The Runsketeers discuss their interesting ancestors

L to R: KWL, PM, SIOR, TPP, ER

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 3.1 miles

It has been a month and five days since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I can’t really say why I’d stopped. I’ve continued to run, following the same schedule and covering the same distances, but my interest in documenting those runs had waned. It wasn’t until today that I felt compelled to resume my posting and that’s because the mighty Runsketeers all came together this morning for the first time since July. That’s just crazy.

The last time we all got together, I ended my post with, “I’m looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will be a little lower than yesterday’s 89%.” Well, my hopes were realized, because no one was complaining about the humidity today. We were supposed to get a lot of wind but it wasn’t a factor this morning. A little chilly, but overall good running weather.

Shady shot along the trail

We agreed to meet at the Bethpage lot at 8:15 AM. Then it was between 8:30 and 8:45. Then it was 9:00. I won’t say who kept changing the time, but it wouldn’t be hard to guess. SIOR was probably frustrated that the park wasn’t charging an entry fee because she likes to fight with the toll taker there. I always get my fee waved because I’m not pugnacious. Everyone arrived on time and we quickly made our way up the hill, turning left to follow the northern trail. SIOR and TPP took off in a flash while KWL and I ran a lot easier. We kept it to 3.2 miles and had great conversations on the path.

Once we got back to the lot, we convoyed to Starbucks for coffee and second breakfast (for me anyway). You’d think we would have spent time catching up on everything that had happened in the last five months, but we went right to what was on our minds at the moment: politics, races, racing t-shirts, running magazines, and KWL’s and my long history working together. We also collectively agreed that Yonkers is a dump.

The usual suspects at the usual place

About halfway through our coffee time, we were joined by Professor Mike who had competed in Rob’s Run this morning while we were at Bethpage. Rob’s Run is a trail race that happens at Stillwell Woods. It’s a grueling run but PM looked as refreshed as the rest of us. He had a Rob’s Run thermos that was a giveaway to participants. That’s what started the conversation about race shirts. TPP uses her old race shirts as cleaning rags (blasphemy) and PM raffles them off to his students. I’ve kept every one I’ve earned, even the hideously ugly ones.

At some point conversation turned to almost naked fathers and grandfathers. This started when PM showed us a picture of his dad from the 40’s wearing little more than a loincloth. His muscles had muscles. KWL pointed out that was long before steroids. PM’s dad was a circus performer who was once on the Ernie Kovacs show where he swung on a trapeze while eating pizza. Then SIOR showed us a picture of her half naked grandfather who was a professional wrestler back in the 30’s or 40’s.

Capping that off, TPP told us about her dad who is an amazing engineer who invented the jet ski and developed a bunch of other cool stuff while working for an avionics company. He still creates stuff like 3-D printers and robots. He does all that fully clothed. Amazing accomplishments from the Runsketeer lineage.

It was great to see my buds and get in my fourth run in a row, starting with Thanksgiving day. I may have run on Wednesday, but that was a lot of turkey and pie ago and my memory is shaky. I’d like to continue my streak but the work week makes it tough. I hope the Runsketeers don’t go months again before we run together. We can’t allow that. At the very least, we should all do the Hangover Run on January 1.

Fun with friends, Dim Sum and outrunning a drone

Run dad run!

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 2.25 miles 
Friday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Vacations are great, especially at the beginning. I took Friday off and it has been a busy three days so far. I kicked off vacation with a run around my neighborhood and followed that with a swim. It doesn’t get much better than that, running-wise. That night we went to local fair and watched some spectacular fireworks later in the evening. Not a bad way to start a summer holiday.

Saturday morning’s schedule was very tight and I went out early with the intention of covering just a couple of miles. I picked a few random streets and kept going until I reached the two mile mark and then headed home. I needed to get to the car dealership, buy a car for my son, and be home by noon to greet our guests. Somehow I managed to do that, although the car negotiation got a little tense and my daughter had to watch me thrash things out with the entire management team for an hour.

I got back home a few minutes after our guests KWL and his sister H arrived with a sizable amount of Dim Sum from Lake Pavilion restaurant in Flushing. With little delay, we got settled in the dining room and had a fantastic meal followed by an incredibly good (and huge) peach tart. It was all so good, and worth every carb and calorie.

