Return to Central Park

Coney Island, NY – start (or finish?) to 2011 Brooklyn Half

It’s almost mid-February and I have yet to run in NYC this year. That will change today when me and my running buddy JQ head to Central Park around noon. We had planned a run a couple of weeks ago but a snowstorm made that impossible. Conditions that day were so bad I wasn’t even able to get into the office. It’s cold out today (low 20’s) but at least there’s nothing coming down.

I’m excited to head back to the park, run outdoors and catch up with JQ. I’ve been hoping for a thaw that will rid us of the accumulated snow and open up more venues for running. My outdoor runs have been limited to a few neighborhood excursions plus last Saturday’s race in Long Beach. I love Central Park any time but I’m especially keen to run there again after so much time spent on the treadmill. I’m thinking about the NYRR Brooklyn half marathon as my first-ever race at that distance.

The Brooklyn half marathon routes through Prospect Park, another place (similar to Central Park) where I’ve always wanted to run. That race ends at Coney Island (or the other way around). I’m not really sure how they’re mapping the course this year. That would be a new adventure but today I’m just looking forward to running the loops again in Central Park.

Central Park work-year ender

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.25 miles

We didn’t run too far or too fast but yesterday’s run with JQ was perfect in its own way.  After a long year that started with a bout of severe pneumonia it was great to finish up with with an early winter’s run around Central Park. It’s been cold all week and Thursday was no exception, 33 degrees plus wind. JQ and I have run often enough that our route is assumed, starting from the southern end and following the eastern loop, crossing the top of the Great Lawn and then coming back down to our starting point. Running with others is a treat, with the conversation and the activity amplifying the positives of both. JQ is an extremely interesting person who is also a great listener. I always want to repeat our course when we come to our finish just to extend the experience.

I’m on vacation until January 3rd and I’m looking forward to some quiet time off. At the same time I’m a little anxious about getting sick because it seems like I always suffer some type of illness on this year-end break. I’m not concerned about pneumonia or the flu this year because I’ve been inoculated against both. That said, I’m not going to push too hard on my runs this week. I’ll probably go out for a short easy run today and attempt a longer distance run tomorrow or Sunday. I have all next week to run without the constraints of commuting schedules so I might try runs at Caleb Smith or Muttontown Preserve. I’m planning to try my new Karhu Fast 2 Fulcrum_Rides on today’s run. That should be an interesting experience.

Happy Holiday’s, my Karhu’s have arrived

The Karhu Fast 2 Ride even looks fast

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 4.5 miles

Although it’s technically not a holiday present, I did receive a package last night that made me very happy. The folks at Karhu, a Finnish athletic wear company, sent me a couple of pairs of their new Fast 2 Fulcrum Ride shoes. This model is Karhu’s entry into minimalist running shoes and the Fast 2’s, in vivid green and orange, are appealing and unusual. I haven’t run with them but after lacing them up and wearing them around the house I’m anxious to try them on pavement. Progress reports will come by way of this blog and a full review will follow on Runner’s Tech Review. Adventure Girl will also be testing a pair (the orange was for her) and we’ll compare experiences in the review. I’m extremely curious to see how the Fast 2’s compare to the Kinvaras. I have a good feeling about this.

Until I take the Karhu’s out for their first run my Kinvaras will remain my go-to trainers. I wore the Kinvaras yesterday on my Central Park run with my friend Steve. I had been wearing my Grid Tangents and SRR’s over he last week so it was a nice change. Prior to yesterday’s run I was concerned if I’d have the energy to cover 4 to 5 miles on that hilly course. That was not the case and things fell into place once we started. During the first half of the run I was a step or two behind Steve as we ran a 9:15 pace up the east loops and around the reservoir. By the time we reached our exit of the reservoir path I was cruising and Steve was starting to feel the effort. By the time we hit the southern end I was feeling stronger than when I started. We sprinted the last few hundred feet and finished 4.5 miles averaging a 9:11 pace.

