Hoping for some plantar relief in the Futuro

The futuro is now

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

Earlier this week I was complaining to anyone in my office that would listen about my foot soreness due to plantar fasciitis. I am fortunate to work in a place that has many experts on health (along with other subjects) and one of them told me she got great results from something called the Futuro Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support brace. The next day she brought it in so I could use it. Some people are really nice.

The brace seems designed to hold the foot in a way that prevents you from pointing your toes when you sleep. Apparently we all do that. Pointing toes aggravates the plantar fascia. That explains why every morning my heel feels like someone hammered a nail into it overnight. Unlike my “night sock” that yanks back my toes, the Futuro brace does its thing gently. I wore the brace extensively on Thursday night and on Friday (because I worked from home) and started feeling some relief.

I was encouraged by the improvement but felt concern that I’d undo my progress if I went for a run. I decided that it was worth chancing a relapse and did a treadmill workout on Friday morning. While I did feel a few pangs of soreness at different stages in the run, I experienced no residual pain. I’ve continued to wear the brace while in the house and it seems to be helping.

This morning I decided that 20° weather plus wind chill are not an appealing combination. Once again, I did my running on the treadmill. My current routine is to put on a music station and set my speed to a brisk but sustainable pace. No treadmill hating these days as I’ve learned to appreciate the more forgiving surface compared to pavement. Plus, did I mention the 20° plus wind chill outside?

I’ve often said that treadmill minutes seem twice as long as regular minutes. Today the time went by quickly. Instead of watching my time or mileage, I now run by songs. Roughly three per mile. Psychologically, it’s a much better approach and probably why every runner but me listens to music when they run outdoors. I’m still not doing that.

My buddies SIOR and KWL have been tuning up for the Boston Marathon in April by running NYRR races the past two weekends. This weekend they’re running the Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K up in Washington Heights and will be adding another 13 miles on top of that. With all those hills and a real feel temperature of 13°, it’s going to be interesting. That is so beyond anything I’m prepared to do right now. I’ll stick with the treadmill, a temperature controlled room and my borrowed brace.

A bad wind blows my run

I feel so good. Wait, no I don’t.

Today’s run (street): 3.7 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday’s run (Street): 4.3 miles

As I made my way around my neighborhood this morning, my experience alternated from pleasant to tortuous. It all depended on the direction I was running. As I ran I thought of the song “I Feel So Good” by Richard Thompson that toggles cleverly between nice and nasty. With a 25° temperature as a starting point, and wind making it feel like 17° outside, I prepared for the worst.

I don’t know why my face has become so sensitive to the cold this season. I can bundle up for really cold conditions, but unless I wear a balaclava I still have to deal with face freeze. Getting through the first mile was a challenge today and I wished I’d wore the bandito buff that KWL gave me last year. I briefly considered heading home and running indoors, but I figured that only half my run would be into the wind and I’d eventually warm up. I did, but it took a while. With the wind to my back, my running was a pleasure. When it wasn’t, it was a pain.

Speaking of pain, I’ve been dealing with a heel problem with my left foot that may be a form of Plantar Fasciitis. On the advice of KWL I’ve temporarily switched from my low, flat NB Zante 2’s to my well padded Saucony Triumph ISOs that have a more pronounced drop between the heel and forefoot. I think that helped minimize my pain on the run. It also feels a little better after running. I hope it’s just an inflammation of the fascia and not something more concerning, like a hairline fracture or a heel spur.

My runs today and Friday were pretty slow. Pre-September slow in fact. I’m not concerned that I’m   backsliding, but it’s frustrating in light of gains I’d made during the last three months of 2016. I was running more than 2 minutes per mile faster compared to what I averaged in late summer. I’ll conveniently blame today’s mediocre performance on wearing too many layers and all that wind resistance. Plus my heel pain and the cold. Let’s see how tomorrow goes. I really hope I feel so good.

Dinner and a movie with the Runsketeers

Hey, that ain’t Starbucks!

