Atone deaf

It’s not kosher to sample this artwork

Today’s run (street): 3.25 miles

This seems to be the week for religious observance and celebration. Apparently the pope is in Washington D.C. today (you’d think the news would cover that). Today is also Yom Kippur, a holiday dedicated to self reflection and atonement. I don’t personally subscribe to any religious dogma, but I do think there’s value to taking a day to appreciate what you have. My kids have the holiday off from school, so I took the day off as well. Not that I’ve done much reflecting or atoning.

I suppose I did a little of the former during my morning run. It was a cool 64° with low humidity. I miscalculated on my gear and wore a long sleeved shirt with running shorts. I was comfortable at first, but began to regret my clothing choice after a half mile. Fortunately, there was a strong breeze coming from the northeast that kept it tolerable most of the time.

Given the holiday, I had the roads pretty much to myself. I gave thanks for the lack of school buses and maniacs driving sanitation trucks and atoned for not doing speed work on a day that would have been perfect for it. I didn’t push too hard, but still ran a little faster than my current normal. The low humidity probably helped there.

Yom Kippur is a holiday where observant people fast until sundown. I broke that rule about fifteen minutes after waking up this morning. Maybe earlier, if drinking coffee is also out of bounds. In between not reflecting and atoning, we took a drive over a nearby college to see a great exhibit by the artist Kevin O’Callaghan. The above picture is an example of his work. In the spirit of fasting, I didn’t take a bite.

Happy on the Bethpage trail

Trail appreciation day

Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 5.4 miles

The best part of today’s run came during the last half mile. I’d spent the previous five moving at my usual pace (slow) but opened up the throttle on the last stretch of the path. I ended up with a final split in the range of my old normal pace. That contrasted with the rest of my data and really highlighted how much my performance has dropped off over the past few years.

I wanted to break out of my typical 3 to 4 mile rut and I knew the best way to do that was to run the Bethpage bike trail. There was partial sun breaking through the clouds and the humidity didn’t seem too bad. But humidity can be deceiving and, a few miles in, I began to regret leaving my water bottle in my car. Garmin data says humidity was 83%. On the other hand, there was a steady breeze coming from the west that acted like a cooling fan, especially when I was heading south.

Rather than go north as usual, I decided to run south to Bethpage State Park, turn around there and head north to Old Country Road. I figured that would get me my targeted five and then some. Soon after I’d started, I saw a couple of people running ahead of me at about the same pace that I was running. Well the guy was running my pace and the woman was running faster and looping back periodically to run with him. It reminded me of running with TPP and SIOR!

I eventually caught up to them, but they kept going south while I turned around. I was feeling good and took the time to look around and appreciate how fortunate I am to have this beautiful trail ten minutes from my home. The abundant trees and well maintained paths make it a happy place. I noticed that they’ve put in water coolers near the end of the first section of the northern path. Very civilized. I wish I’d drank from it when I had the chance.

For some reason, I expected that my run north would feel short because I’d covered 2.75 miles by the time I’d looped back to where I’d started. It wasn’t a slog covering the remaining distance, but it seemed to take longer to cover slightly less distance. As it turned out, I went much faster during the second half. That was probably due to my more urgent pace towards the end.

The fact that I could hold a much faster pace for a fairly long stretch reinforced that my speed issue isn’t physical. I’ve definitely fallen into the habit of running comfortably rather than with a performance goal. My absence from racing explains that to some degree. I’m not sure that I want to start folding in faster paces in all my runs, but with cooler weather coming, it might be a nice thing to try.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to SIOR who finished in the top 8% of the Suffolk County Half Marathon this morning. It makes me proud to be a Runsketeer. Even if I’m the slowest one.

Thankful for the weekend

 

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

This was a weird week and I’m glad it’s finally Saturday. Although it was one less work day due to Labor day, the next four days were among the longest I’ve ever endured. Some of that related to business and some was due to ridiculous traffic on Thursday and Friday that resulted in 2 1/2 to 3 hour commutes. On top of that, I received tragic news yesterday about a close colleague and needed to pay a condolence call last night. That yesterday was 9/11 did not help my mood at all.

It was difficult to find time to run this week due to the above. I usually work from home on Fridays, but I had so much going on I needed to go into the office. That eliminated the opportunity to do my usual Friday morning run. The upside to that exhaustion was that I managed to get a full eight hours of sleep last night. I needed that badly and looked forward to getting back on the road this morning.

It took an extraordinary amount of time to get myself out the door today. My watch said 10:00 exactly when I hit the start button. With the low sun, 72° temperature, and still-green trees, it felt more like an early summer morning than almost fall. It didn’t feel humid at first, but the skies soon began to darken and I started feeling more moisture in the air. I wasn’t aiming for much distance and hoped I could get through my planned 3+ miles before the predicted downpour.