Before the feast
And after

After Dim Sum, we walked to the neighboring middle school where KWL put his new DJI Spark into action. This drone has a high definition video camera and the controller connects to a smartphone. so you can see everything the drone sees while it’s flying. It was amazing to watch the Spark rise up (and up) and see our earthbound crew getting smaller and smaller. At one point KWL had the drone track me as I ran around the field.

Rise of the Spark

This morning I got out a little later than I’d hoped, but the clouds were low and thick so I didn’t pay a sun penalty. The temperature was cooler than yesterday, but the humidity was unpleasant and I didn’t even try for speed. I avoided my usual route which made the experience marginally more interesting. Since I’m on vacation next week I plan to break away from my neighborhood roads as much as possible. We had a great time with KWL and H and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Next time the Runsketeers get together I think we may be joined by a new member who can really fly.

Runsketeer birthday surprise at Starbucks

Happy birthday to me!

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Last weekend the ER family celebrated my birthday with a dinner, even though my actual birthday was this past Wednesday. Mrs. ER informed me that we were going to bookend things with a walk on the trail in Bethpage today. What she didn’t tell me was that she and the Runsketeers had concocted a plan more devious than you could ever imagine. Actually, it wasn’t devious at all. It was really very nice.

Knowing that we would be heading to Bethpage fairly early, I got out at 7:30 AM for a neighborhood run. Yesterday’s rain kept me indoors on the treadmill. Despite this morning’s threatening skies, I wanted to run outside. The weather was a mild 50°, with enough wind to cool things into the 40’s. Humidity was high, but with the low clouds blocking the sun, it didn’t feel uncomfortable. I added a little more distance to my standard 3.2 mile route and felt great throughout the entire run. Friday’s treadmill session was similarly positive and I’m hoping this trend will continue.

Pre-surprise walk on the Bethpage trail

We made our way to the Bethpage trail and parked on Colonial Road, just north of Haypath. I knew that SIOR was leading a Life Time run on the bike path this morning and wasn’t all that surprised to see her and TPP bounding down the path. They were in quite a hurry and TPP was uncharacteristically impatient to go. I wouldn’t have noticed at all if SIOR was the impatient one. I learned later why, and that the ER family was in on what was to come.

We finished our walk and made our way to Starbucks. Mrs. ER told me that she and the kids wanted to us to visit Bethpage and Starbucks just as I often do with my  running buddies. I was happy to comply. When we approached the shopping center that houses Runsketeer Starbucks, Mrs. ER’s phone beeped and my daughter grabbed it before I could see it. That turned out to be SIOR texting her to say that they had arrived. While the ER family made their way into Starbucks, TPP and SIOR were right nearby, sneaking behind pillars and garbage cans to hide their presence. There’s even a video of that. I’m surprised it wasn’t Livestreamed.

Starbucks was packed and there wasn’t even room for the four of us to sit down. I popped into the men’s room and when I came out I saw TPP and then SIOR who yelled “surprise!” It turned out that Mrs. ER had been planning with these two since February to arrange coffee with my Runska-friends. It took me a moment to figure out that this was not a coincidence. We arranged ourselves around a table that had opened up when its occupants saw that the Runsketeers needed it more. We have that kind of power.

I was really happy to see my friends. SIOR was wearing her 2017 Boston Marathon jacket that she earned on Monday, completing her second Boston effort and qualifying for yet another Boston race. Check out her entertaining race report to get the whole story. TPP has recently started a new job and I was very glad that she was able to join us. The D’Artagnan of our group, KWL, also ran Boston last week. He’s in Hong Kong right now, but he was with us in spirit.

The official Runsketeer coffee mug

While Mrs. ER collected coffee and food orders, TPP and SIOR presented me with birthday cards and presents. I loved the cards and TPP gave me a potential fortune (lottery tickets) and SIOR gave me an awesome coffee mug with my favorite Runsketeer picture. Emblazoned on the other side was the motto, “All for one and Run for all!” It will be my post-run Starbucks cup going forward. I’d been too intimated to scratch off the lottery tickets because I hadn’t held one since the 1980’s and wasn’t sure how they worked. I let my daughter do it. Despite some close calls, I will not be winning $1,000 a week for life.