Photo courtesy of KWL

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles

The Runsketeers got together yesterday to see the new film, Patriot’s Day. I was initially disappointed that the film wasn’t about my birthday (April 19) but I soon forgot the injustice. I remember the Boston bombing very clearly, but I learned a lot of new stuff in this movie, including the fact that Marky Mark figured out almost everything about the perpetrators for the Boston and Watertown Police and the FBI special agent in charge, even though Markey was suspended or on probation for some unexplained reason.

I also learned that if I ever find myself in the middle of a street shootout between police and terrorists, I should take cover behind a Mercedes GLS and not a Ford Explorer. Besides these valuable insights, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and encourage all runners and non-runners to see it. It wasn’t really about the Boston Marathon itself, but for those of us who grew up watching it live each year (me) or actually qualified and ran it (SIOR), it was personal. TPP and KWL also gave it two thumbs up.

It was fun to see my Runsketeer buddies wearing something other than compression gear. We settled into the theater’s la-z-boy seats to watch the movie trailers that were basically a bunch of flashy cuts with lots of explosions and aliens, and a soundtrack loud enough to feel. I suppose that was the Dolby sound system turned up to 11. I don’t get out much but I guess this is the new normal. The last time I’d gone to the movies I had to sit in a seat without a built-in foot rest or a cup holder capable of securing a gallon of soda.

It was a good thing those cup holders were as big as they were, because SIOR purchased a drink so big that Michael Bloomberg would have arrested her on the spot for possessing it. She needed it to wash down her one-two combination of Milk Duds and popcorn. We planned to have dinner afterward but I figured that all that junk food would ruin an appetite. Nope.

We ended up going to a Sushi place in Garden City. I couldn’t stay for dinner, but I did have a beer and got to hang out with my buddies until my mommy wife picked me up an hour or so later. Along with TPP, KWL and SIOR, we were joined by Mr. SIOR and their four mini-SIORs. They were adorable and very well behaved and it was good to seem them all again.

I did get a couple of runs in since Friday, both around my neighborhood. Yesterday’s route was a series of loops that never took me more than half a mile away from my house. I didn’t match Friday’s pace but I got it done. This morning I wanted to get out before the weather started to turn. We’re supposed to get over 2 inches of rain and see 50-60 MPH winds by tonight. The skies were clear of precipitation but the moderate coolness and 93% humidity created a lot of fog which was fun to run through.

I wore my highest visibility shirt and took a circuitous route around my neighborhood that got me to almost four miles. My performance was better than Saturday’s but slightly slower than Friday’s. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen back into the 3-4 mile distance rut and that probably won’t change until get back to the Bethpage trail. Maybe next weekend.  In the meantime, I’m happy that I’ve been able to resume my weekend running routine. And very glad I got to see the mighty Runsketeers two weekends in a row.

Runsketeer run at the Massapequa Preserve

Me, SIOR, virtual KWL, JC & TPP

Today’s run (Massapequa Preserve trail): 3.1

The Runsketeers got together today (at the Massapequa Preserve) for the first time since late November. We almost ended up at SUNY Old Westbury out of concern that yesterday’s snow would make the trail unrunnable. SIOR, who is training for Boston in April, had a long run planned today and got to the Preserve early to gain miles before we arrived. She texted us that the trail was fine so we all met there at 9:00 AM.

We had a complete crew today that included me, SIOR, KWL, TPP and JC. We were glad to see each other but quickly hustled onto the trail. There was a guy standing with his barking dog that SIOR said had been in that spot all morning. Better a dog on a leash than some of the other weirdness that goes on at the Preserve these days. I took it slow for two reasons. One because it was slippery. Two, because I’m slow. TPP and JC took off ahead of us, KWL eventually caught up with them and SIOR and I carefully made our way through the snow and ice covered sections.

I’m still coming back from a couple of weeks where most of my aerobic activity consisted of coughing and not running. I’d run about 6.5 miles since Friday, but today’s weather and trail conditions discouraged me from going more than 3.1 miles today. SIOR and I were able to chat easily through our out-and-back. We took refuge in her monster truck to stay warm until KWL joined us after completing 5+ miles. The three of us hung out until TPP and JC returned from their 7 mile journey.

