The Runsketeers talk a lot about a supermarket

KWL, TPP, Stewy, ER

Today’s runs (Bethpage and neighborhood): 4.6 miles total
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.4 miles

I was not feeling too well on Friday morning and elected to postpone my run until after business hours. I had a busy day, but felt even worse by the end. I considered doing a workout at that point, but decided there would be no fitness benefit. I took sinus medicine before bedtime which caused much restless sleep. By morning, the pounding sinus headache was gone and I was excited to get outside for a run.

We’ve had a lot of snow and ice since late January and I hadn’t run outdoors in over a month. I’ve made my peace with the treadmill but being on the road on Saturday was a welcome joy. Still not feeling 100%, I managed to get around the neighborhood without much problem. Unfortunately, I was not fully recovered and conked out by early evening. That was probably related to the rigorous hike my son and I did in Cold Spring Harbor later in the day.

Long climb to the top at Cold Spring Harbor

This morning I met my Runsketeer buddies for the first time since the New Year’s Hangover run. Between schedules and weather it has been tough to find a weekend to get together. SIOR and KWL were looking to run about 10 miles and TPP and I were looking to do less, so we met them in the Bethpage lot after they’d covered five.

We decided to head north and things got off to a rocky start with a discussion about running pants that I still don’t understand. That was the first of many discussions we had today that didn’t make a lot of sense. TPP and KWL took the lead and SIOR and I ran and chatted until she stopped to walk because my pace was so slow it hurt her knees. We walked almost a mile where we caught up with the other two and ran together back to the lot.

I felt badly that my inability to run my friend’s preferred paces interfered with their objectives for today’s workout. But they never complain about that and supported the fact that I wasn’t feeling great today. I had expected to run at least three miles today but, with the walk, I fell short of that. But I got to have a great conversation SIOR without my usual huffing and puffing.

I’m sure SIOR did this by accident

We decided to switch venues and went to a different Starbucks today. After coffee was ordered, we began the first of many interesting conversations. SIOR, TPP and I talked about strategies to restore my speed to previous levels before we got into some serious discussions. We began with the extremely complex subject of supermarkets. Actually a supermarket called Stew Leonards that recently opened in the area.

I am not kidding when I say that it took over a half an hour to successfully explain the following:

1. Stew Leonards is a supermarket.
2. There is also a Stew Leonards wine store.
3. They are not the same thing.

Once that bit of highly intellectual discourse was completed, we moved onto less challenging subject matter: whiskey appreciation and rock climbing walls. As usual, the time went by too quickly and we needed to start the non-running portion of our days.

Probably due to these energizing discussions, I decided to go for a couple more miles when I got home. Although I ran pretty slowly with my buddies, I did a little better on my second run, I’m sure that being warmed up with my earlier effort helped that.

Back to the work week tomorrow. I’m hoping to do at least four workouts this week and dedicate one of them to speed. SIOR made a point that adding distance is a good way of increasing performance. I should probably work on that. I reached my top performance when I was running six days a week and my speed has declined commensurate to the drop in run frequency. I don’t have an easy way to get back to that schedule. But the point is, this is not easy.

Part 2 – The Emerging Runner: A look back at 2015

The Glorious Runsketeers

Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles

2015 – A look back from July to December

The second half of 2015 had a lot more runs with friends, starting in early July when SIOR and I met up on the Bethpage trail to run a few miles together before heading to Starbucks. TPP was with JC in Connecticut that day and was unable to join us. I ended up covering six miles, my longest run of the year at that point.

Missing TPP

Two weeks later, I met SIOR again, this time to run another six at the Massapequa Preserve that extends the Bethpage trail to the south. I’d run through the northern Preserve before, but had never started a run there from the south. I met up with SIOR once I was three miles in. It was super humid that day and the route seemed to defy physics, with both directions appearing to be uphill.

Massapequa Preserve: up and up

In early August the Runsketeers got together to run the Dirty Sock course at Belmont State Park. KWL joined us on this route that is primarily dirt trails. I stuck to the classic 6.2 mile course and added an extra third of a mile because SIOR forced us to start running before the trail head. The top of the route is a circle around beautiful Belmont Lake. I circled it once, TPP twice and KWL and SIOR did it a third time because they’re the cool kids. We regrouped afterward at a Starbucks that we found in the area. It had really comfy furniture. One of my best running days ever.

Starbuck’n after Dirty Sock runnin’

After over-thinking my running shoe portfolio for months, I finally dropped $52 on a pair of Kinvara 5s in September that I bought through a startup app called Shoekicker. It was love at first footfall. I also did a trail run with my financial whiz running buddy Steve at Stillwell Woods. No one bought my theory that one trail mile equals 1.18 road miles.

