2015 Hangover Fun Run

Happy New Running Year

Today’s run (Hangover Run): 5 miles

The Hangover Run is a free event put on every New Year’s day by the Long Island Road Runners Club. I ran it for the fourth time today and, for the second year in a row, I was accompanied by running buddies SIOR and TPP. This morning we were joined by SIOR’s speedy daughter, a cross-country and track runner.

It’s usually freezing cold on New Year’s day, so it’s a challenge to choose the right running clothes. Too many layers will keep you comfortable prior to the start, but you can overheat on the run. I overdressed for warmth and regretted it. I ended up taking off my gloves and holding them in my hands during most of the run. It wasn’t the overheating that got to me today. It was the nagging sciatica that has bothered me over the past few weeks.

We all met up in the parking lot and headed toward the staging area about 15 minutes before the run was set to start. After signing our liability waivers we made our way towards the line. There were about 200 people congregated behind the time clock that counted down to the 9:30 AM start time. Without fanfare, we were off. I felt great and hoped that would continue for the duration of the run.

About a quarter mile into the run, SIOR and SIOR Jr passed me and continued on ahead. TPP did the same at the 3/4 mile point and I saw, after the turnaround, that she’d caught up with the SIORs. The course is a one mile loop with a suggested distance of five miles, so I was able to chart the progress of the others as we passed back and forth.

The soreness started on the second mile and increased as the run continued. I felt like I had another gear but I was reluctant to put too much on the injury. I still don’t know the nature of the problem, so I’m being careful about hard I push. I picked up my pace a few times during the last mile and that resulted in my second fastest split. I came through the last mile, with an overall time of 51 minutes. My friends were all  waiting for me at the finish.

As tradition dictates, we headed to Starbucks for coffee and conversation that included a deep analysis of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. We don’t always talk about running.

Happy New Year to everyone. It’s nice to start the year with a  challenging run, especially when it happens with great people.

Throwing caution to the run

Gimme shelter

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles

We have guests staying with us until Tuesday, so I’ve lost my running locker room (AKA the guest room) for a few days. I got my stuff together early so I could go out before our visitors arrived. My goal was to run about 5 miles. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.

The soreness I’ve experienced over the past two weeks seemed to be going away and I had high hopes that I’d be free of it by next week. When I started my run, the pain was even more noticeable than it was at the beginning of yesterday’s run. My plan was to do a couple of loops around the business park and then add some miles in an adjacent neighborhood. After running a mile in my neighborhood, I felt concern about overdoing it and modified my route in the name of caution.

I ended up staying on my local streets and kept it moderate. As I warmed up, the pain began to minimize and I wondered if I should do some extra dynamic stretching or put direct heat on the sore area right before my next run. It was chilly this morning so I had a couple of thermal bottom layers that probably contributed to my fast warm up. Along with that, I wore my new-old running vest and an actually new ASICS PR Shelter beanie that I got last week.

Even though I cut it short, I was glad that I was able to get in a run this morning. Better still, the soreness has diminished throughout the day. I’m hoping that means the inflammation that is triggering my sciatica is lessening. I’m continuing to run easy, even though I want to start picking up my training pace so I can prepare for racing in early 2015. I just have to be a little more patient.

Columbus Day coda run

Current thinking

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

I’ve run 21 miles since Wednesday, and capped things off with today’s low-power workout. I covered more distance this week than in any six day period since early summer. That’s 20% more volume than my current weekly average. In terms of performance, I’m not yet where I want to be, but I have been making some small improvements with my pace. I hope those gains continue into the fall as the humidity and temperatures drop.

High performance was not a factor this morning. After yesterday’s group run, followed by an afternoon hike that included numerous quad-burning inclines, my legs were fairly beat. I only get to run outside on Mondays during holidays or on vacation days, so I felt I should defer my rest day until tomorrow.

I stayed in the neighborhood today and kept to the usual roads, except for a short detour I took along Jericho Turnpike. It felt cold in the house and that prompted me to over-layer (long sleeves, track pants) despite an actual temperature of 50°. I didn’t get overheated, but that possibility mitigated a harder effort.

I have an appointment on Saturday morning so I won’t be running the Town of Oyster Bay 5K. The Run for the Warriors 10K happens in early November and I will probably run that. My wife and kids are planning to volunteer again and TPP will also be racing. It’s a great race for a really good cause and it may be just the thing to bring back my competitive mindset.