Unfortunately KWL needed to leave earlier than planned and couldn’t join us for aprés run coffee. The four of us made our way to Starbucks and commandeered a long table where we exchanged holiday gifts. I think this counts as the Runsketeer holiday party. SIOR gave me two ways to keep my hands warm – an awesome pair of UA running gloves and two packet hand warmers. Both will be well used. TPP gave me a couple of Daily Burn CDs which will finally force me to pay attention to my upper body.

The four of us talked a lot about running and TPP and I compared our PBs for 5K, 4 miles, 10K, and half marathons. She beat me by either a little (3 seconds on the 5K) or a lot (3+ minutes on the 10K). I wished I’d mentioned 8K, because I may have won that one since she probably hasn’t raced that distance.

We talked about endurance events and I asked JC what part of a triathlon is the hardest. He said none of it is hard. In fact he said an Iron Man is a piece of cake because you have 17 hours to finish. Actually he said SIOR could do it in less than a day and I could do it in a week. I wonder if I should be insulted by that. I always thought a week was more than 17 hours. Maybe triathlon math is different than regular math.

We missed KWL, but I put him in the picture above. That was his picture from the last time the Runsketeers got together. This picture was the best of about five that I took today. SIOR was making faces in one (big surprise) and my phone distorted at the edges and made TPP (who is extremely fit) look like a candidate for the Biggest Loser.

It was great getting to be with my buddies all morning. I’m excited that I’ll get to see them again soon when we all go to see the movie Patriot’s Day. Due to the icy roads, I’m probably going to stay inside and do my fourth weekend run on the treadmill tomorrow. If I’m feeling ambitious I will take a crack at the Daily Burn vids. I really hope we have a thaw this week so I can run outside and use my cool new running gloves on Friday.

Runsketeers have the run of a "Lifetime"

SIOR asked me to substitute her face with the first lady’s 

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park Bike Trail): 5.1 miles

After Friday and Saturday’s mild weather, today’s 32° (with wind chill) felt darn cold this morning. I met SIOR and KWL at the lot in Bethpage State Park where SIOR was scheduled to lead a run for Lifetime Fitness. Unfortunately, our stalwart pal TPP was not able to join us today. She does very long bike trips with her cycling friends (I suggest she nickname them the Bikesketeers) and needed some recovery time.

KWL and I hung out in my car while we waited for SIOR to arrive. There was a guy dressed for running who was waiting in the lot, but we couldn’t tell if he was there for the group run. Once SIOR finally showed up, I tried to subtly convey that we were the Lifetime group by saying Lifetime really loud a couple of times. The guy didn’t respond and I’m guessing he looked at us and decided he’d be better off running alone, which he did. That turned out okay because I’d brought fresh pumpkin loaves for my Runska-buddies (baked by Mrs ER and ER daughter) and it would have been embarrassing not to give him one.

With that settled, we decided to run six miles. When I say “we”, I mean SIOR. I wasn’t sure I’d be up to doing six today and as it turned out, I was right. The plan was that KWL and SIOR would go three miles, turn back and intercept me as I progressed to the turnaround point.

The first obstruction to the plan came about a mile and a quarter after we’d started, when SIOR and KWL saw a sign that the bike trail was closed. We decided that meant closed to everyone but the Runsketeers so we kept going. That meant occasionally squeezing through barriers that reinforced that the trail was closed. We weren’t the only ones who ignored the sign’s suggestions.

I saw a few other runners and a father and his pre-adolescent son riding bikes. The bike riders ignored the fact that cars come quickly off the roundabout west of Quaker Meeting House Road and I almost witnessed a terrible accident. Thankfully the SUV’s driver was paying attention and stopped in time to let these oblivious riders cross. I yelled at the father who didn’t stick around to debate me.

Felt like freezing

I decided to run five miles rather than six, and turned around after I’d reached the  2.5 mile mark. I wondered how long it would be until I heard the footsteps of my run mates coming up behind me. I was surprised when I reached the final mega-hill without being overtaken. I made it back to my car and waited for my friends to come in.

It turned out that SIOR had experienced a problem with her toes and needed to walk that off before resuming her run. Soon enough, I saw KWL coming down the final hill into the lot, followed a minute or so later by SIOR. We immediately headed to our post-run coffee spot.

