recently passed by on the FDR Drive and noticed that the northern most part of the park appeared totally closed for construction.  With that in mind, I headed over the 10th St bridge instead.  The construction caused quite a meandering route.  At the end of the bridge, you must run through a playground to get to the newly built promenade area.  Then, at the dead end part of the promenade (the rest is still under construction) you need to run across a baseball field to get back to the main road, and then over to the track.

With that out of the way, I got down to business.  Started with a 1 mile interval.  I pushed hard, but didn’t go all out.  For some reason, it felt slow, and it was a bit windy, so I was very concerned that my time would not be so great.  At the end, surprise of all surprises, i finished in 7:21, much, much better than I expected.  Took a few minutes of a break and then did a 2nd mile repeat, finishing this time in 7:35, not as fast, but very respectable.  I followed that up with 2 half mile intervals, finishing each in 3:35, or 7:10 pace.  I could not have been more pleased with the result.

The track was not very crowded, about 10 other total people on the track over the 40 minutes I was there.  Most interesting site was a pair of people who did at least part of their run backwards!  It was a very odd sensation, catching up to people who looked to be running at you, but were really running in your direction.  I ultimately passed them by.

On the way back, I decided to take the promenade all the way up to the north end of the park to see if the connector to 20st St was open, and it was!  So I was able to head back up the way I normally run, rather than going over the 10th st bridge and up Ave C.

Happy to take advantage of the daylight hours to get in the speed workout.  Need to figure out how to get some more of these in over the next few weeks.  Sunday, I plan to run long, about 15.5 miles, along the same route I ran in August when training for the New York City Marathon.  That route will take me down the East Side, up the West Side to about 79th St, then down Central Park’s West Drive, and then through midtown back to 14th and 1st Ave.  First 8-9 miles is totally flat, so looking forward to this, the easiest of the long runs.

We’ll be heading out to South Central PA tomorrow morning to spend the holiday with some family, and then we plan to sightsee in Philadelphia on Friday, head to my NJ house Friday night, and back to NYC on Saturday.

Happy Turkey Day to all!

Written by SCL

November 26, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Great speed workout tonight

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Great bounceback tonight after Sunday’s Dreadful, Disasterous, Depressing and Demoralizing Queens Half Marathon.

Had a great speed workout tonight in running class.  While still a tad hotter than perfect for me, the weather was more my style.  66 degrees!  Workout was two 2-mile tempo runs around the lower loop in Central Park.  First of all, felt very strong – no pain or stiffness at all from the half marathon Sunday.  I can still remember a time when running a half marathon would put me on the shelf for a week.  Now I’m able to put in a hard run 2 days later, which is fantastic.

I went with the 8:00-8:30 pace group.  For the first repeat I was able to stay with the front part of the group most of the way.  We passed mile 1 in about 7:47, and then finished mile 2 at 15:35.  Very strong.  For repeat #2, I was not able to stay with the group at all.  I very quickly started falling behind.  I didn’t make a hard effort to stay with the group because I was afraid I would not be able to finish strong.  I passed the mile 1 mark at about 8:15, and was well behind the main group and a good 10-15 seconds behind the back of the group.  My strategy did pay off.  I was able to run a strong second mile, and pass 2 people at the back of the group.  Final time was 16:01, equating to about 7:45 for the final mile.

In my history of taking the running class, I’ve done this workout twice before.  My times tonight were stronger than both of those previous efforts!  In all, I ran 7.3 miles, and really felt great.  Looking forward to another day of rest tomorrow and then back on the roads Thursday…

Written by SCL

September 16, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Cat Hill Repeats (and more!)

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Another great running class this week.  Workout was .25 mile repeats up Cat Hill in Central Park.  Cat Hill is a quarter mile hill, bordered by a sheer rock face with a statue of a black panther, or cat, on the top.  As most Central Park races finish on the upper east side portion of the park, this hill is usually part of the last 2 miles of any race.  The workout can be grueling depending on how hard you push.  The twist this time was that after the main workout, (5 of these repeats), we were to run a 1 mile time trial from 72nd St up to 90th St.  This is to simulate the last mile of a race when your legs are tired, and it includes the Cat Hill incline.

I ran with the 8:20-8:40 pace group again.  The 1st repeat was kind of on the slow side as a warm up.  Got much faster from there.  For the most part, I just hung around the back of the group.  I prefer to be right up front or in the back.  Running hard in a group of people in close proximity makes me nervous.  I’m on the tall side and my stride is a bit longer than others.  My fear while running in a group is that it is too easy to get tangled up with someone else – definitely don’t want that, so back or front of the pack it is.  For the most part, the pace was consistent throughout, and I was quite happy to hang in the back – finished in the 1:59-2:04 range for each.

After the main workout, we lined up for the 1 mile time trial.  My detailed running log goes back to 1999, and since then, I’ve done this Cat Hill workout in class 15 times.  I’ve never seen this 1 mile run at the end, so it came as a big suprise.  We kept the pace on the slow side up the hill, and then really pushed hard the last half mile.  I managed to finish the mile in 7:42 – an amazing time for me!  Gives me hope that I can run the fitness Mind Body, Spirit Games 4 miler at 8 minute pace per mile next weekend…

Written by SCL

August 28, 2008 at 11:36 pm

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The Week in Review

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Even though I didn’t update my blog at all last week, it was still quite productive.  As I recapped in my last post, last Sunday I ran 15 miles, mostly flat, and and at a nice slow touring pace.  Definitely some aches and pains during the run, but all in all, it was great.  Looking forward to a faster and more challenging 15 miles in the next 2 weeks.  Gotta pump up the miles if I hope to beat 4:30 in the marathon!

