Running the SOB route

At long last

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles

As the old proverb goes, nothing succeeds like success. In my case, this means good running experiences are changing my attitude about running. In a very short time, my view of running has greatly improved. Rather than dragging myself out the door because I know I should, I now look forward to every run.

It was cooler this morning (75°) than yesterday, but the humidity was ferocious. I wondered how I’d do under those conditions. Things started out well, although I did feel a little taxed as I made it to the end of first rise. I quickly bounced back and had no further trouble, even on bigger hills. I was going to follow one of my usual routes, but then I remembered that the sidewalks along South Oyster Bay Road had just reopened. Or I thought they did.

I’ve complained for years that the sidewalks along SOB were a disgrace. The concrete was in such disrepair that it was even hazardous to walk over its broken slabs. Running on it was downright dangerous. I made my way over to SOB Road at my first opportunity and saw newly paved concrete and brick stretching as far as the eye could see. I also saw a sign showing the sidewalk was still closed to the public. I decided it didn’t apply to me.

It was nice having another route option and I followed the sidewalk all the way to the library where it was again blocked off. I would have kept going but there was a police officer standing on the corner of the fire station driveway. Instead, I cut through the library lot to the service road and ducked back into the neighborhood from there. The thought of finishing never crossed my mind and I headed north to pick up another mile before heading home.

In terms of performance, today was a little better than I’d been averaging a month ago, but not especially fast. I know I can run faster, but right now I’m just enjoying, rather than dreading my workouts. I don’t want to push too hard or heighten expectations too quickly. My goal now is to be able to do a Runsketeers run and stay with my buddies the entire time. SIOR injured her knee and KWL is in Asia, but when the recoveries and travel are over, I look forward to seeing them and TPP who is spending a LOT of time riding with her bike group.

Running through the neighborhood hive

The neighborhood was abuzz

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles

The Monday after Thanksgiving week starts like a cold diesel on a freezing morning. It’s hard to get back into business mode after four days of leisure. My first meeting of the day wasn’t until mid morning and that gave me enough time to ease into the work week after getting in a run.

Mondays are normally my rest days. Since I got a good workout done on Sunday, I could have stayed with the schedule but I’ll be resting on Friday ahead of Saturday’s race. Continuing my workouts and not taking the rest day seemed to make sense. If I’d been more focused on getting out this morning I might have had time to head to Bethpage. With only 90 minutes to run, recover and prepare, I was left with no choice but to stay in the neighborhood.

I rarely run between 7:30 and 8:30 AM because I don’t want to deal with all the school buses. Today I had no choice and I discovered that buses were just one reason to avoid going out during that hour. My fun started as soon I stood on the driveway and saw two huge landscaping trucks pull in front of my house. These trucks discharged a small army of workers who were there to start our fall cleanup. I guess today was the day to do that, because once I was clear of my own road, I encountered at least a dozen other crews at work across the neighborhood.

Buses scare me and landscaping trucks really scare me when I run. I spent more than my usual amount of time running on the sidewalks today. It was amazing to see the amount of activity playing out before me. Who knew that 8:00 AM is when every car backs out of its driveway, every parent with a grade school kid congregates at a bus stop and every town truck (maintenance, garbage, recycling) is rolling and stopping along the street.

As I made my way towards home, it all played out in front of me. Cars stopped for garbage trucks, Bobcat loaders blocked school buses and people walked their dogs. The neighborhood was like a hive of activity and I was just trying to get through it unstung.

Considering all the hazards, I had no close calls. I was glad to get back home and away from the frenzied streets. I missed the days when I ran at 4:00 AM and the only vehicle I would ever see was the guy who drove around and threw the NY Times on people’s driveways. Since I have more time flexibility now, I’m not willing to go out so early. But going forward, I’m going to do everything possible to avoid that 7:30 AM hour.

Bethpage rudely corrects an assumption

Scenes from today’s Bethpage run

Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles
Today’s run (Bethpage State Park trails): 3.4 miles

At the exact moment that I was thinking how Bethpage’s wooded trails are less tricky and technical than Stillwell’s, my foot caught a root and I came very close to tumbling down a very steep hill. That moment captured the dichotomous nature of Bethpage’s dirt trails. The main paths through these woods are beautifully groomed, but watch out for the network of challenging side-trails that connect throughout the preserve. Along a given mile, you can find cushioned (almost too cushioned) loam, followed by sand, gravel, packed dirt, rocky ledges, knotty roots, sharp rises and deep drops.