There were no free tables at Starbucks, but SIOR managed to intimidate a couple into leaving. I didn’t complain. KWL, SIOR and I covered a lot of topics including fasting and nutrition, Orthodox practices on the Sabbath and how we will survive despite the awful thing that happened on November 8. We spent time talking about guns and the dumb things that happen when people use them (let me be clear – we are not gun supporters). Without TPP, the technology talk was minimal and we missed her. I’m really hoping the gang can get in another run in December

I ended up having a busy afternoon spending more time than advisable in the windy freezing weather. It’s not getting any more pleasant outside so I’m going to stay in for the rest of the day. A slice of pumpkin bread and a cup of dark roast sound like a good way to round out the day.

The Runsketeers take on Eisenhower Park

The homeless guy offered to take this picture but I wanted to keep my phone

Today’s run (Eisenhower Park): 6.4 miles

As I selected my gear this morning for today’s run with my Runskebuds, I was a little concerned about the howling winds outside. I wondered if the story of the day would be about our group being blown all around Eisenhower Park. The wind didn’t turn out to be much of a factor after all, but we did literally run all around the park.

I met the usual suspects in the Bear Park lot (#2). I don’t know why it’s called that. In fact, there isn’t one sign calling it that, but SIOR told us to go there. It was pretty damn chilly and most of us dressed for the weather. One of us wore shorts. Guess who that was. We debated whether to run through the park, over to Hofstra University or along the perimeter of Eisenhower. We decided on the latter and off we went.

We stayed together for about a half mile, long enough for me to think I might be able to keep up my fleeter friends. KWL stayed with me and videoed our progress while TPP and SIOR burned up the bike trail. I did run close to my current pace which is much better than the last time I ran with this bunch. We regrouped around the two mile mark and made our plan to continue circling the park. I naively assumed that would total about four or five miles, but it turned out to be over six.

My splits were fairly even as I made my way around. My slowest mile was my 4th because I elected to run on the grass strip along Salisbury Park Drive because I didn’t want to run on that road due to cars. The surface was pretty runnable but the uneven surface slowed me down. The slope at times was a foot higher on my right leg compared with my left.

We regrouped again when we reached Carmen Ave, just short of five miles. My friends fed me a line that we were “very close” to our endpoint. I appreciated that because running Salisbury seemed endless. As it turned out, running Carmen was more of the same. When it spilled out to Hempstead Turnpike, I realized I’d been duped. I had no choice but to keep running and I eventually made it back to reunite with my friends at the Bear lot.

It seems smaller when you’re driving around it

We headed to Starbucks, as is our wont, and the place was crawling with Alpha Epsilon Phi sisters who were getting their mid-morning caffeine rush. By the time we got our coffee, the big table was free, so we swooped in. Well the table was mostly free. There was one guy sitting there who may or may not have been a homeless person. He was kind of creepy but we were nice to him.

SIOR sent a group picture via Instagram and Facebook and hash tagged some of our conversational highlights: Garmin, Shoekicker, Sketchers, Underarmor, ASICS, Brooks, Apple, Time Warner, Jeep Wrangler, politics, flashers, clowns, Berlin Marathon 2016. There was certainly more than that, but I thought that was a great summary.

The time went by unbelievably fast, but then again it always does. We agreed to meet again in November and the plan right now is to run a 5K in early December. It will be my first race in two years. I’m not quite where I want to be for a race right now, but I’m getting there.

I love the Runsketeers and today was great as always. They made me run over six miles, something I probably wouldn’t have done without their company. Despite feeling like parts of the run would never end, I really liked today’s workout. I feel like I’m holding my gains and I know I will soon be a little faster. KWL, SIOR and TPP inspire and motivate me to push harder than I have in a long time. Our Starbucks conversations go everywhere and are always entertaining. I look forward to the day when I can join the conversation while we’re still on the road.