48 hours after the long run, on Tuesday night, I was back in action.  The speed workout in class this week was 1.25 mile repeats along the East River, starting at 82nd St.  I cut the workout short (2 repeats instead of 4) since I was recovering from the long run, but I was glad I was able to get out there and run hard without pain only 2 days after the 15 miler.  Covered the 1.25 mile repeats in 9:53 and 9:50.  Not bad – better than 8 min per mile pace.

On Thursday night, I intended to run 5.2 easy miles.  The 5.2 mile course near my apartment comprises of 2 loops around Stuyvesant Town, using the service roads and hitting each of the 4 loops, running against traffic.  This is a common run for me when I don’t feel like leaving my neighborhood, especially in the wintertime.  Got a very late start, about 10:15 PM.  It was a clear night and I was able to see a very cool looking 2/3 moon rise over the East River!  When I finished the first 2.6 mile loop in a pedestrian 25:30, I kicked it up for the 2nd loop and finished that loop in 23:15.  Total for 5.2 miles was 48:45, about 9:22 pace.

On the injury front, I’ve had lots of minor ones over the years.  One of my recurring themes has been tendinitis in the right knee (others are back pain and plantar fasciitis).  For me, the trick to solving knee tendinitis is finding the exact pain point and applying ice.  A few months ago, I started feeling the tendinitis coming on again, but could not pinpoint the exact pain point (easier said than done – most of the time, the pain point is NOT in the knee).  Interestingly enough, with this bout, I did not feel any pain at all while running, only when resting and flexing the knee.  So, I kind of ignored it.  Finally, on my Thursday run, the knee was bothering me a little during the run, so decided it was finally time to take care of it.  I was able to locate the source of the pain (back of leg about halfway up between the knee and the hip) and have started a regiment of ice.  Hopefully, the pain will melt away in the coming days!

Finished the week off with a great bike ride today.  Total of about 28 miles, up the Hudson River and over the George Washington Bridge to Palisades State Park.  Ended up at the Ross Dock section, which is the first stop point when you enter the park from the GW Bridge.  I look forward to exploring more of the park in the future, all the way up north to the NY State Line and the New York section of the park.

Upcoming race: 9/6 is the fitness Mind Body, Spirit Games – this is a 4 mile race, and I intend to use it as a time trial.  My NYRR start time is based on 8:15, my fastest pace per mile for any race over 1 mile.  I did this about 1 year and a half ago in a 5k race.  I’m hoping the weekly speed workouts will help me finish somewhere between 32 and 33 minutes.  My fastest 4 mile run was 33:44 back in December 2001.

Looking ahead, the following week is the Queens Half Marathon, where I finished in a disappointing 2:06 last year.  I’ll be looking to get under 2 hours this year.

Written by SCL

August 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

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Gotta love (hate) the speed workouts

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So as part of my strategy of running the New York City Marathon in under 4:30, I’ve signed up for the Bob Glover running class offered by the New York Road Runners.  The class is offered in 10 week sessions, 5 times per year.  I’ve taken the class once or twice a year, mostly every year, over the last 12 years.  I usually take the class in the dead of winter, Jan-Mar, as a way to get into shape for the spring.  And let me tell you something… it works!  However, I have a big love-hate relationship with the class.

There are many reasons why I love the class.  10 weeks of these speed workouts easily improves my race pace by 30-60 seconds.  The intensity of these workouts is something I simply can’t replicate on my own.  When the class is going on, I’m at least assured of 1 good, hard workout per week.

There are also a few nitpicky reasons why I hate the class.  Depending on the workout, the instructors sometimes have a hard time keeping the groups together.  Also sometimes people people push the groups too fast, and then I have a hard time keeping up.  Finally, while this is not a problem in the Jan-March session, during the rest of the year, the class is just too damn crowded!

But, the class works, and makes me love it and hate it at the same time.  Yesterday’s workout was awesome.  1/2 mile intervals on the 102nd st transverse and the upper east drive.  I went with the 8:10-8:40 per mile pace group, and finished each interval (trailing behind the group mind you) at 3:41-3:45.  That is better than 7:30 per mile pace – see what I mean about the groups going out too fast!  The group leader actually made a concerted effort to push the fast people to the group in front of us, however, that didn’t do anything to slow the group down and keep us better together – I still trailed the group and finished with virtually the same time.

*** Update *** – One of the coaches commented and pointed out that if the pace was too fast, I could have moved back a group.  That is a very good point and one that I considered.  This class groups into many different paces and it is always possible to move back (or forward) a group.  The group behind me was running at a 4:15 pace, which I thought was too slow for me so I stayed where I was.  Let me just clarify and say that I *love* the class way more than I *hate* the class.  The hate is more about speed workouts being hard, and less about the operation of the class.  It is impossible to create workouts that will please every person on every day and there are many other factors involved like the weather being bad (which to me means hot), or the park being crowded (which it is at the this time of the year), or me being in less shape than I want to be (unfortunately true and why I’m taking the class in the first place)!  ***

Anyway, it was a (relatively) cool evening, and the workout was awesome.  Can’t wait till next week!

Written by SCL

August 13, 2008 at 10:54 pm