Scoring my 2011 running goals

Fairly on target

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

It’s getting toward the end of the year, when thoughts turn to the holidays and we reflect on things that have happened over the past year. In business, this means accounting for performance against objectives.  In running, it means taking a look at my 2011 goals to see how I did.

Goal 1. Run a half marathon.
 Done! LI Half Marathon.

Goal 2. Score settling: Run my best times ever on the Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor 10K’s and beat my time in the New Hyde Park 8K.
Exceeded this goal. Best times ever this year on NHP 8K, Dirty Sock 10K and Cow harbor 10K, plus new best times on Run for the Warriors 10K and Long Beach 10K (10K PR there as well).

3. Running tourism: Run outside of Long Island at least six times. Bonus for competing in a race outside of LI.
Not quite. Ran in Florida in January, Cambridge/Boston in spring, New Hampshire and Maine in summer and Cape Cod in fall. Lots of racing, but nothing outside of Long Island.

4. Hit those trails: Add Caleb Smith, Sunken Meadow and one more state park to my trail running experience.
Still haven’t run Caleb Smith but the Nissequoge Turkey Trot that I ran for fun on Thanksgiving is in the general area of Sunken Meadow. I did run in Acadia National Park this summer and that has to count for something!

5. Performance: Run 1 mile under 7:50/mile or 2 miles under 8:00/mile.
Hit the 7:50 mile goal but my best two consecutive miles were a nudge over 8:00.

I’m probably not going meet goals #3 and #4 this year but that’s okay because I’ve had other great running experiences that weren’t on the list. I’m starting to think about my goals for next year. The only one I’m certain about is achieving a half marathon PR in 2012.

Race report: 2011 Run for the Warriors

Field of Honor near the 10K start

Today’s run (Run for the Warriors 10K): 6.2 miles

Clock time: 56:05 – Net time (chip): 55:50

The Run for the Warriors race is in its 4th year and I’ve participated over the last two years. Last year I ran it in 56:23, which (at that time) was my fastest 10K to date. I had low expectations for today’s race because I have not been running well this past month. Due to that, my weekly distance has dropped about 30% since the end of September. I’m pleased to report that I beat my performance expectations handily today.  I’m not sure why, but I’m happy that I did.

This race is all about those who serve in the military and the families that support them. There’s a strong patriotic theme overlaying all the proceedings and the event feels both festive and serious.

The organizers did a great job, as they did last year, and they corrected a few things from the 2010 race that made it a better experience. First, there were twice as many Port-O-Potti’s to handle the 2,000+ crowd than there were last year. People appreciated that. Secondly, the 10K race started before the 5K this year. That prevented much of the congestion we experienced last year, caused by the side by side walkers who blocked runners that started behind them. It was still crowded at the start with just the 10K runners, but it was much better this year.

Like last year, the pre-race program involved the acknowledgment of the soldiers who serve in the armed forces and the local service people who’d lost their lives in battle. It was an emotional scene with family members that lost loved ones running in their honor.

Starting the 10K race with a shout to my family

The race started at 9:30 AM and that caught me by surprise because the website said the 10K start would happpen at 9:45. Luckily, my daughter was paying attention and she rushed me to the line just minutes before the starting gun sounded. Suddenly we were off and I was was about to discover whether I had the fitness to compete today.

I had taken a GU Roctane gel twenty minutes prior to the start and I felt good as we began to move. We all started slowly due to the crowd. That was fine with me because my original plan was to start slow and pick up speed if I felt I could maintain a faster pace. By the time we reached the off-ramp on Sunrise Highway, leading to Wellwood Avenue, I knew that I had enough in reserve to get through the race. My original goal was to run this race under 62 minutes and I thought I had a good shot at that.

The course is flat and probably more downhill than uphill. I passed a fair number of people on Wellwood, but I also got passed by more than a few. There were two soldiers doing the entire race on their hands and feet and that looked really hard. I felt badly for them but they were doing it in symbolic solidarity with their overseas compatriots.

We passed the first mile and I saw that I was pacing at 9:02 and worried that I was going too fast that early in the race. I felt good so I maintained that pace and, before I knew it, we had taken the left onto E. Hoffman Ave. This road parallels the LIRR tracks and it had been resurfaced since last year’s race.

The smooth blacktop was an excellent surface to follow and at the 2 mile point I was cruising. I really felt like I was floating. I managed to catch up to a few runners and pass them and I kept encountering a group of soldiers who were running together in line, stopping every mile to do a series of push-ups. Must be great to be in that shape.