Today I’ll end the workday, work week and work year with another Central Park run. This time it will be with another friend, JQ, and I’m looking forward to a less intense experience from yesterday’s.

Race taper: winding down before winding up

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.15 miles
Today’s run (Street): 2.5 miles

My experiment with more moderate paces on a taper week continued this morning with a run that toggled between an easy and a mildly challenging pace. My intention was to do the whole run slow to allow for continued muscle recovery but a little voice kept prompting me to pick up the pace for short distances. It ultimately turned out to be a tempo run but my tempo that was closer to andantino than allegro.

Yesterday I ran with JQ at lunchtime in Central Park. Conditions were ideal, sunny and cool with occasional breezes. We did our usual loop and covered a range of topics as we made our way around. We came by the location of the NYC Marathon finish and I saw that they still hadn’t broken down the spectator stands or cleared out a lot of the signage. Both today’s and yesterday’s runs felt good and I’m hoping that this strategy won’t soften me up too much to be competitive on Sunday. It’s been a while since I’ve done a run with any intensity. I’ll know this weekend how well this method works.

Moderation has its advantages

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.1 miles
Today’s workout (elliptical): 24 minutes

I’d considered a run this morning even though I’d gone to bed thinking about taking a rest day today. Yesterday I had my second noonday run with JQ and found it energizing. My Central Park runs, especially those I run alone, tend to be intense. I’m usually pressed for time and have a distance goal in mind. The hills play a part, I try to run them as close to my overall pace as I can. All this adds up to a fairly vigorous workout and I return to the office wet and somewhat spent. It can also feel great but with an afternoon of business activities in front of me I occasionally face an energy crisis. Yesterday’s run was exactly what I needed in the middle of a busy day. Between the conversation, the surroundings and the moderate activity itself (I did generate a sweat) I came through the afternoon focused and refreshed. More importantly, I was motivated to do a hard run today.

This morning’s driving rain and blowing winds prevented any outdoor opportunities when I got up. I decided to follow my normal routine with an elliptical session rather than messing around with the treadmill. I set the elliptical for medium resistance and maintained a fairly good pace rate, exceeding 2 miles in around 24 minutes. Not my most intense session but like yesterday, energizing. I’m concerned that the rain will continue through tomorrow morning, giving me no option but to do a treadmill run. I’ll deal with that then. I’m really thinking trails for Saturday but I’m not decided on venue. My daughter has been running trails at Stillwell and Bethpage with her cross country team. She’s starting to really like trail running and we may do a run this weekend in the woods. I couldn’t be happier about that.

The Cross Country Kid

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes – high resistance

My daughter has joined her middle school cross country team and yesterday they had their first practice. The coach had them run laps around a field that I know from personal experience is plenty big. My daughter and I had discussed running strategy in the past and she put it to use at the practice. While the others (especially the boys – it’s co-ed) took off fast she stayed at the back of the pack to conserve energy for the duration of the run. Due to her smart running, she ended up finishing with the front of the pack and she’s excited to get back out there again today. I honestly wouldn’t care if she ended up last as long as she enjoys the experience. Cross country training will get those kids into great shape. How long will it be before she can outrun me?

Speaking of training, I focused this morning’s workout on a high resistance elliptical session. I more than doubled my usual resistance level and tried to stay within sight of my usual pace rate. At the 10 minute mark I was soaked with sweat but I knew this low impact workout was exactly what I needed. I ended up going for 25 minutes and I’m sure I did more work than I have on any 25 minute run of late. I’m really looking forward to my long runs this weekend. Maybe I’ll do a speed run tomorrow morning. Either that or rest. I’m beginning to believe strategic rest is the best way to hold the gains.

There is an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about running in Central Park at night. Some of what’s said reminds me of my own 4:00 AM running experiences. As much as I like Central Park, I don’t think I’d be willing to run there at midnight. Safety first!

