Foggy morning run at Bethpage

Beware the moors and stick to the bike path

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 5.1 miles

If there’s a downside to having 40° weather in January (besides the fact that it may be caused by global climate change) is that things can get foggy. There’s nothing specifically wrong with fog, but I wasn’t thrilled to drive through the cloudy Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway this morning. Most people were smart enough to keep their car lights on, so the trip wasn’t as scary as I’d feared. When I got to my destination, Bethpage State Park, I was happy to see that the gates were open.

It’s been a long time since I’ve run at Bethpage. They had closed access to the park after Hurricane Sandy and I had not made it back until today. It was great to be back for a run. As I drove toward the lot, a dark mist over the golf course made it look a little like the Scottish moors.

My plan was to run five miles, starting first by going south on the old trail and turning back at the one mile point. I appreciated the first, mostly downhill, half mile but I knew it wouldn’t be fun coming back up that tough hill. Once past my nemesis, I was two miles in and I crossed over to the newer section of the bike path. I had to complete a three mile out-and-back to get my total to five.

Bethpage’s bike trails are rolling and, while I don’t always notice the falling sections, I never miss a hill. The new, northern path has plenty of hills. Just like the southern part, it’s tougher coming back than going out. I reached Haypath about a quarter mile short of my turnaround point so I crossed over and ran until my Garmin showed 3.5 miles.

I knew I’d soon encounter the three noticeable hills and I took them on. The hills are a bit steep, but the incline is fairly short and there’s a enough separation between them for recovery. Once past those challenges I settled in for the remainder of the run. Before long I was back at the trail head having covered my planned distance.

Even though it was unseasonably warm, there weren’t too many other runners out today. I worked hard and felt good throughout the run, but I was glad when I finished. I was also happy that I made it out of the neighborhood for a run this weekend. That was one of my stated goals for 2013. Having come into the weekend with less than ten miles logged, I’m pleased to have finished close to my weekly target of 20.

Hybrid run through the Bethpage trails

Helpful and tasty

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 6.2 miles

I had been doing well earlier in the week, knocking off a couple of intense treadmill runs followed by a good effort on the road. By Thursday afternoon I had a sore throat and a lack of energy. I treated the symptoms using a couple of packets of Emergen-C (handed out at the Cow Harbor race festival) and that seemed to help. Still, I decided on Friday morning to forgo my workout.

After getting to bed early, and sleeping a rare eight hours, I was ready to go out for a longer run. I was still feeling a little tired and took an Accel Gel 2nd Surge to give me a boost. I’d taken 2nd Surge before the Cow Harbor race and liked that it provided good energy. Better still, it didn’t leave me feeling sluggish later in the run and the chocolate flavor is surprisingly good.

My plan was to run at Bethpage and do a “hybrid” run that would cover about 5 miles over both the wooded trails and the newly paved bike path extension. I ended up getting out late and didn’t start my run until 10:00 AM. I ran south on the old bike trail until I reached the cut-in to the woods and headed north along the path that changed between dirt, gravel, soil and sand.

I mostly got it right, but I over-thought my direction and took a trail that went west, forcing a turnaround at Plainview Rd. I corrected my mistake and guessed correctly from there. I followed the path out to the new paved trail that intersected just below South Park Drive. The transition to pavement was jarring and the sun and heat were suddenly factors.

The intersection with Haypath Road came quickly, and I continued north, first past Old Bethpage Road and then to Old Country Road where the paved trail ends (for now). I turned around after noting the location of the dirt trail that continued across the street. I’m hoping that they eventually put some stop signs at the locations where the bike path intersects with the road. 

I was past the three mile point by the time I reached Old Country Road and I knew by then that my 5 mile run would be extended to six. I was feeling the effort, so I picked up my speed in an attempt to re-energize my stride. It helped a little, and I maintained a decent pace as I made my way south towards my finish point.

Before I could enjoy the relatively flat last mile of the run I needed to get past a couple of hills that rise 100 feet in 3/10ths of a mile. Once I cleared that point, I picked up the pace again and finished my run after covering 6.2 miles. After missing my run on Friday, I was happy with the additional unplanned mile.

I’m still not 100% but this run didn’t seem to do me any harm. I’m going to try for another longer run tomorrow, but I may stay local to do that. My next race is a 5K so I’m going to need to work on my speed at some point. That race starts with a long hill so I’ll need to start training for that as well.

A big surprise at the Bethpage bike trail

Northern entrance to (now paved) trail extension

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 5.25 miles

Years ago I was at a management off-site in Montauk where we stayed at a well known resort. We arrived late at night and went directly to our rooms. I was pleased to see my small, but cozy, bedroom, with a modest sized window that looked out at the ocean. I went right to bed so I’d be ready for the early morning meetings.When I woke the next morning, I was astonished to discover another room, twice the bedroom’s size, with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the beach.

I had a similar experience this morning at Bethpage State Park, where I planned to run the bike trail. I knew that they were doing work on the north end of the trail but I didn’t really understand what it meant. I decided to explore the paved path that led to the golf courses, since I’d hardly seen them in all the time I’d run there. I first encountered a group flying large, remote control planes over the open field. Very cool, but I couldn’t stop to watch.

As I made my way deeper into the golf course, I was interrupted by a groundskeeper who told me I couldn’t run there and that I needed to head – immediately – to the bike trail. When he realized I wasn’t trying to break any rules he got nicer and explained the risk of flying golf balls. I turned back to where I began, and decided to explore what looked like a small section of newly paved trail that extended off the driveway leading to the parking lot.

