The weird stuff I saw on today’s run

The Dark Knight visits the suburbs

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

One of the reasons that I love trail running is the ever changing scenery and the opportunity to be surprised by things I see on the route. I considered a trail run this morning, but for some reason, I chose to stay local. I’d just read in Running Times about the benefits of Long Slow Distance (not to be confused with involuntarily running slow as I often do) and decided to do a neighborhood run at a pace that would keep my heart rate between 70-75% of max.

I started out at a very easy pace – one that I felt I could hold for a long time. Running Times said that for proper LSD, you should run at a pace where you can easily carry on a conversation. I had no one to converse with, so I quietly recited the things on my to-do list and hoped no one thought I was deranged.

Even though my route was unremarkable, I did see some interesting things. About a third of the way through my distance I was coming up a road when I spotted a bright pink placard hanging from a pole that held a speed limit sign.

As I got closer, I saw that it had a graphic of a anime monkey and the word “Justice.” It was odd to see what seemed like an edgy street culture message – the sort of thing that you might encounter tacked up on a light pole in the East Village. Later I looked up Justice, saw the graphic, and discovered it was actually referencing Victoria Justice, who isn’t even edgy to 12 year olds.

Despite my easy pacing on this run, I began to feel fatigued. This was not the first time I’d had that experience after starting so slowly. I sped up the pace slightly and felt better. From that point I maintained a HR closer to 80% which carried me through the rest of my run.

The last part of my route took me to the westernmost part of the neighborhood. I turned a corner and did a double take when I saw what looked like the Batmobile parked on the street. I stopped the Garmin and pulled out my phone to take a picture. This car was enormous, the length of a stretch limo, which I’m guessing was its purpose. Weird.

A minute later I ran by another house that had put up early Halloween decorations in the form of malevolent-looking clowns standing in the yard. It was amusing, but I felt sorry for the people who live across the street and have to look at it for the next month.

I ended up running my last half mile at a decent pace, but overall my time was pretty slow. I did get my 5+ miles in as planned and saw some interesting things. I didn’t even have to run in the woods to see something completely surprising.

Living with GPS tracking errors

Today’s run (street): 6.8 miles

My GPS watch always shorts distance, usually by about 3%, but this week the margin of error has been closer to 5%. If the GPS was more accurate, I could know my true performance as I ran. The Garmin FR210 does give me a map of where I ran, and this is useful when I run in unfamiliar places or forget which streets I covered.

An alternate to GPS tracking is the foot pod that, when calibrated, is far more accurate.  Its downside, besides the need to calibrate, is the lack of course mapping and the need to affix it to your shoe. Some shoes, like the Saucony Hattori, don’t have laces and, therefore, cannot be easily used with a foot pod.

My plan for today’s run was to go out easy and stay that way for five to six miles. I pushed hard on my runs during the week and I tried to do the same during yesterday’s run. I figured I’d earned the right to ease up on my pace and enjoy the experience today.

Things started well and along the first mile I wondered how long it would be before I broke a sweat. I also knew that runs like these are deceptive, often becoming much harder after a few miles. After 25 minutes I was certainly sweating, but five minutes later I began to feel energized again. I spent half of the run going around the neighborhood that sits directly to the south of mine, and the other half going around local streets.

As I got close to home I saw that I was nearing six miles. I decided to detour north rather than follow my usual roads, in order to get some extra distance. That change added a half mile according to the Garmin. After plotting my run on Gmaps, I saw that I’d actually covered 6.8 miles. If I knew I was that close to seven, I would have run another quarter mile before calling it a workout.

Even though I took it easy, by the end it felt very hard. I was glad to exceed 6.2 miles, which I’ll need to do as often as I can before the Cow Harbor race in mid-September.

Waiting for the Marcie, once again

Last year’s Marcie 5K, just before the big hill

My vacation is drawing to a close and the last item on my list is tomorrow’s Marcie Mazzola Memorial Foundation 5K. It will be the my first race since February’s Snowflake 4 miler. Given the extremely mild winter, it might have been nice to run a race in March. On the other hand, I’ve been able to use the time to train for the upcoming LI Half Marathon.