Once coffee was served (along with that chocolate cake that I’ve been thinking about since SIOR and TPP ran on goat-less mountain a few weeks ago), the six of us spent a couple of hours talking and laughing non-stop. As much as I like the running part, it’s the post run time that I value the most. We covered an awful lot of subjects and I took advantage of the fact that SIOR is a certified elite running coach and trainer. I interrogated her about the best approach to getting back into racing shape and will probably do a 5K with this crew in July.

I think we could have gone on for two more hours, but practicality prevailed and we needed to say our goodbyes. We did remember to get our selfie, using my daughter’s new iPhone that takes much better pictures than my Android phone. I had a great birthday, thanks to Mrs. ER, and it was fun to be surprised twice by my Runsketeer buddies.

O Canada and fitting in some running

Land of maple leafs, moose and fun

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Sunday’s run (treadmill): 20 minutes
Friday’s run (street): 3.25 miles
Wednesday’s run (treadmill): 30 minutes

My running over the last week has been a blur. The only clarity being today after we returned from a trip. I worked from home on Wednesday and did a treadmill run. I got outside and around the neighborhood on Friday. I needed to fit those workouts into busy work days and didn’t do a good job of tracking my treadmill mileage.

View of the Green Mountains

We headed to Montreal on Saturday and made a stop in northern Vermont to see my brother and his family, along with my mother who was visiting from Florida. We were only passing through for a few hours, but we made the best of it and the kids loved spending time with their cousins. All too soon we were on our way to Canada.

Cool happenings at Place des Arts

We stayed near McGill University in area that was adjacent to a lot of nice restaurants and close to the Place des Arts. I did a treadmill run in the morning on a machine that was not up to my standards for a fitness center unit. I was tired from travel and struggled to get through 20 minutes at an easy pace. Well it looked easy on the display, but it felt much faster. I ended up covering 16,000 steps that day, so I didn’t mind the short workout.

Swim, Bike, Run in the Old Port

We met up with friends who live in the city and had a great time with them. While we were in the Old Port we stumbled into the middle of the Montreal International Triathlon. There were runners and cyclists flying along sectioned areas and swimmers in the St. Lawrence River. We needed to sprint to get past at the cross points.

Montreal has a lot of energy and it reminds me so much of Europe. My brother had mentioned that Les Habitants “didn’t get the memo” that smoking is pas bien. Unfortunately that proved to be true. On the positive side, we covered a lot of interesting ground and had some great meals. We were sorry when we had to head back home.

When we got back, I went out for a run around my local streets to cap off a really nice mini vacation. My running was back to where it was prior to that hotel run and I did well considering the heat and humidity of the day. I really would have liked to run outside when we were away, but the timing didn’t work out. The next time we go back – and we will – I’ll definitely do my running on the rue.

Non-traditional Christmas day run

Wacky weather: roses on Christmas day

Today’s run (street): 3.75 miles

Nothing says Christmas like 94% humidity on top of 57° weather. That’s okay, at least it was dry and clear for my morning run. As expected, there were few cars on the road when I went out. I only saw one other runner and a few people out walking.

As I made my way around, I saw people packing cars with gifts or arriving at houses to drop them off. I could hear people’s voices and Christmas music coming from homes as I passed them by. The warm weather didn’t match the holiday, but everything else felt like Christmas. I pretty much floated through my run and was disappointed with my overall pace. This run was really more about the experience than performance, so I didn’t let it bother me too much.

Before the stir

Since we don’t follow Christmas traditions, like having a big family meal with turkey, ham or fish, we went a different way. My daughter and I made tofu stir-fry which is more modern vegetarian than old testament traditional. It was a big hit and we finished with homemade frozen banana sorbet with chocolate truffle sauce. Time to start watching calories again.

I’m not exactly streaking, but I have strung four nice workouts in a row and I plan to continue that through New Year’s, if possible. We have guests coming to stay this weekend and I’m hoping I can get in my runs without disrupting our plans. I just need to get out and back before everyone wakes up because I’m the only one who knows how to use the coffee machine.

