Adventure running is where you find it

Adventure starts here

Today’s run (treadmill): 26 minutes

I used to be an adventurous runner. By that I mean I didn’t do 90% of my runs within two miles of my house. I’m far less adventurous nowadays, because I have far less time and fewer opportunities to try new experiences.

My job used to be located in mid-town Manhattan and that opened the door to my love of city running. At least once a week I’d run in Central Park, across the Brooklyn or GW Bridge or up and down the West Side Highway. I’d often run around cities that I would visit on business trips. I ran wooded trails whenever I could find them, and I found a lot of them. I even did a marathon relay race on Cape Cod as part of a family vacation.

My frequent running partner (Adventure Girl) introduced me to a lot of different running venues. After she moved to Montana (where she does trail running in the woods with real live bears) I was left on my own to run in the city. Although I found other running buddies, I pretty much stuck to Central Park. On weekends I’d venture out to Belmont Lake to run the Dirty Sock race course or to other local but interesting places. Now it’s mostly just Stillwell Woods or the Bethpage Bike trail.

This morning I was able to fit in a short, humid treadmill run before I started my day. As I was taking out my heart rate monitor, my long dormant running headlamp fell to the floor. I picked it up and thought about my daily adventures running the streets of my neighborhood at 4:00 AM. Not an exotic locale, but in the 300 or so runs I did in the dark, I saw a lot of very interesting (and occasionally scary) things on those runs.

This past weekend, my Runsketeer buddies had a Facebook discussion about an adventure marathon that takes place in Utah, with a course that starts at 4,000 feet above sea level. Before I knew it, they were talking about flights, rental cars and accommodations. I think they are serious about doing this race. While that race is not for me, it made me think about broadening my horizons. I think I’ll check the batteries in the headlamp and see where that takes me.

Central Park Fun Run

Fun Run start and finish spot

Yesterday’s run (Central Park Fun Run): 1.6 miles

Yesterday afternoon my company’s division held its summer holiday picnic in Central Park. I work with great people and it’s a pleasure to spend time with them. The picnic is usually a low key affair and this year was no different. We order sandwiches, walk together to Central Park and settle in at a predetermined spot. The activities are optional, some play Frisbee or pickup football games and others enjoy relaxing in the shade. This year we brought back our “Fun Run/Walk” that we last did in 2009.

We had over twenty signed up for the run but (unfortunately) a few people needed to remain at the office resolving some business issues. This event was non-competitive and we took off together at a manageable pace. Our course followed the lower loop of the Park in a clockwise direction. Most cyclists and runners go counter-clockwise, but I wanted to start us off going downhill (and also wanted to avoid finishing uphill).

1.6 miles goes by fairly quickly, but the distance was perfect considering the heat and humidity. It is always fun to run with a group, especially this one. Before I knew it, we’d reached the top of the Mall and followed the path back to our starting point. A couple of people put down the hammer for the final third of a mile, but I was content to maintain my mid-9:00 pace until the end.

I’d brought Wet Ones wipes for people to “towel down” after they’d finished and I was glad that I did. We watched the rest of our colleagues come in, the runners and then the walkers. When all were accounted for we crossed the road and joined our division colleagues at the picnic spot. It was a perfect way to detach from the business and generate a little sweat, not far from the office. I wish we could do this every week!

Back to the 4:00 AM thing

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

I’ve been busy with post-vacation business and have not had a chance to post until now. Later this week my division will be holding its summer picnic in Central Park and I’ve organized a 1.6 mile non-competitive run/walk. I’m hoping we get a good crowd of participants like last time.

It was back to 4:00 AM running this morning. After so many hot and humid days, I was fortunate to have temperatures in the high-50’s. These conditions were further helped by the cooling mist from lawn sprinklers along my way. I didn’t break any speed records this morning, but I was proud of myself for getting up and out again at that early hour.

Central Park, eight months later

Friday’s run (Central Park): 3.3 miles
Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 3.3 miles

I thought it had been a while since I’d run in Central Park, but I was shocked to see on Garmin Connect that the last time I’d run there was last October! I had assumed I’d been there more recently but after checking the blog history I confirmed that was accurate. Knowing that, I am especially happy to have returned to Central Park.

The weather was almost perfect when I got to the park. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 60’s. It took a surprisingly long time to acquire a signal on my Garmin. As soon as it locked in, I was on my way.

I began my run by going counter-clockwise along the Center Drive loop. I was surprised to see lots of runners coming from the other direction because that’s opposite of the direction arrows on the bike path. I was running strongly and staying just below a nine minute pace through the first mile. By the time I reached the top of Cat Hill I had slowed a bit, but I still felt strong.

The humidity was higher than I’d first thought and I decided to limit my run to the loop below the reservoir. I gritted my teeth through the hilly sections just below the Great Lawn and Terrace Drive and enjoyed the downhill sections that followed. I continued on some the paths off Center Drive and finished on Central Park South at 7th Ave. It was a great run and my overall pace was actually faster than what I achieved on the NHP 8K.

