Run (painfully) interrupted at Stillwell Woods

Scene of the crime

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 2.5 miles

I never saw the rock that took me down at Stillwell this morning but I knew it would be bad before I hit the ground. I’d been extra cautious throughout the run, scanning my path for roots and artifacts that could trip me up. The section where I fell was directly in front of a fork that I normally follow to the right, but I’d decided to go straight this time. Big mistake. I ended up with a bunch of bad cuts and scrapes and a slightly dislocated shoulder.

Today was supposed to be an easy trail run and I planned to follow that by watching the NYC marathon when I got home. Although the temperature showed 54°, it felt colder. The interior of Stillwell Woods is usually cooler than the general temperature. Knowing that, I elected to wear light track pants, a long sleeve tech shirt and a pair of running gloves. That turned out to be the best decision I made today. As bad as it was, it would have been worse with shorts, short sleeves and no hand protection.

I started off well enough and came through my first mile and a half ready to run another two. I encountered another runner whose path intersected mine as I came up a hill. I pushed a little to gain some distance from him and veered onto another trail to continue my usual loop. I stayed ahead of the runner, but took a loop trail off that path. The other runner reappeared when that loop connected back to the prior trail.

As we ran together, the runner asked me if he was going in the right direction. I said that depended on where he wanted to go. He needed to get to the high school and I told him he’d reach the main field in a couple of minutes and that the ring path would take him back to the main trail head. We said our goodbyes and I decided to do another small loop which led to my unexpected catastrophe.

The scariest part of my fall was feeling my shoulder go out of alignment when I hit the ground. I’d dislocated that shoulder years before playing hockey and later during karate training, so I wasn’t surprised that happened. I was concerned about being able to move under my own power, but my shoulder reset itself. I had no idea how much I was bleeding so after I established nothing was broken, I continued on. At that point I only wanted to make it back to my car that was parked almost a mile away.

Red: cuts & scrapes, blue: shoulder injury

The fall deflated my energy level and I struggled to get through the remainder of my run. Oddly, the Garmin data showed that I covered the post fall distance at my fastest pace of the day. Sure didn’t feel like it. I got home and took a hot shower before my wife dressed my wounds. I elected not to show a picture of the damage, but the above illustration shows all my impact points. I tried to watch the marathon but my heart wasn’t in it. I still have it on DVR so I might watch some highlights tonight.

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.

Stillwell running with my fiscally fit buddy

Post-run photo at the Emerging Runner HQ

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4.25 miles

It’s hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I was cursing the August heat and humidity. This morning our local station reported a temperature of 58° at 6:00 AM, signaling fall is truly here. I was pretty psyched about that because my friend and financial guru Steve was coming by to discuss the Emerging Runner family portfolio. We planned to follow that with a run.

Near perfect conditions during our run

Steve is a dedicated CrossFit guy who has focused lately on weight training. Although running is only a component of his workout regime, he is always up for a run on the road or trail. A few years ago, when we both had offices in midtown Manhattan, we’d meet for runs along the West Side bike path and around Central Park. Steve and his family moved to Atlanta a couple of years ago, but he comes up frequently to see his clients in the NYC area. We’re always talking about fitting in a run when he comes up, and today was the perfect day to do it.

We decided to run at Stillwell Woods today. It’s been months since I’ve done a real trail run and the cool conditions made it a perfect choice. I wore my Brooks Cascadias but Steve had his Brooks Glycerins, so I routed us along a less technical section. Giant Bicycles was running a clinic at the western end of Stillwell and I feared that we’d be overrun by mountain bikers. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but we ran into swarms of high and middle school cross country runners who frequently blocked our path.

Today’s route

Considering my current struggles with speed, we moved along nicely and I was able to maintain my end of the conversation. The weather clearly helped both my breathing and my energy level. Although Steve hasn’t run in a while, he had no trouble with the course or the distance. We ended up covering 4.1 miles per Garmin, but I mapped the route using Gmaps and determined that we’d actually covered about 4.25 miles.

Considering the fact that one trail mile equals 1.18 road miles in terms of effort, it was as though we ran 5 miles today. Actually, I made that up, but I’ll bet you believed me, I may aim for an actual five miles tomorrow. If weather conditions are anything like today’s, I might even do more.

Memories of an Autumn run

Top of the office park hill

Today’s run (street): 5.6 miles

The gremlins that were messing with my mind and body on Friday seem to have moved on. I was prepared to cover more distance today and looked forward to running some roads I haven’t traveled (on foot) in a while. After starting with a short loop in the neighborhood, I decided to run over to the local business park and follow that loop with a tour of an adjacent neighborhood along a stretch of Woodbury Road.

I wasn’t feeling energetic enough to push pace today, but at least my gait felt smoother than it did yesterday. I got the uphill part of the business park loop out of the way first by running clockwise where most of the elevation happens over a half mile stretch. The park is a pleasant place to run on a Saturday morning if you like industrial landscaping and brick office buildings. To me it’s a perfect place to zone out and run without having to think about my route.

I wasn’t alone during that part of my run. There were a couple of other runners going in the opposite direction and I stopped briefly to help someone who needed directions. I considered doing two loops, but chose to head south instead, and ran through the neighborhood known as “The Knolls” until I reached Woodbury Road.

The section of Woodbury Road between Sunnyside Boulevard and Piquets Lane always reminds me of the fall. A few years ago I had a spectacular autumn run that included that stretch of road. The smell of maple trees, the cushion and crackle of their fallen leaves and the crisp morning air made for a memorable experience. There were no leaves on the sidewalk today, but the spirit was there.

I enjoyed today’s run much more than yesterday’s, and though I could have focused more on performance, I was fine with how I did today. I keep promising myself that I’ll do an anaerobic workout soon, but I tend to default to my comfort zone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if I decide to compete in September, I’m definitely not in racing shape.