Great weekend runs despite the hills and rain

Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles
Yesterday’s run (Bethpage trail): 6.25 miles

It’s been a good weekend for running, starting with Friday’s morning’s fall-like conditions. Yesterday I decided to break out of my neighborhood’s boundaries and headed to Bethpage to run the bike trail. It was a little warmer than on Friday, but very comfortable in the shade. I got a late start and didn’t arrive until 9:00 AM, and the trail was packed with happy looking cyclists, runners and walkers. I picked the northern direction, running towards Sunnyside Boulevard.

It’s been some weeks since I’ve run the undulating hills at Bethpage and I felt every one. The stretch between Washington Ave and Sunnyside was the toughest section of my route and I felt some relief once I reached the top of the last hill. The rest of the run was easy and I was almost sorry to stop when I reached my endpoint.

Later in the day we hosted a dinner for friends and, by the end of the evening, I was ready to sleep where I stood. I worried that I overdid it on my run and that I wouldn’t be able to go long today. I ended up getting an earlier start this morning and took off under dark cloudy skies. Around the two mile point it started to rain, and I thought about turning back home. I decided to keep going in the hope that it would soon clear up.

My gamble paid off, and the rain stopped about ten minutes later. I ran another 20 minutes before completing 5.25 miles. Running only four times a week (these days) requires that I cover at least ten miles on weekends. Less days mean longer distances per run, and his has helped me establish a pretty good base. My speed is still well below target and I think that’s due to an utter lack of anaerobic training on my part. I plan for a speed workout some time next week and try to get  that back on track.

Runsketeers weekend, dinner and a Mother’s Day run

Me and the moms (minus SIOR’s chin)

Yesterday’s run (street): 5.7 miles
Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 9.6 miles

This has been a Runsk-terrific weekend. Yesterday, our queen of speed, SIOR, hosted a great dinner for our small group, including grownups and kids ranging in age from 2 to (almost) 16. The food was great, the company was great, and the energy level was high. TPP and I finally got to meet Mr. SIOR, who was a personable and welcoming host, and their fantastic, adorable kids. It turns out that Mr. SIOR and I have some friends in common. What are the chances of that?!

Earlier in the day on Saturday, I went out for 5.7 miles around my neighborhood. My new schedule makes it difficult for me to run during the week, so I needed to cram some mileage into the weekend. The run itself was unremarkable, though I worried that a mid-length run on Saturday might affect my running performance today. There are a number of reasons why I fell short of my planned distance of 12 miles today, and that could have been a factor.

Today’s Mother’s Day long run started in different places for the Runsketeers. TPP and I met along the bike trail north of Haypath Rd with the goal of eventually meeting up with SIOR, who was starting her run at the southern end of the Massapequa Preserve. TPP and I ran north and turned around when we reached the point where I’d calculated that our southern direction would get us to the Bethpage lot in time to rendezvous with SIOR.

For different reasons, the timing had us at Bethpage earlier than expected. Me and TPP waited about 10 minutes before resuming out southern direction with the intention of intercepting SIOR along the trail. We all met up at the bottom of the big hill right before the lot, and ran north, making a brief stop at Bethpage. We all got water from the fountain because, while it was relatively cool, it was extremely humid. The two “rests” along the way may have contributed to a degradation in my ability to maintain pace. In retrospect, I think it was my failure to bring a water bottle that made my last miles very difficult.

We ran further north and I watch SIOR grow steadily smaller as she opened up space between me and TPP. TPP was able maintain a better pace than me and I followed about 30 feet behind her until we met up with SIOR who was waiting for us at Old Country Rd. SIOR suggested taking a picture at that point, which was a good idea since we often forget to do that. It would have been great to get a selfie at dinner last night, but we never got to it. I think that’s because we were having too much fun to think about it.

Shortly after we took our pictures, I reached the point where I needed to stop running. SIOR continued all the way to Sunnyside Boulevard (mind blowing, considering all the miles she’d already covered and the challenging hills north of Washington Ave). TPP ran another mile and met up with me where I’d stopped. After she returned, we started walking back to our cars knowing that SIOR would eventually catch up. That happened about a mile north of where we parked, so the three of us got to have a nice talk without anyone worrying about finding an oxygen tank for me.