This morning I headed to Stillwell to run the trails. I downloaded the latest 3 Non-Joggers podcast to listen to while I ran. That helped me get through some very technical and steep terrain. I ended up covering almost exactly the same mileage as I ran on Friday, but the required effort was much greater.

On my way off the trail I encountered three women who were asking people to sign a petition that would limit mowing the big field. This would help protect the wildlife and aid conservation efforts to eliminate invasive species. I was happy to sign.

I’ve been on vacation since yesterday afternoon. Since then, I’ve had two really interesting runs. I’m hoping to do a distance run in the next few days. Tomorrow is Father’s Day so maybe I’ll give myself the gift of running the hills on the Bethpage bike trail.


*Thank God It’s Friday and I’m Running In Central Park

Some work weeks go by so fast that you almost wish for another day to get everything completed. Not this week. By Tuesday afternoon I was half-asking if tomorrow is Friday. I felt terrible on Wednesday and recovered through Thursday, although the day seemed to go on forever. TGIF indeed!

After a light morning schedule, I’m planning to head over to Central Park for a run. It’s been a long time since I’ve run there and the conditions are perfect for it. I was on the fence last night about whether I’d do today’s run in the morning by my home, or run in the park. My wife said, “Tomorrow’s weather will be great and next week you’re on vacation. A run in the park will be a perfect way to kick off the weekend.” She’s smart.

My plan is to run the eastern side loop below the reservoir and, depending on how energetic I feel, continue around the water and come back along the western side. That’s about a 4.5 mile run. Otherwise, I’ll follow the route I used to take when I ran with JQ, Steve, Adventure Girl and others. That run involves cutting over just north of the Great Lawn before heading south. It’s about 3.1 miles in total – a nice low key 5K.

It feels a lot like summer already, with empty trains and few people in the office. The sounds from the Today Show concert is reaching me a couple of blocks away. The sun is shining. I can’t wait to head for the park.

The agony and the not so bad

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3 miles
Today’s run (treadmill): 3 miles

I’m in a slump and I don’t exactly understand why. I suspect that it’s a combination of things. Since I suffered a bad fall on my driveway a week ago, I’ve been feeling slightly sub-par. My crash at the end of my run was probably more traumatic than I’d initially thought and, seven days later, I still have plenty of evidence of that.

I had been feeling run down by mid-week and though I did a couple of runs plus an elliptical session since the accident, I felt the need to skip my workout on Thursday. Yesterday I had plans to meet my friend CK for a run in Central Park and I thought the day and a half rest I’d have since Wednesday would deliver some needed energy. I was almost completely wrong but there were other factors at play.

First, I had gone to the company medical center in the morning to get a flu shot. I didn’t think it would have any effect on my running, but perhaps it did. Second, I was rushed for time at lunch and grabbed some spicy vegetarian soup and vegetarian dumplings that didn’t help my glycogen level. And third, I generally don’t run well in the afternoon. So some combination of the above, plus being generally run down, made for a tough run in the park.

CK and I started our run on the lower loop near the 6th Avenue entrance to the park and we headed counter clockwise up the hill. We were moving at a good clip with CK letting me set the pace. I felt okay but was concerned about maintaining that rate over our planned 4+ mile route. Shortly after we reached our first mile, CK asked to stop so he could remove his long pants that were making him warm.

What should have been an opportunity to rest turned into a significant energy drop and as we made our way up the hill I admitted that I wouldn’t be able to run the reservoir route. We modified our course by cutting across the Great Lawn and I was truly struggling to keep the pace under 10 minutes a mile. Still it was fun to run the west side of the loop towards Columbus Circle because they had put up the stands for the NY Marathon and were in the process of constructing the finish line area.

We ended up covering our three miles in about 28 minutes but it was the toughest 5K I’ve run in a while.

This morning, due to the inclement weather, I ran about three miles on the treadmill, starting with a 5 minute walking warm up. I did the running part at around 9:50/min, a comfortable pace, but I really felt it by the end. I’m obviously not at my best but this morning’s workout felt far better than yesterday’s run.

I’m not sure how far I’ll run tomorrow. More than one person has suggested that I take a few days off and get back to strength. It’s good advice, the kind that I’d give to others. I’m not sure I’ll take my own advice though. Who can resist going out for a run on a cold October morning?

It’s not summer, but it’s Summer Friday

Today is the first of my company’s “Summer Fridays” and it’s appropriate that it falls on the day before Memorial Day weekend. I’m not saying NYC is a ghost town this morning but my office floor is virtually empty. Perfect conditions for a productive morning. Some of my best running adventures have happened on Summer Fridays, including runs across the GW Bridge, the West Side Bike Trails, the Brooklyn Bridge and along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Today I’m running in Central Park around lunchtime with my friend Steve. After that I’ll head home to start my long weekend.

When I got home last night my Hattori’s were waiting for me and I wasted no time trying them on. My daughter pronounced them “even cooler than the Kinvaras.” High praise indeed. The Hattori does not look like a running shoe and, if not for its sturdy mid-sole/out-sole, I would take it for a slipper with a very over-the-top design. The shoe fit me snugly and was extremely comfortable on my foot. I then tried it without a sock and it felt great. But I won’t run that way. Not my style. I think I’ll need to find thinner running socks though.