I lucked out with the rain and didn’t notice the effect of the humidity until I’d finished. It took a lot of water and electrolytes to get me feeling back in balance. Tomorrow is supposed to be less humid and I may head over to the Bethpage trail to pick up some longer distance.

I continue to like the Kinvaras and I’d like to see how they do on a five-plus mile run. SIOR is running the inaugural Suffolk Marathon tomorrow. I think she’s doing the half because she’s got a destination marathon happening in less than a month. I’m curious about the route and I’m looking forward to reading her race report.

End of the road of my favorite street

The long and potholed road

Today’s run (street): 4.6 miles

It felt cool this morning when I stepped outside, and I looked forward to a comfortable running experience. That was a miscalculation. Still, the still-high humidity and some rough road conditions did not prevent me from enjoying my workout. There was plenty of shade throughout most of the run and I wore the new Kinvara 5s for the first time. I’m happy to report that they exceeded expectations.

The long weekend gives me an extra day for a run, so I didn’t feel pressured to extend my distance beyond the 4.6 miles that I covered. I went south to neighborhood #2 for a change of scenery. I’ve always liked to run the long stretch along Elderberry and Ashford Drive. This is a straightaway that seems to go on forever (it’s actually .67 miles) and that lets me zone out for a while. But today I realized that there’s some real problems with that road.

The winters are harsh on Long Island streets and new potholes are always showing up. The town usually repairs them with patches until the roads begin to resemble the surface of the moon. Eventually they resurface the street and the cycle starts again. Elderberry/Ashford has reached lunar territory and I worried about tripping on the broken pavement with every step. Suddenly my favorite road was feeling like a safety hazard.

Most of the broken pavement was on the left side of the street, so I looked forward to a less treacherous experience coming back on the other side. The road back was smoother, but it had some hidden dips. I had a few scary moments when my foot kept going after I expected to reach the pavement. I’ve decided to avoid that section until new blacktop is laid.

I’m planning to do an early Labor Day run tomorrow to complete five consecutive days of running or cross training. If I can get out early, I may get out of the neighborhood and head to the track or the trails.

Sidewalk running on a busy Friday morning

Hurry home K5s

Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Yesterday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

It’s Labor Day weekend and the end of the first week of school. Despite the heat wave we’ve had over the past few days, I know that fall weather will soon be here. I’m pretty excited about that. This morning’s temperature was closer to 70 than 90, but it was still extremely humid when I stepped outside. I patiently waited for a phalanx of buses to go by and then I was off.

I knew it would be humid, so I kept a low effort for the first ten minutes. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Kinvara 5s, but I had to go with the Triumph ISOs today. That turned out to be a good choice because the high volume of traffic forced me onto concrete slab sidewalks a few times. The Triumphs provided a nice cushion from the extra hard surface, but I was still concerned about the possibility of tripping on the uneven sections. Halfway through the run, it seemed like all the school drop-off traffic was finished and it felt a little safer to be on the street.

Along the way, I ran by one of my wife’s friends who was chatting with a neighbor in front of her house. We exchanged quick hellos, but I didn’t have time to stop because I was on a split second schedule. I needed to be showered and dressed in time for a video call that was happening in 30 minutes. I got ready with only seconds to spare and did the call wearing gym shorts. Since my colleagues could only see my top half, that will remain a secret unless they read this post.

I did pretty well today despite the humidity and the fact that I haven’t taken to the Triumphs. My new Kinvaras are due to arrive by 8 PM tomorrow, so I may not get to run in them until Sunday. I think it will be a little cooler on Saturday and plan to cover a little more distance.

Pouring without raining

 

Todays run (street): 3.5 miles

 As expected, I woke up around 5:30 AM to the percussive sound of rain on the skylight. This continued for at least an hour, but by 8:00 AM, conditions had improved enough for me to venture outside. The skies were dark and overcast and I couldn’t tell whether the rain had completely stopped. Surprisingly enough, my Garmin grabbed a signal almost instantly and I was off.

I hadn’t gone more than a few tenths before I felt a cascade of water drops as I rounded the first corner. Despite the rain, I decided to keep going. Interestingly enough, the “downpour” stopped as quickly as it came, and I realized the “rain” was merely droplets of water shaken off the trees overhead. I continued along, getting intermittently splattered every time I ran under a group of trees.

My route today was three 1.15 mile loops that started and finished in front of my house. As time went on, things began to dry and the tree showers became less frequent. The sun started showing through the clouds, but not enough for me to regret leaving my sunglasses at home. It was a decent run and I was pleased that the weather hadn’t relegated me to the treadmill today.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dry all day and, if I get out around 8:00 AM, the humidity level should be a tolerable 52%. That would be a big improvement compared to all my other runs this week. If I get in eight more miles over the next couple of days, this could be my highest mileage week this year.