❤ my Kinvaras
Me and CrossFitter Steve

In mid October, the Runsketeers returned to Bethpage. SIOR and TPP were both recovering from hard races and ran slowly. That allowed us to all run together the whole time, something we haven’t done in a while. Later, SIOR drove TPP and I back to where we’d parked on Colonial Road. I figured out that five minutes is probably the maximum amount of time SIOR and I can spend together in a moving car.

All smiles after Bethpage

My work schedule did not help my running schedule and I found myself limited to three or four workouts a week. My typical run length had fallen to 3-4 miles and I decided to do something about that. In November, I ran 7.1 miles on the Bethpage trail which turned out to be my longest run in 2015.  I intended to do base runs in increasing lengths, but I failed miserably. In fact, I didn’t do a single run longer than 5 miles for the remainder of the year.

Later that month, the group got together on a chilly post-Thanksgiving morning to support TPP and her sister NIMC who were racing at Stillwell Woods. KWL, SIOR and I ran laps on the track before heading across the street to the start of the race. We all ended up at Starbucks where the five of us didn’t shut up for a second. When we finished, we grouped together for a picture that was taken by a metal column.

A Runsketeer Thanksgiving

In December, KWL visited the Emerging Runner household for a morning of running and food. Me and KWL headed over to Stillwell for a short but invigorating trail run and later he and the ER family had lunch at a new restaurant in my town that featured intestines and pigs feet. Tempting as those choices sound, we opted for vegetarian offerings.

Stillwell done well

I did 155 runs in 2015 but the best ones were those I did with friends. January started off great with the 2016 Hangover Run with SIOR and TPP and I got in a few more miles this morning. I’ve run every day this year. Let’s see how long that streak lasts!

Head tubes, trail running and pigs feet

Post-run at Stillwell

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 3 miles
Thursday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

Another busy work week is over. I needed to go into the office for some important meetings on Friday and didn’t get my usual run in that morning. I did fit in an elliptical session on Thursday. This morning our friend KWL came by to run and have lunch with us at Beijing House, a new and very authentic Chinese restaurant in our town. By authentic, I mean that many dishes featured tongue, tripe, intestines and pigs feet. We stuck mostly to vegetarian options.

In the buff

KWL generously brought gifts for us and the kids, including “head tubes” made by his sister Hetty. These cylinder-shaped items are similar to buffs that I’ve seen sold on running sites. You can use it as a hat or a thin balaclava, something I plan to do when I run in 20 degree temperatures. The material is soft and stretchy and I can tell it won’t obstruct my breathing when I wear it across my face.

When KWL arrived, he was wearing running tights and a half zip, That prompted me to change out of my running shorts in favor of my Opedix. I later regretted that, because it got pretty hot by the time we were done. We ended up going over to Stillwell Woods to run among the throngs of mountain bikers who were there when we pulled in.

I had my Cascadias but KWL had his Hokas, so we kept to the hard packed single track. I led the way, pointing out roots along the path. Fortunately, many of these hazards were painted red from the recent Rob’s Run 5K. I was running well — KWL actually suggested that I slow down a little — and I realized that I’m doing better on trails than roads these days.

We followed my usual loop that has a couple of modest climbs, and took a different path back to the trail head. We encountered some bikers, including one that almost ran us down when our paths crossed. The temperature seemed to rise by the minute and we kept it relatively short. It still felt like a good workout.

It was great seeing KWL today and the ER family appreciated having him with us to identify western-friendly choices at lunch. Although it’s mid-December, it felt like early fall today. I’m going for more than three tomorrow. I don’t know where but I do plan to wear shorts.

The Runsketeers induct a new member

The Run Crew: ER, KWL, TPP, NIMC, SIOR

Today’s run (track): 3.25 miles

Today was a Runsketeer reunion run that coincided with TPP and her sister NIMC racing Rob’s Run, a 5K trail race that takes place at Stillwell Woods. SIOR was considering racing, but she was dealing with a head and chest cold. She decided instead to run with me and KWL across the street at the high school track.

KWL, SIOR and I met up at the tennis courts on Southwoods Road and did a warm-up jog to the track. Warm-up was the operative phrase because, according to Garmin Connect, the “feels-like” temperature was a chilly 34°. I’d brought a fleece vest to stay warm before my run and ended up wearing it the whole time. We reached the track and ran a few laps together before spotting TPP and her sister heading our way. It was the first time we’d met NIMC who was instantly inducted into the mighty Runsketeers.

NIMC lives in Minnesota and came to LI to spend Thanksgiving with family. She’s a very active person, an accomplished runner and frequent racer. It’s clear that speed runs in the TPP family. The two racers made their way back to Stillwell and the non-racers continued to circle the track. I decided to run clockwise after a while, because I do so much of my running on the left side of the street and I thought that might counterbalance it. I also did it because it gave me an opportunity to communicate with KWL and SIOR at least once a lap.

