Exhausting week and pumpkin-y run

Pumpkin: gourd and shirt category

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

I knew I was facing a long, tough week despite the Monday holiday. It seemed to take forever to get to Friday. Besides a busy workday schedule, I had an exhausting Board of Directors dinner on Thursday night that got me home fairly late. It didn’t help that I needed to get in the office extra early on Friday morning. My Friday evening was spent at a fun event called Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns but I was reaching zombie state by the time I turned in.

I managed to sleep later than my usual 6:00 AM rise time and hoped that all those hours of rest would restore my energy level. However, even after eight hours sleep I was feeling run down. Any thoughts of getting out for an early run were offset by fatigue and slight dizziness. I had two cups of strong coffee and it wasn’t until I checked in with the Runsketeers to get a read on how to dress for my run that I geared up and headed outside. By then it was almost 10:30.

Conditions were fall-perfect, the temperature was in the low 50’s and the sun was shining. I wore a long sleeve running shirt with compression shorts under regular running shorts. I also wore a pair of light knit running gloves that kept my hands comfortable. I followed one of my usual routes around the neighborhood and motored along at a comfortable pace. The lack of hard effort and the cool dry air kept me sweat-free throughout half the run. The air had the smell of maple and burning leaves and the pumpkins and Halloween decorations were out in force.

I haven’t checked my Garmin data, but I know today’s performance was unremarkable. Some of that was due to feeling less than 100%. I also know that I’m never going to get back to my old performance level if I continue to run only three to four times a week, mostly at distances between 3-4 miles.

Just a few years ago, I was typically running 6 days a week and logging between 18-22 miles. That put me in a position where I could run a 5 or 10K at a moment’s notice and confidently hit my targeted pace times. Until I can figure out a way to fit in some additional weekday runs, I’ll need to be satisfied with the pleasant, easy runs I’m doing these days.

Two runs and a Runsketeer party

What the Runsketeers do when they don’t run

Saturday’s run (street): 5.2 miles
Sunday’s run (street): 3.5 miles

This week has been a throwback to April. That’s the last time I was able to put four runs together in as many days. I worked from home on Thursday and, since then, I’ve have been on a 4th of July break. My company also makes Monday a holiday, so I expect to extend my streak to five tomorrow morning.

It’s been a fun long weekend and yesterday we hosted running friends TPP and SIOR (and family) for a late day summer fête. Although the “Runsketeers” get together for runs fairly often, we usually don’t get an opportunity to converse until after our workouts. Those post-run Starbucks breaks have become our valued tradition. The only downside is that we’re usually all pressed for time at that point. That’s why it’s great to get together on non-running days (more below).

I went out for a run on Saturday morning and the weather could not have been better. It was 64 degrees and sunny without the humidity we’d had a couple of days before. I wanted to cover at least five miles so I took a detour from my usual route and went west along Jericho Turnpike and then South on S. Oyster Bay Road. Due to fast moving traffic, I always stay on the sidewalks when I run on those roads. Jericho’s sidewalks are well maintained, but the ones on South Oyster Bay Road are in very poor condition. It’s almost like technical trail running, but instead of root hazards, it’s broken concrete and mud.

I turned back into my neighborhood around the two mile mark and ran on the street from there. The average length of my local roads is a quarter mile, so it takes a lot of streets to cover five or six. When that’s my goal, I usually go somewhere else for my run. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to do a destination run that included driving. Overall it was a nice workout – energizing but not overtaxing.

Our guests all arrived together and we hung out poolside for a few hours before heading inside. The kids, who ranged in age from 2 to 16 (including our two) had lots of fun and did not stop until after 8:00. I am proud to say that I had half a beer (that I split with SIOR’s husband) and didn’t fall asleep or lose my ability to converse. We had lots of food, great desserts and lively conversation. Even though me, my wife, TPP, SIOR and Mr. SIOR are all runners, we left that fun activity to the kids. It was great having everyone here and we really enjoyed the day.

This morning we had plans to get out early, so I agreed to cap my run at 3.5 miles for the sake of time. Weather conditions were again optimal, and I took it a little easier than Saturday. Despite the pizza, chicken, fruit salad (courtesy of TPP) and chocolate mousse cheesecake (courtesy of the SIOR family) I felt great on my run. Maybe it was the half can of Cold Smoke Missoula Scotch Ale that provided the energy (thanks again Adventure Girl!).

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.

Super Bowl Sunday but not a Super run

Go teams!

Today’s run (treadmill): 5.1 miles

Apparently there’s some big football game happening today. I’m not much of a sports fan (except for running), especially at the professional level. My youthful obsession with the Boston Red Sox and Bruins gave way to the practical realization that a favorite player’s loyalty only extended to the length of his contract. In terms of my interest in today’s Super Bowl, I’ll go as far as to say that I’m curious to see some of the commercials.