I resisted temptation to run in the Hattori’s last night and I’m not wearing them on today’s run because the zero drop and flat platform may take a little adjustment. You can bet I’ll be running in them tomorrow, or maybe I’ll take them for a spin this afternoon when I get home. After all it is a Summer Friday.

A rigorous rainy run in Central Park

Remember the Maine! Because that where we’re meeting.

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 4.65 miles
Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

There’s quite a contrast between today’s bright sun and yesterday’s rainy, cloudy skies. Friday morning had started out dry but, by 10:00 AM, the streets were wet and the umbrellas were open. I mentioned in a meeting that I planned to go out at around noon for a run in Central Park and got the expected “You’re crazy” and “Why would you want to do that?” responses. I checked in with my friend CK who was game for a run, regardless of the weather. We confirmed our plan to meet at the statue of the USS Maine at 12:30.

It was chilly and drizzling as I began my walk to Columbus Circle. I wore a short sleeved shirt and running shorts because the humidity was in the mid 70’s and I knew I’d get hot while running. I arrived early at the statue and CK was already there. We started our run by heading south along the lower loop,  and then heading east. The rain wasn’t too bad and, despite my glasses, I had no problem seeing. My real problem was keeping up with CK.  He was looking to move along at a faster pace than the 9:30 that I was maintaining as we worked on the first few hills.

We kept going north until we reached the reservoir and ran around it until we’d reached the west side. From there we exited onto the bridal path and tackled a hilly section before we crossed over to West Drive. We increased our speed from there, running closer to a 8:50 mile, which was a hard pace for me and a relaxing one for CK. Those hills always get to me.

We finished where we started and by then the rain had increased to a steady fall and I felt cold on the walk back to my office. By the time I got there I was soaked, a combination of sweat and rain. I toweled off with Wet Ones and grabbed a quick bite. Though I hoped I could spend the afternoon sequestered in my office, I was pulled into a bunch of meetings. No one seemed to notice that I’d gone without a post-run shower.

This morning I was extremely pressed for time so I went out for a short run. I’m planning to do some biking with my daughter later so I didn’t care about distance. Speaking of distance, my friend FS ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this morning. Conditions were ideal so I’m hoping she had a great experience. That race was my first choice for my first half but registration was closed by the time I tried to sign up.  Maybe next year.

Central Park running on the schedule

If the weather holds through lunchtime I’ll be running in Central Park with my friend CK. The last time we ran together was in January along the streets of Naples, FL, in the early morning fog. CK is a far better runner than me but he’s very patient and flexes (somewhat) to my pace. It usually becomes a subconscious tug of war between us where he ever-so-slightly pushes us towards an 8 minute pace while I push back in the other direction.

We’re targeting about four miles today, or maybe a little longer than that since we plan to run up the east side of the lower loop, circle the reservoir and then head back down. CK has been dealing with a chronic foot injury for a while so his distances are limited. That works for me. Lengthy runs in the middle of the workday can make for an uncomfortable afternoon in the office, especially when there’s no after-run shower. If the rains do come that could solve the problem quite nicely.

Running in a freezing wonderland

It looked a lot like this in Central Park on Thursday

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.26 miles
Today’s run (treadmill): 2.3 miles

The temperature stayed in the low 20’s most of Thursday although I’d hoped it would warm up a little more by noon. JQ was not able to join me so I headed out alone to Central Park, ducking through buildings along the way to keep warm. The wind and cold were brutal but the sun was shining and I knew that I’d be fine once I got going on my run. I reached the Park, that was covered white with snow, and began to follow my usual course. I started with the lower loop and ran counter-clockwise, east then north. There were only a few others along the path: an occasional cyclist, a few other runners and a handful of freezing tourists.

I kept my pace brisk in an effort to heat up quickly and it worked. By the first mile I had become comfortable with the weather but I struggled a little with the hills. It’s been a while since I’ve run with any real course elevation because most of my running this year has either been on the treadmill or on the basically flat roads within my neighborhood. I ultimately did fine with the hills and managed to maintain my pace. Before long I had passed 3 miles and was nearing my end-point when a tall runner, wearing black compression gear from head to toe, passed me like I was standing still. I was actually moving fast (for me) at the time, maintaining about an 8:30 pace. Overall, I averaged 8:46 per mile, helped along by the freezing but energizing wind. I finished hot and sweating but by the time I returned to my office I was cold and dry again.

This morning I planned for an easy run on the treadmill. I had a late start and felt I’d gotten some good speed work in yesterday. My first mile was slow — just below 10 min per mile, and I didn’t even need to turn on the treadmill’s cooling fan until ten minutes into my run. I stepped up the speed from there and ran the second 1.3 miles closer to a 9:00 pace. My “easy” run turned out to be a little harder than planned but it felt good. I cannot maintain a slower than normal pace on the treadmill because the numbers on the display taunt me to run faster. That’s okay, at least the first mile was easy.