Prior to this week, most of the runs I’ve been doing have been more LSD than PDQ. The surprising result has been that long slow running has provided enhanced stamina that is helping my speed. After months of morning runs where breaking a 9:00 pace was a rarity, I’ve done it three times in the past week.

How will this affect my performance at tomorrow’s race? I’m hoping that some hard running this week, followed by two days rest, will translate into a good run. The Marcie Mazzola 5K is a nice race and this will be the fourth time I run it (my first year the distance was 4 miles). The community feel, and the fact that it was my first race, makes it a sentimental favorite with Team Emerging Runner.

Hopefully the rain will have moved out by the 8:30 AM start and we’ll have clear conditions for the race. Not much to do at this point but think about my strategy, gear, nutrition, hydration and shoes. All good distractions. Race report tomorrow.

Seven seconds separates two runs

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

This morning’s run was almost exactly like yesterdays. In fact, the only difference was that today’s run took me seven seconds longer than on Tuesday. Same route, same weather conditions, same start time. I think my seven second difference happened in the first few minutes when I got off to a slightly slower start. My standard practice has been to start at a moderate pace and gradually increase my speed so that I attain negative splits on every mile. I try to throw in some anaerobic sprinting at the end of my last mile which, at the end, tells me a lot about my state of conditioning.

Although Sunday’s 6+ mile run would have been a typical weekend distance for me a few months ago, it was a noticeable jump in length compared to my recent runs. I was glad not to have suffered any ill affects from going 30% longer than usual. No second day hamstring or calf aches like I’d get following a 10K race or a 10 mile recreational run. I’m thinking about upping my distance even further this weekend and targeting 8 miles of LSD. I think if I reestablish my long run base to the level I maintained in winter I’ll do okay at the Dirty Sock 10K later this month.

Recovery method: longer running instead of rest

After yesterday’s run I was concerned about my left knee and its recovery. It’s been almost a month since I aggravated this knee. The injury was probably caused by too much distance and hard training prior to my half marathon. Since then I’ve kept my runs relatively short and have tried to do more low impact activities like elliptical and biking. That seems to be working.

This morning my knee feels even better than it did before yesterday’s long run. There was an article in a recent Running Times that said easy long runs can be preferable to resting for recovery from minor leg and knee issues. Supposedly the easy running over longer distance helps oxygenate muscles. Considering how well I feel today, this method may have merit.

LSD at Bethpage, the legal kind

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 8.25 miles

I wanted to go for an LSD run this morning so I headed over to Bethpage State Park. I’d assumed with the warmer temperatures that the park had finally opened its bike trail. As soon as I reached the golf course saw a runner on the path beyond the (formally) gated entrance. I knew then that I’d be able to get in and run. No one was manning the toll house when I drove up, usually a good thing because it means no park fee, but I’d planned to buy an Empire Passport today. Oh well, free admission at least.

I’d worn shorts for the first time since October, along with a half zip and my lightweight running rain jacket as a top layer. It was 47 degrees with threatening skies so I decided to wear the jacket even though it can get hot. I figured that my plan to run long, but slowly, would prevent me from becoming overheated. I started up the steep hill where the bike trail begins and looked at the Garmin to make sure that I was running no faster than my planned pace. I’ve only averaged 3.75 miles per run since December, primarily due to all the snow we’ve had. I need to build back my base in preparation for my half marathon in May.

Runners outnumbered cyclists on the path although I saw plenty of both as I made my way along the trail. Running slowly was a treat, the hills didn’t matter much and I was able to think about many things instead of focusing on my turnover and speed. I was passed by a few runners and I wanted to shout to them “I’m not really this slow, I’m doing LSD!” Actually that would not be a good thing to yell. Still, I began to feel the workout at around mile 5 of my planned eight.

I gave in to my natural pace and ran the last two miles under 10:00 per mile and completed 8.3 miles averaging 10:10. It was great to run a longer distance after being constrained to the streets of my neighborhood for months. I’m not sure if I’ll do a run of 13 or more miles before the RXR Half Marathon but today’s 8 was a good start.