I ended up covering 9.6 running miles, plus those walking miles at the end. I wanted to finish my Brooklyn training with 12 miles, but I didn’t quite get there. I think with a resting taper, carrying water and maintaining a consistent pace next Saturday, I’ll be able to get through the distance. There’s no way I’ll PR and there’s a good chance I won’t beat my original half marathon time when I ran with an injured knee. But Brooklyn is about the experience and being with friends. I hope they won’t mind waiting for me at the end.

11 miles of fun and friends on the Bethpage trail

This was the best shot of me (out of 3) so imagine the others

Today’s run (Bethpage bike path): 11 miles

This morning I set out to cover 11 miles on the Bethpage bike path. It was the company of friends that helped me manage so well and made the experience great. Prior to today’s run, my longest run in 2014 was 9.7 miles. This was a 12% mileage increase, but I felt fine throughout the run.

We were hoping to make this a full Runsketeer run, but SIOR had to attend the soccer games and track meets for her dozens of children (4 really). TPP and I met up near the Bethpage trail and started our run north. We were hoping to run into Jonathan who I met on the bike path a couple of weekends ago. Our hopes were met when we saw he and his wife Katherine running in our direction. We quickly fell into formation running south.

Jonathan and Katherine are training for an upcoming marathon in Vermont and they have been training a lot on this bike path and the dirt trails that run close by. Bethpage provides a lot of hills and that’s probably good since they’ll be racing in Green Mountain country. We ended up running about two miles together before our friends, who’d started about three miles north of our starting point, turned back. They are great people and I look forward to running with them again.

TPP and I continued our run, going beyond the north trail head, passing through Bethpage State Park and then further south past Hempstead Turnpike. We turned around at 6.25 miles. On the way back, TPP unleashed her inner greyhound and began to insert 100-200 meter bursts of speed. She’s very quick and I can see why she was a sprinter in high school. If she was the hare, then I was the turtle, maintaining the same pace throughout most of the run. I did pick up my speed a few times as we got closer to the finish point, when I felt I could spend some energy.

TPP, in living color

The trail wasn’t as crowded with runners as it normally would be on a pleasant Sunday. Perhaps everyone was off running the LI marathon, half and 10K today. Still, there were cyclists and some runners. TPP, with her vivid attire, got her share of admiring looks. TPP felt that today’s run was a good affirmation of her current conditioning and I felt the same. After covering 11 miles and feeling great, 13.1 miles in Brooklyn feels far less intimidating.

Our next Runsketeer event will be very different (more to come on that) and SIOR will definitely be a big part of that. We really missed her today. I’m very pleased with today’s run and I owe much of it to my friends who make me a better runner.

Liked my run and loved my park

Been there, didn’t do that

Today’s run (street): 4.6 miles

I’m working through my new work schedule and trying to find the time to fit in all my training runs. I caught a break on Thursday by working from home. That was good for over six miles, something that I couldn’t have done if I was driving to my office that morning. I was back to the drive on Friday morning and couldn’t fit in a run before that. The saving grace is that my new office is in an enormous building and I cover a lot of ground on foot during the day.

This morning I targeted 4 miles around the neighborhood. I plan to run as close to 11 as I can on Sunday. Just for a change, I wrapped my run around the neighborhood, following Jericho Turnpike west to South Oyster Bay road and then onto Terrahans going east. The change of scenery was welcomed and I figured that this new route would distract me for the first two miles and make the overall run feel shorter. That sort of worked, even though I added another 2/3 mile to my distance.

I feel that I’m running exactly the same way and expending the same amount of energy that I did a year ago. Now my typical pace is now almost a minute slower. I used to be able to sustain sub-9 paces with a focused effort. These days I’m happy when I see that I’ve averaged mid-9’s. Today I didn’t even break 10:00. I’d hope that my weekly speed workouts would have moved the needle, but I’ve seen little payoff from it.

Later in the day, we all headed to Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown for “I Love My Park Day.” Last year we planted a tree and were looking forward to this year’s tasks. However, when we arrived at noon, the event organizers were wrapping things up. Our information said that activities would go until 3:00 PM, but it was incorrect. We were disappointed, but it didn’t prevent us for spending an hour hiking the trails.

If everything works out, we’ll have a Runsketeer run tomorrow morning that includes a couple of guest runners (J who I met on the bike trail two weeks ago and his wife). I’m very curious to see how I hold up for 11 miles or more. Only two more Sundays before the Brooklyn half, and I need to make them count.

