Hot and soggy but not too sloggy

Mush!

Today’s run (street): 4.7 miles

The needle on my motivation meter was firmly in the off position this morning. I watched the  temperature rise as the minutes ticked by. I couldn’t decide where to run and no option was particularly appealing. I went upstairs to change into running clothes, hoping I’d find some inspiration through that experience. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on local roads so I headed over to neighborhood #2 for a slight change of scenery.

I’d watched the local weather report before my run and they made a big deal out of the low humidity. LIARS! The temperature was in the low 80’s making the soggy atmosphere feel like hot soup. There were many people packing up their SUVs with beachy gear as I ran by. They had the right idea. I compromised on my pace and floated my way south to the other neighborhood.

I followed an extended loop and stayed on the shady side of the street when possible. My easy pace kept it from being a slog but I regretted waiting so long to go out today. I ended up covering more distance than I’d originally planned and it turned out to be a decent workout.

When I looked at the map of my run, I thought (after rotating the map 90°) that it looked like a person driving a dog sled. I may have created a new category of artwork – design by GPS.

Dog day run

When I Googled Dog Days, all I got was pages of this anime

Today’s run 4.2 miles

Well, it looks like a dog to me

This morning’s run looked more like a dog than a cheek-shooting bi-athlete. I think that’s appropriate because today was definitely a dog day. Predictions of rain got me out the door earlier than yesterday. Overall, I had a slightly better experience than Saturday, because the humidity and pollen levels were a touch lower. Still, the difference in comfort between shaded and unshaded sections of the road was huge.

I first thought about running at Bethpage and taking a route that toggled between the paved trail and the dirt side paths that cut through the woods. It came down to convenience and timing and I decided to stay local to get out faster. I’d put on my aging Virratas that would be a good shoe on both pavement and dirt. After I made the decision to stay in the neighborhood I forgot to switch to either the Kayanos or Triumphs – my current trainers.

I mentally mapped a new route and took off, keeping an eye peeled for my teenage daughter who was out practicing her driving. I immediately noticed how much I preferred the Virratas over the newer pairs of running shoes. Although some people I know love their super-cush sneakers, I’m still a fan of minimal models.

Probably due to pre-hyperthermia delusions, I took a wrong turn around the 2.5 mile point and made an ad hoc change that took me outside the neighborhood. It was fine but it forced me to negotiate some really broken sections of concrete. I watched my steps carefully to avoid a face plant. I cut back into the neighborhood at my first opportunity and completed the run by focusing on the tall glass of water that I would drink the moment I got home.

I ended up running close to 13 miles this week. Low by historical standards, but I only ran three times. I have moved out out of my 3 mile rut and next weekend I want to cover at least 5.5 miles on at least one of my runs. How I do in terms of workout over the next four days will depend on my schedule. I’m determined to get at least one workout in before Friday, even if it’s on the elliptical.

Heat, exhaustion and a failing treadmill

Torture chamber. Why did I wear a sweater?

Today’s workout (treadmill): 25 minutes

I spent most of the week in an airless conference room filled with computers that raised the temperature into the intolerable range. We were piloting some new business processes and technologies and I spent a lot of time managing the participants and capturing issues on a whiteboard. The heat, lack of ventilation and fumes from the dry markers wore me out.

This morning I celebrated a return to normal working conditions. I hopped on the treadmill at 3:45 AM and hoped to raise my heart rate and ingest cool air that was devoid of marker solvent. I hadn’t run since Sunday and was ready to go. I’m no fan of the treadmill but that didn’t bother me today. Once the machine started up I changed my mind about that.

The F63

Our Sole F63 has not lived up to its reputation as a top rated machine. In the four years that we’ve owned it, we’ve had to rebuild the motor once, fix multiple problems with a slipping tread belt and replace the display console four times. Despite regular maintenance, our technician told us a few months ago that the treadmill is nearing its end. Based on the cacophony of sound I heard today, I thought the end would come today.

The Sole was never whisper quiet, but compared to the 14 year old Pro-Form unit it replaced, our new machine was nearly silent. Now the F63 is making worse noises than the Pro-Form. The motor has grown increasingly louder and the belt rollers are making sounds like gunshots. The belt also feels like it slips when I increase the speed past a certain point.

I managed to get through my workout, but I’m not sure how many runs are left in the machine. I do 3/4 of my running outside, so I can manage without the treadmill, but my wife does all her running on it. It’s going to be cold tomorrow morning, but I’m very much looking forward to a quiet outdoor run.

Cool, energizing, hot and humid

Saturday’s run – negative splits

Today’s run (street): 3.9 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 5.5 miles

This weekend has turned out to be busier than I expected and all my hopes for running with friends has gone by the wayside. I did manage to eke out ten miles between yesterday and today, but only by wedging those runs between other activities.