When we turned north onto Great East Neck Road that intersects with Route 109, I had another Roctane gel. I didn’t really need it then, but I wanted some extra energy for the remaining three miles. I took some water to wash it down and, when we hit 109, I was feeling well fueled.

I’d come through the 5K point at around 28 minutes and was looking for the 4 mile marker along the northern road. By this time I started to think I might finish with a decent time. The following minutes were unremarkable and I wondered if I’d already passed 4 miles when my Garmin chirped. I was amazed to see I’d just passed five miles!

I saw the sign for the exit onto Sunrise Highway that confirmed that I was on my last mile. I was running well but the off ramp had a long steep rise and I felt some strain for the first time in the race. Before long we were heading down the ramp onto Sunrise and race volunteer yelled “Almost there, just a half a mile to go!” As always, that last half mile seemed longer than it should, but when I saw the big flag and the crowds along the road I kicked into finish mode.

100 feet to the finish line

About 100 feet prior to the line, my wife and kids stood cheering and this gave me the impetus to push even harder at the end. The clock said 56:05 when I finished, but my net was 13 seconds less. No big deal. Either way I was just north of the 9:00 mark but my goal prior to the race was to stay below 10:00. I made that goal for sure and felt very strong after the race. I guess my conditioning was better than I’d judged it to be.

It was great surprise to run this race that I almost skipped because I thought I wasn’t ready to do it. I give my wife credit for convincing me to run the race regardless of my performance. Next weekend is the Long Beach Turkey Trot, another 10K. I’ll go into that with greater expectations but, like today, I’ll run my race based on how I’m feeling and see how it goes.

Update on Emerging Runner’s 2011 goals

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

This has been a big week for nature, first with the earthquake and now hurricane Irene is threatening to disrupt my weekend running. When you’re a runner, it’s all about the weather. Since there’s not much I can do about that, I thought I’d focus on things where I have some control.

2011 Goal review

It’s almost September and we’re through 75% of the year. Let’s see how I’ve done.

1. Run a half marathon.
Did it! I ran the LI (Half) Marathon in May and I’m still tired.

 2. Score settling: Run my best times ever on the Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor 10K’s. Beat my time in the New Hyde Park 8K (44:42 two years in a row!).
So far I’m on track. Achieved best ever times in both the NHP 8K and Dirty Sock 10K. Cow Harbor 10K happens in three weeks.

3. Running tourism: Run outside of Long Island at least six times. Bonus for competing in a race outside of LI.
I ran in Florida in January and Massachusetts more than once this year. Lots of running in New Hampshire and Maine. Still no races out of Long Island.

4. Hit those trails: Add Caleb Smith, Sunken Meadow and one more state park to my trail running experience.
Still no runs at Caleb Smith or Sunken Meadow but that could change by year’s end.

5. Performance: Run 1 mile under 7:50/mile or 2 miles under 8:00/mile.
My last serious speed workout in July did the trick. First mile at 7:50 and did 8 x 200’s at 6:50. I also ran two continuous miles at 8:20 which doesn’t meet the goal, but it’s not too far off.

With four months left in the year I’m hoping to fully meet every goal. Right now I’m pleased with my progress.

Thoughts on yesterday’s race

Yesterday’s race wasn’t the toughest run I’ve faced this year, but in some ways I consider it my best effort. That’s true, even with the LI Half Marathon I ran in May that was both difficult and humbling. On that race, I missed my performance target by a significant sum, but I am proud that (even with an injury) I didn’t walk a single step over its 13.1 miles. Still, I feel that yesterday’s Dirty Sock 10K represented my competitive best. There wasn’t a single moment when I backed off the throttle, even as my energy levels dropped sharply near the end.

You’d think I would have done better than I did with the effort that I put forth on Sunday. I’ll admit that I felt dismay at the hordes of people who caught up and passed me at various times during the race. I thought, “Why are they all running faster than me? How have they trained compared to me?”  The answer is probably a mix of things. First, I’m no longer in my 20’s or 30’s. Second, I suspect that many participants in yesterday’s race probably train regularly at 10K-plus distances with an effort that I usually reserve only for race day.

With that, I’m pleased with the work I did on Sunday to achieve the best time I’ve ever attained in that race. Like this year’s NHP 8K, I’ve done better the third year than in any previous year. As long as I can hold the gains I feel that I’m on track with my training. It will be interesting to see how I do at the Great Cow Harbor 10K. I don’t know if I’ll improve over 2010’s time, but I know I won’t regret my effort.

