Asynchronous holiday week

This week has felt a little out of sync. It may be that many people are out of the office for Thanksgiving and the year end storm has temporarily hit a lull. I appreciate having some time to catch up on business but I know the storm will return in full force on Monday. Still, people are on edge, like the woman who blasted me with her horn this morning because I had the audacity to stop at a red light before turning right. Chill people!

I’m planning to run with Adventure Girl for the first time since we ran in Central Park back in May. She’s running the Prospect Park Turkey Trot and is also considering extending that run to achieve a personal distance record. I’ve just come off two weekends of 10K races and I have an easy-paced 5K tomorrow morning. With all that, AG and I are not planning anything long or rigorous today. I’m pleased with where I am with my running right now. I did my best running last year in November and December only to crash hard after contracting pneumonia at the end of December. I’m going to try extra hard to avoid the flu or other seasonal viruses that always seem to attack me around New Year’s. It would be great to be able to build on my current progress rather than lose conditioning through weeks of recovery. Maybe the healthiest thing I can do over Thanksgiving break is get a flu shot.

Three cheers

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:38 per mile

It has been an interesting week already. Two of my colleagues have left my office floor, one permanently and the other for a few months. My friend Sedentary Man is moving to another division located three floors down from mine. Happily our paths should continue to cross and while I’ll miss my neighbor I benefit by having a great new neighbor (and dedicated cyclist/runner), FS, who will be taking over Sedentary Man’s department. Also leaving this week is Adventure Girl who is doing graduate school research in the northwest this summer. I’ll miss SM and AG but I’m excited for their new opportunities and experiences. The other big news is that last night Mrs. Emerging Runner was honored to receive a national PTA award as a life member of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers. This was a big surprise and our kids were very excited to go up with her as she received the award. Even after that late night she was back on the treadmill this morning at 6:00 AM!

Speaking of early mornings, I somehow made my way outside at 4:00 AM for my daily run. I was also tired from the long day and evening’s activities but I used my sleep-like state to ease me through the workout. Halfway through my 2.5 mile run I started putting a little more speed into my stride but my overall pace was, well, sleepy. I’m not sure whether I’ll run or elliptical tomorrow, I’ll see how I feel in the morning. I’m hoping to do a noontime run in the city with my friend Steve on Friday to end the week. Next week I’m traveling again which presents another chance to run in a different city. My schedule will be very tight on that trip so a run is unlikely but you never know.

Last NYC run with AG, at least until August

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.19 miles at 8:41

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4.1 miles at 10:03 

I didn’t think I’d be able to do my weekly NYC run on Friday but by 5:00 PM I had finished everything I’d wanted to get done this week. Adventure Girl will only be in the office one more week before she heads for the west coast for the summer. Since I’m traveling much of next week we figured we’d get in one more run before she leaves. We headed up to the park as fast as we could because my window of running was limited. We decided to run about 3 miles by following the east side of the lower loop to the upper loop, across the Great Lawn to the north and then back down to where we’d start. We wore our Sauconys, Grid Tangent 4’s for me and AG wore her new Kinvaras. Those light shoes helped us move along at the fastest pace we’d ever run together, despite the hills we encountered both up and down our route. We ended our run at 5:44 PM and I needed to get back to the office in time to change and leave with enough time to make my train. We arrived at our building at 5:58 PM and I knew I was in trouble, but AG suggested I just commute home in my running clothes. Despite my extremely sweaty condition I agreed and made my way to the train, making it just in time. It was a exciting way to end what will be our last run together for many months. I’ll miss these runs but I’m excited that AG will be running some awesome trails in the northwestern states this summer.

Perhaps as a nod to that I headed over to Stillwell Woods this morning for trail run. It’s been a while since I spent time in the interior of the preserve and I followed a route that is opposite of my usual approach. My plan was to move along but not push it too hard. The many inclines would provide plenty of challenge without worrying about speed. The mountain bikers were out in force. I encountered quite a few riders, all of whom were extremely polite and courteous about sharing the trails with a runner. Along the way I navigated through the Snake Pit, the curiously named but difficult Little Pink Bicycle Path, the Ewok Forest and the UH OH trail. I was plenty tired and 4 miles was tough going but I was distracted by the birds and other animals making such a racket that I actually laughed. So much for the serenity of nature. I’m probably going to run in my neighborhood tomorrow and focus more about miles than speed. So far, counting Friday, it’s been a great weekend of running.