Running views and visualizations

Sure looked like fall along the trail

Today’s run (Bethpage): 6.25 miles

The Hope for Warriors 10K next weekend prompted me to head to Bethpage this morning for a base run. I’ve plateaued on distance since Cow Harbor, having completed only a handful of 5+ mile runs since that race. After a week of rainy and windy conditions, today’s clear, dry 57° weather made a run at Bethpage very appealing.

More scenes from today’s run

When I arrived I saw that the right side of the lot was fairly full. There were lots of people with bikes and I wondered if there was a cycling event planned. I don’t think it was anything that formal, although there were a lot more bikers on the trail than I usually see. Considering the density of cyclists on the path, along with many runners and a good number of walkers, I encountered few reckless riders.

With my headache and sinus pressure gone, I felt good energy along the trail and felt less intimidated than usual by the big hills. That isn’t to say that I particularly enjoyed them. My plan was run 5K south and turn around at the 3.1 mile mark. It works for me to break a middle or long distance run into parts. For that same reason, I like to familiarize myself with a race course before running it for the first time. It’s always valuable to understand the challenges of the course before you face them for real.

New Garmin Connect cadence graph

I didn’t dog the pace but I wasn’t looking to simulate race conditions either. The purpose of this run was to get a 10K distance under my belt close to the real thing a week from Sunday. When I downloaded my Garmin after the run, I saw that they’d changed the data visualization on Connect and added a new metric: average stride length. Better still, the site has a pop-up that helps explain SPM and running dynamics. I felt good when I read this in the explanation: “The data values in the green, blue, or purple zones are typical for more experienced or faster runners.”

Good context on cadence

Ideally, I’ll see less green and more blue data points as I work to increase my cadence. Races tend to bring out our best performances (my recent history excepted) so I might even get myself into purple territory next week.

Running summer into fall

Today’s run (Street): 2.5 miles

Last night my son asked me when I planned to go out for my morning run. I told him 4:00 AM and he noted that, although today is the first day of fall, I would be doing that run in summer. It’s true, I completed my run before the Fall Equinox began at 5:05 AM. If I had the option, I would have began my run during summer and finished it in fall, just for the fun of it.

It’s hard to believe that summer is finally over. It was a great season for running, but I look forward to cooler days and less humidity. This morning’s run was interesting, a combination of refreshing coolness from the wind and high heat and humidity the rest of the time. A perfect metaphor of summer into fall. Lots of rain is coming later today and it’s supposed to continue into tonight and tomorrow. I’m hoping for a window of clear skies on Saturday so I can do my first run of fall outside.

Loopy and leafy run

Today’s loopy course

Today’s run: 5.75 miles

After two days off from running I headed out again this morning. My cold improved enough that I got through last night without waking everyone with my cough. Soon after our weekend guests departed I prepared for my run, dressing in a long sleeved top and compression pants. It was in the high 40’s but with strong breezes so I wanted a little extra protection from the cold.  I wore my Kinvaras because I wanted to reinforce a mid-foot stride and the low and flat Kinvaras help me do that. I knew full well that I wasn’t going to perform as well as I do at full strength so my strategy was to cover 5 to 6 miles to get back into the rhythm of running.

I started with a north to south loop in my neighborhood after which I cut east all the way to a local business park that has some decent hills. I traveled one time around the park and headed into neighborhood #3 where I ran the outside road until I reached the outlet to Woodbury Road. I followed Woodbury Road all the way past a local pumpkin farm and then headed back in the same direction. I always enjoy running Woodbury Road, not for the view which is predominantly commercial buildings, but for the fact that the sidewalks are usually covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves. It reminds me of trail running and the crunching underfoot is a seasonal treat. That section did slow me down but I wasn’t viewing this as a performance run. I can’t say that my experience was completely unaffected by my cold but it wasn’t an issue save for an occasional cough.

I finished up after covering 5.75 miles and I was pleased with the changes of course and scenery compared to my usual neighborhood excursions. I’m glad to complete a low mileage week with a decent length run. Better still, my cold seems to be retreating despite today’s workout.

Rememberence of a back to school run

It’s funny but even after decades away from the classroom I still feel that back-to-school anxiety on the first Tuesday after Labor Day. Some of it surely comes from my kid’s return to school and amping up the tension this year is my daughter’s move into middle school. Both she and my son have handled things with aplomb and I’m hoping they have great first days back.

As I ran yesterday morning I was reminded of the transition to fall and all that goes with it. I thought of a run that I did in Cambridge on Labor Day before the start of my senior year in college. It was cold for September and I vividly remembered the smell of the air and the light of the sky that seemed so different from just a week before. I wasn’t a runner then but I was in good enough shape to keep up with my friend who was fairly dedicated to the sport. I recall thinking how beautiful it was to run along Memorial Drive and how great it was to run simply for the sake of running. I’m sure I had every intention of continuing that experience and I recall that we did a few more runs together over time but it didn’t stick with me. Perhaps it’s for the best or I might now be one of those guys who says “I used to run but I can’t anymore because of my knees [hip, foot problems]…” Maybe it was smart to start at a time when shoe design has evolved sufficiently enough to protect runners from such afflictions.

I restarted my running last fall and I was fortunate to ease into it at a time when the weather supported the experience so well. I’m looking forward to a few months of cool temperatures and low humidity before the mercury drops to the point that I will (shudder) need to get back on the treadmill for my weekday runs. I can’t wait to step outside tomorrow morning and feel the chill, knowing that the worst of the hot summer is likely behind us. I’m hoping that early morning in Eisenhower Park during next Sunday’s run will evoke the same feeling that I had in Cambridge so long ago.