I ended up covering 12 laps, plus an additional .25 miles at the beginning. We then headed over to Stillwell to meet up with TPP and NIMC and watch them start the race. It was freezing and I could tell that TPP was anxious to get moving. I tried to manage her expectations that the huge crowd of runners (600 estimated), combined with narrow single track, would produce a slower time than a typical 5K run on pavement. Turns out I was wrong. NIMC PR’d and TPP ran sub-9:00 pace.

Rob’s Run start

SIOR, KWL and I headed to Starbucks after the racers took off. We managed to find a place to sit despite it being somewhat crowded. Soon after, TPP and NIMC joined us, looking like they’d barely broken a sweat. We had lots of discussions about running form, destination marathons and running at high elevations. SIOR wants to do the Maine Coast Marathon in Kennebunkport, KWL and his wife are going to run London and Berlin, and NIMC wants to run Athens. TPP and I are not hopping on the marathon train.

Selfie courtesy of  magnetic theory (and TPP)

Perhaps the funniest moment of the morning was at the end, when we were getting ready to go our separate ways. TPP was leaning her iPhone on the ridge of a column outside Starbucks to do a timed group shot. The column turned out to be metal and TPP has a magnetic gadget on the back of her phone for a car mount. That made it possible to stick the iPhone right on the column at the perfect height for a perfect selfie. That’s our TPP!

It was great seeing my buddies and meeting TPP’s sister today. Thanks to working at home on Wednesday, I was able to string together an elliptical session and four runs. SIOR has organized her army of friends to do a running streak (at least one mile a day) from Thanksgiving to New Year. So far, I’m on track, but unfortunately my streak will end tomorrow. I do hope to do at least four workouts per week whenever possible. That should count for something.

Why we spend $100 for running shoes

Run away!

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles

My new reality is long busy work days. I’m not complaining (well maybe a little) but my work schedule did take a bite out of my running this week. I made it into the city on Thursday for an industry meeting and saw my buddy and fellow Runsketeer, KWL, who ran the NYC marathon last weekend. I probably covered 20K steps that day, so at least I burned some calories.

We had to go out east this morning, which required me to get out early for my first run of the week. Even though it’s early November, the temperature felt more like late September and the cloudy skies helped keep things cool. I had no particular route in mind when I took off and ended up circumnavigating the middle school before heading to the north end of my neighborhood. There was a little humidity, but otherwise conditions were fall-perfect.

We spent much of the day in eastern Long Island and we stopped at Target before we headed home. While my wife and kids looked for stuff on their lists, I ambled over to the men’s section that has the Champion C9 line of athletic clothes. They had some nice, lightweight vests that would be perfect with a long sleeve running shirt on a 30° morning, but the price was higher than I was prepared to pay.

Out of curiosity, I looked in the shoe section, where they sell C9 running shoes for $29.99. Most of the big running shoe brands have entry level models that Dick’s and Sports Authority sell for $50-$60. These shoes may not have the advanced technologies and features of their flagship models, but they generally provide a decent fit and feel. I decided to try on a pair of the C9 Drives to experience the difference between them and the ASICS Kayano 20s I was wearing.

Drive this off a cliff

The C9 shoes did not seem junky and I wondered what they’d feel like on my foot. After realizing they ran a half size bigger than most of the shoes in my collection, I found a smaller pair and tried them on. My first impression of the Drives was that they had almost no cushioning. That isn’t a show stopper for me, because I like a minimal shoe. But when I stood up and took a few steps, I realized why I typically spend $100 or more for Sauconys, ASICS or Brooks.

The lack of cushioning and a poorly constructed mid-sole resulted in a lumpy, uncomfortable foot bed. I suddenly understood the difference between quality brands and cheap $29.99 knockoffs. I’ve been fortunate to either receive shoes for testing from the manufacturers, or find great discounted running shoes at places like SA Elite or Famous Footwear. Believe me, paying $60 for a pair of $100 running shoes is a much better deal than paying $30 for “bargain” trainers.

Neighborhood run and some kicks to the head

Today’s run (street): 4.6 miles
Yesterday’s workout (elliptical): 35 minutes

Another week has gone by and, once again, I squandered my chance to fit in a mid week run. My excuses are weak, I’ve been busy at work and Thursday’s commute home took 2 hours, leaving little time for a workout. I was concerned that I wouldn’t even have time to do anything exercise-related on Friday, even though I was working from home. I managed to fit in an elliptical session before dinner and felt better about my workout delinquency.