Thankfully, I didn’t hit the ground after connecting with that root. It was a good reminder that complacency during a trail run can easily lead to injury. I continued with caution and made my way up a twisty rise that led to what I call the “sand trap.” I don’t care to run on sand, and when you reach this section you really have no choice – unless you turn around and head back the other way. My ego wouldn’t let me do that, so I toughed it out for the next quarter mile, when I was able to switch to another path.

I had lots of company on the trails today. There were numerous groups of cross country teams doing summer conditioning. I saw a group of boys practicing drills across the field adjacent to the trail head and groups of high school age girls at various times running on the paths. I was very glad that I didn’t have to keep up with anyone today, because I was still recovering from a late workout on Friday.

Yesterday’s schedule made a morning run impossible, so I aimed for a mid-afternoon neighborhood run. Things got unexpectedly busy and I ended up pushing my run to 5:00 PM. By that time, the humidity was unbearable, so I opted for an indoor treadmill session with the AC on and the fan set to high. It was still hot and humid, but far better than outdoors. I set a fast pace and got through the run, although I’ll admit I watched the clock like I was in high school math class.

Tomorrow I plan to go out for a base run that will kick off my taper for the Dirty Sock. I expect to go for 6 to 7 miles and hope to get an early start to minimize the heat and sun. I had originally planned to run the Dirty Sock course today, but I’ll need to wait another week to see that course again on race day. And when I do, I’ll be sure to scan the path for roots.

Caleb Smith trails: bad conditions for both run and runner

Hazards abound on the Caleb Smith trails

Yesterday’s workout (Caleb Smith State Park): 3.4 miles (run), 1 mile (hike)

It was a busy Saturday for us, and I didn’t get a chance to post about yesterday’s activity until this morning. Yesterday afternoon we headed over to Caleb Smith State Park where my wife and kids participated a candle making workshop while I hit the trails. Hurricane Sandy had done a lot of damage to the park, but they’d just re-opened the yellow trail. The blue, green and red trails still remain closed.

Prior to leaving for Caleb Smith, we’d stopped for lunch at Moe’s. That was a mistake on my part. Lunch was fine, but I didn’t give myself enough time for proper digestion. I thought I felt fine when we arrived, but soon after I’d started toward the trail I could tell that’s the going would be tough. I pressed on hoping that I’d begin to feel better as time went on.

After a mile I couldn’t ignore the discomfort. It wasn’t a stomach issue, but I felt lethargic and my legs felt heavy and unresponsive. I decided to walk it off and covered a half mile before resuming my run. The trail was in poor condition, with branches strewn along the path by the storm and thick mud from the morning rain. The parts of the trail that were covered by leaves were the most run-able.

I felt marginally better after a half mile hike and resumed my run for the next mile. I had looked forward  to this trail time, but I wasn’t enjoying it much. The trail markings were a little inconsistent and I found myself on the closed paths once or twice. In most cases I could keep going until I reconnected to the yellow trail but once or twice I had to double back.

At one point I thought I saw another runner through the trees, but couldn’t really see much, except that it clearly wasn’t a squirrel or a fox. I thought it was odd that someone would run off-trail, especially with the current conditions. During my next loop around, I detected the same movement and saw that the “runner” was actually a deer. I noticed two or three others soon after. They kept their distance but didn’t run away when our paths came together at a clearing.

I ended up running over 3 miles, though not continuously. I was happy to be finished and vowed not to repeat my mistake of having a big lunch prior to an effort of that scale. After my run, I spoke for a while with a ranger whose team maintained the park. He told me it would be some months before the cleanup was completed. There’s a lot of tree damage that they can’t get to with heavy equipment so it comes down to a two man crew that uses old fashioned methods to precision cut and remove damaged trees.

I’m planning to do a neighborhood run later this morning and really hope that yesterday’s running difficulties don’t carry forward to today. I’d rather have yesterday’s lunch to blame than to be dealing with a bigger issue related to being ill.