A day late and a mile short

Avoid at all costs

Monday’s run (street): 3.25 miles

By a day late, I’m talking about posting today about a run I did yesterday. I broke up my vacation with a trip into the office this morning to attend a meeting that I probably could have done as a conference call. But success in business often comes from just showing up. I have no regrets except for my decision to take the Clearview to the Grand Central on my way home. If you live in the NYC area you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

My running buddy TPP is back to blogging and her post today reminded me of Monday’s super-humid running experience. Although I got out before 8:00 AM, the temperature was just shy of 80° and the humidity was a solid 80%. I’m often fooled when I go out on humid days because the moisture in the air, combined with a slight breeze, can feel cool if you’re not sweating. It doesn’t take long before reality hits.

I had a decent 5 miler on Sunday and an almost 5 miler on Saturday, so I decided to be kind to myself and forget my four mile target. I took the best route I could to get me through my minimum run distance (MRD) of three miles with a quarter mile to spare. Although the air was heavy with moisture, I did manage a decent pace that was faster than my two prior runs.

I’m back to being on vacation and though the days are are busy, I plan to get in a couple more mid-week workouts. Having a heat wave during your vacation week isn’t as bad as having to go into the office on your vacation week. But it’s not too great either.

First foray up and down the Massapequa Preserve trail

Uphill in both directions

Today’s run (Massapequa Preserve trail): 6 miles

This morning the TV weather people were having a field day about how hot and humid it would be today. Hot and humid are two of my least favorite words when it comes to running weather. It was no surprise, since they’d been talking about that since Friday because of the the NYC Triathlon that was happening today. I knew I’d also need to deal with those conditions, as I planned to meet up with SIOR to run the second half of my six miler in the Massapequa Preserve.

Running with SIOR, even when she’s doing her easy long runs (14 miles today), is really more like running after SIOR. Still, misery loves company and it was fun to meet up on the trail and run for a few moments together. She waited up for me a couple of times and we had a nice recovery pause at one point. Although we only talked for a few minutes, we managed to cover some pretty gross subject matter. You have to know SIOR to understand that’s not at all unusual.

During my half marathon training periods, I would frequently run as far south as the Preserve, but I’d never made it to the start of the trail head. Today, that’s where I started. I parked in the Massapequa train station lot and quickly got onto the bike trail. My hope was that the expensive Ultimate Direction water bottle I’d bought a couple of years ago would be just the thing to keep me hydrated. I remembered having trouble with the bottle’s bite valve when I first got it and tested it today before I left the house. FAIL. I brought along a couple of Poland Springs water bottles instead.

The start and finish point

The Massepequa trail is verdant and has lots of dirt side trails. It also has tenth of a mile markers, unlike the Bethpage trail. I started my run shortly after 9:00 AM and the trail was already full of people. Many more cyclists than I’m used to seeing on the northern end. The trail seemed pretty much uphill until I reached Linden street, located just south of the Southern State overpass.

Once I cleared that challenging rise, I ran another half mile until I saw SIOR coming from the other direction. In order to get her full 14, we ran north another quarter mile and turned around. SIOR said the last three miles were mostly downhill and that made sense because it seemed pretty much uphill until that point. Here’s the thing I noticed about Bethpage (and apparently the Preserve): it always seems uphill, no matter which direction you run.

On the way back, I kept expecting to see the path sloping down gently and easing me through my final three miles. Strangely, the trail seemed mostly uphill the whole way back. It was like an MC Escher painting come to life. I knew there was nothing to do but run until I came to the end of the trail. Once I saw the bridge over the pond, I knew I was getting closer. When I saw that I was mere tenths away from the trail head, I was thrilled.

SIOR was already in her aircraft carrier-sized SUV when I caught up with her. She offered to drive me over to my car and the blast of AC that hit me was extremely welcomed. I must have looked like hell because she kept asking me if I was alright. She and her family were heading to the beach and I was heading home to spend time with the family in the pool.

TPP was in NYC because her paramour/trainer JC was participating in the NYC Tri (as was our friend KWL). Both of them did really well. We missed TPP, but then again we always do. I’m hoping the Runsketeers can all run together soon. It’s almost August and we agreed to do it once a month. So far so good.

Crabby on Friday, better today

Don’t eat at Joe’s

Yesterday’s run (street): 3.5 miles
Today’s workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I work from home most Fridays and that experience (no commuting or multiple meetings) usually provides a nice segue to the weekend. My responsibilities have ramped up in recent weeks and Fridays have become a blessing in terms of catch up time. Except for yesterday, where I started at the crack of dawn and didn’t stop until close to the crack of dusk.

My one concession to the Friday workday madness was to break away for a short time to do a neighborhood run. Once I was satisfied that I addressed some overnight business issues, I quickly changed into running gear and headed out the door. The humidity and temperature were both surprisingly low and I looked forward to a pleasant experience.