Once around the park (literally)

Harlem Meer in north Central Park

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 6.15 miles at 9:20

It’s always fun to break new ground in terms of running experience and that was the case for me yesterday. I’ve been getting to Central Park every Friday afternoon for a run and this extra mileage has helped me push closer to my weekly goal of 20 miles a week. I have stuck to the routes I’d learned through running with Adventure Girl last year but prior to Friday I had never braved the territory north of the reservoir. Classes have ended at Yale so AG is back in town for a few weeks. She’ll be heading to the west coast to conduct a graduate research project over the summer. In the meantime we’ll get a few runs in when we can.

We headed up to Central Park under sunny skies and 69 degree temperatures. When we reached the start along the lower loop we did some dynamic stretching before starting off. While that was happening I felt something hit my back but largely ignored it. I figured it was a big bug or something that fell off a tree. Once done we headed north at a sub-9 minute clip that we maintained for the first mile or so. About one mile later we came upon a waterfall tucked in beside the path. We took a brief break to look at it and saw goldfish swimming in the stream fed by the falls. AG said that it’s common and unfortunate that people dump pets like fish, lizards and snakes in Central Park because it’s not ecologically sound to do this with non-indigenous species.

We were soon on our way past the Meer and I got to experience the famous “Harlem hills” that weren’t all that steep but they went on for a long while. Once we got past them it was a bit easier going although there were few noticeable hills just north of the reservoir as we headed south. By the time we reached the southern end of the reservoir I was back in familiar territory and the last few miles were more downhill than up. Despite that, I was pretty exhausted and when we finished I saw that we’d covered 6.15 miles. When we arrived back at work AG followed me into my office and saw that the thing that had hit my back before we started our run was a “gift” from a bird overhead. I was lucky it hit my back and not my head and very glad that I didn’t know what happened at the time.

It was great to run again with AG in the city. It was the first time since last August that we’d run in NYC and longer still since we’d run in Central Park. I’m happy to have finally run the full loop and I plan to do it again this summer. Those hills are plenty tough but after yesterday’s experience they just don’t scare me anymore.

A trail adventure with AG

My excellent vacation was topped off today with a Bethpage trail run with Adventure Girl. We decided to run the trails instead of the bike path and set off without a map relying solely on our sense of direction. We started the run by discussing the Garmin 50 and the QStarz Sports Recorder and how annoying it is when you do a run and forget to turn the thing on or off. After we ran a little more than half a mile (at one point through a barely-there trail with snakes!) we saw that our trail ended at the edge of the woods. I looked at the Garmin to see how long we had run only to discover that I failed to turn it on. That was indeed annoying but we turned back in the direction we’d come, a little more knowledgeable about the layout of the terrain.

We ran a number of trails, staying primarily with the wider cinder covered paths, until we reached a clearing and took what I believed to be a northern route. That trail eventually ended along a road and we soon figured out that we’d been traveling west. Instead of heading back on the same trail we hit the road (actually the sidewalk) and ran north to where we could get back onto the trails from a neighborhood entry point. We followed that trail and switched over to others that looked interesting as we went. It was a great experience, our pace was moderate and the tree cover was good. The path began to get sandy which was tough for running (for me, AG never ever complains) and we reached a point where we weren’t sure where to go. The goal was to head south but AG thought it was one way and I thought the other. The sun was directly overhead so that gave us no help. I decided to go AG’s way because she’s more experienced and, well, she ended up being right.

We followed the trail south until it intersected with the bike trail allowing AG to experience my hated run-ending hill with me. We flew down the final hill and headed to my car for water and then to the shaded benches for shelter from the sun. We were very hot and sweat-soaked and splattered a little with mud but we agreed it was an excellent run. We headed back to my house and AG enjoyed some swimming races with my son in the pool before we shared a high carb lunch with my wife and kids.

We downloaded the QStarz GPS data, which was wacky because it not only recorded our run but everything afterward including the drive home. That certainly helped our overall pace! The QStarz again failed to export the real time recorded data and even after a reset and re-test it still fell short. Too bad – so much potential but so many problems.

It’s been a great vacation and today’s 4.x mile run puts me very close to 30 miles since I’ve been off. Tomorrow and next week I go back to the normal routine but I look forward to my early morning runs in the dark. Today was a blast and I couldn’t imagine it any better.