Performance gains from running by heart

Getting to the heart of the matter

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday’s run (street): 2.1 miles
Sunday’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.2 miles

I’ve been doing more running than blogging these days, with four workouts since my last post. Every time I’ve gone out since last weekend, I quietly thank KWL for sending me my FR35. While I have made stamina gains resulting from cutting out most processed sugar in my diet (and losing a few pounds in the process), it hadn’t done much for my performance. The FR35 has been a real catalyst for some measurable gains in that area. So thank you once again KWL.

Last Sunday I went to Bethpage to run the bike trail and ended up covering a little more than 4 miles. I ran it about 9% faster than my average pace over the past six months. Having my heart rate showing in real time helped me apply more effort that resulted in better performance. I respond to HR feedback positively, while tracking pace tends to discourage me.

I went home from work early on Monday and went out for a rare afternoon run. It was only two miles, but it was the fastest two miles I’ve run all year. Yesterday morning I did my usual Friday route. I didn’t get around as fast as I had on my prior three runs, but it was fast compared to a couple of weeks ago.

This morning I aimed for a little more distance and headed out with performance running on my mind. Performance is relative of course, but my perceived exertion matched the 80%-92% max HR that my Garmin recorded. I ended up pacing around my new average, but I’d hoped for more.

In terms of performance, I’m still 5% slower than the top end of my current target and I’m 10% away from where I really want to be. More significantly, I’m running 30 seconds to a minute per mile faster than just a few weeks ago. When I get to the pace range I’m aiming for, I’ll consider racing again.

Runsketeers run an easy, peasy three-sey

Bananas, coffee and happily no crickets

Photo courtesy of TPP

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 3 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Could it be possible that the Runsketeers had not got together for a full group run since February? A look through the Emerging Runner archive confirms it. Unbelievable. Criminal really. Well, no matter, we reunited this morning at Runsketeer headquarters adjacent to the Bethpage bike trail and had a short, pleasant run and a long pleasant coffee-breakfast at Starbucks.

The plan was to meet in our usual spot at 8:00 AM. Although we have met there many times before, it’s always necessary that I send out an actual address to my run mates to GPS, lest they end up going to Bethpage State Park instead. That worked, and when I pulled up at 8:00, KWL, SIOR and TPP were sitting curbside talking about some unmentionable affliction being suffered by TPPs paramour. I now understand KWL’s expression when I arrived. It was a silent thank you for interrupting that conversation.

The four of us chatted for a surprisingly long time before we started to run. Usually SIOR demands that we get started when I’m about halfway out of my car. SIOR and TPP took the lead while KWL and I followed. Unfortunately, my Garmin had gone from ready mode back to nothing mode. When I reignited the GPS, it wouldn’t find a signal or let me start the timer. By the time KWL and I got going, our runmates were a quarter mile up the trail.

SIOR has been unable to run for a number of weeks because she has tendinitis and a slight tear in her meniscus. She became a vegan and everything is fine now. Actually, it’s been a tough recovery for her but she’s back running easy 8:30 miles. Or as I call them, going full bore during a 5K. KWL and I ate up the trail, moving along at my meager pace. The good news was that I could run and talk with no problems, something I have not been able to do for some time.

At the 1.5 mile mark we caught up with SIOR and TPP who had stopped because that was the turnaround point. Soon after, we were passed from the north by a couple of runners, one that SIOR knew. He was a run leader for Life Time Fitness, which SIOR does as well. We chatted with them for a few minutes covering important topics like dead mice on the bike trail and why I can’t run in the Diva half marathon unless I pretend TPP or SIOR are my daughters.

The 1.5 miles back seemed to take no time at all. Soon enough, we were back again at Starbucks for post run refueling. I got a Grande coffee and an egg and cheese muffin because I don’t eat sugar very much anymore. KWL got a much meatier version of that, because he’s running 18 miles tomorrow and had ridden his bike 25 miles to meet us this morning. Oh, and he’s running a half Ironman in Atlantic City in two weeks and then running the Berlin marathon a couple more weeks after that. SIOR had two bananas and TPP had pumpkin bread which I would have shared with her while she wasn’t looking, but held back due to its sugar content.