Yesterday’s run was great. It was a little warmer than Friday, but still cool, dry and energizing. I did a tempo run, keeping my pace moderate for the first 20 minutes before increasing my speed throughout the rest of the run. I ended up running negative splits, with the last mile equaling my 2012 training pace.

This morning was so humid that I almost skipped my run in favor of an indoor elliptical workout. At least I could do that with my big fan cranked up to hurricane setting. TPP, SIOR and I tried to coordinate a run the day before, but I couldn’t allocate the time to do anything but a short local run. As it turned out, that was probably for the best, since weather conditions were draining.

I knew from the start that I’d be in for a tough time this morning. All the moisture in the air inhibited oxygen flow and I adjusted my speed to maintain a good aerobic balance. I had no breathing issues but the sodden air did not help my energy level. I’m sure I’ll cringe when I see the Garmin data from today’s workout. My cadence was probably 5 SPM slower than on Saturday.

Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation for the kids and we have a lot planned. I may squeak in a few miles or do a short elliptical session in the morning. Depending on the weather later in the day, I may end up doing my workout in the pool.

Soggy and buggy on the Stillwell trails

Just me and the mountain bikers today

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 3.75 miles

The summer sun, heat and humidity can really wear out a runner. Friday afternoon I ran in extremely hot weather and dragged my way through four tough miles. Yesterday was a little better, because I ran in the morning and the temperature was still moderate. Besides my lethargy that was probably caused by caffeine deprivation, I also had a sinus headache. I’m sure that was related to Saturday’s high pollen count.

I had a tough night’s sleep last night and at 2:00 AM I was wide awake with a pounding headache. I took two Excedrin, the only analgesic that helps with these sinus-related migraines. The Excedrin did the trick and I slept until 6:15. I was hoping I’d feel refreshed and invigorated, but I had to settle for being headache-free.

I couldn’t deal with any more sun and heat this morning, so I headed over to Stillwell Woods for my run. It was a cloudy day, 75° and already humid. I counted on Stillwell’s tree cover to block the sun, were it to make its way past the low cloud cover. I arrived at 8:00 AM and was concerned that the parking lot would be packed due to soccer or Little League games. Happily, I only saw a handful of SUVs, most with bike carriers on the back.

I followed my usual route and cut into the woods after a minute on the main trail. I listened for bikers who commonly use the same entry point. Despite the SUVs in the lot, the trails were empty, save for a black snake that slithered across the path as I made my way east. My Cascadias did a great job of handling the terrain, especially in areas with loose gravel or rutted and root-covered paths.

I did encounter bikers a couple of times. They gave fair warning when approaching from behind and I moved over accordingly. The tree canopy gave good shade, but the humidity made it extremely uncomfortable. In addition, gnats buzzed constantly around my face, causing me to swat as I ran. That’s the downside of summer trail running.

Usual route with a modified loop

I departed from my standard loop and went south a bit, where the trails are rougher. Again the Cascadia’s rock plates provided good protection as I made my way over grapefruit-sized stones and other trail hazards. I would have covered more distance had I stayed on my original path, but the shorter route required a lot more effort.

After I finished, I realized how humid it really was. Sweat was pouring off me as if I’d just been soaked with a hose. I didn’t manage a 6+ mile run this week, which is a goal I have with my current, limited, workout schedule. Still, it was almost four miles in tough conditions over difficult terrain. I’ll consider this a good running week.

Boston fun and a scorching run

Field of dreams

Today’s run (street): 4.2 miles

Although I’ve lived in New York for over two decades, I’ll always consider myself a New Englander. My wife went to college in Boston and also loves the city, so whenever we visit Boston, it’s like returning home. I’ve never warmed to NY sports teams, especially the Yankees, who I am genetically predisposed to despise. The Red Sox are a religion in Boston and it was gratifying to see almost

A Yankees Hater cap

everyone wearing some type clothing that had the Sox name or logo.

It was fun to stay in Kenmore Square, directly adjacent to Fenway Park. We could see the Green Monster from our room. Better still, I got to bring my kids to see their first Sox game and watch the Red Sox beat Chicago in extra innings. We had a great time, although I didn’t get a chance to run while I was away. It was probably for the best, due to the sun and heat.

I considered doing a run in the Fitness Center this morning before heading back to Long Island, but there wasn’t enough time. In our travels, we’d stopped into the Boston Marathon Experience store in Faneuil Hall where we were able to take pictures “finishing” the Boston Marathon. The next day we saw the actual Boston finish line on Boylston Street that’s located next to Marathon Sports running store. I got a Boston Strong shirt for SIOR who actually ran (and finished) the marathon this year.

Nice try ER

The real finish line

After we arrived home, I started to feel guilty that I had not run since Monday. Although I don’t like running in the afternoon (especially on such a scorching-hot day), I put on my running shoes and made my way around the neighborhood.