One run interrupted, one run horrible

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Halloween. It’s hard top be spooky when you go out trick or treating at noon, but I saw a lot of little witches and goblins during today’s mid-day run. We have weekend visitors and I delayed my workout so I could spend time with our guests this morning. It may have been the late start, but this was possibly my worst run of the year. More on that in a bit.

I had hopes of covering close to 20 miles this week like I typically did a couple of years ago. My vacation day on Wednesday got me off to a good start and I added to that on Friday morning. Since I work from home most Fridays, I use the time I normally commute to get in my miles.

That system had been working well until one of my work colleagues decided that early Friday morning was the perfect time to reach me. In those cases, I’ve either let the call go to voice mail or kept it very short. I was about a mile into my run yesterday when I heard the phone ring. I almost ignored it, but once I saw who it was, I knew I needed to answer. Ten minutes later was on my way, although my momentum was lost and a new work issue was on my mind.

Today was a different story. I wasn’t feeling my best throughout the morning and hoped my energy would return by the time I was ready to hit the road. I got off to a slow start as I left my house, so I figured I’d keep it easy. I could tell right away that I wouldn’t be up for my targeted five miles but hoped I’d gain strength throughout the run. Instead, I felt increasingly fatigued and even reached a point where I wanted to stop. Although I only covered a little more than three miles, the run felt endless.

I was thrilled when I finally reached my driveway. The run was a disaster, but at least I got it done. I looked forward to a relaxing afternoon that eventually gave way to a house full of Halloween-partying teenagers. It’s been a noisy evening.

Tomorrow is a big day for two of my friends, but for different reasons. KWL and his wife will be running the NYC marathon and I’m wishing them perfect race conditions. Runsketeer SIOR will be celebrating yet another birthday (she’s quite elderly) and plans to watch the marathon from her favorite spot in Queens. I’m hoping that tomorrow’s run goes better than today’s. It could hardly go worse.

Early run on an early Father’s Day

Obligatory selfie at the business park

Today’s run (street): 4.2 miles

Although Father’s Day is officially on Sunday, we always celebrate it on Saturday. That gives my family an entire day to spoil me without the specter of the workweek starting the next day. On top of that, my son is still studying for Regents and finals that he’ll finish on Tuesday so Sunday will be a big review day. So today is Father’s Day (observed).

We had lots to do before lunch and I thought I would miss out on a chance to run in the morning. Like yesterday, I got out early and managed to get my miles in by 7:30. I’m planning to run with my buddies tomorrow morning and I’m targeting about 6 miles for that. I decided to cover less distance on today’s run to ensure that I stayed on schedule.

I got my GPS signal and went directly over to the business park to run a few loops. Although the elevation loss and gain is the same in either direction, I prefer to run this route clockwise. That allows me to get most of the gain out of the way in the first third of the loop. I did two full and one partial circle before turning back for home.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m still struggling to generate speed. The perceived effort I’m putting in feels higher than the numbers I’m producing. Today’s weather was as good as I could ask — 70°, moderate wind and relatively low humidity, so I would have expected a little better performance.

We had a nice lunch in Huntington this afternoon and more Father’s Day things will happen tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing the Runsketeers in the morning, although I may be seeing them through sheets of rain.

Two runs and a Trailview hike

The view from Mt. Olympus

Yesterdays run (street): 3.25 miles
Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

The first story I saw on the local news this morning was a feature on the LI Marathon/Half Marathon. The race happened today and if it weren’t for my current injury, I’d probably be participating in one of the races. One year ago, I was in my last two weeks of training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. That turned out to be a disappointing performance, but it was a really fun experience. These days I feel like I’m a million miles from doing that. 13.1 anyway.

I’m trying to maintain some perspective in terms of my current running expectations. Three weeks ago I would have been thrilled to run a mile without experiencing acute and constant pain in my hamstring. Last weekend I made great progress with my recovery with a couple of slow but mostly pain-free workouts. I’ve made further gains this weekend, although they weren’t as dramatic as last week’s.

I also hoped to improve my speed over Saturday’s and got off to a good start. There was residual discomfort and tightness in my leg but no real pain. I moved along well and tried to focus on opening up my stride and getting more power off my back leg. Like yesterday, it felt like a tough workout. After mapping today’s run, I calculated my pace. My improvement over yesterday: one second per mile!