We covered a lot of subjects, most having to do with nutrition, tech gear or politics. We are pretty much aligned politically which made that okay. The one area where we violently disagree is the consumption of crickets (and silkworms) as a protein source. Well I violently disagreed. KWL was fine with both, SIOR eats silkworms (sort of and also, gross). I don’t think she was in the pro cricket camp, but I think it’s because she’s a vegan now. TPP was pro cricket, but I don’t know her position on silkworms.

The great thing about the Runsketeers is that we can go seven months and start exactly where we left off the last time we got together. But it’s better when we don’t go seven months between our runs. We agreed that we’d do this all again next month after KWL gets through his international running tour. I really loved today’s run with my buddies and was very happy with my workout. I could have easily gone six miles or more today. SIOR’s knee held up great and it looks like she’s back to normal. Well, at least her knee is.

Running in circles while my friends ran at Bethpage

I forgot to mention the invisible airplane on the track

Today’s run (track): 4.1 miles

Due to a science fair scheduling conflict, I needed to run extra early this morning. That was fine, as I’m trying to go back to early day running. The downside was that I missed SIORs run-palooza at Bethpage this morning. This was another Life Time Run Club adventure and today’s group included both TPP and KWL. Long before they all went out, I was at the Syosset HS track getting in 16 laps. The Runsketeers had a great time and I’m very jealous.

I always hope that the track will be empty when I arrive, but there’s usually someone there before me. That was case today. It was mostly walkers, but there were a couple of guys running intervals and one person run/walking wearing a pair of big studio headphones. I tuned everyone out for the most part rather than construct back stories of every person on the track like I usually do. I just wanted to get through the workout and stay on schedule.

I’m going to need to go out early again tomorrow. I’d like to do at least five miles so I’ll probably run somewhere outside my neighborhood. I can’t go too far or too long, because I need to be ready for yet another science fair. But no such problems next weekend. After Monday, science fair season will be over.

Attacked on my run

Ruff running

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Thursday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

This is not the post I expected to write today. I thought my theme would relate to our experience having dim sum with Runsketeer KWL this morning, or how much difficulty I had during yesterday’s run. Instead, I’m going to talk about the curious incident of the dog in the run-time.

Earlier in the day, the Emerging Runner family got together with our buddy KWL for a delicious (and filling) meal at a cool place in Flushing, Queens. Dim sum (per Wikipedia) is a style of Cantonese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. We had a great time, tried a lot of new foods and didn’t need to eat again for the rest of the day.

Dim sum central

Our schedule was tight this morning and I wasn’t able to run before we met up with KWL. Although I prefer running early, I was left no choice but to go out later in the day. As I’d mentioned above, Friday’s run was tough. It was a combination of end of week fatigue, 19 MPH winds and real feel of 20°. Today was nine degrees warmer and the winds were somewhat less intense and I got off to a good start.

My goal today was to cover 3-4 miles depending on how I felt. I was inspired by something I’d read in Runner’s World that suggested running your usual route backwards to keep things interesting, I did that for the first half and then settled back to my usual direction. It was shortly after I’d passed my third mile that I encountered my attacker.

There were a number of people walking dogs this afternoon and I saw group about a hundred feet ahead of me. As I got closer I realized they had two dogs, one small and the other a large standard poodle. They were walking with traffic on the right side of the road, on the same side as me. As I passed them by, the poodle jumped towards me and, although I shifted to the right, the dog managed to clamp its jaws on my left forearm.

Fortunately, I was wearing my ASICS running jacket that prevented the dog’s teeth from breaking my skin. I pulled my arm away and yelled, “your dog just bit me!” The owner said “Sorry” and I went on my way, thinking that it was nothing more than a scare. About a quarter mile further I turned my arm and saw that the dog had ripped a big hole in my sleeve.

I was mad and decided to retrace my route in hopes of intercepting the dog’s owner down the road. I really liked that jacket and I wanted these people to be accountable for the damage. The group wasn’t where I expected them to be, and I kept running until I caught them on a connecting street.

Dog bite timeline

I was upset and told the guy that he owed me for damaging the jacket. He said, “Absolutely” and offered to pay, saying he’d bring me a check by that night. And he did! So now I get to buy another running jacket and that makes getting chomped by a giant poodle totally worth it.