Mid July is not the best time to go out in the afternoon without cover from the sun. The humidity was ridiculous, but I figured I could get through a few miles. I was fine for a while, but the conditions started to wear me out and I could hardly see from the sweat pouring into my eyes. I targeted 4-5 miles but decided to stay at the lower end as the sun, heat and humidity became practically intolerable.

When I got home I saw that my kids were in the pool. After setting aside my phone, Garmin, HRM and Road ID, I jumped in with my running clothes. The instant cooling felt fantastic. Better still, the pool water rinsed me clean of my sunscreen that had become very greasy under the hot sun.

It’s been a great “mini” vacation since Wednesday, and I’ll try to get out early tomorrow to prevent another high humidity run. I would have loved to do a run in Boston while I was away, but I’ll admit that Long Island is also pretty great when it comes to running experiences.

The paradox of high humidity and faster running

Part of today’s route. Pretty. Humid.

Today’s run (street): 4.5 miles

Happy 7th of July. For some reason, the company I work for has made both the 4th of July and today company holidays. That, plus working from home last Thursday, allowed me to run for five consecutive days. Counting this morning, I’ve covered 21 miles in that period. I wish I could do that every week.

Even though I was up before 6:00 AM today, I managed to squander the early hours and didn’t start my run until a little after 8:00 AM. When I stepped outside it didn’t seem all that humid. There was a slight breeze from the north that combined with the mid-70’s temperature, creating what seemed to be comfortable conditions. That was an illusion.
The neighborhood looked very nice under sunny skies and the first mile of my route was fairly shady. From then on, the temperature seemed to rise by the minute, along with the humidity. I mixed up my route in an attempt to break the boredom of my local streets and found myself running up what passes for a long hill in my neighborhood. Between the treeless road and the thickening air, I moved into direct drive mode. That’s when I put all resources toward getting through the distance.
I often forget that when I put a little more power into my stride, my running efficiency (speed benefit as a function of expended energy) increases. This is the trick I occasionally use when a faster runner begins to overtake me in the neighborhood or on the Bethpage trail. By lengthening my stride and increasing cadence a little, I can lower my pace by a mile per minute for short periods without feeling like I’m working that much harder. 
About half the time I can hold back speedy challengers until one of us turns off to another road. Running harder, despite the humidity, helped get me to the 4 mile mark faster than I expected. The only issue is that I usually reach a point where I can no longer sustain the greater speed. Fortunately, I was able to maintain the pace and I even took it up a gear for the final 200 meters.
When I went inside to cool off before my shower, I realized that my level of sweat was equivalent to having jumped into the pool. In fact my running clothes looked like I had just done that. I have a different schedule this week that will involve some travel, so I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to run again before the weekend. If the timing works out favorably, I may be able to fit in a couple of mid week runs.

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.

Controlled conditions can’t control humidity

Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles 

One syllable sums up yesterday’s run – ugh. I’ve been focused on a project this week, and days of intense viewing on my laptop created fatigue that was exacerbated by yesterday’s brutal humidity. By the time I was ready to run, it was too hot and humid to be outside. I figured I’d do better in the controlled conditions of my workout room. That wasn’t quite true.

I set the CAC to 76 degrees, cranked up the floor fan to high and turned on the puny treadmill fan. My plan to start fast was a miscalculation. After a mile run at 6.7 MPH, my heart rate was approaching 90% of Max. I dialed back my speed and, even at 6 MPH, I was sitting at 80% Max. I slowed down even further, until things came more into line. I eventually worked my speed back through the last mile, but by the time I reached my targeted distance, I felt exhausted.

I was glad to get my workout done, but with the relentless humidity, I may have pushed too hard. I felt worn out the rest of the day. Conditions are less humid today, but I’m going to run easy to prevent a recurrence of that fatigue. I’ll do my last race training over the weekend and will then start my taper and rest during the week. I hope I still have some speed left in my legs.

9/11 weekday run

 

Today’s run (street): 3.1 miles

I’ve been off the blogging grid for the past two days, and most of today, because I’ve been consumed with a work project. After taking my usual Monday rest day and Tuesday as another recovery day, I was back on the street this morning. I wasn’t psyched to go out at 8:00 AM, as the news was reporting 78 degrees and a dew point of 71.

I tried to set a strong pace but, felt frustrated with my turnover. The good news was, despite the hot and humid conditions, I wasn’t tempted to tone down the effort. At around the one mile mark, I recalled that today was September 11. Except for when it fell on the weekend, this was the first time I didn’t need to commute into the city on that day. It always made me nervous to be in Penn Station on 9/11.

20 minutes into the run, I was looking forward to finishing up. Still, I kept up the effort and wondered if it would translate into a credible time. My heart rate indicated that I was holding about 80% of MAX, so even if I wasn’t moving very fast, I was trying. I ended up averaging 9:14 a mile. Given the weather, that was more than satisfactory. It was good to be back on the road, but I’m really looking forward to the fall weather.