I saw other runners running there and became curious how far this path would go. I expected the answer to be a few hundred feet, but then I saw a runner turning around and heading the other way. I was amazed. Clearly the trail went far enough to be worth a return run. I followed the paved path and saw that it continued past my line of sight. A teenage runner coming from the other direction asked me how far the path led. I asked him the same, and he said “about 20 minutes.” Hmmm.

This new trail was like a gift. I read that they were extending the bike trail at some point but I didn’t think they’d actually done it. Soon I realized that the patch of paved road that I’d recently encountered after coming to the end of a dirt path was part of this trail. Like the rest of the bike path, this extended portion was rolling, with some tough hills along the way.

I followed the extension to where it ends on Haypath Road. I saw that I could cross the street and pick up the Trailview path that runs all the way north to Cold Spring Harbor. Instead of doing that, I decided to head back. I didn’t bring any water and I was beginning to feel overheated. The hills were no kinder on the way back but I welcomed them. When I got to the end, I doubled back another half mile for the distance and ended up covering 5.25 miles altogether.

I’m very excited about this new extension for many reasons. First, I now have another option to run at Bethpage when I don’t feel like doing the usual bike trail. Second, the new bike trail section has numerous exits into the wooded trails that provide options for combining trail and road running. Third, I can now explore Trailview as it goes further north. Theoretically, I will be able to run from Bethpage into my own town. With a few busy streets in the way that might be too good to be true. But you never know.

Running among the bikers at Bethpage

Many riders out for a good cause

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 8.2 miles

Yesterday morning’s run was surprisingly difficult. I knew from the start that I was off my game and I hoped that I’d get back in the groove by today’s run. Happily, I did. I headed to Bethpage this morning to run the bike trail, with a plan to cover about eight miles.

The weather was fantastic at 8:00 AM, with sunny skies, low humidity and a temperature of 52 degrees. The lot was filled with cars when I arrived at the park, and I saw that an MS charity bike ride was being staged at the trail head. I remembered this event from last year. It’s a non-competitive ride that includes cyclists of all ages.

The bike path begins with a short, but pronounced, hill and I could tell right away that I’d have little trouble taking on Bethpage’s challenges. I’d run this path numerous times during my half marathon training and could always gauge whether I was in for a good or bad experience within the first half mile. I decided to pick up the pace and see what I could handle.

I’d brought along my gel flask that I’d filled with a GU gel and water. I decided to hold off using that until I’d reached the halfway point, when I would encounter a series of steep rises. My energy was good, but the temperature, with the direct sun, was rising.The first hill was tough and the second two were tougher, but I made it over and back the Southern State in decent shape.

Throughout the run I encountered numerous cyclists, most of whom gave me a wide berth and warned me of their approach. There were a couple of jerks, as usual, who sped closely by, but the majority of riders shared the road respectfully.

I passed a number of other runners along the way, and that told me I was pacing well. I didn’t look at my Garmin through most of my run, because I didn’t want to be distracted by metrics. I parceled out my gel solution and wished near the end that I had mixed in two GU’s rather than just one. But I never reached a point where I was close to bonking. I took on little K2 and Everest (my nickname for the last two hills) feeling quite confident.

I wore my test shoes and they performed really well. By mile seven, the bottoms of my feet were getting sore. I’ve experienced that with every pair I own of late. It may have something to do with running exclusively in shoes that lack stability control. Too bad, but I’m not switching back.

After I crested the final hill, I enjoyed the last downhill section that leads to the head of the path. The bike event volunteers were standing at the end waving pom poms and cheering the cyclists as they finished. They all gave me a big cheer as I crossed and I yelled, “Did I win?!” That was fun.

I did well today, 8 miles at a mid-9:00 pace. I was pleased, especially compared with yesterday’s performance. My friend TC, who ran the LI Half with me, ran a 10K this morning in 49 minutes. Congrats to him. Also impressive was my friend KWL, who rode the 103 mile Grand Fondo from the GW Bridge to Bear Mountain (and back) today.

Quite the weekend for activity. Another colleague ran the Brooklyn Half yesterday. It’s the season for racing. NHP 8K is happening in two weekends. Hope I feel as strong on that day as I did today.

Me and Dave on the Bethpage trail

Start of the Bethpage bike path and its first big hill

Today’s run (Bethpage bike path): 6.3 miles

This morning I finally caught up with my running buddy Dave, who I haven’t seen since the winter. He’d just come back from a long vacation in Greece with his family where he had many opportunities to run. We had decided to cover about six miles today, the first time I’ve done a run over 6 miles since mid-June.

We started at 7:20 AM while it was still fairly cool. The humidity hadn’t risen much and we were sheltered by the bike path’s tree cover that starts about a mile into the route. We maintained an easy pace and, before I knew it, we’d passed the 30 minute mark. We then turned around to complete the second half of the run.

Along the way we saw a number of people running in groups, perhaps in training for an upcoming race. There were the usual cyclists, most of them polite, but one rider overtook us on the final hill and screamed “Move over!” before he passed. Not too cool since there was plenty of room for him already.

Between the relaxed pace and the interesting conversation the hour-plus run went by very quickly. I had brought my Amphipod hand bottle, filled it with crushed ice, for hydration. The contents stayed cold as the ice melted and it provided a cool supply of water throughout the route. We finished the run feeling like we’d had a good workout and had the sweat to prove that. I was really pleased to break the 6 mile barrier after many days, along with great company, a nice course and near perfect weather.