Another carved tree in Trailview

The weekend weather has been superb so my son and I decided to visit Trailview park for an early afternoon hike. We like Trailview for its simplicity and the fact that it has a few technical sections. A couple of minutes into the hike, we saw a large oak tree with the word PROM carved into it in six inch high letters. We were flabbergasted, disgusted and saddened to see that someone had carved a swastika inside the letter O. There was more vandalism in other trees. My son said we shouldn’t let someone’s hate and ignorance ruin our experience.

We continued our hike until we reached “Mount Olympus” and watched from that overlook before turning back. I did pretty well on the steep sections and I think the uneven terrain gave my quads and hamstrings some sorely needed work.

I may not be ready for a Half Marathon or even a 10K right now, but I am glad to be running outdoors again. Three more workouts on the test machines next week will further help my fitness without providing any aggravating impact. My motto these days is, “No pain, my gain.”

The lost workout

Onion volcanoes and warm sake –
Emerging Sister-In-Law (L), Mrs. Emerging Runner (R)

Today’s workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

In the almost-seven years that I’ve been running, I’ve prided myself on my meticulous process to record workout metrics. I can look back on Garmin Connect to see the detail about every run and elliptical session that I’ve done since early 2010. If I want to go back further than that, I can look at MapMyRun stats, or see my earliest running data on the Nike+ site. I also have years of Daily Mile records that capture different information like shoe mileage.

In addition to all this, I can look at the Emerging Runner archives for measured mileage on every run. All this data recording takes time, and over the last year my record keeping has gone from meticulous to casual. I stopped recording my runs in Daily Mile last July and most of the time I don’t even wear my Garmin when I’m on the elliptical. It’s because of this that I cannot remember whether I did a workout on Friday.

I’ve been on vacation this week, but my time off has been more busy than relaxing. On top of that, I needed to go into my office on Wednesday. That made this vacation more like a couple of long weekends. Friday afternoon my brother and his family came to stay for a few days and my dad and his wife came out on Saturday afternoon. Later we went out to a local hibachi place and had a great time, but I don’t recommend the lukewarm sake administered via a squeeze bottle.

With all that going on, I didn’t have the opportunity to do a workout on Saturday, because our guest room is also our fitness room. It’s also my office. Maybe we should take page from the local elementary school and call it the multi-purpose room.

So I may have done an elliptical session on Friday morning. I know I did a workout this afternoon. My pain from the herniated disc has been manageable, although it does give me a small zap if I move my leg in a certain way. I’ve been applying heat and that seems to help. It’s no worse after today’s elliptical session than it was before I started.

My biggest concern is that I’m returning to a week of commuting. That means three hours a day sitting in a driving position. I’m convinced that driving has been a factor in this disc compression. My standing desk (or as they put it, “stand up desk adaptation”) gets installed on Monday. I’m hoping that will help me counteract all that drive time. I’ll know more about the problem on Friday after my MRI.

Lots of company on a neighborhood run

The neighborhood gang

Today’s run (street): 5.3 miles

My schedule this week threw off my options for weekday morning runs. I’ve committed to running at least once during the week, plus on Friday mornings when I generally work from home. Yesterday required a trip into the office, so I missed that running opportunity. The only workout I’ve done since last Sunday was Thursday’s 20 minute treadmill run that I did at a 4% grade.

I got home early on Friday and considered doing a run. We were expecting guests later in the afternoon so I decided not to do that. I didn’t want to get sweaty and have to shower so close to when people were arriving. We had a nice evening that included my wife’s college friend who she hadn’t seen for almost 20 years.

This morning I got out early, happy to see that the rain would hold off until the afternoon. The temperature was in the low 60’s and the heavy cloud cover blocked direct sun. These conditions brought out a lot of people, including dog walkers, run-walkers, walker walkers and runners. I saw the same woman in pink four different times along my route. It seemed as if she was running my exact route from the opposite direction.

I was pleased with the feel of my run. As usual, I started easy and picked up speed after a couple of miles. I’d planned to run between 3-4 miles so I’d be back before our weekend guests got up, but I felt so good I decided to run five-plus.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day weather-wise, and I’m looking forward to another early run. We have a big family event happening tonight so I’ll have plenty of carbs to fuel my morning workout.