My plan this morning was to get outside and run in my neighborhood, something that I have not done since January 15th. Conditions were okay to do that, with moderately warm temperatures outside and fairly clear streets. There was fog, but it was dissipating. I have some high visibility clothing (and pulsating LED lights) that would have ensured that I’d be easily seen.

I was tired after I’d woken up and I found it hard to motivate myself to get out and run. I knew I’d do it, but as the morning grew long, I decided to follow my wife on the treadmill after she’d completed her workout. I was determined to put in my five miles, even if it was going to happen inside.

I started my run at a brisk pace, but dialed it down at the two mile point. I wasn’t fatigued, but I thought the original pace would be hard to sustain throughout the next three miles. The warmer temperatures outside translated into hot conditions inside. By mile three, it felt as hot and humid as summer. I ended up bringing my speed back up to my original pace for the last half mile. When I finally finished, I debated whether a nap would be preferable to a shower. I went with the shower.

Tomorrow is my rest day and I’m looking forward to some recovery time. I’m debating whether I’ll even turn on the game later, but I am interested in the fact that it’s taking place in the NY area. Either way, I’ll be glad when I’m finally be able to walk through Time Square without dodging Super Bowl events. Even more, I’ll be thrilled to get past the ongoing debate between New York and New Jersey on the provenance of the Super Bowl.

Wet, windy, cold and clowny at Eisenhower Park

Scenes from a wet and chilly morning

Today’s activities: 20 minute treadmill + 2 mile charity walk

I always look forward my weekend runs because I’m free to detach from business (for the most part) and run longer distances. With more discretionary time, I’m more apt to break away from my local roads and run at more interesting places. In fact, I do almost all my trail running on weekends.

Today was different. My wife had signed us up to walk for the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, a charity that we strongly support. The walk took place at Eisenhower Park and we headed over early. The organizers were expecting over a thousand participants and, even with the nasty weather, they had an impressive turnout.

Since our morning schedule was tight, and the weather was windy and rainy, I opted to do an unusually short workout on the treadmill. I figured that we’d be covering a lot of ground on foot, but I wanted to make sure I got in some “cardio” as well. My plan was to do another 20 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical later in the day, but so far that hasn’t happened.

The Ronald McDonald House event was well planned and a surprising number of people had already arrived when we got there.We’d dressed for light rain, but the weather turned worse as we made our way around the grounds. There were lots of snacks and drinks for the taking, much like what you would see after a race. My wife won Ducks tickets at the KJOY booth (a local radio station), so we’ll going to a game next week.

I wore my ASICS running windbreaker with a zipper that no longer works. It was windy and I was getting colder by the minute. Fortunately, as Walk participants, we all got an event tee shirt. That extra layer really made a difference.

The walk itself started at 10:00 AM and, almost immediately, the rain and wind began to intensify. We joked about heading straight back to the car, but the kids were into it, so we continued. The route was only a couple of miles. However, with the cold, wind and rain (and the crowds that slowed our progress) it seemed far longer. By the time we finished, we were soaked from head to toe. But we still had fun and were glad to support such a great cause.

Through all the activity, I’ve exceeded my daily goals on the Fitbit, so I’m not sure whether I’ll do another workout today. Right now there are booming thunderstorms, so whatever I’d do, it would be indoors. I may be better off waiting until tomorrow morning anyway, when they are predicting far better weather conditions.

Sad way to make the LI Marathon a big event

Tragedy of the commons

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

A few years ago, when I was frequently engaged with the MIT Media Lab, I was fortunate to spend time with Dan Airely who taught economics at the Sloan School of Management. Dan writes books about behavior, honesty and irrationality that are well worth reading. He used to talk about an economic concept known as the “Tragedy of the commons”, that describes how the self-interest of a few people can negatively affect the larger society.

This concept is usually tied to selfish actions leading to broader consequences, like over-fishing a lake or poaching endangered animals. In today’s world, I see it every time I pass through Penn Station where I see police and National Guardsmen patrolling with large automatic weapons. That has been a common sight since September 12, 2001, but it’s still hard to get used to. I’m not complaining – I fully appreciate the need – but it’s sad that everyone’s behaviors have to change to protect against a harmful few.

This morning, I was watching the local news while Ed Mangano held a press conference. Mangano stated that, “In light of the tragic events that occurred at the Boston Marathon earlier this month, we have put forth enhanced security measures for the safety of the Long Island Marathon participants, spectators, and all members of our community.” This involves the use of radiation detectors, K-9 bomb sniffing units and extra police.

If you’ve ever participated in the LI Marathon Festival of Races, you might react as I did to this. It’s a really nice event, but I think the biggest concern the organizers should have is whether they’d rented enough Port-O-Potties. I wouldn’t expect this race would be targeted by miscreants, but what do I know? The RXR LI Marathon has always aspired to be a “big race” event. Sadly, it’s taken the atrocity in Boston to make that happen.