Two park runs: Central and Bethpage

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.6 miles at 9:07
Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 7.9 miles at 10:00 (approximately)

It had been over two weeks since I last ran in Central Park and I was looking forward to returning there on Friday. The temperatures in the morning were cool (60’s) but as the noonday sun moved overhead the heat came out with strength. I started my run at the 7th Ave crossing on Central Park South and followed the lower loop, moving along well despite the heat and the hills. Along the way the trees provided occasional shelter from the sun and, as usual, the park provided a broad array of stimuli: sights, smells (good and bad) and sounds. Touch too, if you count the feel of the hilly roads under my feet. I was so distracted by the experience that I continued to follow the lower loop until I reached the western side where I redirected north along the upper loop. I continued around the great lawn and followed that north and then east where I switched to the upper loop going south. That series of maneuvers added almost half a mile to my usual route so I was pleased at the end with the extra distance.

This morning I met my friend Dave at Bethpage State Park with a plan to run seven miles on the bike path at a leisurely pace somewhere between 10:15-10:30. Dave’s Garmin GPS watch and my Garmin FR60 with foot pod differed in terms of measurement. Mine showed us covering about .4 of a mile longer than his. I have a native distrust for GPS measurement of this type after measuring runs using AllSport, MotionX and other GPS apps on my iPhone. When the data from these runs is compared to the actual measurement (via Google Earth or Gmaps) the GPS usually under represents by a little (or often) by a lot. I can see on the MotionX maps why this is the case, the GPS works in straight line vectors that often cut corners that can add up to less distance. My Garmin has actually been under-counting when paired with my Brooks so we may have actually reached 8 miles today and broken 10:00. I wouldn’t be surprised because even though we weren’t burning up the road we were moving along well.

Unlike most of my runs at Bethpage, today the runners outnumbered the bikers, although there were a enough bikers to keep us alert when they came up quickly from behind. Dave ran on the inside lane and kindly took the brunt of the bike traffic. We are both running the Great Cow Harbor 10K next month and Dave provided some insight from his experience with that race. Between Dave and Brian I feel very fortunate to have so much prior knowledge of what promises to be a tough course. I’ll see for myself in couple of weeks when I do a practice run there with Brian. At the end of today’s run I felt very good and took to heart Dave’s advice that the best way to increase my stamina is to put in more distance. Distance first, speed second. I hear that. Tomorrow I’ll do less distance when I run with KWL. I’ve covered a lot of miles over the last few days and I need to be kind to my legs. I hope I have enough energy left for Sunday’s run as keeping up with KWL can be a challenge. I’m hoping his 10K/100 mile bike ride last weekend will even us up in terms of energy levels.

Training is paying off with two speedy runs despite the hills

Friday’s run (Central Park): 3.25 miles at 8:39
Today’s run (street): 4.5 miles at 8:36

We have guests coming over today so I set out early to get in my run. My focus, both today and yesterday, was on maintaining a brisk pace over routes that presented some hill challenges. Yesterday I headed to Central Park around noon and followed a route that started by following the lower and upper loop on the east side. I crossed to the west north of the Great Lawn and finished my run down the loops along the west side. The temperature was around 75 degrees and that helped at the start. I ran the first mile, that has a couple of noticeable elevations, at around 8:05 per mile, which is fast for me. My split speed decreased for miles 2 and 3 but I did keep my pace well under nine minutes the whole way through. A focus on speed has definitely improved my performance and I’m happy with the numbers but I do wish I could just go out there and run for fun. But running for fun does not contribute enough to conditioning and I only have one week before the Dirty Sock 10K.

My run this morning mostly took place in a business park located near my house. it’s not the most visually interesting place to run but the wide open streets and a loop that is 2/3 uphill and 1/3 downhill makes for a great training ground. I ran the loop two times and tried to maintain a rapid cadence. I averaged 88 SPM for the first mile and gradually fell to 83 SPM by the last half mile. Even so, I bettered the 80 SPM that I have averaged most of this summer. I finished my training cycle by ducking into neighborhood #3 which is mostly flat and provided a welcome relief from uphill running. From there I headed home, tired but still remaining under the 9:00 threshold.