It’s much nicer running on Fridays without  buses and school drop-off traffic. But the recycling manics remain. These guys drive their ten ton truck around my neighborhood streets like it’s a Porsche, exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 MPH and ignoring stop signs. Whenever I hear the roar and rattle of the truck, I make a beeline to the sidewalk. Even though there are 5+ miles of road in the neighborhood, I always end up encountering them at some point on my route.

Except for the truck, the run went fine. I had some slight breathing issues when I tried to push my pace, and I’m thinking that my aerobic threshold may have dropped over the last couple of years. If that’s the case, it would explain my measurable reduction in speed. I had hoped last weekend’s intervals would have gained me some improvement, but perhaps a mile of repeats at around 92% of max heart rate was not enough to make an impact.

Even with decent weather, I ended up feeling depleted. I had a fast shower and then it was back to work for the rest of the day. We had planned a family dinner last night at Joe’s Crap Crab Shack which recently opened in our area. We’d gone to one in Orlando years ago and had a great time. We all looked forward to this dinner.

I don’t know if I happened to be getting sick (perhaps my hard run and the long day standing in front of my laptop were responsible), but by the time we left the restaurant, I was feeling awful. The experience at Joe’s was interesting. Here is my recommendation: Don’t eat at Joe’s Crab Shack. At least don’t eat at the one in Westbury, NY.

We arrived at the place before the busy hour and although the room was more than half empty, we were told we’d have to wait for a table because they didn’t have enough servers. My wife wanted to leave, but we were all hungry and chose to stay, since they managed to “find room” for us in the back. This back area resembled the dining room of a highway truck stop circa 1973. The photo at the top shows the room full of invisible diners we needed to walk through to get to our table.

The greasy fish I had was terrible and no one else liked what they’d ordered. By the time we got home, I was feeling sick and had to lay down for a few minutes. I rallied enough to go out back for our Friday night fire pit and even managed enough of an appetite for a S’more. We have seen some interesting things on these nights, like an extremely porcine raccoon “sneaking by” atop the fence. Last night we were again dive bombed by a bat, who perhaps thought the pool was a pond.

This morning I was time-pressed because we had an early appointment at a local college. I probably could have fit in a short run, but I was still feeling iffy and decided to do today’s workout on the elliptical. Despite my opening windows on both ends of the room for air flow, it was humid as heck. Even so, the workout was pleasant. Some people don’t like the elliptical, but I do, mostly because it’s not a treadmill.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Massapequa Preserve to meet up for a Runska-run. I’m hoping that I’ll be in ready shape for the six miles I plan to cover. The heat and humidity are supposed to be off the charts, so I’m not planning to do these miles very fast.

Hills, heat, humidity and a failure to Triumph

The route

Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 5 miles

Yesterday’s track workout inspired me to get out for another “destination” run this morning. By that I mean a run outside the confines of my general neighborhood. Since I pushed my efforts on Saturday, I figured today would be best spent running easy on the Bethpage trail.

ISOs: pretty, but not this editor’s choice

I decided to try the Saucony Triumph ISOs again to see how they perform now that my stride has begun to normalize. While I was recovering from the disc issue, my left foot would mash up toward the front of my running shoes and the ISOs seemed to do it the most of any of my running shoes. These highly cushioned trainers won the Runner’s World Editor’s Award and I had high hopes that they would become my primary shoes. I’m concluding that, for my arch type, lower is better. That’s why I’ve reverted back to using my Vitarras even though they have a sizable amount of wear on the out-soles.

The cyclists were out in force this morning with less runners than I usually see on the bike trail. My hope was that I’d feel energized from yesterday’s intervals. That wasn’t the case, but I said, “What the heck” since I planned for this to be a recovery effort. I cruised along the sparsely populated path and at one point I was passed by a fast moving runner with whom I tried to match strides. No such luck. She quickly disappeared into the distance.

There’s usually a lot of fauna on the trail, mostly birds and bunnies. Today I saw an actual jack rabbit crossing the path about 20 feet ahead of me. In silhouette it looked a lot like the eponymous character in the Jackrabbit Sports logo. Although the humidity was supposedly low, it didn’t feel that way to me. The temperature was 81° and the sun was baking down. The combination of weather and hills on the north end of the trail did me in and I was ready to throw in the towel once I reached 5 miles.

A towel would have been great to have when I finished. When I looked at the Garmin’s stats and saw it report 51% humidity I shook my head. The work week starts again tomorrow, and I hope to get in some type workout before next Friday. I was glad to get away for a couple of non-neighborhood runs this weekend and pleased that I finally worked in a speed workout. As for the Triumphs, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with them. That’s unfortunate. I could always wear them as weekend casual shoes, but they are a bit too vivid to wear in public unless I’m running.