Although I count on my 3 to 4 mile Friday runs to jump start my weekend activity,  I was perfectly fine deferring to the elliptical. I’m on vacation most of next week and I expect to run almost every day except for Tuesday, because I need to go into the office for an important meeting.

I got out this morning and had a nice run around some local roads. I’m still surprised when I look at my performance numbers that don’t match my perceived effort. If I ignore what the Garmin is saying, my runs feel the same as they always have. I spent a lot of time running around the northern end of the neighborhood and crossed paths a few times with a woman who was walking on the right side of the street. I refused to acknowledge her each time, because I get mad when people do that and I’m really petty.

My perpetual motion friends, SIOR and KWL, both did long runs through Manhattan and Queens today. I think they may have done different organized events. I would have joined them but I had a family obligation plus they were talking about 14 mile routes (as if). Conditions were pretty pleasant when I went out  and I’m hoping that was also the case for them.

Earlier this week, my son came upon a bunch of old photographs of mine that have been in a box on a shelf for decades. Many of them were amusing, especially these three from the early 80’s of me sparring with a friend.

Standing sidekick
Jumping front kick
Reverse spinning crescent kick

I don’t think I’ll ever get that flexibility back, but I miss the workout. The above pictures were Tang Soo Do techniques. My preferred style is an Okinawan form called Uechi-ryu that doesn’t have big kicks. I can probably still do that. I’ve been thinking about going back to practicing some Uechi forms as a way to build anaerobic conditioning. I’m pretty sure I’ll prefer that to track repeats.

The Runsketeers take on the trails!

TPP, brat (aka, SIOR), ER, KWL

Today’s run (Dirty Sock route: Belmont Lake): 6.5 miles

Adventure called and the Runsketeers responded this morning with a loop or two (or three) around Belmont Lake. KWL, SIOR, TPP and I planned to meet around 7:00 AM. I was the laggard of the bunch as they were all hanging out together by the time I arrived. I tried to explain the Dirty Sock course — how it starts at the western trail head and branches off toward Southards Pond before dipping south to the eastern exit. After getting a collective, “what the hell are you talking about?” look from my companions, I suggested they just follow the trail as best as they could.

We began to walk to our starting point and bossy SIOR said, “Can we start running now?” So we did. Doing that, as well as running back to the western trail head when I finished, accounted for my additional third of a mile on top of running the full Dirty Sock route. We ran together at the start and then TPP and SIOR picked up the pace and went on ahead. KWL stayed back with me and we ran together and chatted until we reached Belmont Lake.

While KWL turned on the burners, I kept my moderate pace and circled the lake. About halfway around, I ran into SIOR and TPP who were running the lake clockwise. I soon saw KWL coming back on his way to catch up with the others. I again saw the three of them near the end of my loop. TPP ended up doing two lake loops and the others went around for a third time.

I am officially the least popular Runsketeer

The Dirty Sock route can be challenging when the path is wet and the humidity is off the charts. Neither was the case today. Just in case, I’d packed my gel flask with a mix of water and a Roctane Expresso gel. I haven’t used gels in over a year, so the one I had was well past its expiration date. I didn’t realize that until I took my first swig and got a mouthful of coffee flavored grit. I finished it nonetheless.

I think the gel helped, because I felt a bit more energetic after ingesting it. Curiously, I detected an aftertaste that reminded me of alcohol and I wondered if the gel had fermented in its pack. Probably not, because a little alcohol goes a long way with me and I didn’t feel any related effects. However, I did start to crave pizza.

I ran along the southern end of Southards Pond and went south for the last half mile of the route. This last section used to frustrate me when I did the Dirty Sock 10K because the trail seemed to go on forever. The greatest moment of that race was when I started to hear Terry Bisogno announcing runners as they crossed the finish line. I didn’t get that today, but when I came around the final bend and saw the emerald green field ahead of me, I was pretty darn happy.

My route today

I extended my run to our starting location and waited of the others who were looking to cover more miles than me today. I ended up going over to the playground to get some shade and a minute later TPP appeared. We found a shady area close to where we’d see KWL and SIOR when they exited the woods. TPP and I caught up a little before our buddies arrived.

As tradition dictates, we headed to the closest Starbucks which had a very comfy seating section. After receiving gifts of coffee and pumpkin bread from SIOR and TPP respectively, the four of us recapped our run. Three of the four of us went over the moon about KWL’s Apple Watch Sport that he was wearing. I am defiantly anti-Apple, and didn’t join in that love fest. However, KWL did manage to take a remote selfie using his watch to control SIOR’s iPhone, which was a pretty neat trick.

It was a great run for all of us and I was excited to share one of my favorite running locations with my best running buds. KWL is officially our d’Artagnan (although that honor is shared with TPP’s JC). I look forward to more runs with these guys. I may even do Cow Harbor after all.