Running in the morning and (multi) culture at noon

Eye of the tiger (actually lion)

Today’s run (street): 3.75 miles

I needed to get out early this morning for my run, so I deferred a visit to Stillwell or Bethpage until (possibly) tomorrow. I had more time than yesterday, so I figured I’d try to cover a little more distance. In an attempt to shave off a few minutes, I turned on the Garmin while I was still inside. I thought the chances of acquiring a signal were low, but I figured I’d try. Amazingly, while still in the house, the Garmin was ready to rock in about ten seconds. When I turn it on while standing outside (under clear skies), it can take five minutes or more to go to ready mode.

In keeping with my policy of never running the same route twice, I departed from my usual starting street in favor of another road to the west. I continued to choose less traveled roads until I reached a point that put me back onto my usual route. I ran easy today because I ran fairly hard yesterday. It wasn’t a fast run, but all considered, it was still in the range of acceptable performance.

Indian music, dance and drum

Korean synchronized drumming
Lion dancers
Japanese calligraphy
Thai dancers

Multi-cultural parade

I returned home and quickly took a shower, knowing my wife would soon be back from a morning coffee date with a friend. We immediately headed out to a multinational cultural festival that was being held at a local college. This event, that was sponsored by the Asian-American Cultural Circle of Unity, had many exhibits that featured food, art and local products from around the world. There were many performances, including Korean drummers, Chinese lion dancers and numerous musicians.

We all had a great time, and I recommend this free event to everyone!

Race report: Long Beach Snowflake 4 Miler

The finish line

Today’s run (Long Beach Snowflake race): 4 miles – 35:00 (8:45 pace)

This morning I ran the Long Beach Snowflake 4 mile race for the third consecutive year. After the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy, I was sure the race would be postponed this year. But the spirit of the city was evident today and the race went on. The course was different than prior years, but the experience felt similar. Weather conditions were far from ideal, but it could have been much worse.

The view beyond the finish line

The race was staged at the Lindell Elementary School, nine blocks north of last year’s location. I arrived at 7:45 AM, hoping to beat the crowd in case parking was an issue. The school actually had plenty of parking and I found a spot close to the building. There were 129 less participants this year than last year and I was especially glad that I’d signed up. Although I live 30 minutes from Long Beach, I felt an obligation to participate and support this city that has been through so much.

Pre-race crowd keeping warm

 After picking up my race bib and shirt, I took in the sights and sounds of the growing crowd as we moved closer to start time. Every race is different, but the pre-race energy always feels the same. The school gym kept everyone warm and comfortable until a member of the race crew ushered us to the line ten minutes before the start. I was glad that it was almost race time, but the cold winds made me wish I was back in the gym.

The crowd assembled behind the starting line as the race director organized people so that the faster pacers could start at the front. I stood a few rows behind them, because I like to be swept along by the speediest runners for the first mile. After some inspiring statements about Long Beach’s recovery from the storm, and a quick review of the new course, we counted down to the start.

The course went directly south for half a mile, turning east on Broadway for the next 1.5 miles before the turnaround. I didn’t realize that Broadway was so close to the old boardwalk. I’d expected to turn left after passing a couple of blocks, not ten. I was being passed left and right, despite my attempts to keep up with the faster crowd. I felt some relief to make the turn at Broadway, but I knew I still had three and a half miles to go.

There’s a point in every race when I feel that I failed to train properly for that event. It usually comes after the first couple of miles, when I begin to question my ability to sustain my race pace. Today was no different. I came through the first mile in 8:06. A good pace, but it was almost 15 seconds off last year’s mile one split time. I hoped to stay below 9:00 for the remaining splits and I managed to do that, although mile three recorded at 8:59 on my Garmin.

It’s always a fast crowd in Long Beach and getting passed can be disheartening. It wasn’t until I made the turn at mile two, heading west, that I saw the large number of people behind me, still running east. Instead of feeling happy, I worried that they would all eventually overtake me. This race felt hard, probably because I haven’t gone all out in race mode for months. Still, I felt that I could handle the pace I was running, and I ended up finishing in the top 35%.

I settled into my stride at three miles, coming through a few seconds under 26 minutes. It seemed to take forever to reach Lindell where we took a right, heading north for for the last half mile. By 9:30 AM, cars were trying to cross the course at some intersections. Traffic control did their best, but I actually saw a couple of cars impatiently cutting through with runners still crossing the box. I had no incidents, but a couple of cars made me nervous.

I finally saw the finish chute when I had a block and a half to go. I tried to muster more speed, but I was at my physical limit. It would have been nice to cross the line earlier, but I left nothing on the course today and ran the best pace I could maintain. I was very happy to cross over the line. I felt all four hard miles at that point, yet I also felt strong.

Why am I smiling? The race is over

After the race, I watched some runners come in before downing a Gatorade and taking a few pictures. I was disappointed that my friend Steve, who ran this race with me the last two years, couldn’t participate today. I’ll tell him what he missed. For me, it was a validation of my fitness and a pretty good effort. I may not have loved every minute of the run, but I sure loved the feeling when I finished.