Angry workers and the endless trail

My view of the trail today

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 9.7 miles

With the Marcie Mazzola 5K happening on Sunday, I needed to figure out a way to get my long run done this week. On Wednesday I logged six miles and was planning to run 10 or 11 on the weekend. I didn’t want to run that much the day before a race, so I decided to cram it in today. I’m wrapping up a lot of things as I prepare for a new role on Monday, so my schedule was tight.

I decided that the bike trail was my best option, so I drove to the small lot that sits on the bike trail north of Old Country Road. I quickly started running north until I reached Washington Ave and turned around to run south. My target was 10 or 10.5 miles and I felt great. The weather was perfect and the setting serene. I must have seen thirty cottontails along the path and countless birds. Not too many people though.

I did fine through the first five miles despite the hills that came about every quarter mile. My only concern was time, because I needed to be home (and hopefully showered) before a business call that was happening mid morning. Once I’d traveled south of the Bethpage lot and down the big hill, I started to feel a little fatigued. I’d swapped the sock liners in my Virratas for gel insoles and that turned out to be a good idea. However, the softer landing probably made me work a little harder on the hills.

By the time I reached seven miles, I became concerned that my progress was not fast enough to meet my timeline. I was really feeling fatigued and the trail seemed endless. I also realized that I did bad math in terms of turnaround point and I wouldn’t quite make ten miles. Oh well, it was only a 3/10th of a mile difference. The only disruption to this placid experience was when I reached Old Country Road near the end of my run.

Before I’d rounded the corner to the street, I heard loud male voices screaming at each other. It was mostly expletives. These were town or county workers who were fixing the bike trail at the point where it met Old Country Road. I was mildly concerned because I needed to run between them to get across the street and more concerned when I saw that one of the arguers was driving a huge front loader.

I think they realized the danger of interfering with a civilian, so they stopped while I passed through. Immediately after, the guy in the front loader started yelling, “I !@#$% quit!” By then I was on the trail on the opposite side heading to my car.

Even though today’s distance was almost the same as last Sunday’s, today’s run was far tougher. I’m hoping it had to do with running almost ten miles after running 6 just two days prior. For some, that would have been a non-issue, but it was only about five weeks ago when I was struggling to complete 4 miles on this same trail.

Tomorrow I will rest and Sunday I’ll race. What I’ll do for training next week is still up in the air. I’ll have to see what my schedule holds.

Bethpage run: Making friends along the trail

I really want that chocolate bunny

Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 9.5 miles

Today is Easter and I hope it’s a good one for those of you who celebrate this holiday. I don’t, but I’m certainly celebrating the great weather we’re having this weekend. Sunday is when I do my longest run and the distance gets extended each week as I build up to half marathon distance. Last Sunday I ran eight miles and today’s plan was for 9. Depending on the training schedule, today could have been a ten miler, but I was reluctant to jump 20% from week to week. Though it was an accident, I ended up with a good compromise distance.

My Runsketeer friends are both in Boston for the marathon that’s being held tomorrow. SIOR will be running it and we are really excited for her. She trains really hard while taking great care of her family (4 kids!) and she has the athleticism to make it a memorable performance on Monday. No pressure, just qualifying for Boston is a victory. TPP is there to support her sister T, who is also running tomorrow. T is another high performer. That, of course, is a prerequisite for getting entry into Boston.

As a native Bostonian, I would have loved to be there to watch them run through my old home town of Natick, but I’ll be here on Long Island tracking their progress through the baa.org site. In the meantime, I have my own race training to do with the Brooklyn Half coming up mid-May and the Marcie Mazzola 5K next weekend. I’m very curious to see how I do in terms of speed in the 5K and whether all these hills I’ve been running will provide a performance payoff.

Today’s run was split into two experiences, one being a pleasant but uneventful solo effort for about five miles and the other a highly enjoyable almost-five with an other runner on the path. I parked near Haypath Rd. again and got right on the bike trail going north. I followed the trail up to Washington Ave and turned around once I reached the underpass of the LIE.