2011 Running Goals

Here it is, January 17th, and though I’ve already identified my business goals I still haven’t published this year’s running goals.  The following items represent my hopes for this year:

1. Run a half marathon

This challenge would have seemed completely out of reach when I restarted running in 2008 but now it feels like a logical and viable step. I don’t have a half marathon identified but I’m likely to run the one during the RXR LI Festival of Races because the timing works and it’s conveniently located.

2. Score settling

Run my best times ever on the Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor 10K’s. Beat my time in the New Hyde Park 8K (44:42 two years in a row!).

3. Running tourism

Run outside of Long Island at least six times. Bonus for competing in a race outside of LI. 

4. Hit those trails

Add Caleb Smith, Sunken Meadow and one more state park to my trail running experience.

5. Performance

Run 1 mile under 7:50/mile or 2 miles under 8:00/mile.

                                                                                         

Today’s run (street): 5.3 miles

Today is Martin Luther King Day that caps off a very nice long weekend of running. I was again constrained to my neighborhood so I tried to minimize the boredom by changing my route a little. My plan was to run an out-and-back course where I’d go for 25 minutes and then turn around and follow the route back home. Once again I had good energy and was cruising along when I felt a slight pain in my knee at almost the same moment that I was thinking how I never get knee pain. The pain increased and I worried something happened. I was starting to hobble and realized that I was at least two miles from home.

Since I’d done nothing to cause this sudden problem (except to think about knee pain!) I decided that it was likely that it would disappear just as quickly as it came. Every once in while I’ll feel a sharp pain in my ankle when I walk and I just work it out with a few steps. This knee pain seemed to be the same sort of thing and after slowing down a little, the pain passed and didn’t return.

Once the phantom injury was over I re-focused on my route but had gone a little off my planned course that made the out-and-back distances asymmetrical. I ended up adding some extra loops to ensure I surpassed 5 miles and I ended up with another third of a mile as a bonus. I’m hoping to get a chance to run while I’m traveling this week but my schedule is tight. I did cover almost 15 miles over the long weekend and I like the way I’m running right now. Maybe I’ll have a chance to return to the trails next weekend. Hope so.

Foggy puppet-footed New Year’s run

Today’s run (street): 5.6 miles

Perhaps I should explain the title to this post. After taking Saturday (New Year’s Day) to rest, I thought I’d make my 2011 debut at Stillwell Woods. In the past I’ve run Stillwell after a snowstorm and discovered that much of it was runnable as long as I wore the right shoes. I planned to wear my Helly Hansons that make short work of rough surfaces and packed snow. I got up early and waited for the sun to rise before heading out. When it became light enough to see the streets I noticed a heavy fog enveloping my neighborhood. The surreal view of the roads, combined with mid-40 degree temperatures, made me change my mind about Stillwell. I decided instead to run on the local roads.

That explains the foggy in the title. The puppet footed running relates to the mid-foot style of landing that I’ve followed as much as possible when I run. I still have trouble consistently landing either mid or front footed and I need to think about ways to make my feet fall forward more naturally. A technique that I’ve adopted is what I think of as “puppet feet.” Just like the way the feet of a marionette seem to  drop when the figure is “walking”, I think about bringing up my knees and let my feet fall. I’ll usually land mid-foot and I can do this at a fairly brisk cadence (85-88 SPM). This technique also works well for me on inclines and small hills.

I ended up running a very pleasant 5.6 miles, enjoying a different view of my neighborhood and feeling good about my first run of the new year. Tomorrow I’ll return to the office and the work week routine: 4:00 AM runs, the commuter train, schedules, meetings and earlier bedtimes. My kids return to school from holiday break on Monday as well so we’re dedicating the rest of today to doing some fun stuff. The first run in the new year is completed and I enjoyed it completely. Happy running to everyone in 2011!

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year! For no particular reason I chose not to run today. I was caught up in New Year’s activities this morning that carried into the afternoon. By the time I was ready to run I’d decided to forgo my workout. I’ll defer my first run of 2011 to tomorrow morning.

Ideally the paths at Stillwell will be runnable on Sunday. I’ve been happy for the opportunity to run outside this week a couple of times but the snow has limited me to my main neighborhood. It’s wonderful to have local streets that are safe for running but following the same course does get tedious. I wish there were web cams at Stillwell and Bethpage (and Belmont Lake for that matter) that showed conditions in real time. That would save me a trip if the snow is still too deep for running. I’ll probably head to Stillwell first, because it’s closest, and check that out. If things don’t look good I’ll probably return home and have my first run of the year around the neighborhood. Either way it will be a celebration of running in good health in January. I’ll never take that for granted again.