Last night my wife told me about a 5K race that was being held at Sand’s Point this morning. She suggested I run it because it’s a beautiful place right on the water. I decided that I needed to do the hill training instead, to prepare for next week’s race. It would have been fun to spontaneously run a 5K but part of my enjoyment of racing is the anticipation of the event and the strategy and training that precedes it. I’m really curious about how I’ll do next Sunday. Will my performance training pay off or will I end up close to my time from last year? I thought I’d trained better and incorporated better strategy before the New Hyde Park 8K in June but I ended up no faster (or slower) than my 2009 run. I’m planning to run with my friend KWL tomorrow and then run on Monday through Wednesday during the week. I’ll finish my taper with an elliptical session and rest for Sunday. At least that’s the plan for now.

NYC running – many choices, but there’s only one Central Park

Today’s run: Central Park (planned)

It’s looking fairly gloomy on this Friday the 13th morning. The local news station predicts that the low cloud cover will burn off by noon and that nice weather will follow. I’d be happy to keep the overcast skies and just eliminate the threat of rain. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Central Park run and I miss the experience. I’m planning to return to the park today and I have high hopes for relatively cooler temperatures and low humidity.

Last summer I covered a lot of the city during these summer Friday excursions. AG, who knew most of the running routes in the NYC and surrounding areas, introduced me to the west side bike paths, the Old Croton Aqueduct trail and the experience of running over the Brooklyn and GW bridges. I ran north on the bike paths earlier in the summer with my friend Steve but other than that I haven’t migrated far from Central Park.

Bike paths at Chambers Street

It might be fun to run south on the bike path to Chambers Street as we did often last year. It was a one way trip that ended downtown near Whole Foods. After the run we could walk a block to Whole Foods and get some recovery drinks (I liked the bottled water with added electrolytes) and we’d hop on the subway back to the office. I suppose I could do that today for a change of scenery. Still, Central Park is seductive and it has the hills I really need for my training. I’ll wait until noon to see how I feel and whether the weather will cooperate.

Two good runs: Central Park then closer to home

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 4.9 miles at 9:20
Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles at 9:40

Things started out very comfortably at noon on Friday as I started my run in Central Park.  The temperature was rising about one degree every 20 minutes and by noon it was up to 73. Humidity was relatively low as I set a course that started from the 7th Ave. entrance to the park and then followed the east side of the lower loop. I continued on until crossing to the upper loop at 72nd street where I encountered another set of hills. I felt good having had a few strong cups of coffee earlier in the morning and running before (rather than after) lunch.

When I reached the reservoir I ran up the steps to run the dirt path that runs around the lake. I traveled counterclockwise and was heading toward the point where I usually jump off and return to the running path on the west side. Before that I abruptly reached a barrier that forced me onto the path at 90th street. That disoriented me a little and I headed north instead of south for about two blocks until I saw my error and reversed direction. The route back is more downhill than up (I already had plenty of hills coming north) but even the southern direction has its uphill spots that were harder to breech as the sun got hotter. I got passed by a few runners in my last mile and ended up covering about 4.9 miles without feeling too exhausted.

This morning I went out for a neighborhood run a little later than I’d planned. I woke up with a sinus headache for the second day in a row and waited for the coffee, ibuprofen and Sudafed to kick in before going out at 7:40 AM. It was only 67 degrees when I left and there was plenty of shade on the streets. I let my comfort dictate my stride and maintained a mid-nine minute pace through most of my run. I covered about 4.25 miles without working too hard. I’m saving some energy so I can put in more mileage tomorrow and Monday. I know that if I want to do more distance per run I should take more days off from running and run longer when I do. It’s hard not running on both weekend days because they are my fun runs that are usually not constrained by time. I haven’t decided whether I’ll follow through on my plan to run against a set time this weekend. If I’m feeling ready to start early tomorrow I may just try to do that.