I maintained the easy pace that I need to cover long mileage while I rebuild my endurance. I got to the five mile point and had stopped at Haypath to watch for cars when I saw another runner to my left. We exchanged hellos and crossed the road. I suspected that he was faster than me and was surprised that he hadn’t taken off and passed me at that point. Instead, he (I’ll call him J) pulled alongside me and asked how many miles I was doing. He was planning to do about the same, we’re both training for different long races and his will be in Vermont.

Today’s elevation profile

J turned out to be a very good and interesting guy who also works in the media technology space, but not in publishing like me. He set a slightly faster pace than I was running and I was very surprised that I was able to hold up my end of the conversation. J is a tall athletic guy and I’m somewhat older than him. He could have easily run two or three minutes a mile faster than the pace we held and I was grateful that he didn’t. He really pulled me along, especially on the hills.

The time spent with J went by much faster than the previous five miles. Just like when I have group runs with SIOR and TPP. Good company is a runner’s gift. I left J to finish on his own once we returned to Haypath and I felt remarkably good after covering almost ten miles today. All this focused training is making a difference and it demonstrates that there is no substitute for putting in the work. When the work is made easier with friends, it’s simple to understand why we do this.

8 miles at Bethpage, but parking was the toughest part

X marks the parking spot (map and picture)

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 8 miles

Today was my longest run of the week and I knew I’d be doing it somewhere on the Bethpage bike trail. I just didn’t know when or where I’d start. GLIRC had a clubhouse run scheduled for this morning and I considered joining them for that. Those runs start at 8:00 AM sharp in the parking lot of the GLIRC office in Plainview. I wasn’t in the mood for running with a big group, so I decided to skip that event and do my long run solo.

TPP was also doing her long run at Bethpage today and I’d hoped to cross paths with her at some point. We did end up finding each other on the trail (she was easy to spot in her vivid pink running gear) and we ran together a bit. TPP was having a tough time this morning and decided to head back to her starting point. Despite that, she ended up covering almost 8 miles.

The Hal Higdon plan called for 8 miles today, although my ER plan had me down for 9. Since I ran 7 miles last Sunday, I decided that eight was enough today. I recall from my last half marathon training cycle that the challenge of going from 5-6 miles to 8-10+ took some acclimation. I was concerned that I’d hit the wall after 45 minutes or so, but I never felt depleted. I stayed around 80% of max HR throughout the run, largely due to maintaining an easy, but steady, pace.

Before I took my first step on the Bethpage bike trail, I had a frustrating experience trying to find a place to park my car. I’m planning to get a 2014 Empire Passport so I didn’t want to pay the Bethpage parking fee today. I was hoping that they weren’t charging for entrance this morning, but when I arrived I saw that the toll house was open for business. I thought about other options and turned around. I then drove to the small lot that is located off E. Bethpage Rd near Old Country Rd.

When I arrived at this lot, every one of its ten or so spots was filled. So much for that. I was 30 minutes past my planned start time and still had no place to park my car. I was going to park along Haypath Rd. but I wasn’t sure that was okay. I then noticed some cars with people who looked like runners parking along Colonial Rd and found a spot near them. I took care to see any signs restricting parking along the street. Seeing none, I parked and crossed the road to the bike trail.

It was only a few minutes after that when I saw TPP. Despite her claim that she was struggling, she looked strong as I watched her coming south in my direction. I wanted to follow the trail north all the way to Sunnyside Blvd. After a few minutes of running in that direction, TPP decided to head back to the lot where she’d parked. She’s really cut down on simple carbs and sugar and has been having trouble maintaining her targeted performance levels. I’m confident that will soon change.

I wasn’t thrilled about covering the section of trail north of Washington Ave because it has a series of long hills. It was no picnic, but I did better than expected. I’m sure last weekend’s hilly workout helped prepare me for today’s. The only difficult times were when I was coming up steep hills against 12 MPH winds. I maintained the best pace I could, shortened my stride and got through those situations fairly well.

Today’s route, with out-and-backs at both ends

It takes a while to cover eight miles and I ended up needing to go south of my starting point to pick up miles 7 and 8. That took me close to the start of the north trail. I kept waiting for my energy level to drop but it never wavered, except when I was a couple of tenths away from my finish point. That was obviously a psychological response to almost being done.

This training program has been nudging my weekly mileage beyond my average of 18. The past couple of weeks were 21 miles and this week I covered 23. That was with two rest days instead of my usual one, meaning my average run length has increased measurably since I’ve started training for Brooklyn.