It happens every year

I thought you were supposed to have fun on birthdays

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 8.25 miles

It’s my birthday today, an event that used to coincide with Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts holiday that was best known as the day they ran the Boston Marathon. Growing up in Massachusetts, I enjoyed the fact that I never had to go to school on my birthday, first because it was a holiday and later because we always had our spring break that week. It wasn’t until college that I had to attend classes on my birthday. I may have chosen not to go on those days just to maintain the tradition. Well that was my story anyway.

We went to a large family dinner last night and near the end I was presented with a birthday cake. It was very nice of my wife’s family to do this. The cake was selected by my brother-in-law who is a dedicated vegan. The cake was pleasant enough. I have no idea what it was made of but it tasted like a bran muffin with white non-dairy frosting. Yummy! Fortunately (or unfortunately) there were a number of un-vegan desserts available.

This morning I decided to celebrate my birthday with an 8.25 mile run on the Bethpage bike-paths. I bought an Empire Passport on Saturday and was looking forward to being waved through for my generous contribution to the park service but no one was in attendance. Oh well. I brought along my Amphipod hand water bottle and set out with a target of 8 miles. It’s been a while since I’ve done a run exceeding 6 miles but I expected it to go well since my aim was to run it easy.

Useful GU

I consumed a GU Roctane in vanilla orange flavor about 30 minutes before my run and I think it helped get me moving at the beginning. The skies were gray with some very light rain and the temperature was a cool 50 degrees. At around the 3 mile mark I grew concerned about my stamina on this hilly course but I decided that I’d simply throttle my speed below my lactic threshold level (English: slow down but not stop) if I grew too tired. I recovered some energy by mile 5 but I struggled with the last long hill at the end that I always dread.

It was a good run overall. I maintained a pace in the high 9:00 range despite the tougher sections. I’ll probably go even longer on a run before I return to work next Monday and begin my taper. I’m a bit sore from this run and yesterday’s speed work. Add a day of recovery and the result is improved conditioning. Happy birthday indeed.

Energy drinks. Really?

 Today’s run (street): 5.5 miles at 9:30 per mile

We’re celebrating my daughter’s 12th birthday today. Among other activities we made a visit to the local bowling lanes this morning. I’m not a fan of bowling, and no offense to those who are, but I have trouble viewing it as a sport. That’s why I was so amused when we took a break so the kids could play some arcade games and saw this display of energy drinks in the vending machine.

An impressive display of energy drinks

Do you really need a 16 ounce can of Amp or RockStar to get you through the rigor of rolling a ball down a lane twenty times? Maybe so. My daughter and son wanted to bowl and I was expected to participate so I did my best. My wife is a good athlete and has no problems with the game but I have little skill with it. I quickly noticed that each time you take a turn the scoreboard displays the speed of the ball, presumably when it hits the pins. Now the game was interesting for me. We bowled two games and though I barely broke 100 each game I managed to improve my average speed from about 16 MPH to close to 20. I never did reach 20 but I came close – 19.86 MPH was my best of the day. With that, a good time was had by all.

Next time I break 20!

 Earlier today I went out for my first weekend run. I didn’t have a great night’s sleep and started with less energy than I normally have at 7:00 AM. I had no allusions of speed but I wanted to get some mileage in. I hadn’t run more than four miles since last week’s race so I figured today would be a day to do that. It was cool when I went out and I watched my heart rate to maintain a pace that kept me about 70% of max. No heroics for me, especially since the humidity was about to climb. I made my way over to neighborhood #2 where I did most of this morning’s run. By 7:30 there were lots of people out, preparing for the day’s activities, washing cars, walking dogs and running. I followed a different direction just for the change of scenery although it really just amounted to looking at different cars and houses. By the time I re-entered my neighborhood I had about 4 miles done and my heart rate had risen to over 80% of max. I covered another 1.5 miles before finishing with a total of five and a half. I then made a beeline to the pool for a cool-off dip. Perfect.

I’m not sure how much I’ll run tomorrow. I’m thinking that a visit to Stillwell may be a nice change from the road and I’ll see how I feel when I get up. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the activities still to come as we continue the celebration of our daughter’s birthday.